"Hey John, you wanna go bungee jumping?"
My colleague Dave had a way of making me do things I didn't want to do. We worked on the same newspaper nearly 20 years ago. He was the most talented photographer the paper had. We spent countless hours chasing fires, criminals and covering prison riots. Dave was always in search of the perfect photo. I was always in search of a page 1 story.
At first, I hesitated. "All right," I finally said. It would be a nice afternoon away from the office. My Sunday editor loved the idea. Dave and I were off.
Driving up to the site, I noticed the 200-foot (61-meter) crane in the distance. It was framed by the gently sloping foothills of the Catskill Mountains. The sun was bright, the air was warm. A nice day to die, I told myself. Underneath the crane was a pond of questionable depth. "If the fall doesn't kill me, the water will," I nervously said. "I don't know how to swim."
Dave laughed and readied his equipment. I grimaced and confessed my sins. I asked the owner of the site dozens of questions about the ability of the bungee cords to hold a falling mass of human sinew. He assured me all was well. He then tried to school me in the best way to fall -- call it Gravity 101. My attention, however, was focused on the crane, the tall, tall crane. He mentioned something about a swan dive. I knew nothing about diving and less about swans. What I did know was swans don't actually dive. They just dip their skinny necks into the water. I didn't want my skinny neck getting anywhere near the water.
If nothing else, I'm trooper. With the bungee cords securely fastened to my ankles, I jumped. Forget the swan. I plummeted through the air like an off-course Soviet space capsule. Feet first, head last, my eyes shut tighter than a bank vault. Eventually, the cord reached its limit. I felt a snap. Then a jolt. Then I took the Lord's name in vain. I opened my eyes. The world went upside down. I went head over heels. My feet ended up where my eyeballs should have been. "Dude," I'll never forget the instructor saying. "I do that when I really want to get a rush."
Dave laughed like he was watching a Three Stooges movie. Then it was his turn. With camera in hand, Dave, who passed away in 2009, dived like a swan, hands outstretched his camera at the right angle. He snapped away. The photograph was incredible. He framed his face in a miasma of wind and joy. Dave was actually enjoying this. In the distance was the top of the crane, its umbilical cord suspended in air. We laughed for days. That was my first, and last, attempt at bungee jumping. Read on to find out the top bungee jumping sites in the world. I can guarantee you won't be seeing me at any of these locations.