All Good Things
The last time I posted an update I was basking in the glory of my first significant thermal flight. The memories of that flight have not faded nor have they been surpassed. However, I’ve managed to get in the air three more times since that flight and while there was no grand thermal activity to report, they were great flights nonetheless.
Despite the lack of thermals – or at least thermals that I could find – the flights were still great. My tow on Sunday was entirely different from the tow I experienced on Saturday during my best flight ever. That tow was very bumpy, challenging, and more than a little exhausting. Sunday’s tow was calm. Smooth. Even peaceful. Given those conditions, I was more than a little puzzled as to how long I remained on tow.
Just to be clear, when I’m on tow I’m not spending much (aka. any) time looking at my watch nor my current altitude. I’m focused on the tug. I also don’t spend much (aka. any) time checking out the view either. I’m still focused on the tug. That said, you start to get a feel for how long you expect to be on tow and I was definitely feeling that I was on tow for a long time. I started to wonder if Rhett (Dragonfly pilot extraordinaire) had forgotten I was still there. Okay, I didn’t REALLY wonder that. But I did wonder why it was taking so long to get 2,500 feet. The answer came moments later.
After what seemed like an eternity on tow, Rhett gave me the signal to release the tow line. I complied. A quick look at my vario revealed the reason behind the seemingly long tow. There was nothing “seemingly” about it. While I had expected a tow to 2,500 feet, Rhett had towed me to 4,200 feet. I was both surprised (obviously) and VERY appreciative.
My attempts to find thermals were entirely unsuccessful but since I was towed so high I was able to have a long flight with great views. Again, without a GoPro mount for the glider I have no photos to post of my unexpected high flight. But trust me. It was beautiful.
My tow yesterday (Monday) was another unexpectedly long trip. But this time I wasn’t as surprised. Well, I was surprised that I was getting another long tow but I wasn’t puzzled by the experience. However, after releasing the tow line I was once again surprised when I saw my altitude was 5,000 feet. I’m not going to lie, it was fantastic. Sadly, the thermal activity was once again less than fantastic. Not all that surprisingly since I waited until later in the day to fly.
Despite the long tow and subsequently long return back to the ground, I still had time to squeeze another flight into the day. That flight was much more traditional in that I released the tow line at about 2,800 feet. I wasn’t complaining. It was still great to be flying.
After having spent so much time waiting on the weather during the past three weeks, it was very gratifying to get three consecutive days of flying. And with two flights of reaching 4,000 feet and one flight of 5,000 feet, I was feeling pretty great. And the timing was pretty ideal. Why ideal? Well, it with great sorrow that I have to come to terms with fact that the time has come to officially close the books on my current chapter of my ongoing midlife crisis.
It seems more than a little remarkable that I’ve been in Florida for almost a month – and equally remarkable that I’ve been at Quest Air for almost 3.5 weeks. And while there hasn’t been as much flying as I would’ve liked, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and the many new people I’ve met. There have been so many great people, great flights, great times. I can’t help but wonder why I’m leaving. Side note: The people here are wondering the same thing.
When I embarked on my journey last June, the plan was always to end up at Quest Air. And so I can proudly say that my journey has been a resounding success. Sure, my arrival didn’t exactly occur the way I had anticipated but I got here. Eventually. And that’s the important part.
Since my return to Quest Air, I have spent precious little time on my bike. Not because I was tired of biking. I just had other distractions to keep me occupied. That said, as I rode my bike into town today, I felt more than a little invigorated to be riding again. Sure, it was just a short 15 km ride. And maybe it was beginning to set in that today would be my last day of riding in Florida – for a while anyway. Whatever the reason, it was a very freeing feeling. Okay, maybe not as freeing as riding thermals up to 4,750 feet. But still freeing.
I can’t help but feel that I need a new experience to address my ongoing midlife crisis. What that will entail is still unclear. For better or worse though, I’ll be landing back in Toronto tomorrow afternoon. If that’s not motivation to come up with a new escape plan then I don’t know what is.
To put it (incredibly) simply, my experiences of cycling around North America over the past two years has been good. Very good. Of course, it’s been said that all good things must come to an end. On a long enough timeline, I suppose that would be true. But for now, that end has NOT arrived.