Thursday, November 29, 2018

Quick note: Arrived Easter Island

By Jack

Just a quick note to say we arrived Easter Island (SCIP) uneventfully yesterday. Although one of the most logistically challenging legs of the trip, everything went almost perfectly. Weather and winds were great and the all important refueling at Robinson Crusoe Island (SCIR) worked as planned. Josh worked very diligently to get fuel shipped in barrels to Robinson Crusoe and it all worked well. The long flight to Easter Island (about eight hours) from Robinson Crusoe went just about exactly as planned taking just a few minutes longer than the flight plan with beautiful weather and smooth air the whole way. Landed with more than 2.5 hours of reserve fuel. Many thanks to friend Giuseppe for acting as dispatcher for the flight by sending us regular wind forecast and weather updates via our satellite messaging service.

Internet on Easter Island is very slow, so I will post a more complete update with all the gory aviation details and photos when we get to faster internet.

Next flight is from Easter Island to Tahiti scheduled for next Monday (Dec 3).

Just one photo...refueling at Robinson Crusoe:

Tues November 27 Lo Barnechea

By Carolyn

After two long days of flying, we had our first planned layover in Santiago. Through her many world wide birding contacts, Becky found us a guide and we headed to the mountains east of Santiago while the pilots devised a Plan B for getting fuel after we leave Easter Island. (Plan A fell apart when we were informed that the boat delivering Jet A would be delayed until December 18.)

Fernando Medrano picked us up from the Airport Holiday Inn and we crawled through morning rush hour traffic before escaping into the foothills. As a professional birding guide, he knew exactly where to go to find the target species. The drive was beautiful as we passed through arid rocky terrain that looked like West Texas or Arizona.

It’s springtime in the Southern Hemisphere, so the birds were very cooperative, wearing breeding plumage, singing and gathering nesting material. Becky kept the lists and was allowed no shortcuts...Fernando monitors the Chilean eBird database and likes each stop to be documented separately. But, I can lump them together here:

3 California Quail
3 Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
39 Black-winged Ground-Dove
1 Eared Dove
2 Giant Hummingbird
12 Southern Lapwing
3 Kelp Gull
13 Andean Condor
2 Variable Hawk
2 Mountain Caracara
2 Chimango Caracara
3 American Kestrel
3 Moustached Turca
1 Dusky Tapaculo
10 Rufous-banded Miner
1 Creamy-rumped Miner
1 Scale-throated Earthcreeper
1 Buff-winged Cinclodes
2 Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail
3 Tufted Tit-Tyrant
3 White-crested Elaenia
7 White-browed Ground-Tyrant
2 Black-fronted Ground-Tyrant
1 Fire-eyed Diucon
4 Blue-and-white Swallow
1 House Wren
5 House Wren (Southern)
5 Austral Thrush
4 Chilean Mockingbird
1 Black-chinned Siskin
5 Rufous-collared Sparrow
1 Long-tailed Meadowlark
27 Austral Blackbird
15 Gray-hooded Sierra-Finch
4 Mourning Sierra-Finch
2 Band-tailed Sierra-Finch
4 Common Diuca-Finch
19 Greater Yellow-Finch
5 House Sparrow

Lunch was served at a rocky playground while grey headed Sierra finches and chestnut collared sparrows flitted around waiting for our crumbs. Up and up we climbed, above the tree line to the ski areas. We were rewarded with a whole family of Andean condors at 3,000 meters! They are beautiful birds.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Off to Easter Island

By Jack

The first leg of our journey is complete. We basically "sprinted" from Austin, TX to Santiago, Chile leaving Austin early Sunday morning and arriving  Santiago Monday night. We made three stops along the way including a quick overnight stop in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

The trip was long (about 4,300 NM or 5,000 SM), but the weather was good and the plane performed perfectly. Only snag was getting timely permits to overfly and land in Peru which delayed our departure from Guayaquil by about three hours. That is first permitting problem we have had in more than 50 international flights, so I guess that is a decent record. Evidently Peru is notoriously inept in their aviation permit office.  We considered adding another overnight stop given the late departure, but after reviewing the weather along the route we decided to stick with the original plan. That meant a night time arrival in Santiago rather than the planned daylight arrival, but the weather was perfect in Santiago and we have flown there once before so it was not totally unfamiliar.  Other than a busy final approach (lots of vectors and runway changes), the flight was beautiful and easy.

Today was an "off" day which Josh and I spent largely getting everything set for our flight to Easter Island (SCIP) tomorrow. We will make a fuel stop on Robinson Crusoe Island (SCIR) on the way.  It is one of the more challenging legs of the trip in terms of distance, logistics (we needed fuel specially delivered in barrels to Robinson Crusoe Island for us), and permitting. But, we think we have "all our ducks in a row" and the forecast is good weather and very favorable winds aloft (as compared to the normal strong headwind) tomorrow. FlightAware will likely not be able to track us the whole way, but the InReach service (here) should be able to track us if you are following.

We will check-in from Easter Island next.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

And here we go again!

By Carolyn

Another adventure begins! Jack’s blog entries will focus on the flying experiences and Carolyn’s entries will focus on the terrestrial adventures. Be prepared for lots of birds and botanical gardens, and perhaps some snorkeling, hiking, history and exploring. Since flying is always better in summer, we are headed to the Southern Hemisphere for our journey west and we’ll be traveling for two months.

People always ask “how do you pack for a trip like that?” With as little as possible! It becomes more trouble to lug a big bag around than to wash items by hand. Shoes end up being the challenge, so keep it simple: walking shoes, sneakers, and Tevas. 

My travel packing tips:
  1. Three, three and three: long convertible pants, long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts. A fleece and sweater, a skirt, and a swim suit. A swim suit coverup can double as a bathrobe. Everything nylon or quick dry, like Exoffico, Eddie Bauer/REI shirts and pants. Check the weather for anticipated highs and lows to tweak the clothing.
  2. Small 3 oz. container of liquid laundry soap.
  3. A few wire clothes hangers. You can hang clothes on the A/C or air return and they dry in no time. Third world laundry service is inexpensive. 
  4. Wool socks are great, can be worn for days, but take forever to dry. Hotels in colder climates often have warming racks in the bathroom for towels and these are also great for drying clothes.
  5. Compression bags by Eagle Creek and packing pods by Blue Avocado. Unless you've got lots of cubbies built into your pack/suitcase these keep things organized.
  6. Ziplock baggies - take a variety of sizes. 
  7. Freeze some bottled water when possible to use as ice packs in a food cooler. Drink a little bit first so the bottle won't bulge.
  8. Don't bring a reusable water bottle. You're going to be drinking bottled water anyway. Do bring an insulated thermos (s'well or yeti) to use for hot drinks.
  9. Pack a couple of thin washcloths in zip lock bags.

And, don’t forget your safety vest!

Bon voyage

Final post: Facts, Figures, and Appreciation

By Jack With RTW 3.0 (westbound) officially complete, I thought I would offer some facts and figures regarding the journey and final words...