Just a little over a year ago I was trying to pull myself back together. The reason for me mentioning this fact is so you know just over one year ago I was at rock bottom, with no money, no van, no apartment, no girlfriend, no drive, no motivation and 30lbs overweight - I was FAT and had zero motivation but I changed all of it with some serious hard work, drive and determination. 2016 has been the most humbling year of my life so far and I'm learning a lot.
I've always wanted a dog that would travel with me on some of these long road trips so I went to the BC SPCA and went looking for a dog, this is where I found a 2 year old Australian shepherd named Little Bear. She was super shy, scared of men and scared of everything, and I mean everything! She was found on a native Canadian reserve and has been clearly been abused, how anyone can abuse a dog so beautiful is beyond me. Normally I would look for a good all round dog but I fell in love with Little Bear straight away. Even though she wouldn't come near me straight away I stood up to the challenge! First step drop "Little" from her name... for me she is going to turn into a big grizzly bear; the Internet says (and we all know that it's factual if the Internet says so) that 14-18yrs is a life expectancy of an Australian Sheperd so that gives me the next 16years to turn her into a badass BASE Dog! Shit..... 16years is one hell of a commitment...
I was all motivated the first day then the realisation hit that she now relies on me for everything. I mean I knew that anyway but I had a sinking feeling that I'm not going to be good enough and the first obstacle we came across was the elevator... she had never seen or been in one so getting her into one when she doesn't like treats was crazy! A dog that doesn't like treats.... I know what the fuck have I let myself in for. Then the elevator broke and guess what.... she is scared of the stairs! I spent all day trying to get her down the stairs and after 8hrs of everything the Internet suggested I just picked her up and carried her down 4 flights of stairs like a 50lb baby... after she did her business I realised I had to carry her back up the stairs! Eventually after a week she walked down the stairs alone but then the elevator started working again - who needs a gym membership anyway!
As I'm walking her the next day and I get a phone call from Gary Connery asking me if I'd like to be on a team with him for the Wings For Love Wingsuit World Cup in China which I instantly replied yes, of course. However we still needed a 3rd person for the British team; Sam Hardy was an organiser so couldn't do it so we brought in my G-Form Team mate Matt Blank to play the 3rd British guy even tho he is an American but ssshhhh don't tell anyone. So we were going to China to represent Great Britain. My life does not suck!
However being in Canada as a Brit and trying to get a Chinese visa is near on impossible, I ran around for 3 or 4 days trying to make it work, countless emails with nothing looking good. I even walked up to the Chinese embassy who weren't interested. Went to three Chinese visa service centres who weren't interested just a blanket "No". You have to fly back to London for a visa; and I wasn't prepared to do that....
I pretty much gave up on my trip to China and just carried on training, cycling every morning, going to the gym and doing paperwork, believe it or not even a professional base jumper has to sit in front of a computer daily to make money. I opened my emails and it was from Kitty one of the organisers for Wings for Love simply saying
Can you fly to Hong Kong tomorrow morning for 2 days to get a visa?
Does (my) Bear shit in the woods?
The following day I'm on my way to Hong Kong from Vancouver (Bear is being looked after so don't worry people!) not knowing if I'm even able to get a visa! When I land I get a hotel room in the Prudential Hotel next to Jordan station, get settled in and start frantically trying to sort out a visa for China... I find a website where they will come to my hotel, pick up my passport, $200+ and photos and bring it back to me the next day - doesn't sound dodgy at all! 😂 That's it sorted right? Might as well go and have a beer with Graham Dickinson who is also in Hong Kong trying to get a visa.
We catch up over dinner and beers, this guy has really pushed himself in BASE Jumping. I first met him in Moab, Utah years ago before he started jumping and watching his career has been great and now seeing his videos go viral is also pretty sick! We discuss trying to make a living from what we do, what we can do to improve, essentially the bottom line is we work very hard to not work a real job but believe it or not we work pretty hard! I'm not complaining because I love what we do but there's more to it than posting on Facebook every day.
The next morning 0930 on the dot I decided to risk it with this visa agency mainly because I was tired and woke up late and guess what the visa agency man was there and made me take a photo of his ID; so I gave him my passport and money and he left.... I sent Graham a text and he didn't want to risk it so he spent the next few hours running around getting a visa before we met up and did some "sight seeing" or adventure drinking as I like to call it! That night I get back to the Hotel & my visa is ready! I send graham a text "haha visa is here!"
He just replied "cunt" hahaha I knew he had to get up in the morning and go fetch his own visa and me.... well I was going to have a lie in and go to the gym.
The next day I get up and do my thing, have breakfast, go to the gym, do some more sightseeing then that evening I met up and had dinner with Jo Hawley a skydiver friend from back in the day at the "old" Netheravon. The place which I have fond memories or being completely bladdered, mostly naked but where I started my skydiving career and made some life long friends. One of these people was Jo, and she now lives in Hong Kong so it goes without saying I will go meet her for food and discuss randomness, I even gave relationship advice..... I should come with a warning DO NOT LISTEN, I TALK SHIT and have no idea about any of it, but put a beer (or wine) in me and I'm a bloody expert! Graham met up with us afterwards and we continued the night of drinking dodgy cocktails making dodgy Instagram video stories which by the way is so pointless but I love it!
The next day Graham gets his visa and we are both off to China!