I have been lucky enough to travel a fair bit in pursuit of this magical dream called free-flight. Whether near, or far I have learned it is always best to stick to the original plan, no matter what. At least that is what I am telling myself right now as I sit here on the floor of the Salt Lake City International Airport. It has only been 36 hours since I left this place….and now I am back? What on earth happened?
Since this sport is so intimately intertwined with weather, it often rules our decisions, and if we’re not careful can run a trip straight into the mud. While traveling we seem to pour over weather forecasts, and do our best to predict, via the crystal ball of technology, where will produce the best flying conditions. If you are not careful these forecasts can keep you running to and fro in search of good conditions only to leave you frustrated and worn. I think that is what happened.
As I sit here on the floor watching the bags go around and around the baggage carousel, watching the confusion and chaos of the crowd, I cannot help but reflect. I have so many experiences where sticking with the original plan, regardless of the forecast has turned out magically. Like waking up at 3 a.m. to venture to the top of a volcano despite high wind forecasts, only to be rewarded with an amazing flight all the way to the ocean, because that was the plan. Or standing in the rain, but still riding the gondola to the top of the mountain only to find clear skies and perfect flying conditions high over the clouds, because that was the plan. Again, despite forecasts, driving into torrential rains at Chamonix, but waking to find clear skies and amazing flights up towards Mont Blanc, because that was the plan. The list goes on and on….have I learned nothing?
This trip had a plan. To spend several days flying the mountains from San Diego, up through Santa Barbara, and into Big Sur. The moment we landed we seemed to have a big “?” hanging over all our heads. Even the locals were not sure what to do. Clark and I made an executive decision and ventured out to the desert mountains where we were rewarded with some exciting flights. The wheels started to come off as Paul and Gary were downright sick, which was no fun for them. At dinner we poured over the glow of technology only to see bright red wind cells, and a NOAA High Wind Warning for all of southern California staring back at us. Once Paul and Gary threw in the towel from sickness, the wheels were officially off. With a bad weather forecast looming for days, time away from work, family, and other responsibilities the decision was clear. From there it didn’t take long to book a flight and head home this morning. I cannot believe we bailed, we NEVER bail.
The carousel goes around and my phone buzzes. I look down to see a short text from Paul, “Did you guys really go home? Today was one of the best flying days Southern California has seen in months.” I guess we should have just stuck to the plan!