Among other things, Mark is fascinated with aircraft, so like a good wife, I rode with him to Valle, AZ, about 85 miles north of Sedona, hoping against hope that I would find something to do while he spent his several hours at the museum. It wasn’t easy, but I did find a trading post with some lovely turquoise jewelry. Did you know there’s such as a thing as white turquoise? It’s called buffalo turquoise, and a few pieces now reside in my jewelry closet. It’s called buffalo turquoise because it is as rare as a white buffalo.
Turquoise gets its color from the heavy metals in the ground where it forms. What most of us know as turquoise forms where copper is present, while the white turquoise forms where no heavy metals are present. To date, only one vein of white turquoise has been found, on the Shoshone Reservation near Battle Mountain, Nevada. Apparently, other stones have been foisted off on gullible tourists as white turquoise. So, do I own white turquoise or something else? More importantly, do I really care as long as it’s unique and beautiful?!
Mark spent his time at Planes of Fame, a fairly small museum which had some very interesting airplanes, including the only German Messerschmitt Me-109 in the US, as well as a Russian MiG. It was established in 1957 by Edward T. Maloney in Claremont, California. The museum later moved to Chino, CA, and added another location in Valle, Arizona.
Besides the Messerschmitt and the MiG, the museum in Valle is home to the Lockheed Constellation which was used by General Douglas MacArthur in WWII, and also to the plane that served as Air Force One to Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon at times. Any airplane can be designated as Air Force One – it just has to have the president on board.
When the museum acquired the Constellation, they had to be able to fly it back to Arizona, so the museum director worked to make it flight-worthy. Mark was able to tour the inside of the Constellation.
On February 22, 2012, Mark and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. What could we do to leap into the next ten years? Leap? Dive? Jump? How about ski dive?
Red Rock Skydiving operates in Cottonwood, about 15 miles south of Sedona. Here, any brave soul can take a tandem jump after signing the longest disclaimer form I’ve ever seen. Basically, we had to promise that we wouldn’t sue if we were injured, our family wouldn’t sue if we were killed, the neighbors across the street wouldn’t sue, the dog next door wouldn’t sue. This may be a slight exaggeration, but only slight. It was several pages of disclaimers. We also watched a video explaining the various ways we could be injured or killed, and reminded once again, that we assumed all liability. If that’s not enough to deter you, then you get suited up and take a short training, which again explains the ways you can be injured. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
We met our tandem divers, then crammed ourselves into the plane, seated on the floor, and then took off. We flew to about 14,000 feet above sea level, or about 10,000 feet above the current elevation. We were strapped to an experienced jumper who talked us through the entire experience, took photos, and even let us control the parachute for a while. Neither Mark nor I enjoyed spinning, so we stuck with slow turns. Since we were able to jump from the same flight, we were able to see each other as were diving – really cool.
The entire experience lasted about 1.5 hours, with the jump itself only lasting a few minutes. Those minutes are exhilarating though, as we free fell at 125 miles per hour to about 5,500 feet above the ground when the chute was opened, and we then floated the rest of the way. Our landing was pretty smooth. What an awesome way to celebrate our anniversary!