Linda Salamone's Blog

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Okay, last day of the Quest meet. Task 5- Saturday
No one seemed to want to fly. Wait- I seemed to not want to fly and I was projecting it onto everyone else! I was tired, sore, and still flying HIGH from the flight yesterday. The forecast today sucked, and it seemed rude to try to have a task today…. But of course, we all set up our gliders after the task was called, and even though the wind was so strong it was making the set up difficult, it did lay down a little as we staged. A bunch of rigids launched, and landed. Campbell Bowen snuck off though, so maybe this would be a racing day after all. A few flexes launched, and landed. Then a few more and a few more. The main part of the group was still hanging around on the ground, wondering if this day was worth flying. A few people never set up, and a few who did, took a launch and landed at the set-up area to break down. I got in line like a sheep (or a lemming, depending on your view) and got towed up late. The tow was really rowdy off the ground, and got smoother with altitude. I got let off near some turning gliders and found some lift but was having a horrible time staying in it well enough to climb. I got pushed downwind, but finally found a corker that I could take to 4500’. I told Mark I was going to try to get somewhere down courseline and he said he had to bag it since his harness zipper blew out. I think I had two more measly climbs and a glide over the swamp that had me panicking. I was tempted to follow another glider deeper into the swamp towards some low turning gliders but chickened out when I saw the terrain. I pointed my glider back towards rte 33 and it just pretty much got parked there. Nowhere good to land, getting drilled, yikes I think I see a sort of clear area ( no swamp trees) and I try to make out the foliage. I pushed up my visor to really see that it was just a sea of bushes, not really a field, but it really was the only thing going so I tried to make a decent approach as I sank out. It got super ratty since there were trees just upwind of my target and I almost got turned around some, but when the ground came up to meet me I just flared on the top of the brush and came down with a soft thump. Well this crap was like chin high, but at least I was safe on the ground. I called Mark, I was only 9 miles out from Quest so this should be a quick retrieve, and proceeded to consider my options of breaking down the glider. After a bit it was apparent that I would be able to do it easily by myself so I called mark again. He said he would stop what he was doing (breaking down his own glider) and come help. Well I walked through the brush (bushwhacked) and found a little road around 50 yds away. I went back to my glider and started moving towards the sand road. That required lifting it way up and pushing it forward to bend the bushes over. Like 3 feet at a time. Well what else did I have to do? I had shorts on and it reminded me of another glider retrieve long ago at H-port…. I was scratched and dented but making progress and I was so incredibly pleased with myself when I made to the road! I figured Mark would be there any minute and congratulate me on my tenacity…. I broke the glider down and still no sign of Mark. I got all packed away and started to walk down this road and stopped when I saw either a big cat like animal (or a coyote) cross the road ahead of me. I went back to my glider and called mark. No answer now. Shannon called and told me I was pretty deep in the swamp and they would be there in 20 minutes or so. An hour goes by and I start thinking about spending the night in the swamp without bug spray….
Into the third hour and I heard from Mark, now my cell phone battery was dying so we switched to radios. They were 2 miles away, as close as they could get, and walking towards me. I started walking south, dragging my harness behind me on the sand road. A few tenths of a mile up the road, I see a truck pull out of a side “road” and turn away from me, followed by a sheriff car. Uh oh, someone’s been looking for me…. They stopped when they saw me, and got out of their vehicles. They put their heads down conspiratorily as I approached. They were saying – I found out later- “Look, there’s a homeless woman”… and the sheriff replied, “looks like it’s ‘moving day’”…. As I dragged what looked like all my worldly possessions behind me.
I thought I was in huge trouble, but they smiled and said how lucky I was that I came down that piece of road when I did. The landowner had called the sheriff since a new lock was preventing him from getting onto his land. They were out checking the property and cutting the lock. They drove me to the gate where Mark and Shannon were- just discovering as unlocked and a direct route to me. Well so no night in the swamp for me! Thank God! We got the glider as the landowner and the gate lockers collided opinions about property rights a short time later.
We got back to Quest and tried to pack what we could as the sun set. Then we proceeded to do the glider shuffle- ours into the Quest West trailer, the Freedom onto the car, the search for Oded’s glider….pack the car tight, hit the showers, socialize a bit at the awards ceremony, leave like thieves in the night to avoid all those long goodbyes, then the 20+ hour drive home! I still didn’t know for sure if I had the Florida State or the East coast distance record (women’s) so I had that to look forward to when we got home. And when I read it in the OzReport the next night, well, I KNEW it to be true…
Wow, what a great couple of weeks of flying. 26 hours and 44 minutes total…..


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