Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Australia has great ginger beer, vegimite and bread that doesn't taste like stale sponge cake. Just one aspect of Oz I was looking forward to.Down in Batemans Bay, we avoided some of the heavier rain that landed up north. In the mean time we tried a bit of fishing, first attempt since I was 12 or so.
To my amazement I caught a few. This one is just a "tiddler".
But this one was almost the size of a bridge. We think it was a mutant giant Bream.
There are some great places to snorkel down here. I didn't take my camera with me this time, since it filled with water last time... Did get to swim with some stingray, parrot fish, more bream, some blue and yellow fish, and Nemo.

This morning I had a brief conversation with this chap about US currency value to the local dollar, "Cheap as" he shook he head "cheap as..."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas from Newcastle

Its been a quiet week in Newcastle. I've been doing a little town touring, shopping, swimming and riding around on a bike. The weather has been georgeous. This is Merewether a fairly famous place to fly. Their are many places to launch and land, Dixon Park, Strzelecki. Saturday was the day to fly but having just arrived I didn't really have my gear ready. I rode out to Nobby's Head and up the Hunter river a bit until I was thoroughly lost. I ended up in amongst what I have been told is the biggest coal port in the world, with most of it going to China and Japan. There looked to be a storm brewing so I headed back, catching the mamatus clouds on the way back.
And this has to be the biggest pool I have ever swum in!

Monday, December 21, 2009

2 beaches, 2 seasons, 2 hemispheres

With most of my stuff stashed here and there - thanks Ryan ;) I took one last 2009 run around Santa Cruz. The air was quite clear at sea level after the snows. That afternoon I left for SFO. Thanks for the lift Brian :) After a stop to say Hi to the Moyes folks and check out the glider I plan on flying at Forbes, I arrived in Newcastle. This is one of the launches in Merewether, and where Tinks last flew. I just about melted from the heat the first day, I was happy to learn that it was a *hot* day, and not just me. Its great to be here :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

moving out, moving on.

This adventure started a few weeks ago. I stopped by Paris and Toni after flying some Tandems from Mt Tamalpias, and the next day bought a trailer I had gone to look at. I didn't feel like I had done enough homework for the purchase but time was short and the time was now. I bought it after a bit on research, Santa Rosa seems to be a head quarters locally for cargo trailers (I say local but its 2.5 hours away). Anyway I drove away with it, and headed straight for Kragen to fix the electrics issue. I was expecting the 4 conductor connector. Thankfully the swiss army knife came through and moments later I was legal. I was a little worried about getting the thing up my driveway. It is a steep tight turn. Now I am worried about getting it down the driveway loaded without it pushing the back end of my truck into a Redwood. Mean while I am getting rid of lots of stuff, and packing the remainder of my things into the trailer. Some things are difficult to get rid of. Like all these postcards stuck to my fridge, sent in the last 4 years. And this historic pin board that hasn't seen the light of day since I moved in. Captured digitally is much more accessable, share-able and takes up far less space. I've even gotten rid of all but 2 photo albums, scanning them first (you may have seen some on facebook). Back in Europe, my Dad got some face time in this nice video from St Andre. He is flying a Tsunami, Rigid La Mouette (I think?)

Hangliding in Saint Andre Les Alpes - Oct-09 Mark Taggart

Saturday, November 21, 2009

last few weeks at my appartment

A few weeks ago, projects where I was working, seemed to just end. Even at the best of times I was breaking even, so I have decided to cut my losses and move on. In the mean time I have been doing Tandems here and there, and enjoying what I like about my little rental. Right out the back door there is a really nice walking trail.It starts off a bit steep. Then opens out into a nice sunny clearing, its amazing how quickly things turned green after a bit of rain. Its a mixture of Redwood, Douglas Fir, Tan oak, Eucalyptus, poison oak, and chemise. The trail winds it way through private property from Lodato park,
to up above the mystery spot. The view opens up there of Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz in the foreground. Quite often I stumble upon evidence of Mountain Lions, I've not seen one in my back yard yet but have seen 3 up north in Wilder. Deer, Coyotes and Racoons are common, with the occasional Bobcat. I feel like I am getting ready to say goodbye to Santa Cruz, but I am not sure what is in my future 9 months from now... I will miss living in the forest. I've been there over 7 years.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cold water classic

Big waves in Santa Cruz this weekend, I beleive they topped out at 23 feet. They are down to about 14 feet when I saw them. and it was still impressive. Its hard to capture the perspective of these ocean mountains. There were some very competant surfers out there tearing it up. I am curious what speeds these guys get up to, looked like more than 40 mph. The were large weights of water being flung around with great energy at the cliffs. The lighting got pretty toward sunset. Here's a natural arch, that is probably much closer to becoming a stack after this weekend.

Local flying at Ed Levin

Ed Levin or "Sled Heaven" as it is affectionately known, does get soarable in the right conditions. There was a good showing for these "right" conditions Friday. The weather pattern that works : the day of or before a cold front passes. There were 3 days this week where that was the case. Typically the wind is south in the morning and NW in the afternoon. This generally allows one to fly over to Mission peak as the wind switches, and fly back to Ed Levin. This flight is dubbed "The golden eagle". Co-insidentally there have been a family of golden eagles at Ed Levin all week. Thurday I got to thermal with the whole family (6 of them). Its entertaining watching the scraggly young ones that don't even look like eagles yet trying to learn the air currents. It certainly appears that the tip stalls and slipping turns are unintentional. As the wind swiches the lift band gets really wide, and if you are close to the clouds they have some good and genally weak "cloud suck" that allows you to glide out over Freemont. Its important to make it back to the park before an hour before dusk as the park gets locked, and you'll be stuck there. Fun day ! A nice break from packing up my house, in preparation for the next chapter of adventures. Dave had a really good flight Friday - top landing at Mission before re-launching and flying back.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Canoa ridge race

The Canoa ridge race is an annual event, I've wanted to attend the last couple of years. For a number of reasons I haven't made it. Canoa is on the west coast of Ecuador. Many of my buddies have just returned from this years event. I have been following it online. While there last year Jeff, was struck by the poverty, and was determind to make a significant difference this year. This video shows how.

The below link, gives an opertunity to contribute to an ongoing effort to help this cause.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Magical Mistycal day at Funston

The Day started off rather hopeless, conditions deteriorated after I got there. Wind was light and switching, there were large pockets of sink and the cloud deck was lowering. However it all turned around after 2:30pm The wind strengthened and straightened out and was perfect for flying Tandem. A weak wave formed up over Westlake a couple of miles to the south, we headed down there, knowing the chances of making it back to top land were slim. No big deal its a short climb and worth it. Our glory was sitting there on the wave cloud right behind us in the buttery smooth air. Charlie was flying around us with a big grin on his face. My thoroughly spoiled student got to fly for about 8 mins in the fresh Autumn air. We even made it back high enough to land on top.

Also in the news today was the Good Morning Americ ABC news clip put together from footage in Big Spring Texas. Niels Dachler did a great job of weaving the footage together into interesting segment. Check it out :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

McClure - Oktoberfest 2009

Outstanding hospitality curtousey of the Mother Lode Sky Riders this passed weekend. There were more pilots and people than I remember in recent history. The club does this twice a year with an open invite hosting a number of different skill testing competitions. Speed gliding, spot landing, pylon course, Cross country and the infamous "WHACK" award. I was pleased to see considerable entusiasm for all catagories, Whack - no exception, thankfully no-one was hurt. I overheard someone say "I tried not to yell "WHACK" but all of a sudden I was overcome, just couldn't keep it in me". The club also BBQ's for all the pilots, which in turn creates an awesome social environment at the end of the day. It is great to see this event going from strength to strength over the years. It creates a perfect scene for the new pilots to meet different clubs. The club deserves a whole hearted thank you from all of us visitors. Especially Dan, Jay, Brian, well heck all of those guys. A highlight for me this weekend was the speed gliding event. I put in a good time on the speedgliding course. Brian had the fastest time (and a new course record), but since he made the prizes and "has too much practise" I was given 1st place. Well Brian watch out! Now you've guilted me into justifying the title, I'll be back and faster! Heh Heh Heh. Here is the video from Carmela. Thanks Carm :)
I was able to take a couple of excited students up for a tandem flight. From the size of Crystal and Lise's smiles I'd say they had a good time. Carmela also made a nice video of the general event.
Some more footage from a different angle.

McClure Oktoberfest 2009 - Speedglide

Monday, October 5, 2009

Back to the Beach

Another fun day at Marina Beach. I missed yesterday, having some work to do. Today though, the wind blew straight in for a good 6 hours. Trey was there tearing it up. Donny has a new helmet, and looks like he is flying even faster. I took his girlfriend (Terry) up for a couple of flights and flew 4 miles down the beach, and came back too ! Which is good, 4 miles would be a long way to walk with a 230 sq foot sail in a 15mph breeze.Trey shot some video, of us flying full sail flap down to sand city and back. Interesting to see a slider landing from above on video. The wing completely yaws around from mostly downwind into wind - no flare obviously.

Trey Kropp