Paragliding--This is an expensive hobby that I played with for several glorious months with Rory. I think I went on only one class/play day without him, and that was one of the high altitude flights I took to deepen my certification. Any time I talk about a character or creature flying, I draw from my experiences in paragliding. Sometimes it gets in my way, like when I mention rotors and experience frustration that hardly anyone in my audience will know what I'm talking about. The sensations of flight as well as learning how to read something invisible by a combination of touch and indirect observation and educated guesswork has opened the world of flight to me. The stories I heard from our instructor also influence my writing. The failures, the humor, the commentary about early paragliding and the hazards of other types of unpowered flight molded my opinions about what flight is and should be.
Caving aka Spelunking--I hardly ever go, though this is one of the things I do end up doing once a year, usually. The smells, sights (and darkness,) feel and sounds of underground, the emotional sense of earth--I wouldn't have a good grasp of it without my caving experience. My particular experience deviates a lot from folks who tour caves because there's so much climbing and also crawling in very tight spaces as opposed to walking around on metal walkways with handrails and do not touch signs. I learned to not touch by example and the obvious respect that my instructing spelunkers showed to the cave environment. And to get back to the dark part--cave darkness is just so palpable, and I'm not sure anyone can identify with false sight (where your brain makes up things it thinks it sees in perfect darkness) unless they've experienced it for themselves.
Rock climbing--man I love this sport, but I haven't gone since we've moved. What makes it even more annoying to include in a bio is that I've only gone rappelling in the big outdoors. All my most meaningful rock climbing has been indoors. There's something primal and kewl about holding your entire weight by your fingertips and toes, sometimes just the tips of toes. And I love the challenge provided by overhangs. Oh, hey, I'm ten pounds lighter now! Maybe I can get my ass over that four foot overhang--but I digress. When I write about climbing and exposure (height and danger) I'm remembering all my climbing happy places and also my appalling failures (I'm terrible at regular outdoor rock climbing.) And yet, I can't call myself a rock climber. I just did it for fun when we had that gym membership where they had a fun wall, a stretch of a mere two or three years. We've had memberships at other places with walls, but their walls sucked (small, uncreative, too easy.) The biggest difficulty with a small wall is that there's no place to traverse (go sideways) and so if you're alone, and you actually obey the rule where your feet can't go three feet above the floor unless you're on ropes, there's nothing to do. In my favorite room, on the other hand, I used to do laps. Wee!
Well, I guess I'd better go back to working on the bio. Bleh.