This was a total surprise. I had no idea this was going to happen. For my Christmas gift, Eileen gave me a seemingly random packing list(ski helmet, hiking boots, mountain biking gloves, two jackets) and we drove out to a park behind some random neighborhood. The only clues I had was that we were meeting some people there, and it may not happen that day. Once we got there my best guess was that we were going LARPing, which I thought was hilarious. Hey if Eileen had set it up, I would have LARPed.
As we were waiting by our car, someone else pulled up behind us and waved. As soon as I saw the huge pack in their backseat, I knew what was up. Eileen and I had previously found this really cool park called Mussel Rock Beach Park near Daly City. And sometimes there are paragliders flying around. The paragliders have these huge bags strapped to them. And once I saw that bag, I knew what was happening. Eileen completely surprised me with a tandem paragliding ride.
Once we met the instructor and signed the paperwork, we hiked up to the top of the hill. The other instructor was already up there testing the winds. I was strapped in, and we took off. Once we were in the air, I turned around said "Hey, I probably should have asked earlier, but what do I need to do to help land?". It turns out landing was easy. If the winds were stronger, we would have gone higher and maybe I could have taken the controls. But instead we went back and forth over this hillside skimming the ground about 40 feet up. Since we were so low, the margin of error is lower. It was actually a very relaxing experience, and not an adrenaline rush like jumping out of a plane. I found it really interesting to feel how the amount of lift was determined by where we were on the hillside. I don't know anything about sailing. But I'd imagine it was kind of like that. You read the wind, and plot a course that takes you where you want to go, while simultaneously trying to stay aloft.
TODO: post some of the pics that Eileen has