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.
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Some lake.
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Road to Girona. The marine airmass is pushed up against the other side of the hill.
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Gallifa – I think.
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Sant Llorenç del Munt – looking north.
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Somewhere in the direction of Calaf.
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I have a rough idea where this is but can’t seem to find a name. I don’t think anyone cares anyway.
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I find the oblong nature of this semi-circle amusing.
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Park Serra de Turp i Mora Condal-Valldaran – at least that is what Google Maps says.
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Lower Cerdanya sort of off to the distant right. I have often mused that this would be a poor canyon to crash in.
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Cadí-Moixeró. Don’t worry…the snow is melted and its a flaming inferno now.
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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.
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Riu Segre, south of La Seu d’Urgell
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Serra del Montsec
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Pantà de Camarasa
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Embalse de Santa Ana. Catalunya to the left, Aragón to the right.
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This is better than it looked on Google Maps.
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Spanish highway layout has a similar flare to many of their cultural norms.
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Irrigating while the wind is screaming and the humidity is low. Has anyone considered night time?
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Lake without a name, south of Binaced.
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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.
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Monegros. The colors were unquestionably surreal. Perhaps Picasso, Gaudí, and Dali just visited the Spanish countryside to create their art?
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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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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.
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Did someone paint these fields? The colors were really something else.
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Cliff before the Cinca riverbed.
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South of Lleida.
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Secans de Belianes-Preixana
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A-2, between Cervera and Igualada.
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Near Calaf.
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Beginning the slow ascent toward home.
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Pantà de Sant Ponç
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Ascending the Pre-Pyrenees
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Cadí-Moixeró, before crossing into La Cerdanya.
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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.

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Can I climb above the crap…….?
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Every conventional piece of pilot wisdom says this is extremely stupid. Though the camera doesn’t grab them, there are snowflakes in the air.
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Cumulo-granite anyone?
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Do not mess with an overloaded Piper Cub! 9,000 feet or so.
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Since that wasn’t enough, I crossed the valley to the border of Andorra to check out the foul weather in the Pyrenees.
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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.
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You’re looking at Spain, France, and Andorra.
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Puigpedrós and Val du Carol, France.
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La Cerdanya
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Descending “en descenso” as the Spanish like to say.
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Just an hour prior, it was snowing here.
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View to the Pyrenees, where I was just playing around.
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Next morning, snow is not gone.
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La Masella, ski season still going on April 28th.
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