Monday, September 8, 2008

The hardest part of keeping a blog is writing after an exhausting day. We are on day four of the trip. That’s four days of sun, wind, hiking sand dunes and missing lunch. My lips are sun burnt. Eating mexican has mapped the degree of burning. Hmmm... lower lip is fried.

Monterey has been the miracle place. The place where the weather is always good for flying. In a sport where one becomes an expert at parawaiting long before becoming a beginner pilot, a site that works all the time is sheer relief. That is how Monterey has been. We had eight clinics without one single day that we could not fly. However our last two clinics went fifty fifty. But not for everyone if you came late, left early, you didn’t do as well.

So, I stress a little more these days. Will Monterey stop being the miracle place? Will we get flat out skunked with no flying days? So far, the site is working. Day one was a brilliant day. The wind came on nice and progressively, lightly soarable to fantastic. Alas, only Jeff made it to the full first day of the clinic. (Some people decided that stopping for lunch instead of coming out to the site to see if it was flyable was a good idea. No really!) Jeff got a hour and a half all to himself, (mostly, besides a few hang glider fly byes.) And the lift was very tall. Oh and sunny.

Day tow flopped.

Days three and four were both on. Day three being a little short but great flying. Today was strong winds but the lift band was sky high, way beyond the normal for a great day. Darren and Dean got two hour flights with great altitude. I mean real high. Oh, and it was sunny. The strength of the wind was the eventual down fall of the day. It got rough and strong and stopped being the smooth conditions you come to the beach to fly. That included some big holes in the lift that, for at once being so high, made sinking out a big surprise.

We had another sled day ride the next day. The fine art of para-waiting was starting to grind. One has to reflect that a day at the beach sitting in the sun is not exactly getting water boarded. BUT when one comes to go paragliding, sitting on the beach is NOT sitting on the beach, it’s waiting. After the briefings are done, tests are discussed, everyone’s told their stories, jokes, teased each other, buried their feet in sand, listened to weather reports, tried drowning themselves in the ocean, you are still waiting.

We were way into a parawaiting stupor on Friday afternoon. Hours had gone by. The wind was blowing across the bay, not into it. We could see sailboats heeled up in white cap water while we sat in calm hot weather. Darren called up the wind talker at
Marina up the coast. The north end of the dunes were getting the wind it was straight in there. Now, chasing the wind is often boondoggle, however, it was the last day for Dean and Darren so might as will go give it a look and see if it was really good. We got packed to leave and I spotted a glider flying at the north end. Now packing was thrown into high gear.

The dunes at the north end are more broken up. There are low gaps to cross. On the up side there are high points where you can regain your altitude after making the crossings. And it was sunny again. If we weren’t getting consistent weather, the weather we were getting was beautiful. Soon enough the whole gang was out, jumping from dune to dune, each glider lit through by the sun of the afternoon. After a hour and a half, staying high got more difficult. The day was loosing energy. After a bit one glider sank out to the beach then another. I knew it would only be a matter of time till I joined them. I radioed Darren who was further down the dunes to start heading back or look at a long hike. I did the same slowly loosing altitude till I landed right below the launch on the beach.

The last day of the clinic was a bust. In the end if the dunes didn’t give us the consistency that we were used to, it did give us beautiful weather. But more to the point it served the purpose we came for. And that is, the opportunity for new pilots to get extended flights smooth conditions, to get a chance to dial into their gliders, all that in a beautiful setting