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Recipe:

Pisco Sour

1 cup Pisco
4 teaspoons sugar
Juice of 2 lemons or limes
1 egg white
Crushed ice
Lemon or lime slices for garnish
Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker; shake well.
Serve in 4 ounce cocktail glasses with a slice of lemon
or lime and sugar on the rim.
Yield: 4 servings

Latest Adventures: The trip north

FEBRUARY 16 2003

THEY MADE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY MADE IT!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY MADE IT!!!!!!!!!! THE STEMME TEAM HAS CIRCLED THE HORN!!!!!!!! AND THE FLIGHT WAS SPECTACULAR!!!!!!!!!

Just got off the phone with Thierry and I must admit I don’t think I’ve ever heard such glee in his voice. Such ebullience most likely stems both from

ultimate relief and absolute joy in having reached their southernmost destination on such a beautiful day. Before I recount the rounding of the horn, I want to say a bit about the previous day as it was one of the most harrowing days of flying these two pilots have ever encountered.

Leaving behind the fields of Coihaique, the delicious Pisco&CocaColas and the gracious hospitality of Don Carlos Leon and his wife Kuci (pronounced Cookie and spelled differently I’m sure), Thierry and Al began their flight southwards at the crack of dawn. Despite the forecast for fine weather, a storm started to build out of nowhere and they were forced to climb higher and higher to 17,000 feet. Trapped in the clouds, they decided to head east, over the pampas, and into uncharted territory hoping for clearer weather.

At this point, the Stemme began to take on ice. The wings grew heavy and the entire canopy and pitot tube became encased. With no pitot tube, the air speed indicator stopped working. The logger went out and then the dashboard GPSs gave up the ghost. Undaunted, Thierry and Al encouraged the tough little ice-ship through the storm, blindly battling the headwinds. Hoping to shed some of the ice burden, they slowly started to lower their altitude. Lower, lower and lower till at last, at 4000 feet, the ice on the canopy began to melt. By 3000 feet, chunks started to slip off the windows but the clouds remained thick. Down, down, down they continued till they broke free of the clouds---but the altitude indicator was wrong!! Instead of 1000 feet, they were barely 150 feet from the ground!!!!

They circled under that low ceiling, searching for a ranch runway upon which to land but to no avail. At length, they spotted a road heading off in the right direction of Rio Gallegos. Tracking it southwards, they swept past herds of wild guanacos, and wild horses who I’m sure have never gotten such an up close and personal look at a Stemme . The land gave way to the sea and the port town of Rio Gallegos appeared in the distance. The pair landed safely. Just 10 hours earlier, a Piper Decota had crashed near that airport killing all three aboard–an unfortunate accident officials blamed on the freak weather.

After spending the night in Rio Gallegos, the team continued on to Rio Grande where they were met by another saint named Martin Ratier. Martin, who I like to call Saint Martin in the Fields, is the aeroclub manager in Rio Grande. He brought Thierry and Al into town, fed them dinner and helped them with their flight plan for the next day. Martin put them in touch with Juan Alvarez--head of air traffic control in Punta Arenas and another angel in the land of fire. Juan gave the team a squawk code, some sage advice and off they went.

The winds were fierce but fortunately they pushed the team right over the horn. Thierry was at a loss for words describing the beauty of this place. The scenery was staggering, the glacial fields, the high mountains gracing the Beagle Straights–simply breathtaking. He took lots of digital stills that I will post once I receive them. As they turned the Stemme north to head back, the winds were raging over 90 miles an hour. Making barely 40 knots over the ground, they were fearful they’d run out of fuel before making it back to Punta Arenas Then suddenly, they stumbled into an area of lenticular lift –a silky stream that swept them along for 200 miles. Wow! What a day! What a flight!! What a team!!! They send their love to everyone and are toasting to the joys of life on the wind tonight in Punta Arenas All your good wishes paid off!!!!


Cape Horn from outer space

FEBRUARY 15 2003

The team has reached TIERRA DEL FUEGO!! Very exciting—they are almost at the most southern reach of their odyssey. Battling a 40 knot headwind, the Stemme duo made it to Rio Gallegos and they hope to round Cabo de Hornos today if not manana-- weather permitting. Two of the GPSs (global positioning system) stopped working so they are down to using their handhelds. Ah the importance of redundant systems! Send good wishes to Thierry and Al—they’re in for some bumpy, blustery hours ahead.

Santiago - Chile
Santiago, Chile

FEBRUARY 13 2003

Hola. I got a little more information from Thierry about their flight from Puerto Montt down to Coihaique. Enroute, they passed a remarkable mountain at lat 43 09 long 72 49. and will send pictures. They think the mountain is called Corcovado-I’ll double check. After landing, the team met up with some more gracious hosts--Francisco and Miguel both young pilots for a mysterious character called Don Carlos. They arranged for a car, gasoline and then took them into town. Don Carlos, evidently has been a pilot in these parts since 1962. He flew the C-46 Curtis Commando--the same plane that flew the "Hump" from Burma to China in WW11. He also owns a hotel and the best restaurant in town--lucky for the Stemme twosome. Sadly, the Sony Video seems to have given up the ghost so Brett and I will be sending a replacement down. Aiyyee!

 

Al and Thierry Al and Thierry

Santiago, Chile

Santiago - Chile

 

FEBRUARY 12 2003

Got a quick email from Thierry. He is 600 km south of Puerto Montt in Coyhaique which he states is one of the most spectacular places he’s ever seen—and he’s seen alot. Glaciers, lakes, mountains—breathtaking!!! They hope to round the Horn in the next few days. Wish them luck—the Horn is an extremely windy, scary place. Thierry also mentioned that Frost (his nephew) took the team to the airport in Puerto Montt so those world-traveling Prioleaus must have made it down there from Santiago.


Puerto Montt Harbor, Chile


Puerto Montt, Chile

FEBRUARY 11 2003

Hola todos,
Just got a message from Thierry. The boys are in the lakes region, Puerto Montt to be exact. The ceiling was extremely low when they came in but the weather looks to be clearing. Tomorrow they plan to fly to Punto Arenas either by staying in Chile or crossing over into Argentina and flying down. They adore Chile and reiterated how gracious their new friends, the Rios, have been. Too bad the Stemme only has two seats—I’m sure Jorge and Jessica would have liked to have accompanied the team down to the Horn. Puerto Montt is a gorgeous town, renowned for its delectable seafood, awe-inspiring mountain scenery, cascading waterfalls and aquamarine lakes located just minutes outside town—a little seaside paradise.

A few facts on Chile. Chile gained independence from Spain on September 18 in 1810. In 1973, the country was taken over by a dictatorial military regime led by Augusto Pinochet . Pinochet ousted President Salvador Allende and ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990. The current president is Ricardo Lagos Escobar.

Chile has a little over 15 million people and is about twice the size of Montana although it is very long. Bolivia continues to demand a sovereign corridor to the South Pacific Ocean since the northern Atacama region was lost to Chile in 1884. A territorial claim in Antarctica (Chilean Antarctic Territory) partially overlaps Argentine and British claims and
there is an ongoing dispute with Peru over the economic zone delimited by the maritime boundary. Amazing to think that the countries’ boundaries down there are still hotly disputed.

Chile has produced some sensational authors, one of the finest being Pablo Neruda, winner of the Nobel prize for literature in 1971. His acceptance speech is at http://www.nobel.se/literature/laureates/1971/neruda-lecture.html. A lovely movie entitled Il Postino portrays a time in Neruda’s life when he was in exile from Chile due to his feelings for communism. When Salvador Allende was elected president, he appointed Neruda as Chile's ambassador to France (1970-72). Neruda died of leukemia in Santiago on 23 September in 1973--his death probably accelerated by the
Pinochet coup.

FEBRUARY 8 2003

Thierry and Al are in Santiago tonight. They flew past the highest point in South America today—Cerro Aconcagua—a mountain 22,834’ tall! When they left Pisco two days ago and flew over the Nazca lines, they were flying at about 3000’ and it was rather overcast so they aren’t sure their photos will be very impressive.
Early this morning, they left Arica and flew down the coast which Thierry said is truly spectacular —a Nevada-esque landscape that runs all the way sea. But instead of beaches, there is just a sheer vertical drop of about 2500 feet into the sea. As they flew down the coast at 9500’, they could see over to the Andes and noted that cumulus clouds start developing around 11:00 AM . And we all know that where there be cumulus clouds there’s bound to be lift. Something they’ll be checking out on their way back up.

The team landed twice to fuel along the way—first in Antofagasta and then in La Serena at La Florida airport. When they took off from La Serena, they knew they had just enough daylight to reach Santiago—sunset being around 9:00 pm this time of year. But right after they landed (at 9:08) they were informed that the airport was closed. Not a soul was in sight and it was absolutely dark. Quite a change from the hordes of folks that usually greet the Stemme. Fortunately, a nice couple, Jorge and Jessica Rios, had just landed in a Cessna and came to their rescue. The Rios sound like an interesting pair--they paraglide in their spare time. They decided to take our far-away motorglider team under their wing, so to speak. They brought Thierry and Al into town, set them up in a lovely hotel with a big discount and are going to meet them for breakfast in the morning. Ah the kindness of strangers!

FEBRUARY 7 2003

Just got a satellite telephone call from Thierry this morning. They are leaving Picso airport this morning which they said was a lovely place- military-based I believe-with very friendly people who didn’t charge them anything at the airport. (As opposed to the extremely steep fees incurred with the Guayaquil handlers—they must be used to the streams of well-off Galapagos tourists.) I wished the team well and said “Everyone sends you lots of love and hopes for safe flying” but the phone was cutting in and out so I think the only thing Thierry actually heard was, “Everyone sends you lots of . . flying”--words that I’m sure he will find utterly moving and inspirational on his flight today. The weather is presently overcast down there but it’s due to clear when they hit the Nazca Lines. Send sunny wishes southward.

FEBRUARY 6th 2003 8:00 PM

Just got a call from Thierry via the satellite phone! They are are in Pisco, Peru at the Regidor Hotel, having spent the last two nights in Chiclayo. Thierry sounded in good spirits literally and figuratively he'd certainly had more than one Pisco sour this evening! As it turns out, Al has a friend with an extensive mango farm in Chiclayo, so the team decided to take an extra day there to tour the farm. On their way out of town this morn, the
landing gear came down again shortly after take-off. Argh! So they pulled an about-face, landed and fixed the darned problem once-and-for-all with a trusty hammer. With that annoyance finally licked, they flew onto Pisco.
They plan to leave early in the morning and head to Arica, Chile. Tomorrow's flight will be a beauty as they1ll be passing over an extremely interesting placethe famous Nazca Lines! Check out
http://skepdic.com/nazca.html and
http://www.adventure-life.com/newsletters/016symbols.html for some more
info. Here's a wee bit of info on them. The Nazca Lines are one of humanity's mysteries. They are the most outstanding group of geoglyphs in the world. Etched in the surface of the desert pampa sand about 300 hundred figures made of straight lines, geometric shapes and pictures of animals and birds - and their patterns are only clearly visible from the air. In 1969, Erich von Daniken book "Chariots of the Gods," theorized that
the Nazca lines might have served as landing strips for extraterrestrial craft. Ooo my! Intrigued? Check out the websites.


Thierry has no access to email right now and limited time on the satellite phone, which incidentally, he says, does not work in cities. Once he reaches Arica, I'm sure he'
ll answer the wonderful questions that Mary Jane Kidder's fifth grade class at the Stead Elementary school sent the other day. Thanks heaps for sending them!

FEBRUARY 6th 2003 7:00 PM

Well my fine friends, the dynamic duo have been rather recalcitrant as of late. You may have been thinking, I was just lollygagging about, belting bonbons and opting not to keep y1all abreast of the latest and greatest, but I assure you, I have not heard nary a peep from that twosome since Monday the 3rd. Now when this amount of time transpires without a blip , a number of dastardly thoughts do start dancing through the heads of the ground crew. We start wondering if perhaps some Ecuadorian sirens wooed the boys into an untimely transformation of the exotic amphibian kind and in so doing affected their pilotage skills so immensely as to render them incapable flight. Hence their understandable delay in correspondence . Or perhaps, our beloved Stemme team members decided that they really had to become completely bilingual before reaching Peru and enrolled in an intensive Spanish school--so intensive in fact that they ‘ve been shackled to their tape recorders and headsets without pan or agua for three entire days. Or perhaps they are simply AWOL and my next email will be to summon up a posse to track them down. Anyone feel like blowing the dust of this country from their heels and heading south of the border? Diplomatic Spanish-speakers preferred but not required.

FEBRUARY 3 2003

Thierry and Al are still in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Peru is presenting a number hurdles (e.g. proof of insurance, pilot license faxes etc) before they will grant the team their flight authorization number for entry. No other country has required such things.
Most of the twosome’s time has been spent at the airport—they haven’t done much sight-seeing. A Robinson R44 did happen to land next to them and a couple fellows with lots of gold stepped out escorted by loads of guards. Evidently gold mining is a large industry down here as is growing bananas.
The team is staying at a hotel near the US embassy and they noticed that the city’s flags are being flown at half-mast to commemorate the tragic Columbia shuttle disaster. I asked Thierry what folks in Ecuador and Columbia thought about our imminent war with Iraq. He said the ones he’d talked to were concerned that our military spending would decrease funds put towards the War against Drugs.
They hope to pass into Peru tomorrow.

FEBRUARY 2nd 2003
The team has crossed the equator and will be staying the night in Guayaquil, Ecuador! They ran into relatives, Frost and Martha Prioleau (Thierry’s nephew) as they were checking into their hotel. Rather small world eh? If you are interested in reading about Guayaquil—the Pearl ofthe Pacific—please see http://www.goecuador.com/ezine/enghtml/features/guayaquil.htm

FEBRUARY 'st, 2003

Hola todos,
Thierry and Al are still in Cali, Columbia. They hired a handling agency to help get them through customs etc. in Ecuador, Columbia and Peru. With the bad weather, they’ve had some enforced spare time so their Columbian handler offered to tour them around. First on his list were some archeological sites dating back to 3000 B.C. where whole human bodies were placed into pots. I’m sure we’ll hear more about that place later on. Along the way they also had the chance to view some copper-gold artifacts from 1000 B.C. made by the lost wax process — of special interest, of course, to these two expert metallurgists. Thierry also mentioned that all the women in Cali wear exceptionally tight clothing. Sounds like more than just the weather is caliente down there.
If the weather clears, the Stemme team hopes to leave for Ecuador tomorrow. The team did mention that many of the air traffic controllers do not speak English so that part of the journey’s been a bit challenging. Such an adventure will no doubt give Thierry and Al added incentive to enhance their language skills.


Cali, Colombia

JANUARY 3'st, 2003

Just got a note from Thierry. Bad weather is keeping the Stemme team earthbound for two days in Cali, Colombia. They’re eager to get to Ecuador and onto Peru. Peru, unlike any of the countries before, requests a photo stat of their pilot licenses before granting transit approval. Other than that no real government problems. Send good weather wishes to Colombia and for their safe departure.

Tierney

JANUARY 30th 2003

Just got a call from Thierry. He and Al are in a hotel in Cali, Colombia tonight. They’ll be heading to Ecuador tomorrow. Cali, the city of eternal spring, was founded in 1536 and is evidently a lovely place. Boasting two million people, it’s nestled in a valley and has a pleasantly warm climate. Coffee, cotton, sugarcane, and soybeans are shipped through the city; and tires, tobacco products, textiles, paper, chemicals, and building materials are manufactured there.
The flight today from Panama City took the Stemme team 50 miles offshore over the Pacific. (Incidentally, Panama’s an easy place to visit as they use US dollars.) Thierry and Al were going to deter to Buenaventura, Colombia since clouds capped the 17,000 feet ridge running into Cali but fortunately, they reached the air traffic controllers in time who safely vectored them through the clouds to the Cali airstrip.
Speaking of trafficking, Cali first gained notoriety as being home to some of the most powerful drug cartels in the world plus it’s got the second highest murder rate in Latin America--112 per 100,000 people, according to the US Drug Enforcement Agency. With 25,660 recorded homicides in 2000 and an average of 70 killings per day, Colombia's murder rate is among the highest in the world and Cali is 8 on a scale of 10.
But all that not-so-friendly stuff aside, Cali does sound like a beautiful place and remains a hot tourist destination. (Who knows, it might be the best place to find bullet proof bikinis?)
Thierry and Al are greatly looking forward to tomorrow’s flight as they will be flying through the spectacular Andes and directly over Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Mind you they’ll probably have to be flying fairly high and be on oxygen for a bit of it. (Technically, the FAA requires that all pilots flying above 12,500 feet for 30 minutes or at 14,000 feet or above during the entire flight must use supplemental oxygen. And passengers must have supplemental oxygen available over 15,000 feet). After Quito, they’ll head down to Guayaquil, fuel up and depending on daylight, press on to Chicalayo, Peru.
I asked about the landing gear problem and it turns out that they hit terrible turbulence over the Caribbean, 50 miles outside of Limon, Costa Rica. (It had nothing to do with the funnel, which I understand has an “overflow” problem and, as such, is not being used.) They found a fellow in Limon named Rick Right who helped them fix the gear. The most tedious chore everyday is clearing customs in each country which takes about 2.5 hours. Aiyee carumba!
Some highlights of the trip so far include, flying over some impressive ruins built by the Zapotecs around 600 B.C outside Oaxaca, finding tremendous lift between Oaxaca and Tegus, skirting over extinct volcanoes in Guatemala and flying over the Panama canal. More to come!

JANUARY 28th, 2003

There’s been an exciting bit of traveling these past few hours for the Stemme twosome. Yesterday an unexpected storm came in as Thierry and Al were making their way from Tegus to Panama and they were forced to fly over the open water for about 50 miles. The ceiling kept dropping, pushing them closer and closer down to the water till they were flying barely 100 feet off the surface. Quite demanding bit of piloting there. Thierry made a broken satellite phone call to Buck and Nina Thys but didn’t get in many words before the phone cut out. He did have enough time to say that the landing gear had come down and wouldn’t go back up. (Why that happened remains a mystery but perhaps one of the pilots had to relieve himself. This activity requires the landing gear to be down so the newly installed funnel to the outside can be used. I’ll let you know the details when I find out.)
At any rate, the pair landed safely in Limon, Costa Rica and will be spending today there waiting for the rain to pass by—and most importantly fixing the landing gear problem. Tomorrow, weather permitting, they are off to Panama and will hopefully fly over Colombia (no immediate plans to stop there) and land in Ecuador the following day.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

JANUARY 27 2003

Thierry and Al will be departing Tegus today and aiming for Panama City tonight with high hopes of hitting Colombia manana.

Tegucigalpa
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Old Panama City
Old Panama City, Panama

 

JANUARY 26 2003

Buenos dias todos,
Just heard from the crew. Thierry and Al are currently in Tegucigalpa—the capital of Honduras. They’ll be there tonight as they await permission to continue southward on their journey. It was a long flight from Oaxaca to Honduras and I have yet to get details but will fill you all in when I do.
Tegucigalpa got its tongue twisting name from the ancient Nahuatl language, and translated means "silver mountain". "Tegus" as its inhabitants affectionately call it, is a mix of an old colonial city that has turned into the modern capital of Honduras. It was one of the most important colonial mining centers in Central America. Nestled in a valley at about 3000 ft , the city has a rather pleasant climate.

Durango, Mexico Durango, Mexico January 25th

 

Ancient ruins Oaxaca
Ancient Ruins Oaxaca
Ancient ruins near Oaxaca January 25th


Mexican prison Passing near a Mexican prison south of Chihuahua. Jan 24th

 

JANUARY 23rd 2003

Aguas Caliente Comandante

 

iHola amigos!
Just heard from Thierry and Al. Everything is going well—the team sounds good—a bit tired but in high spirits. They passed into Mexico yesterday and had no problem with customs. They did find a little bit of lift but are pretty much bee-lining it south to the Andes due to time and weather considerations. Tonight they’re staying in Aquascaliente. Spent last night in Chihuahua at a pretty yucky hotel evidently, had a meal that Thierry described as “bad even for Russian standards and not much tastier than shoe-leather”--but at least it squelched the hunger. Every time the Stemme lands hordes of interested people run up to the plane—fascinated by the spectacle.
Thierry and Al have taken some photos of the Sierra Madre and will be sending them on tomorrow.
In the morning, they’re headed to Oaxaca and hope to reach Tapachula on the southern border by tomorrow night.
iBuena suerte!
Hasta manana

Chihuahua, Mexico Landing approach in Chihuahua, Mexico. January 22nd

 

JANUARY 18th 2003

At long last, the Spine of America team is off and gliding again! After completing the Alaska leg of the trip this past summer, many retrofits had to be accomplished. These included adjusting the cameras, installing a light on the landing gear, implementing a pilot relief funnel, and upgrading the avionics .
Everything was ready to go in December when the team fired up the glider and some magic smoke came out of the data logger. Ouch! A couple more weeks were lost while they waited for repairs but now Thierry and Al are on their way. First stop is Tucson where they’ll make their final preparations before heading south of the border.
Stay tuned!

Previous Adventures: Alaska to California