Sunday, March 30, 2008

More Paragliding

Well since my last post I have left Manilla to hang out with Lora for a week before she drove up to Cairns, and then driven back down to Manilla with a mate from the Gold Coast to do some more flying. Mark and I spent 7 out of 8 days flying around an area of Australia that reminds me very much of the Big Sky country of Montana. I flew with countless raptors (That never gets old!), dialed in my thermaling technique, and just had a blast overall.

There was a laid back comp going on while we were there and both of us did well. One thing I need to get more comfortable with is flying in close proximity to a large number of other pilots. Usually when two pilots collide it's really bad news. Often times reserve parachutes need to be thrown. Although I had two close calls there were no collisions. Some people just have no clue. In both cases it was a newbie pilot looking up at their wing instead of looking where they were going. I of course was and because of it I was able to steer away from a mid-air disaster. One got within a meter or two of me. Not fun.

Now I'm back in Tassie working on uni assignments and doing some sea kayak guiding work. I was shocked to get off the plane and realize that the flip-flops, shorts and t-shirt I was wearing comfortably in Brisbane didn't really cut it down here in Tas. It's cold again.

Well, I better sign off and get down to the boat for some work. I'll post some pictures when Mark is able to send me some. See you guys mid May.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lora is still in the field

This is a picture we took to help us label hemispherical photos we take of the canopy

Well it has been a long time since I have posted on the blog. I have just been busy in the field as usual. I am doing my last big lap between all my field sites right now. I really can't believe I am collecting data from my plots for the last time. It really feels final when I pull of the tags from the plants and take the stakes out that mark my plots. My time here has really flown by.

Meet my assistant Craig.

My assistant Craig has been a big help over the last 2 months. He will be helping me for a total of 3 months. I have been putting him to work. I really don't take days off so he has been stuck working too. But he loves field work and since this is my last big season I have allowed myself to have a bit of fun. While we in Lamington we took a day off to walk the Border Track. This is a great 21km one way track through all different types of rain forest, from warm subtropic to cool temperate. I loved the walk and came up with all sorts of new research ideas.

Here is Craig, Richard and Andre

We had a great crew for the hike. It was Craig, Tim and I, we also had Andre the Senior Ranger of the park and who I stay with while I am there. We also had Richard a friend from Tasmania, his parents own the hotel in Waratah, I have spent many nights drinking at their pub.

Here I am in an excellent Jamper t-shirt.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A new post from Manilla... NSW Australia

Greetings everyone. I'm sitting at a very old computer right now in Manilla, Australia. I'm about 40kms North of Tamworth, the country music capital of Australia. Lora is a few hours drive north of me at the moment doing whatelse? Fieldwork. It's going well for her. She constantly amazes me with her tenacity and drive to do good quality work.

So why Manilla? Well some of you may remember a blog I posted back in april about flying here. I'm back for more. I've been here for three day npw and have had some great flights. Launch is at 850 meters msl. The past few days I've been able to use the thermals to soar up to as high as 2000 meters! I've flown away from the hill now twice with one of the flights being 17kms away from launch. This is the furthest I've flown so far cross country and I had a ball. One problem though is that this often means you have to hitchhike back to town. Not a problem usually but here you're in the Country. Yesterday I sat on the side of a road for four hours waiting fopr a lift that never came. Luckily another pilot waiting with me was able to get intouch with someone to come and get us. I was starting to get a little nervous. We then had an absoulutely beautiful evening soaring session to top off the day. Paradise!

During the flight yesterday I was soaring with a wedge-tailed eagle. HE/she was showing me where the thermals were. These birds can be a bit scary though because they have been known to attack paragliders. Thin nylon and sharp talons do not mix. This one was just checking me out.Whew!

A few more days of this and I'll be heading back up to hang out with Lora. As allways she sends her love.I have my first uni assignment due at the end of the week so I'lll be busily shoring that up too. I only havre these last two courses and I'll be finished.

I'll keep you posted as to any exciting events. Oh, I almost forgot. Watch out Baldwin, I started windsurfing and already can beach start, have no problem pulling the sail up out of the water, and make the board go where I want it to go. Now if I could just figure out the tacking. I'm almost there.

Also, sorry for the bad spelling etc. I type two or three sentences on this computer and then wait a minute or two as each character takes two seconds to appear on the monitor.