Flight: Portugal: Wandering Around the Silver Coast

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Photographs – Episode II

I have finally been asphyxiated by my own creativity. There are months of glorious flights back in Catalunya that I haven’t blogged about, and in the spirit of all things Iberian, I have decided I don’t care. I’ll eventually publish something. In the meantime, I am compulsively flying around Portugal whenever the sun comes out, so below are some photos.

As for the much promised second installation of mania, this one features whimsical musings over regional differences in geospatially-influenced travel and lifestyle decisions. The whole idea started with this maniacal quest that seems to surround my photography these days. There is this looming cloud of black doom hanging overhead. No, it is not the resigned pessimism of engine failure (that’s just a gray cloud); rather, it relates to the idea that “it is unlikely I will be here again in the Cub, so I may as well seize the day and go flying.” One would ask, “Where is here?” and the answer is that “here” is anywhere I am in Europe. Is it logical to assume that I will set foot again in Portugal with the Cub, or anywhere else I go? Probably not. Enter Germanic heritage with its associated nonsense about thrift, work, and value maximization, and now we have a recipe for a fanatical obsession.

That got me musing on the fact that I did not feel that way in Wyoming, where I did my highest concentration of flying in one year. Granted, once the decision was made to move to Germany, there was some hysteria to finish a long list of projects; however, the existentialism of Wyoming is not a deluded hysteria by any means: not for me, not for those who live there, and not for those who visit briefly. Wyoming and the West is about nature and exploration and the process of it. Few are in a mad rush to bucket list their way through natural monuments; they are usually so enchanted that they stop in the middle of the road and gaze at their surroundings, without any cognizance of the other humans around them.

Contrast that to Europe. Americans that visit Europe on vacation specifically do bucket list their way through overtly common lists of tourist hellholes, traveling at absurd speeds, trying to see it all. Why? Probably it has something to do with the idea that they won’t be there again, so why not see it?

It is strange to think of Spaniards being carefree in Spain, Americans being enraptured by nature in the West, and Americans acting like lunatics in Europe. Do Europeans scurry around the USA on vacation? Possibly. They often report seeing more sights than Americans have seen in America while on a mere three-week vacation.

What’s the lesson here? I don’t know; this is a blog, so I just ramble. I thought the lesson was to slowly massage the minds of my eager readers into buying my books.

North of Ferrel

Lagoa de Óbidos

Out to sea…

Miradouro do Facho

Nazaré, home of some of the biggest waves in the world (up to 100 feet). Obviously not happening today.

Praia da Gralha

São Martinho do Porto

Salt spray. It comes all the way up to my airplane at 800 feet above sea level and coats it in flight. 

Wave at Nazaré

Rainbow, south of Peniche

Border of Leiria and Lisbon District. Districts are the closest thing to provinces in Portugal. In my opinion, it looks like Ireland this time of year.

Same place looking toward Peniche.


Baleal, a renowned surfing destination.

Out to sea again. Truth-in-blogging: I actually am near the beach, just pointing the camera out to sea. There is no way in hell I would fly out of glide range. I don’t like flying over water.

Splash. Baleal.

Cabo Carvoeiro. Waves broke the windows at the restaurant 20 feet above the water a few weeks ago. 


West of Boavista.

Praia do Porto Barril.

Porto Novo.

Book #14: The First 100 Days: Flying in La Cerdanya

Supposedly, the concept of a blog for authors is to “engage with the reader.” The experts tell me that people want to hear all sorts of blathering and “personal interactions,” to make followers feel special, like they have some sort of backstage access. I think the whole thing is odd, though I certainly don’t mind the occasional esoteric fusillade railing against incongruities in social norms. In keeping with this “engage with the reader” bit, I’ll share some hot air about my book publication.

#14 was done a while ago, and I am officially letting my blog readers in on it, months later, which defeats the whole backstage access theory. I’ll let you in on a secret: #15 has been on the market too (it’s on Amazon, held under wraps, of course), and I am measuring 4cm dilation for #16! Don’t tell anyone.

If one cannot tell, I find the idea of announcing the arrival of a book as somewhat existential. I put it on the site and forget about it, and then realize: “Oh, I should probably send a note to the people who have bothered to express specific interest in my work.”

This latest title “The First 100 Days: Flying in La Cerdanya” is a slightly new subject template, where I chose to show 1-2 photographs of each of my first 100 flights in Cerdanya. One always includes Cerdanya and related environs, whereas optional image #2 contains where I went on that flight, out of the area. It is noteworthy that I flew 100 times in less than a year, which is a bit of a deluded, fanatical obsession, but I digress.

I could try the whole poor fundraiser angle. For every book that is sold, I get enough royalties for 6 minutes of fuel, which is so financially unappealing that I wish I didn’t calculate that quippy factoid.

The link below will go to the book page on my site, which will link to Amazon in the USA and Europe.




Flight: Spain, Portugal: 2 of 2: Crossing Iberia (The Rest of the Story, Part II)

Since my highest concentration of sardonic witticism lies in the image “labels,” I’ll skip the amorphous blob of words and cut to the chase. Please see AOPA post for the story behind the friendly visit by Spanish paramilitary police.

Somewhere in Extremadura…

Embalse de Cazalegas

I haven’t figured out what species these trees are. Cows graze beneath and crops are raised beneath also. I suspect they are cork oak, or the tree that wild pigs feed on, get shot, and then become Iberian ham.

Extremadura. Cloudy, so not the best day for photos, but otherwise good to get the plane to yet another country.

Spring flowers.


Embalse de Valdecañas (aka middle of nowhere)

These markings repeatedly puzzled me in flight.

This lies in the middle of absolutely nowhere and lacks any indication as to its use. No crosses, no rigid gates, no signs for tourists. It seems decently maintained enough.

Parque Nacional de Monfragüe, infrared. Glare was getting excessive with visible spectrum.

Customer service visit by Spanish paramilitary police to make sure my time in Spain is going smoothly. “An American! Let’s get the bastard!” Full story on the AOPA post. 

Casar de Cáceres


Explanation as to those bizarre markings in the field.

Strange trees.

Wyoming…or Extremadura? I’d love to do a focus group test and see what people choose.



Good use of stones: permanent fencing.

Hmm….something looks strange. [Look down at iPad] Hey, we’re in Portugal! Country #7 for the Cub!

Eucalyptus trees.

Same thing…in infrared.


Eucalyptus trees, infrared. Getting near the coast as haze increases and temperature drops.

Óbidos. Medieval tourist hotspot.

Atlantic Ocean! I made it here alive….

Flight: Spain: 1 of 2: Crossing Iberia (The Rest of the Story)

For those who have read my March 9 AOPA post, these are the photos that were missing; i.e., the rest of the story. For those who have not read the AOPA post, I suggest doing so as the story of crossing Spain into Portugal is told. As for why there is a bunch of rambling below, well, you’ll have to skip the normal routine of ignoring what I write for favor of pretty pictures if one wishes to understand the content.

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of photographs.” That is how one person who actually reads my stream of literary emissions had to say about it (particularly when he was getting my blog in his inbox and not a bunch of bean counting that he wanted instead). In this particular installation of mania, I will dive into the sticky subject of expatriate living.

Previously, I have railed against my lifestyle as appearing like the archetypal “travel.” Those who wander like discerning, cultured, and unique individualists prefer to not be identified as a “tourist” while at the same time enjoying traditional social presumptions afforded to those who have connoisseured a list of curated destinations. In other words, behaving like a tourist but doing it “differently.” As one would expect, I don’t fit into that category, of course, even though it looks like I do. I have an airplane, which makes me different, or snobbishly supremacist, or both, depending on from who’s perspective.

Now, moving on to another thing that I am not doing that I am actually doing. It has come to my attention after some recent saline-infused coastal musings that expatriate living is traditionally a binary prospect. One either lives like their home culture or the culture of where they live at present while abroad. I have observed many other American expats, and while it is almost impossible to shed a strong accent while speaking a foreign language and other indications of one’s point of origin, I can see that a number of them are fully adopting, or trying to adopt, the local culture. Almost all of them have something they do not like about the United States, and are willing to state it as one of the primary reasons for living in whichever country they are in. Naturally, one would come to the conclusion that there is something so overwhelmingly negative for some people in their home country that they are ditching living there and adopting something else.

Curiously, I have run into a number of Europeans in country outside of their own, and many of them are preaching why the new European country is so much better than the old. Then there was a Portuguese pilot, who used to live in Africa, who asks himself what he is doing living in Portugal…..?

That led to a perception that maybe the matter in question is not how good America or any other country is, perhaps it is a person’s native vs adopted country. It seems that many who leave their native land find themselves in a binary decision between the two, clearly opting for the adopted if they are self-professed happy expats. That lends a further question, what are people leaving in their home country that is better elsewhere?

For those who love travel, the thrill of the wander is enough. As someone who is seemingly completely lost, I can attest that travel is a part of expat living…to a point. Then a new place becomes home, and the initial travel element recedes significantly. I find that it really is a question of a way of life. I would say a country, or a culture, though I think it is more than that. Some countries — law, culture, language, and economics aside — have very specific weather and geography, which strongly favors one lifestyle and may outright prohibit another. Are there skiers in Algeria, or beachside bars in Finland? For someone born in a country that has a way of life that prohibits the individuality of a person in question, one can understand why a new country is adopted.

So, naturally, one would ask what I am looking for outside of America, to which I reply that I am not being like everyone else (of course, even though I am doing what other expats do), and I have a wonderfully accented spice of cogent individuality that drives my enviably eclectic decision making. One way or another, I am sure I will have more to say at some future point.

Cadí-Moixeró (Would one expect anything less?)

Montserrat. Yes, I know. Repetitive beauty. May I suggest other American aerial photographers in Catalunya if you’re not happy?

Riu Segre, infrared. I figured out how to get the colors to behave better.

Inversion along the Pre-Pyrenees.

Serra Montsec

Border of Catalunya and Aragon.

Entering the plains, infrared.

The plains, which then become the desert. Its a little less severe as its winter.

Hill north of Zaragoza, infrared.

Ebro River valley, west of Zaragoza. Strong headwind.

And fire….

Moncayo ridge on the south side of Monegros. Wind mills = wind.

Tierga. I am sure most people will recognize the name.

Somewhere in the middle of Spain.

Somewhere else in the middle of Spain.

Embalse de Pálmaces

Hills right next to Embalse de Pálmaces.

And hills right next to the hills right next to Embalse de Pálmaces, infrared.

Beleña de Sorbe, another famous place.

Alright, this is just NE of Madrid and I am sick of looking it up.

Infrared, for the visually daft.

Madrid skyscrapers in the distance, directly north of the city. Throne of Mariano Rajoy, oppressor of Catalunya or defender of Spanish pride, depending on whether or not you are in Catalunya.

Embalse del Pardo

Suburbs of Madrid. Ugh.

One hell of a cross.

En route to Casarrubios for the night.