Flight: Spain: Multiple Seasons in One Flight

Chronicles of Existential Dread, Volume II

If you’re wondering what the title is all about, look up “Existential Dread.” It’s a bleak philosophical movement championed by none other than…Germans.

I hear a familiar refrain that my life is so utterly splendid; therefore, any negatives don’t really exist, and that’s just that. My natural response is to remind people that I am human, every day is another toward the march to death, and I share similar miseries as everyone. That seems to land with a dull thud, and I am reminded that because I live in Spain and have an airplane, I am apparently in a near constant state of orgasmic bliss.

Has it occurred to anyone that discharging the problems of America and moving to Spain means embracing the problems of Spain? Does Spain come off as a problem-free society with its long list of its own issues?

It is interesting if I were to list some of my human challenges that bring me into the realm of normal, that it would elicit a competition as to who’s life is worse. For some reason, that is a trait I find with people – whether it’s the happiest man on earth or the most miserable – so I am not going to trigger it here, other than to share the words of a friend who is an international wedding photographer, therefore also in a state of constant orgasmic bliss: “Everything about my life follows me around, no matter what country I am in.”

I think there are two misconceptions in play with the travel/expatriate/second home/whatever lifestyle. When people travel to a place, they are experiencing something for the first time. That holds true whether in a small airplane or in a more traditional mode of transportation. In any case, the first time is always the most interesting and emotionally titillating. For some reason, people equate living in exotic places as though each day is like the first time visiting. Over time, the thrill is replaced with the equilibrium of normal, and then negatives start surfacing, or the tolerance for the negatives starts dropping. There is a known curve where happiness from moving to a foreign country is initially blissful, then worse, then stabilizes at a normal level. Yes, normal, back where one started. I know, I ruin everything!

The second element is that, when people wish to either move or travel, whether it is to another country or to finally have that vacation home, it is imagined that all positives of the current lifestyle will be retained, negatives shed, and new positives added. If anyone could actually pull that off, I too would be howling that they have a problem free life. The fact is, negatives and positives from the old life disappear, and negatives and positives with the new life present themselves. As this is an opinion contrary to the current “travel is cool” mainstream, it is hard to find a lot of data on the subject, though I have found plenty that tells me it is not all a bed of roses for many people. Even worse, when splashed with the bucket of cold reality in one’s face, it creates a craving to go back, yet coupled with the knowledge that such a thing won’t work either as one has incontrovertibly grown on a personal level.

I have often philosophically wondered how someone else’s lack should create my pleasure. For example, the fact that I fly regularly should make me even happier because most people don’t get to do it? That to me is more bleak and sad than anything else. The facts about the brain are that an individual likes or dislikes something, and that’s that. I will get as much enjoyment or pain out of any particular choice because those are the merits of the decision. The only relevance the situation of others offers is expectation management.

Nonetheless, most people would read this, tell me I am just whining and to shut up, while fantasizing about having a similar lifestyle as mine. If said lifestyle is achieved eventually, and the same realities smash them in the face, “I had a villa in Spain for a while. It just didn’t work for me” would be the line spewed out at a cocktail party.

As for the blog, I have decided to only post the bigger flights, as the infrared camera showed up in late May and seriously overloaded my entire workflow. This flight dates to mid-May, and I am posting it so I can have more push pins and remind myself that summer will be over soon, thankfully, as I like snow and do not find heat attractive.
Penyes Altes de Moixeró

Olot (1 of 11)

Tosa d’Alp – with fresh snow on the summit. Note fresh foliage below. This was taken mid-May.
Olot (2 of 11)

Pic Carlit, France – from Serra Cavallera, Spain.
Olot (3 of 11)

Ribes de Freser, Vall de Núria
Olot (4 of 11)

Foothills, I guess. Note haze on the right getting drawn in from the Mediterranean.
Olot (5 of 11)

Sant Miguel de Campmajor. The crazy thing is that just yesterday I learned that I was within a few miles of an outdoor erotic sculpture park. It is located just outside of the image to the left. Adding that to the list of places to go. Maybe international living isn’t so bleak after all!
Olot (6 of 11)

Volcano – Olot
Olot (7 of 11)

Olot (8 of 11)

Refugi de Santa Magdalena del Mont – note the greens getting lighter the higher one goes. Still spring.
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Some hill. Roughly 4,500 feet (1.400m) elevation. Note leaves struggling to come out. 
Olot (10 of 11)

Some other hill. Notice how its starting to cloud up. This was still relatively early in the day, though it is a concern in the coastal areas. Clouds tend to hose up my pictures.
Olot (11 of 11)


Flight: Spain, France, Andorra: August Snow

There is an element of misconception to the product of my imagery. At present, I am of the disposition that global society is at a turning point when it comes to perspectives of travel and tourism. For centuries, peasant farmers were damned to backbreaking labor, early deaths, and child mortality while confined to a hellacious plot of dirt that might as well have been a concentration camp. Vacations were out of the realm of consideration, except for aristocracy.

In the 20th century, middle class life allowed for the periodic vacation, coupled with travel advancements, tantalizing the masses with the life of an aristocrat, at least for a small amount each year, a product of our cultural presumption of that which is good and bad.

Now enter the era of remote work, interconnectedness, cheap airline travel, and worst of all, social media, and travel has become the domain of mass hipsterdom. We are on a manic collective binge of incremental bucket-listing, all trying to outdo each other fluttering temporally all over the planet, superficially checking places off the list while achieving next to no depth in the process.

For the record, this is not what I am doing living here in Europe. I also am making the declaration that we are at the beginning of the possibility of the global conversation shifting to a more minimalist approach: perhaps we are better off making our own lives more interesting, instead of having to jet off to some destination to have an expensive, short-term artificial experience that resembles nothing other than staying at a hotel, all the while irking the locals. Europe is having a wave of anti-tourism protests, as they should, because it’s a joke.

Venice receives 28,000,000 visitors per year, while 55,000 people live there. Andorra, just over the hill, receives 12,000,000 visitors per year, while 84,000 live there. I could go on with accurate statistics that reflect a philosophically macabre picture of our bleached cultural reality, and from having lived in the American West, I can assure you that the list is long of how many of those visitors identify with each place, thinking they would like to live there. Would they? Or are they seeking to recreate a slice of their life that they live for one or two weeks per year, while returning to a dull and pedestrian existence? Do they want to share Venice with 28,000,000 people? There exists no Venice on this planet without the tourists yet almost all tourists that “just love Venice” imagine living there without the tourists; that is the unfortunate reality I am speaking of.

Somewhere along the way, I fell into sin and started making push pins on my blog to show the places I have been. In a statement of hypocrisy, it did and still does feel good to look at even though I haven’t updated it in months. On the other hand, global social and market forces seem to only be interested in the superficial; potential publishers told me as much. What I really am after, and have been all along, is some level of insightfulness, a shred of art, the comprehension of perspective afforded by an airplane, or maybe humans are an infestation and the sky is the only place I can find some elbow room.

Therefore, you’ll note my blogging has slacked off, though fear not, I am flying more than ever. I’ll have to come up with a new way to reconcile my nearly autistic obsession with push pins to my nihilistic disdain for it appearing like mass global excess.

Oh, it snowed in August. Here are some pretty pictures. Add the Pyrenees to your bucket list.

Riu Segre, Cadí-Moixeró in the background. A resplendent day compared to the last month.
AugustSnow (1 of 19)

Ascending the Pyrenees.
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And there is the snow.
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Snow with some infrared. Green grass at the summits complicates things a bit as it also appears white.
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Border of Andorra, Spain, and France, in infrared.
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Infrared with red and blue channel swap, Andorra. This makes the sky blue-ish. 
AugustSnow (9 of 19)

Some mountain. If the engine quits and I have to ditch up here, you all can piss off and I am staying there.
AugustSnow (10 of 19)

Border of Andorra, Spain, and France, in visible spectrum. 
AugustSnow (11 of 19)

Puigpedros hiding in the clouds, infrared.
AugustSnow (12 of 19)

Andorra – there is some complication flying at 10,000 feet around moving clouds, peaks, and actually in some mountain waves in between the clouds.
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AugustSnow (15 of 19)

Channel swap infrared stuff again. Ho hum. I’d rather look at pictures of people drinking beer on social media. 
AugustSnow (16 of 19)

Changed my mind! Went up the Val du Carol. Over France in this photo, looking at Andorra, getting beat up by rotors.
AugustSnow (17 of 19)

France, in infrared, no channel swap, nor black and white filter applied, hence sepia sky as it comes off the IR camera.
AugustSnow (18 of 19)

Typically very clear day in La Cerdanya, which actually over-saturates the image. Long final for runway 25.
AugustSnow (19 of 19)

Flight: Spain: “Down there”

Castellano abajo. Realmente, ¿está necesario que escribo esta frase cada vez?

Here is another installment in the chronicles of eternal free writing. I have previously alluded to the fact that I get pissy that I am offering some of my work without compensation, so I hold back the best photos and, well, then I forget about them. Rediscovery of some of my better work has been an interesting process in realizing how I am screwing myself with spite. But hey, isn’t that the human experience: “working hard to underachieve?”

This flight was the day after the previous flight, holding true to the maxim that even though a glorious weather system blows in and creates a few days of opportunity, it is almost always true that the first day of flying vastly outsizes the ensuing days of flight. This one was good, though not as surreal nor mind blowing as the Monegros Desert. My wife is playing the world’s smallest violin for me right now…..

As for where I flew, I don’t know what to call it. I refer to it as the “Catalonian Lowlands,” but it isn’t. Marshy areas are lower than this. It’s not the “Catalonian Central Depression,” because that is even lower and to the west. I could call it “Hill Country,” but everywhere else has more hills. So, it’s the “area down there” or “the place between here and Barcelona.” Oh hell, I’ll just point it out on a map.

Area down there

Estaría imposible traducir lo que escribí en inglés. Ciertamente, está lleno de rencor venenoso, porque estoy “pissy.” Traté traducirlo en Google, preguntando “como se dice pissy en español?” y Google “corrigió” la palabra a “pussy” y resultó con “coño.” La definición de “pissy” traduce como “argumentativamente combativo” pero después de la “traducción” de Google, estoy feliz ahora.

Este vuelo fue a lugar entre Barcelona y La Cerdanya, un lugar sin nombre y sin características suficientemente únicas para escoger nombre de la región. Por eso, hay mapa arriba notando el lugar (en inglés, como insulto cultural ciertamente). Ya tengo suficiencia de escribir en este sujeto, entonces dejo a las fotos. Pissy….de nuevo.

I am not particularly in the mood to label any of these. This one is east of Cercs.
Down There (1 of 32)

Down There (2 of 32)

Some lake.
Down There (3 of 32)

Road to Girona. The marine airmass is pushed up against the other side of the hill.
Down There (4 of 32)

Gallifa – I think.
Down There (5 of 32)

Sant Llorenç del Munt – looking north.
Down There (6 of 32)

Down There (7 of 32) Down There (8 of 32) Down There (10 of 32)

Somewhere in the direction of Calaf.
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Down There (12 of 32)
Down There (13 of 32)
Down There (14 of 32)
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Down There (21 of 32)
Down There (22 of 32)

I have a rough idea where this is but can’t seem to find a name. I don’t think anyone cares anyway.
Down There (23 of 32) Down There (24 of 32) Down There (25 of 32)
Down There (26 of 32)

I find the oblong nature of this semi-circle amusing.
Down There (27 of 32)

Down There (28 of 32)

Park Serra de Turp i Mora Condal-Valldaran – at least that is what Google Maps says.
Down There (29 of 32)
Down There (30 of 32)

Lower Cerdanya sort of off to the distant right. I have often mused that this would be a poor canyon to crash in.
Down There (31 of 32)

Cadí-Moixeró. Don’t worry…the snow is melted and its a flaming inferno now.
Down There (32 of 32)

Flight: Spain: Monegros Desert

Castellano abajo.

This whole idea came about as a result of a referral from someone at the airport, suggesting I check out the Monegros Desert, as I would like it. There was some extensive Google Maps browsing, as usual, coupled with a now westerly wind that an experienced pilot told me results in clear air in the Catalonian lowlands. My intuition said it was a good day (intuition is better than forecasts many times), so I ghetto packed the airplane and set off for a very long day of flying.

I was greeted with resplendently clear air, fresh spring temperatures, and wide open skies. The wind was quite strong down in the plains, requiring my Montana and Wyoming flying skills: reading the undulating ripples in the fields, whitecaps on small lakes, and furious windmills to determine locally strong winds and plot my course wandering around the middle of nowhere.

Refueling was an unconventional arrangement on a “grass” strip in the desert, which was really some weeds and herbs getting pummeled by the wind. The flight home was circuitous, winding through springtime colors in various sections of Catalunya, before the required climb over one of many passes to sneak back into La Cerdanya.

Esta idea resultó desde una recomendación, una sugerencia volar al desierto de Monegros. Después de buscar en Google Maps con exceso, determiné volar durante un día con vientos del oeste fuerte, lo que indican aire claro en la depresión central de Catalunya. Mi intuición dijo que estaría buen día (muchas veces intuición es mejor que un pronóstico), entonces salí para un día muy largo de volar.

Encontré aire plenamente claro, temperaturas frescas de la primavera, y cielos abiertos. El viento fue muy fuerte in las áreas abiertas, exigiendo mi experiencia de Montana y Wyoming: leyendo las olas en los campos de trigo, olas en lagos pequeños, y molinos de viento furiosos para determinar vientos locales.

El repostar fue algo no convencional (“España es diferente”) por una pista en la mitad de nada en el desierto. Para el vuelo a regresar, pasé por varios lugares en Catalunya con campos de agricultura de color de primavera, terminando con cruzar los Prepirineos y la col sobre Cadí-Moixeró.

Early in the trip, I heard a “hello Garrett” on the radio, and looked to the right to see a fellow pilot who shares the hangar flying his motor glider.
Monegros (1 of 43)

Riu Segre, south of La Seu d’Urgell
Monegros (2 of 43)

Serra del Montsec
Monegros (3 of 43)

Pantà de Camarasa
Monegros (5 of 43)

Embalse de Santa Ana. Catalunya to the left, Aragón to the right.
Monegros (6 of 43)
Monegros (7 of 43)

This is better than it looked on Google Maps.
Monegros (8 of 43)

Spanish highway layout has a similar flare to many of their cultural norms.
Monegros (9 of 43)

Irrigating while the wind is screaming and the humidity is low. Has anyone considered night time?
Monegros (10 of 43)

Lake without a name, south of Binaced.
Monegros (11 of 43)

I wasn’t sure what this was, until a recent flight over them again, and they are flooded and green while everything else is burnt dry. It may be rice patties.
Monegros (12 of 43) Monegros (13 of 43)

Monegros (14 of 43)

Monegros. The colors were unquestionably surreal. Perhaps Picasso, Gaudí, and Dali just visited the Spanish countryside to create their art?
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Monegros (21 of 43)
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“Airport” – Castejon de los Monegros. The wind was howling, which carried scents of crushed herbs from taxiing and walking. The place is a wildfire waiting to happen.
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Starting the circuitous path home.
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Monegros (28 of 43)

It was strange that scenery alternated between Spanish surrealism to something out of Idaho……or Texas.
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Peach orchards in the foreground. Alcanadre River in the background.
Monegros (30 of 43)

Did someone paint these fields? The colors were really something else.
Monegros (31 of 43)

Cliff before the Cinca riverbed.
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Monegros (33 of 43)

South of Lleida.
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Monegros (35 of 43)

Secans de Belianes-Preixana
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Monegros (37 of 43)

A-2, between Cervera and Igualada.
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Near Calaf.
Monegros (39 of 43)

Beginning the slow ascent toward home.
Monegros (40 of 43)

Pantà de Sant Ponç
Monegros (41 of 43)
Ascending the Pre-Pyrenees
Monegros (42 of 43)
Cadí-Moixeró, before crossing into La Cerdanya.
Monegros (43 of 43)

Flight: Spain, Andorra: Late April Snow

Castellano abajo.

I found it hard to believe that 4 inches of snow was forecast at the end of April. I found it even harder to believe that 8 inches actually fell, right after the lawn guy finished mowing, while wheat was growing, and while the sprinkler system was running. It was even stranger to ski practically in May at La Masella…..in Spain. Jackson Hole was closed, and some measly hill was open near the Mediterranean? I was certain this was a epic anomaly, and I was assured by locals that it was precisely….normal.

Of course flying had to happen. I went up at the tail end of the storm, fighting snow showers and adverse wind to do marginal things (what else is new?). Then I went up the next day, as the snow wasn’t gone, to capture explosive sun cast against green leaves and still un-melted snow.

Two months later, and the grass is green at 10,000 feet, cows are grazing on the mountain tops, an epic heat wave has come and gone, wheat has been harvested……and it snowed last night at 9,500 feet, while we nearly had a frost down in the valley. I must say, it’s a neat place to live.

Fue increíble creer un pronóstico que indicó 10 cm de nieve, en el fin de abril. Fue aún más loco cuando 20cm cayó en realidad, inmediatamente después que el césped fue cortado y el sistema de irrigación encendido para la temporada. Esquí en La Masella, aquí en España, cuando Jackson Hole fue cerrado. La gente local dijo que es precisamente normal este clima.

Volé como alguien hubiera esperado, volando al final de la tormenta, aguantado viento mal y un poco de nieve en el aire, con la meta de hacer cosas más o menos locas. ¿Hay una sorpresa?

Volé de nuevo el día en seguido, realizando vistas de nieve brillante, sol fuerte, y campos verdes. Ahora, dos meses después, ya ha derretido todo, y las hierbas están verdes en las cumbres de 3.000m. Trigo ha sido cosechado, vacas están pasando en las montañas, una ola calor entró y salió, y la nieve regresó a 3.000m en Puigmal, con un frio casi a 0C aquí en la valle.

April Snow (1 of 17)

Can I climb above the crap…….?
April Snow (2 of 17)

Every conventional piece of pilot wisdom says this is extremely stupid. Though the camera doesn’t grab them, there are snowflakes in the air.
April Snow (3 of 17)

Cumulo-granite anyone?
April Snow (4 of 17)

Do not mess with an overloaded Piper Cub! 9,000 feet or so.
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April Snow (6 of 17)
April Snow (7 of 17)

Since that wasn’t enough, I crossed the valley to the border of Andorra to check out the foul weather in the Pyrenees.
April Snow (8 of 17)

Falling AND blowing snow….perfect!
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This is a similar view from the “Virtues of Stupidity” post, except there is more snow blowing around this time at 9,500 feet.
April Snow (11 of 17)

You’re looking at Spain, France, and Andorra.
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Puigpedrós and Val du Carol, France.
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La Cerdanya
April Snow (14 of 17)

Descending “en descenso” as the Spanish like to say.
April Snow (15 of 17)

Just an hour prior, it was snowing here.
April Snow (16 of 17)

View to the Pyrenees, where I was just playing around.
April Snow (17 of 17)

Next morning, snow is not gone.
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La Masella, ski season still going on April 28th.
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April Snow2 (4 of 5)
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Flight: Spain, Andorra: The Virtues of Stupidity / La Virtud de la Estupidez

Castellano abajo.

It wasn’t a day that I would have imagined I could fly. Thunderstorms roared up in a continuous formation off the Pyrenees, sinking slowly south as the afternoon progressed. In the period after the storms moved on, the sun surprisingly came out, though the air was humid and opaque, which meant that it wasn’t worth chasing photographs.

As the afternoon entered into evening, I got the fanciful notion to head into the edge of the Pyrenees, to view some of the puffy cumulus clouds hanging around on the ridge, a sort of idyllic sea of clouds and mountains, where I didn’t need to venture into them, merely looking at them from the edge.

Intuition said not to do it. Naivety said to hop in the plane.

So, as one would logically expect of an intelligent, experienced pilot, I took off.

Reaching 10,000 feet, the stationary cumulus clouds were giving off some odd characteristics, along with more turbulence than I was in the mood for. Yup, this probably was a bad idea. [continues to climb]. Reaching 10,500 feet, I proceeded a bit north, noting what was an overcast cloud deck parked against the ridge in Andorra. Oh, and there were the lenticularis clouds at 40,000 feet indicating mountain waves. Whatever… “those are over there, not here. Besides, the tow pilot said it was fine when he went up.”

As I approached 11,000 feet, I noticed what looked like cloud wisps forming off the ridgelines here and there. “Oh how pretty. I have seen this in America many times.” [Intuition: “this is really bad and I am probably screwed.”][keep flying] Then I noticed that my groundspeed was very, very slow, meaning there was a lot of wind. Zooming in on the “cloud” formation below me, I noticed with the zoom lens that it was blowing snow. Nice. Then I looked along the whole ridge, and all of it was blowing snow.

I then decided I had an opportunity. “It’s probably stupid to be up here, but I am here already, and at least the air is tranquil.” [look right: mountain waves, left: blowing snow, forward: clouds doing weird things, behind: clouds doing differently weird things] I took some photos, until I ran into some descending air, then decided to get the Sam hell out of dodge.  Yikes. There is only so much stupidity I can take in one dose.

The escape route was around a bunch of mysterious clouds doing weird things (read: rotors), over the valley away from the waves, and in the safe, loving arms of Cadí-Moixeró, a 1500’ wall of rock that acts as a windbreak. Then I descended down into the valley, only to find on landing that the weather had changed, the humidity had been blown away, and the wind was blowing strongly out of the north, a telltale sign to not go precisely where I just went. Figures.

For the record, none of this nonsense was on the forecast. Such is mountain flying.

No fue día normal que pensaría volar. Fueron tormentas en la tarde, formado de los Pirineos y se movieron al sur lentamente como progresó el día. Después que salieron las tormentas, el sol se presentó con excepción que el aire fue muy mojado y mal para fotos.

Cuando pasó la tarde al anochecer, tuve la idea pasar al lado de los Pirineos, mirando en la dirección de Andorra a una mezcla gran de nubes y cumbres, sin la necesidad actualmente volar adentro las montañas.

Intuición dijo “no.” La ingenuidad dijo volar.

Como alguien lógicamente concluiría de un piloto inteligente y experimentado, despegué.

Logrando a 10.000 pies, las nubes cúmulos tuvieron características extrañas, con más turbulencia que quise. Sí, esto es mal idea. [sigue subiendo]. Alcanzando a 10.500 pies, pasé al norte un poco, notando un techo de nubes en un lado de la cordillera, con lenticularis a 40.000 pies, lo que indican olas de montaña. “No importe, el piloto de remolque indicó que todo fue bien.”

Finalizando a 11.000 pies, di noticia que apareció que hay nubes formando en las cumbres en varios lugares. “He visto esto en los Estados Unidos tantas veces. ¡Qué bonito!” [intuición: “esto es muy mal y probablemente estoy puteado.”][sigue volando] Así entonces, fue evidente que mi velocidad actual fue muy lento, indicando la presencia de mucho viento. Con la cámara de enfocar, miré a los “nubes” abajo y lo que pensé fueron nubes actualmente fue nieve, moviendo en el viento como polvo. Qué bueno (estúpido?). Miré a la cordillera que es la frontera de Andorra y España, y todos tuvieron nieve que sopla.

En este momento, decidí que fui en posesión de una oportunidad. “Es obvio que es estúpido volar aquí ahora, pero ya estoy aquí, y al mínimo, el aire está tranquilo.” [mirando al derecho: olas, izquierda: nieve que sopla, adelante: techo de nubes, atrás: nubes moviendo extrañamente]. Tomé algunas fotos, y salí rápidamente. Hay una cantidad de estupidez que puedo aguantar y ya está.

La ruta de escape fue adentro las nubes extrañas (=rotores), sobre Bellver hasta lograr a los abrazos amables de Cadí-Moixeró, una pared de 500m vertical de rocas que sirve como bloqueador de viento. Descendí por La Cerdanya, aprendiendo durante aterrizaje que el tiempo había cambiado, ahora sin aire mojado y con viento fuerte al norte, que es señal famosa no volar precisamente en lugar que acabo de volar.

Esto es volar en La Cerdanya.

Puigpedrós 2.912m
Mountain Waves (1 of 11)

Are these clouds forming?
Mountain Waves (2 of 11)

Nope – that’s blowing snow.
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More blowing snow. It was granular, frozen stuff, not powdery, so that is not a good sign about the wind speed.
Mountain Waves (4 of 11)

A little bit of unwanted descent. The shadowed knoll in the center right is the convergence of the borders of Andorra, France, and Spain.
Mountain Waves (5 of 11)

It is inadvisable to go in there.
Mountain Waves (6 of 11)

Puigpedrós, with mountain waves. Time to get the hell of out Dodge.
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The way out is through these sneaky clouds doing weird things.
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Cadí-Moixeró with Pedraforca hiding behind, and the receding thunderstorms behind it.
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Cadí producing some clouds – even better.
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Snowshoe paths.
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Flight: Spain: Castellon de la Plana, Delta de l’Ebre

This is a real image. Story further down.

These are the images missing in my April blog post. I intended to fly to Morocco and the whole thing went to pot. As is customary, these are the images not on the AOPA post.

Estos son los imágenes que faltan en mi AOPA post de abril. Intenté volar a Marruecos y el plan entero se falló. Cómo normal, estos son los imágenes que no están en AOPA.

One way to deal with the inversion…..fly above it!
Castellon (1 of 49) Castellon (2 of 49) Castellon (3 of 49)

A bit hazy, but not too bad. Staying high up as terrain inclines in a few miles.
Castellon (4 of 49)

I have a better idea of how this road could have been laid out.
Castellon (5 of 49) Castellon (6 of 49)

Aqueduct under the highway.
Castellon (7 of 49) Castellon (8 of 49)

The weather went hazy, my new camera battery is empty and despite the fact that its the same size as my other camera’s batteries they are not compatible, and the headwind is absurdly strong. I am very pissy at this point.
Castellon (9 of 49)

Back to the old camera….
Castellon (10 of 49)

Evidence of the silly wind.
Castellon (11 of 49)

Diverting to Castellon de la Plana instead of Teruel as planned. Yup, this is going well.
Castellon (12 of 49) Castellon (13 of 49) Castellon (14 of 49)

By the coast. Haze is gone. Note Delta de l’Ebre on the horizon.
Castellon (15 of 49)

What the hell is this?
Castellon (16 of 49) Castellon (17 of 49) Castellon (18 of 49)

Penis. If this becomes all I am ever recognized for, I am fine with that.
Castellon (21 of 49)

Penis Cola? I prefer Pepsi…
Castellon (20 of 49)

Peñíscola. Note the Tilda and accent. That is the *proper* spelling, though someone decided to build a whole structure with it misspelled. Actual penis label lower center left.
Castellon (19 of 49)   Castellon (22 of 49) Castellon (23 of 49) Castellon (24 of 49) Castellon (25 of 49)

After seeing the penis sign, I am unsure what this is supposed to mean.
Castellon (26 of 49) Castellon (27 of 49)

The next morning….now on the way back. If someone tells you that they have a “villa in Spain” at a cocktail party, it probably looks like this. Don’t be impressed.
Castellon (28 of 49) Castellon (29 of 49)

Castellon (30 of 49)

Delta de l’Ebre
Castellon (31 of 49) Castellon (32 of 49)

Salt ponds. 
Castellon (33 of 49) Castellon (34 of 49)

Driving in circles…..
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Ebre River entering the Mediterranean…
Castellon (38 of 49)

What is this? Cambodia?
Castellon (39 of 49)
Castellon (40 of 49)

Obviously not on the coast anymore.
Castellon (41 of 49) Castellon (42 of 49) Castellon (43 of 49) Castellon (44 of 49) Castellon (45 of 49) Castellon (46 of 49)

Castellon (47 of 49)

Panta de las Baells. There is supposed to be a left accent on the ending a in Panta. The cat sprayed on my keyboard, and Microsoft only sells this model in Spain with Spanish keys and I can’t find the damn left pointing accent mark! It must be a conspiracy by the Spaniards against Catalunya (left accents are only in Catalan). 
Castellon (48 of 49)

El Pedraforca – symbol of Catalunya. Since this is largely a penis-themed blog post, I haven’t decided if Pedraforca is the grand middle finger or grand erection of Catalunya…..
Castellon (49 of 49)

Flight: Spain: La Cerdanya & Cadí-Moixeró in Infrared

I can’t help it – infrared is too exciting to go back to my horribly dull and pedestrian visible spectrum images. This post is two flights on one day: a mid-day attempt at some imagery over the ridge, along Cadí-Moixeró and around Cerdanya. I am told that IR photography is best during the middle of the day, and after three flights, it is evident that is flatly incorrect, at least as far as my style is concerned. Late evening light is absolutely incredible. I threw a few visible spectrum images in for comparison. Neither flight would have been worth taking with a regular camera, as the haze level has been very high.

El infrarrojo es demasiado interesante. Por eso, espero con mostrar las imágenes visibles, y procedo con más de la aventura infrarroja durante el proceso disfrutable de aprender como tomar fotos con espectro que no puedo ver.

Over the ridge looking into the Pre-Pyrenees on a very hazy day.
IR2 (1 of 17)

And this is the visible image. Again, dealing with two cameras so the images are slightly off as I swap in flight and reline up. I also have come to notice that 18mm in both lenses (one is 18-55, the other 18-135) is quite different.
IR2 (2 of 17)

Cadí-Moixeró. Note the sepia tone both in sky and on some of the ground. After extensive deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that the sepia tone on the ground is soil as opposed to rock, of which happens to reflect the same wavelength in IR as the sky, and the camera is seeing it as sepia.
IR2 (3 of 17)

Cadí-Moixeró from above. These are the mid-day images, which are not so hot. One may wonder why the snow reflects sepia. In the Pyrenees, it does not. I suspect it has something to do with accumulated dust and soils mixed in the snow. 
IR2 (4 of 17) IR2 (5 of 17)

Evening flight – Prats, taken during takeoff.
IR2 (6 of 17) IR2 (7 of 17) IR2 (8 of 17)

Notice how the clouds reflect less than grassy fields.
IR2 (9 of 17) IR2 (10 of 17) IR2 (11 of 17) IR2 (12 of 17)

Visible spectrum – for good measure. I have to do quite a bit of work to post process the visual images, where I do very little work on the IR, if anything at all. One may note that the visible image really isn’t dynamite – I would not have gone up given the haze count, even in the evening after the thunderstorms blew through.
IR2 (13 of 17) IR2 (14 of 17)

Entering the traffic pattern…
IR2 (15 of 17)

Final approach – Riu Segre.
IR2 (16 of 17)

Oh for God’s sake put the damn camera away and fly! Sanavastre on the right.
IR2 (17 of 17)

Flight: Spain: La Cerdanya in Infrared / en Infrarrojo

Castellano abajo.

I am interrupting my crazed need to post images in the relative order taken to show off my latest toy: an infrared camera! It’s a process to get the existing camera converted, as some internal optics need to be replaced, focus calibrated, and white balance settings toyed with. That all done, along with paying fascist import fees and a bunch of other rigmarole, it came in yesterday and I tested it today in the airplane.

We can’t see infrared, that is obvious. The camera can, though it has to convert it to something visual for us to see. It usually comes off the sensor as some hideous tinted red, of which is overridden by the camera white balance settings to make it fairly close to white. In the end, my presumption is that I am getting a binary image. White = IR, black = no IR. The result is very Ansel Adamsesque.

It has the added effect of seeing through haze. For anyone paying attention, I rant about it rather frequently, so now I have a tool to photograph on days that otherwise would be labeled crappy. This I proved today, going up with tons of glare, haze, and bleached lighting. The IR perspective eviscerated the disagreeable parts.

White balance off the camera presents the sky a tinge sepia. Some images I keep it, some I don’t. I am still making up my mind.

You’ll observe many interesting facts about IR. Roads absorb as opposed to reflect. Deciduous grasses and trees reflect most of it. Pine trees and shrubs reflect only some. Tilled soil reflects a small amount. Rivers and Spanish roofs reflect almost none. Clouds reflect a decent amount, though not as much as foliage.

Estoy cambiando mi proceso de publicar fotos en el orden tomado para mostrar mi juguete nuevo: una cámara de infrarrojo. Es un proceso específico para convertir la cámara, exigiendo cambios de vidrios y otras cosas para llegar a una foto bueno de IR. Ayer llegó la caja de los EUA, y hoy día tuve la oportunidad probarlo en el avión.

Es obvio que no vemos infrarrojo. La cámara tiene que convertir lo que ve a algo que podemos ver. Normalmente, sin modificación, es una imagen terrible lleno de tinto rojo, lo que está corregido por balancear el blanco. Con esto, el resultado es más o menos blanco y negro, de estilo Ansel Adams.

Tiene el efecto de ver por la calina, un sujeto que siempre estoy gritando de una forma u otro. Ahora, días que normalmente estarían puteados pudieran tener buen éxito. Probé esto hoy, con resultado satisfecho.

Observarán algunos efectos de IR: calles absorban IR en vez de reflejar. Hojas caducas y hierbas reflejan casi todo, mientras pinas son en medio, y suelo fresco aún menos. Techos españoles (o és millor dir catalans?) y ríos absorban casi todo. Las nubes reflejan bien, pero no tanto como visual.
Riu Segre is black. Bellver in the distance.

A little bleaching, though it would make sense that the hill is uniformly reflecting high IR content. In color, its more varied.
IMG_8149 IMG_8158 IMG_8166 IMG_8175

Puigcerdà in the distance. République Français on the horizon.

Between Das and Urús. I am leaning toward keeping the sepia horizon – as it comes off the camera.

Bellver de la Cerdanya

Note upper right – a little bit of snow. At least that reflects nice and white. Looking forward to winter already. 4.5 months til first mountain snows!

Lower Cerdanya. In a visible image, road is bright, everything else is dark. IR is inverted.


Looking down the runway – center of image. / Mirando al aeródromo, al centro de la imágen.

Visible image from separate camera compared to IR. Post processed as best I could. Very hazy day.
IMG_8358 IMG_8359



Flight: Spain: Aitona Peach Orchards

This flight was covered in the following AOPA post. Additional images, none of which are on the AOPA site, are below for this flight.

Este vuelo fue el sujeto de un post en AOPA (enlace arriba). Los siguientes imágenes son extra, que faltan en el sitio de AOPA.

Irrigation canal – this factors significantly in agriculture around Lleida.
Aitona (1 of 61)
Aitona (2 of 61) Aitona (3 of 61) Aitona (4 of 61) Aitona (5 of 61)

Mollerusa – note the haze. I get very supremacist when overflying cars in traffic. “I have an airplane…” is usually the subject of my snicker.
Aitona (6 of 61)

And the peach trees!
Aitona (7 of 61) Aitona (8 of 61) Aitona (9 of 61) Aitona (10 of 61)

Rail line. They use electric here for trains, though the Spanish rail network is nothing like Americans think of when they think of Europe. Northern European countries have a far more robust rail and tram system than here.
Aitona (11 of 61) Aitona (12 of 61) Aitona (13 of 61) Aitona (14 of 61) Aitona (15 of 61)

My shadow….
Aitona (16 of 61) Aitona (17 of 61) Aitona (18 of 61) Aitona (19 of 61) Aitona (20 of 61) Aitona (21 of 61)

East of Aitona. This is a 6m/18ft tall pile of crates. I drove to it the next day and climbed them, along with a bunch of other people. Since its Spain, nobody cares. Germany….verboten! The USA…someone would have come out with a rifle…..
Aitona (22 of 61) Aitona (23 of 61) Aitona (24 of 61) Aitona (25 of 61) Aitona (26 of 61) Aitona (27 of 61) Aitona (28 of 61) Aitona (29 of 61) Aitona (30 of 61) Aitona (31 of 61) Aitona (32 of 61) Aitona (33 of 61) Aitona (34 of 61) Aitona (35 of 61) Aitona (36 of 61) Aitona (37 of 61) Aitona (38 of 61) Aitona (39 of 61) Aitona (40 of 61) Aitona (41 of 61) Aitona (42 of 61) Aitona (43 of 61) Aitona (44 of 61) Aitona (45 of 61) Aitona (46 of 61) Aitona (47 of 61) Aitona (48 of 61) Aitona (49 of 61) Aitona (50 of 61)

“Your blog has too many photos.” Yeah, and I took 3,100 images on this flight, so what should I do, hide them all on my hard drive? That and I get to put lots of push pins on the map (which I am procrastinating doing anyway).
Aitona (51 of 61) Aitona (52 of 61) Aitona (53 of 61)

North of Lleida airport – haze in great abundance. This is the beginning of the foothills.
Aitona (54 of 61) Aitona (55 of 61) Aitona (56 of 61)

Vertical rock.
Aitona (57 of 61)

Riu Segre – not that I knew… I was wandering in the haze without looking at the map. There’s mountains north, flat south, home is northeast, and there were no airspace concerns, so I flew until I got to somewhere recognizable. Maps take the fun out of everything.
Aitona (58 of 61) Aitona (59 of 61) Aitona (60 of 61)

Cadí-Moixeró – no haze, of course. 
Aitona (61 of 61)