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Author: Jeff O'Brien Created: 5/13/2009 2:45 PM
Jeff O'Brien revolutionized his life when he learned to hang glide in 1998. He dropped most other interests and promptly moved to Utah to fly full time. He's flown hang gliders on five continents and began competing in 2005. Jeff is probably most known for his wing mounted photography which can be seen in hang gliding publications and press worldwide.

We're going back for the ULTIMATE glide ratio contest - Dustin is residing at the WW Wing Mine fashioning parasite killers. Shapiro's KEEN. Zippy too :)

I've been "busy" as well. ;)

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Ryan Voight makes a nose boom and Dave Gibson flies with it:

Check out the blog post: LINK HERE

Photo by Ryan Voight. Pilot: Dave Gibson.

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99 to the line...

Currently I'm sitting in a hotel room overlooking the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence, Italy.... smiling... All is perfect.

Somewhere near Corotona.

Friday Lauri got into Sigillo. She'd traveled from Denver, rented a car in Rome, and rocked overland to Sigillo. A savvy travel. The gem in our plan is the GPS uploaded with a map of Italy. Within the first hours, the $99 spent on the maps had already paid back in full.

Unfortunately / fortunately there was rain on Friday so that allowed me to get everything sorted out in our apartment, the fridge stocked, and some birthday supplies as it was Lauri's b-day on Saturday. I was unhappy we weren't flying, but happy I had the opportunity to sort out accommodations so her arrival would be seamless.

Friday evening we hung out with Davis, Belinda, and Shapiro before attending the main party at the hotel in town. We thought it weird the major event was before the last day of the meet, but most of us had been partying down pretty well all week. Zippy's winning day came after he was seen dancing down main street at 3am the night before.

Assisi night.

There were over 300 people in attendance at the party and it was a festive affair. Dinner was followed by dancing to a DJ complete with table dancing girls. Motivation to drink up and shake down. Lauri and I jet lagged finally at around 1am, but we heard the party continued til around 3.

Confined in Corotona.

The next day cloudbase was below launch as we drove up. We set up and waited for things to lift. After chilling on the hilltop restaurant and waiting for conditions to improve, an out and return task was called with start times between 3 and 4pm.

Sunset over Ponte Vecchio bridge - Florence.

Launch que's were a bit hectic, but I got off the hill at the right time. Lift was somewhat light, and we had to trave 10miles away to get the start, so I settled in and slowly moved east toward the cylinder trying to stay high. Things worked out pretty well and I was able to stay near cloudbase waiting for the start. Rain was behind launch, but most all of the overdevelopment would stay just off course line the entire day. We would only fly through light rain for a couple of miles during the task.

Old Florence.

The start ticked over and I got a decent one. I noticed several pilots further out in the valley specked out - it was Davis, Manfred, Jonny, and others. They'd get the jump on everyone. I was running with Zippy and Dustin in sight as well as Andre Wolf and others.

New Florence.

As we neared the most technical portion of the first leg, I was thankful Zippy was willing to run deep and low in front. I wasn't high, and there was a mostly unland-able canyon we had to negotiate. I saw Zippy climbing deep, and dove for him with Shapiro right off my keel. Zippy, Shapiro, and I turned tip to tip winding up through as the climb improved. It turned into a 800fpm tight screamer that everyone came over to. Pushed out traffic avoidance to try and catch up. I ran for the turnpoint with Davis and others just above me. He was having a great flight.

Old Florence.

New Florence.

On the way back from the turn, I had Zippy and Dustin just lower and in front sniffing out the lift. I was able to find a reasonable climb that the others didn't and took it up high for the crossing back over the range. It was at this point that Manfred came in just above. We were running with a handful of other pilots I couldn't identify. Antoine Boisselier was there.

There was a lot of shade ahead and I was trying to discern if there were cu's embedded below the thick overcast. The air seemed void of energy. If we could hang on the 15km until the sun again, we'd have a chance. There was also very light ridge lift on the windward side. We flew through a couple miles of light rain. I burbled down the ridge. Manfred was being patient. Dustin was out charging ahead.

We got back into the sun, but the lift wasn't there. We were loosing precious altitude. Spines and ridges that should have been working were not. Manfred had position on us all. There were three pilots out in front and lower than me. I let them sniff for the lift while I tried my best to conserve. I came over another spine and there were two deer chasing each other on the hillside meadow. It was one of those moments where you take in the scene for just a couple of moments, then get back on task. I was about 100ft. off the hillside and working hard to find the lift.

Someone started climbing low in the valley. I watched for a couple of turns from my zero sink, and they were climbing well. I raced over with others. I called back to teammates I was in 450fpm low over town. I could see the armada of 30 or more coming for us. Manfred dove in just below. Jonny appeared out of nowhere. Blay was there. So was Christian. When we neared the airspace ceiling, I was expecting Manfred and Christian to pull rope and break. I watched closely. I decided to pull the trigger. I glided toward the "launch" turnpoint, and then we'd have to go another 10km to a final turnpoint before going for goal.

Table for two for lunch? Indeed.

I was escorted by Manfred and Christian toward the last turnpoint. Manfred seemed to be playing it conservative a bit, I'm sure he wanted Christian and I out in front so he could avoid any meet loosing moves. Christian was going for it, but loosing some altitude. I tried to hug the mountain range a bit more and dolphin fly my way. This is where previous experience paid off. On the second day, we had virtually the same final turnpoint and virtually the same final glide. I knew how high over the peaks and ridges I should be for good numbers and I seemed to have them. I saw Christian whirl around when he hit lift. He was now 500 feet below. I looked at my instrument and decided my numbers were good around the last turnpoint through to goal. I kept going.

The numbers were indeed good to goal and I arrived with just enough for a pass over the line and a 270 degree turn to land into the wind. Dustin was at goal, so I was confused. It turned out he had pushed too hard on the way to the final turnpoint and landed at goal. Had he not pushed just a bit too much, he likely would have won the day. After all the downloads were complete and airspace was scrutinized, I'd won the day. 99 were in goal. A sweet fly for sure. The fact that it was Lauri's birthday made it sweeter.

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Rainbows, fawns, and butterfly wings fanning my penis... Fantasy is reality

First Task 3... I flew really well the first 1/2 of the task and was sharing air with Zippy and Ploner when they made a move deeper into the mountains. The winds were high and the possibility of rotor there, so I looked as deeply as I could into the canyons and said "not today." I wasn't willing to push my perceived safety at that moment. I would end up groveling alone after that, making a low save, but ending up on the ground. Zippy went on to win the day, likely the sweetest day win in his career. We're all stoked for him.

Shapiro had GPS troubles and was unfortunately only scored to the first turnpoint. His GPS lost reception and when it turned on 7km down the road, the arrow still pointed back to the first turn. He missed the cylinder by 100m. A hard pill to swallow, but this trip is teaching us lessons in the air and on the ground as always. Our perspective is evolving for the better I think.

Yesterday we woke with the mountains obscured in clouds and the look of rain in the sky. The day was called and we made loose plans for leisure. I decided to stroll the 3km into town. The walks around here are perpetually happy with music in my ears and plenty of fodder for the eyes. I met Mike Glennon and Raul Guerra at the hotel. They were making a plan to drive to the coast, but first "Jump in the car Jeff, we're going to look at an apartment." I had been looking for an room for a couple of nights for my me and my girl (who's arriving today) and Mike was looking for accommodations for the Columbian team next year. We had Claudia our translator with us ;) and we took off after Dominico.

(on one of our rain days, the South American crew came over for a BBQ. Raul and company made fresh Ceviche' and the Brazillians grilled meat, sausage, and other animal delicacies - Another very cool multi-national experience.)

The two bedroom apartment on the hill was nice and we inquired about availability and cost. "I'll talk to my brother and call you later today was the response." We thanked and headed back to town. A bit more harumbummelin brought me to lunch alone, which turned into lunch with the Italian team after an invitation. We've been enamored with "Pizza on the Piazza" since the food is delicious and cheap and the owner Danielo is an enthusiastic T2C pilot. I really enjoyed getting their menu recommendations and subsequently trying their dishes. Truffles are renowned and cheap in this area and it's used in many dishes.

I walked the 3km home after lunch to meet up with Shapiro, Catherine, Zippy and Hedvich (sorry for spelling) and we drove right back into town to lunch at "Pizza at the Piazza" ??? Yes, I went right back. I enjoyed truffle vanilla ice cream with chocolate powdered chocolate coating marinating in coffee and the international conversation. Time and time again this trip I find myself in a small group of people that's comprised of people from several different countries. It does a lot to widen my american blinders.

I excused myself after the second lunch and had another walkabout. The old neighborhood in town is a feast for the eyes. Quintessential narrow streets, peppered tastefully with pigeons and cats oozing romance. Ahh... Then it began to rain lightly. I started to walk the 3km home. I daydreamed up at swallows feasting on the insects swept up toward the towering cu's. The rain began to fall harder and I stopped under a tree near our villa to wait it out. Belinda came by in the car going the other way and offered a ride back into town. "No thanks, I'll wait it out and walk home," I said.

Five minutes later, I made eye contact with the driver of a car going by. He skidded to a stop. It was Dominico, the apartment owner. Hand signals indicated, "Get in, let's go to look at the apartment." Ten minutes later I had met Dominico's parents, and brother. We signed back and forth about price and availability. (I speak no Italian, they speak no english) They handed me the keys, signed "Put the keys and the money in the drawer when you leave. Have a nice time." and Dominico drove me back to our villa. How fortuitous. I was picked up from under a tree in the rain, given keys to an affordable two bedroom apartment I needed, and had a great laugh with his gregarious parents. Life was perfect.

We watched the storm waves from the villa. Black background with silver rain, then a rainbow. Life got prettier. Soon Shapiro returned from a run to the new found "castle" - We've been running through the sunflower field and down the gravel road. Claudia went further than I had previously a couple of days ago and returned talking about a castle. Shaprio confirmed it was there and worth the effort. I borrowed his shoes and headed off. On the way it began to rain. A fawn hiding underneath a roadside tree ran out ahead of me as I approached. Another km down the road a jackrabbit sat chewing on the shoulder of the road before perking up it's ears and disappearing into the weeds. The scene was getting even more fairy-tale-like. After all, I was on my way to "the castle"

More rain came and the ground emitted steamy fog as thunder broke all around. I could now see the castle on the hillside and kept following the road. Soon a turnoff seemed like the one to take and I began up the hill. 1/2 way up the switchbacks I turned away from the sun to see the grand rainbow. A prolate arc that bent unconventionally high in the sky. Seriously?!? My mouth was agape. I was looking out at the picturesque Italian countryside with rain, thunder, sun, golden wheat fields, low lying fog, and now the most grand rainbow. I was looking at paradise. I jogged facing the rainbow still trying to catch my breath and sipping the scene at the same time.

(This isn't the rainbow from "that" day, but rather a rainbow I saw in Colorado shortly before leaving - the Colorado rainbow was the brightest I'd ever seen.)

The last bit of road to the castle was lined with perfectly spaced majestic trees likely planted over a hundred years ago. There was a care-takers house first on the left which I quietly passed by so I could remain unnoticed. Next was a small ancient church, then an enclosure with pheasants beyond. The males were highly colored. Next I came upon a fountain with fish and toads swimming. It seemed like a harmonious enclosed ecosystem. The castle was next. Huge by house standards, small by castle standards, it had a melding of ancient and modern accoutrements. Battering ram resistant doors with finger sized key holes, and modernist lighting to festoon the facade at night. It had obviously been transformed and renovated into an amazing place for weddings and functions.

I took a stroll around the grounds, and then headed back from where I came. On the way home there was more rain and I got into the sound in my ears and the rhythm of my breath. Shapiro had mentioned it was one of the best runs he'd ever taken. I wholeheartedly agreed. In the waning sunlight as I ran, I thought of what a perfect day I'd just experienced. I hadn't flown, yet it was a day of serendipitous luck and rare beauty. Once in a decade beauty although it seems like I get the pleasure of this level of beauty far more often than that.

I'm supremely thankful.

Airtime: 2.20. Flights: 1. Miles: unknown.

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AN AIRSPACE ISSUE - with a hang gliding problem... The AIRSPACE continues to baffle and frustrate pilots and it VERY obscure and subjective. There are warnings, ZERO scores, nebulous buffers, barometric pressure, real altitudes. Launches inside airspace... etc. It's a ROYAL mess with little concrete information. An embarrassment for meet organizers.

Pre-Worlds day 3 - Task 2

We go up to Cucco launch for a 101km out and return that turns technical.

All is chill before we launch but airspace is KILLING the FUN around here! Launch is in airspace. Launch is 3930ft. We are NOT allowed to go over 6000ft. near launch! So 2000ft. over launch and you'd better high tail it away or ZERO. Dustin got a zero for day one - not a warning like we were told we would get on the first day. I hope there's a protest in the works. There is airspace up and down the valley. It's debilitating and a pain in the ass to watch out for. Davis mentioned that the meet organizers promised that airspace would not be an issue during their bid to hold the meet.

They call a task up and down the valley, just jumping two ridges, it doesn't look to be too technical. (it turns out to be) There's an inversion and we don't get that high early. People are fighting for position over each of the peaks and as a result, the gaggles for the first portion of the task are THICK. I feel that my gaggle tolerance is pretty high at the moment. I get frustrated less and seem to be able to work through or around traffic jams.

The cruise down to the first turnpoint is relatively easy. I make a mistake, have to come back 1km for a climb, and Zippy and Shapiro get the jump on me. I run into 800fpm for a few circles and catch up to Wolfi who is over me. We take a wingtip to wingtip glide for fun. At this point I see Dustin leading the gaggle back low from the first turn back to the ridge. Zippy and Shapiro are right behind with a dozen or more pilots. They running fast and low. I get the turn and see the mess of pilots struggling low on the ridge. Eventually we piece together a climb, but Dustin has got away. He calls out climbs from ahead.

Shapiro and I come back in close contact and we thermal with others over another flying site in the area. Yesterday we flew over a flying site. It's cool to rock up on a mountain and see folks setting up to fly. We went round and round with the free flyer that had just launched from the peak.

On our way back, after we jumped back on to the Monte Cucco ridge, it was somewhat slow going. Climbs weren't getting me that high and I had to ride just a few hundred feet over the trees burbling and waiting to hit something. It was a slog back to launch and I eventually burbled below launch on my way to the second turnpoint. Shapiro and Zippy were still close by.

Finally I hit 500fpm that got me to 5700 right over the biggest peak near Cucco, but I pulled out due to AIRSPACE. Kept pushing to the last turn. The last turnpoint was a big cylinder on a high peak that was behind two other smaller ridges. Dustin had warned us about the un-landable terrain, but the lift I needed just wasn't there, and I pushed in deeper than I wanted to. Zippy was with me.

There was a field or two you could fly-on-the-wall in, but I didn't want to exercise that option. Tried thermalling in a bubble literally 50ft. off a grassy hilltop. Didn't work. Zippy burbled ahead. I went to cross a saddle with 80ft. of tree clearance. I had just a couple of seconds to assess if there were landings on the other side. There were not... I literally had moments to decide if I could squirm out the valley if I needed to, and I hit a bubble that turned into a tight ripper that got me up and out. Whew. I'd unintentionally got myself into a tight spot and I was thankful the lift was there to get me away.

Zippy eventually pulled the trigger and went for the turnpoint even deeper in, and I followed. We immediately turned back. Zippy cleared the un-landable ridge on the way back by 75ft. I had a bit more altitude and made a bee line for more friendly terrain. It was 12 to 1 to goal, but we had a bit of friendly ridge to work on the way home. It turned 14 to 1, then a German pilot I was following hit 400fpm right over a spine. I took two turns with him and pulled rope while he was on the backside of his turn. Flew moderately aggressively into goal at around 60mph arriving with a couple hundred feet. Rewarding day.

The scene in the LZ was festive and chill. We sipped beers and sat in the shade of our gliders chatting about the fun. A beautiful day.

Airtime: 3.15. Flights: 1. Miles: 62.

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Pre-Worlds - Day 2

We got our first task. They called an out and return with five turnpoints up and over a couple of ridges and across two valleys. It looked somewhat challenging on the map, and proved to be very challenging for me. We went to the north launch on Monte Cucco.

The first task briefing was a bit of mental overload for me. Lots of people talking about airspace, procedures, task parameters, etc. A lot of logistical nuance to nosh on. Flying big comps seems to add another layer of complexity to the ground bound happenings. Languages, coordination, etc.

Gaggles before the start were thick, but not unruly. I was out of position for the first and second starts, so Zippy, Shapiro, Derek Turner, and I took the third start. Zippy, Shapiro, and I were running really well together through the second turnpoint way down and off the end of the ridge. We were turning in only the strongest and leaving the moment it lightened. On the way back, I pushed out a bit and got low and had to work hard to get back up and in the game. Shapiro and Zippy would get ahead and I'd never catch up.

A valley crossing was next, and I happened to get up to a cloud just before the third turnpoint. This gave me enough to make the turnpoint and return across the valley. I was back essentially at launch and I thought it was time to cross over into the Sigillo valley to get to the sunny side of the mountains. The winds aloft didn't seem too strong from the north, so I thought the south and west faces would be the ticket.

For the majority of the day, the valleys were working surprisingly well and the peaks were not. This was unconventional characteristic #1. Secondly, the south and sunny faces were not working on this day either, but rather the shady, windward sides. (although the wind was somewhat light) The wind in the Sigillo valley seemed to be stronger than wind we'd experienced earlier in the day.

Once on the sunny Sigillo side, I realized in was in lee side rotor and a lot of sink. I tried running into the flats, but I just didn't hit the lucky lift I needed to eclipse the strong sink I flew through getting over the range. I soon found myself groveling over rolling hillsides and farmland with waning altitude.

Fought as well as I could, but ended up in a sloping field with a crown that eventually 7 other pilots would land in. At the end of the day 66! pilots made goal. Not a good start for the meet. The technical aspects of the area had spanked me.

Despite my poor competitive performance, I had a great time in the air and the surroundings are amazing. One of the things I like most about flying tasks is how it completely mentally engrosses you. You're listening to your vario. You're scanning the area around and ahead for other pilots. You're watching out for the ones you're thermalling in close proximity to. You're listening to your bros on the radio calling out climbs. You suddenly see a lovely medieval village or fortress atop a hill or perched on a mountain. You stop to stare and ponder how lovely the scenery is for a moment... Then it's time to pull rope and go!

Airtime: 3.25. Flights: 1. Miles: 43.

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Mountain surf session....

Shapiro flying my glider and Covert.... The harness is lick-able.

The forecast called for blown out conditions in the afternoon, so Shapiro and I rallied up the hill around 8am to see if we could get an early session. It was chilly and brisk as we got to the top of the mountain. Jeff was reticent to set up, I ran around highly caffeinated urging, "We'll just set up one glider and switch off. Come on!" Soon we set up my glider and I volunteered to take the first hop. Conditions were around 20mph and smooth for the first few minutes. I swooped back and forth a meter off the hill feeling like I was skimming the South Side in Utah.


Quickly conditions built and got choppy. I was vigilant on my landing approaches as top landing was an unknown quantity and I didn't want to get spanked. You had to be "on it" but top landings turned out to be straight forward. I did a couple of sliders through the cow pies and flew over to a nearby knoll to swoop the cows who'd laid them. I was wishing it had stayed as smooth as it was the first minutes, but it was still very fun to mess around atop the mountain.

T2C - It's a splash in the pants.

Soon it was Shapiro's turn and he took two or three hops. He took the time to put a hero cam on and we gathered some footage. More pilots began showing up, but conditions were getting more volatile and I was guessing most had missed the window. On Jeff's last landing, it had built to probably 25-27mph and things were still choppy. He graciously agreed to drive down and let me fly home.

I flew over the higher peak nearby and enjoyed parking in the wind wave over the top in a stationary hover. I stared down at a few tufts of grass and climbed at 100fpm hardly moving geographically. Serene. I figured Jeff was nearing our villa, and I pulled in to head out to the valley.

Sweetness after a fly. Everything makes you smile around here. SIX.

I have no idea if my vario has correct airspeed, but I was flying around 120kph. Bar between my chest and belly button. No bar pressure. I backed off the VG a foot to get a bit more pitch feedback. Pulled in an extra couple of inches and averaged around 140kph. Bar pressure again got eerie. Backed it off another 8 inches. Kept it around 140kph until I got over the villa. Jeff had just arrived.

Swooped down to land in the hayfield adjacent to home and we efficiently packed up. Gathered Belinda and the three of us headed to the nearby medieval town of Gubbio.

Quintessential Italy in Gubbio.

Strolling through ancient pathways.


We popped into many souvenir and art shops created out of ancient spaces. This glass "painting" shop caught our eye. Inventive, unique stuff.

Amazing places to display wares.

KEEN... THEE best for bumming around ancient steps.

Delicious break to sight seeing.

apartment door.

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Goddess Monte Cucco

The steel goddess.

I've seen videos and photos of famed Monte Cucco for years now and the past two days I've had the pleasure of flying her. Lovely. I'm sitting by the pool alone at our villa. Storm clouds are growing with sun streaming through holes. The breeze is fresh and it's waves are washing me with pleasure. Sound too fantastic... yes, it is.

Wolfi getting ready to launch.

Yesterday we arrived on top as a couple dozen pilots were setting up. One by one, familiar faces showed up and we exchanged greetings as we leisurely set up. Conrad from Brazil summed the sentiment up with a hearty hug and the exclamation, "Great to see you. What continent are we on?!" We get to have fun with amazing folks from all walks of life in obscure places throughout the world. What could be better?

The view from down valley. Monte Cucco is the highest peak on the ridge at the right.

Davis called a 108km out and return task. It looked like a great day. The boys launched just before me and promptly climbed to base at nearly 8000ft. I waited on a cycle and it took me some time to climb up and get sorted on course. The predominant wind was hitting the range as we flew down it, so you only had to stop for a few circles in the strongest lift, otherwise it was burble along the ridge.

The patchwork of Italian countryside.

At times the climbs were strong and I was seeing 700-900fpm on the averager mostly. Shapiro and Davis were ahead and started mentioning the turbulence. I too experienced some strong pushes that upset the glider. They were turning around short of the intended turnpoint, so I hung out, took some photos, and waited for them to return.

A sweet village down valley.

Wolfi's fit test.

the way back to launch was fun stopping for just three or four turns in very strong lift, but otherwise running the ridge back to launch. When we arrived back, Davis and Jeff decided to call it quits and land. There was ubiquitous lift, and things in the LZ looked sporty, so I decided to stay local and do some sight seeing. I went downrange a few km's the other way noting the ranges. Flew back getting low now and then and staring down at the villages below.

Finally after about two hours, I decided I'd had enough. Felt fatigued from the previous day's travel and probably jet lagged a bit. Had a festive breakdown with friendly conversation about the terrain and some entertaining landings. We came back to the villa to help wolfi sort out his new Covert.

Wolfi is a robust Austrian and presented a fit "challenge" for Shapiro. His chest is about an inch bigger than ours, but his hips are 11 inches greater in circumference. His CG is obviously lower and he's got trunks for legs. Shapiro was concerned about how exactly to adjust the harness pattern and blend existing contours. In the end, the harness seems to fit Wolfi VERY well. No shelf behind the shoulders, snug around the chest, and room for his lower body. The lines are clean.

Airtime: 2:00. Flights: 1. Miles: 20.

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Vail to Monte Cucco...

@ the airport.

Shapiro started his adventure by driving Missoula to Boulder, CO where we dropped his car at our bro Alex's house. Lauri and I hit the road at 3am and picked up Jeff around 6. A quick bagel for porn exchange and we continued on to the airport.

Lauri dropped us off before 7am - our six harnesses and two gliders... (THANKS girl!)Time to schmooze the AA ticketing personnel. It was costly with all the extra gear, gliders cost $200, but we were thru TSA with little fuss. Stoked!


Killer cloud streets on the way to Chicago.

Chamonix? We woke to this scenery over France.

We celebrated with a couple of whiskies in Chicago on our layover before Rome. There were two hours of on plane delays with maintenance problems. I'd taken two Tylenol PM's, so slept through most of it. Also slept most of the ride to Rome. Easy overnight flight.


We woke to breakfast and EPIC mountains out the window. Might have been Chamonix... We were trying to discern. Daydreamed out the window over europe through the rest of France and down over Italy. Wide gray riverbeds drained the alps into the flats. We like square parcels in the states, they like smaller hodgepodge fence lines here. I like it too.

Passport control and customs took seconds. The passport officers glanced uninterested at my documents and waved me on. Customs was a joke. Outside in the mix was disorienting for a moment, Marcelo Chaves was there after a bit to fetch us. We rolled through the outskirts of Rome in Marcelo's care on the way to his girlfriend Mikele's house.

Marcelo and Mikele's wonderful shuttle to Monte Cucco.

We were overloaded with harnesses and gear, and I asked Marcelo how many harnesses I had to stack atop the gliders in order to fit all of us. At this point Marcelo said, "No, no. We are driving you to Monte Cucco (almost three hours away) and then returning tonight. Both Mikele and I have to work tomorrow." !!! What?! Mikele jumped in with a cooler full of drinks and classic Italian sandwiches and we rolled through the chaos of Rome. What wonderful hospitality! We didn't expect Marcelo and Mikele to go so far out of their way. Marcelo had procured old cell phones for us to use for retrieve while we're here. They are just amazing. We appreciated every effort.

The beautiful congestion through Rome's ancient relics turned to rolling farmland with mountains beyond. Jeff and I sat in the back with open windows and mouths staring at the scenery. Our hosts pointed out all the noteworthy towns and attractions.

Our place is epic. The view of launch is out the window. Across the street there's a field of sunflowers, a vinyard, and a picturesque hay field. There's a pool, garden, etc. We ate at an outdoor pizzeria as more and more familiar faces began to roll through town. We are SO lucky to be here for the experience. Davis and Belinda had stocked the place with groceries. Easy enjoyment with them. Ahhh...

Soon we arrived at Residence Albarosa on the south side of Sigillo (Monte Cucco) Just 2km down a dirt road from town. It's lovely, quaint, bucolic, etc. After we found Davis and Belinda, a quick espresso jump started us into unpacking and reassembling our gliders. Marcelo and Mikele headed back for Rome. We enjoyed the warm evening light on the surroundings as we chatted and worked.

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Shortpacked for the travel... I leave at 3.30am. Pick up Shapiro at 6. :)

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