SI senior writer Franz Lidz filed this dispatch from Saskatchewan, where he's been covering Michel Fournier's attempt to break the world freefall record of 102,800 feet.
Saskatoon is the City of Ampersands. You can breakfast at the Eat & Run Cafe, lunch at the Sip & Chat and dine at H&R Cheese-toast Express. You can even clean your jeans while slugging back a Western Lager at a "laundrobar" called Wash & Slosh. For the last two weeks I've been sitting & waiting for Fournier, 58, to launch his massive helium balloon into the upper stratosphere. The French daredevil's 24�-mile plunge has been postponed a half-dozen times due to high winds—in this case, very high winds.
The project, 14 years & $10.5 million in the making, has been plagued by insurance snags, governmental regulations and a Gallic torpor summed up by the phrase laissez-faire. "It's become a Shakespearean situation," team doctor Paul Vanuxem lamented on Sunday after a fill tube malfunctioned during countdown. "Tomorrow & tomorrow & tomorrow."