Whassup Eclipsers?! While you were all busy soaking in the awe-inspiring wonders of the heavens in your amusing eclipse glasses, I was captioning photos from Clay’s 30th birthday weekend. While it was many moons ago, (March 4th, yeah yeah, go ahead and judge my behindness), timing it with an epic space event like the solar eclipse actually works quite nicely! So see, there is a method to my madness. The theme I went with for my aerospace-obsessed man’s big day was “Getting Air.” While I personally do NOT have a burning desire to leave Earth’s gravitational pull, Clay would love nothing more than to be blasted off in a rocketship and step foot on the moon. He loves to remind me that when he was 12 years old, he commanded Space Camp’s first “perfect mission.” I’m sure that’s what they tell all those campers… While I couldn’t manage to make his Rocket Man dreams come true, I did manage to book him a couple air time activities of sorts. Whether he ever makes it to the moon or not, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong ain’t got nuthin’ on him, far as I’m concerned.

So the b’day weekend started with picking up his fire engine red mountain bike from the local bike shop. Say hello to Willem the bike mechanic. Not sure he wanted his picture taken. He’s definitely not as excited and giddy as Clay, that’s for sure. So far, Clay has put 403 miles on that sweet ride since his birthday. To say he loves his bike is an understatement.
The morning of his birthday, Clay drove himself up to the top of this mile-high mountain, joining a bunch of fellow daredevils as they flew around the trails. At the end of each day, a big group of them come together to do the “Peak to Pub” ride. Basically, they ride from the tippy-top of this unforgivably rocky mountain (good luck if you bust), down to an old pub at the bottom of the mountain.

Side story: Given that we share one car, which Clay had already driven it up the mountain, I had grand plans to enjoy a morning jog up to the top of the mountain, get the car, go pick up Clay’s birthday cake, and be back at the pub to welcome him after his ride. Well, as it turns out, running uphill for several miles in conditions that go from warm to alpine is no joke. Who knew?! Long story short: I hitch-hiked to the top of that dern mountain. Thank God for the two British lads who let my sweaty mess-of-a-self climb into their truck (named Bessie…boy she had a hard time getting up that mountain…he kept pounding on the dash board as he drove it, yelling “C’mon Bessie! C’mon!”). Once we arrived safely atop the peak, I spotted our car in a very tight, tight spot. As if I didn’t already seem enough like a damsel in distress, I definitely became one when I said, “Ummmm…would one of you kind gentlemen mind backing my car out for me? I’m not sure I can manage.” I’m tellin’ ya…where would I be without the kindness of strangers?

Time to ride. Tally Ho!
Full face helmet is a must…if you’re a wise one…
The Peak to Pub gang. Buncha crazies. At the “flat spot” halfway down the mountain. Clay is the 6th guy from the right raising his left arm as if he has a question to ask.
Back at da pub…one of his new friends must have taken this, because I think I was still on the phone with my 93 year old friend Hilde. I think I was standing out in a field somewhere, yelling into the phone. She is hard of hearing. 😉
Celebratory Birthday Beer! Later that night at dinner, I noticed that he was keeping his right arm very still in his lap, bent at 90 degrees at all times. I watched him for a minute, then said, “You hurt yourself, didn’t you? I thought you said it was amazing!” He was like, “It was amazing! But I did take a little spill…” I came to find out that this “spill” sent him flying over his handlebars and upon impact, injured his right rotator cuff. Yep. He’s still doing physical therapy for that. I guess if you get injured doing what you love, it’s all part of the game. It obviously didn’t keep him from skydiving the next day! They jumped out of the plane at an altitude of 15,000 feet, and free fell for 60 seconds. I would wet my jumpsuit and faint for sure. Enjoy the photos, but definitely watch the video.
Pre-jump foolishness.
Don’t look down…
No turning back now…
The plane is getting smaller…
And smaller…
Lake Wanaka (left) and Lake Hawea (right) don’t look all that big from up here…
The reviews are in.
When he landed, he looked about as white as the sheep grazing on the hillside. One too many 360 spins on the way down I think. After we left, I was just yammerin’ away in the car, until he said, “Can we just pull over? I just need to sit still and close my eyes.” To which I immediately pulled over, jumped out of the car, and sprinted away. I can’t handle the foghorn sound of him throwing up. Noooo…I didn’t do that. I did shut up though, pulled over, and went and bought some ginger beer, popcorn, and peanuts. That settled the stomach, thank GOD!

And now for the video…

The last day of the b’day weekend. Clay’s parents paid for us to dress up in a vintage flight suit and take a wee flight in a 1930’s era, open cockpit, biplane! When Clay gets his pilot’s license (one day), this is the kind of plane he wants to fly…My favorite part is the leather helmet.
Felt pretty amazing (and loud) flying in an open cockpit!
Just call me Amelia.
That’s Ruby Island on Lake Wanaka!
This all suits Clay pretty well, don’t ya think? Happy (very) belated birthday, Clay!