Hang around sometimes.
On a Saturday in Malibu, I was driving for Lyft and got a ride request. It seemed like a run-of-the-mill pickup until I saw the passenger. A man was sitting on the pavement with what looked like a huge black duffle bag around his back, like a big backpack. He asked for me to open the trunk, plopped the "bag" in the back then got in the car. We started driving down the PCH and he asked if I'd be willing to pick up his friend whom was nearby. "No problem," I responded, and in a moment we pulled over and picked up a man on the side of the road. He had a similar looking big black duffle bag, plopped it in the trunk, got in and started talking with his friend.
Neither man really addressed me, but instead started having a very focused conversation with each other. I was only half listening and was catching little pieces of what they were saying to one another: "Did you see me?" "Yeah, I saw you head down to the right there..." "Yeah, I couldn't catch it like I wanted to and ended up turning sharp..." "Whenever that happens, I just let it take me..."
After a while, it was pretty clear what they were talking about. These men just finished parachuting. They picked a really nice day to jump off of some nearby Malibu peaks and enjoy the fresh air and ocean view as they floated to the ground. They eventually spoke to me, saying their ride was heading back up the hillside in order to go for another jump. Though I had only known these guys for a few minutes, there was something comfortable about our ride and conversation. Being a photographer, I think there's an inherent sense of exploration within me and I've enjoyed all the views Southern California has offered over the years. Being intrigued by parachuting seems natural.
We headed back up the hillside to a spot where they would check the wind. I mentioned my love of Photography and that I had my camera and would take a few shots. Again, very comfortable vibes, and they thought that was a totally normal thing for me to do. The wind wasn't quite right at location one, but I was able to get a couple of nice shots:
They said to keep the meter running and we all got back in the car and drove up to West Saddle Peak Road. They said their jump spot was a very short hike away. I was pretty interested to see more views and also be a friendly guy and capture a picture of them before they jumped, so I tagged along for a moment. About a minute off the road was a fenced-in communications tower and the patch of land right in front of it was a pretty nice launching pan for a jump.
When they arrived, I thought I would just take a quick photo of them and head back to my car. I went into portrait photographer mode and said, "I'll just get a quick shot of you guys and be out of your way." One of the guys said, "What? I thought you were gonna get us jumping?" Don't know why I wasn't thinking that, but of course I'll catch shots of them jumping! I hung around, and I'm glad I did. Great views, and it was cool to watch them prep and make sure the chute was ready. The first guy got off the ground a little quicker than the second, but hey, safety first, right? Pretty cool moment, and it was nice to meet them. After the shots is short video of the first guy's jump:
On my way out, I definitely stopped to catch a few views of the mountains. Gorgeous Saturday stuff in Malibu: