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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer Escape from Abu Dhabi....Epilogue

So after a fun day of exploring the city, we had dinner back at the hotel. It was a long day and I slept like a log afterwards. The next morning I met Anna-Lou and we drove her trusty Kangoo to a lakeside restaurant for brunch. However, my stomach was jumpy as I knew what was coming next.

Lakeside Brunch

You see, Anna-Lou told me how she went paragliding recently and how I should try it as it is so much fun. She is a thrill-seeker that does things that gives me cold sweats and nightmares but I figured I would try paragliding to save some of my dignity and "face". After all, I am an aviation enthusiast and have been up in the heavens in just about everything from military jets to powered parachutes, the difference is that these all have engines, a paraglider doesn't. I was always taught that parachutes were "For Emergency Use Only", but what the hell, I'd give it a try.

Paraglider Landing Area

We'll Have lots of Company Up There Today

After we arrived at the field, the arrangements were made and I joined several other folks in a van that took us up to the launching point on the mountain. I met my pilot and got geared up. The pilot has a harness that accommodates a sling-like device that I sit in.

Before the Plunge

Once I am strapped in, I am front of and lower than the pilot. Takeoff was just a few running steps down a slope and into the wind. It was smooth and quicker than I expected.

Up and Away!

I Was Actually Steering Here

Best Seat in the House

We were up for close to an hour and I can honestly say it was one of the best times in my life. The sense of freedom and the scenery combined to make an unforgettable experience. I hated to come back to terra firma and I am glad there were no broken ankles with the "Fred Flintstone" style touchdown.

The next day it was time to return to the sandbox. I took a bus to Geneva and walked around there for awhile before transferring to the airport for an 11:00PM departure. I arrived bleary-eyed in Abu Dhabi around 6:00AM and had a bad taxi experience when my driver yelled at his boss who assigned me to him. Seems he had been waiting in the queue for four hours and was pissed-off because of the short journey to my flat. He was hoping for a big fat downtown fare. I didn't like his attitude and told him so at my dropoff, he screwed himself out of a nice tip.. 

A final note: I realize some of my fellow citizens criticize the French because of their independence and sometimes unwillingness to agree with U.S. plans and policies, but I was impressed with what I saw. The little corner of France I was in was beautiful, clean, prosperous and safe. The people I encountered seemed genuinely happy and content. Who wouldn't given the food, scenery and love of life. There is a relaxed pace that is hard to find in the U.S.  Even though I was an obvious outsider, I was treated with respect and grace. I think most Americans' experience with France is Paris which I am sure is more hard-edged than the rural areas and maybe that is where the generalizations get started. Bottom line is from what I saw, France works....I would be happy to live there and I will be back!


Anna-Lou said...

nice post randy... and good memories ! It was so funny to see you yelling up in the air ahaha !! See you soon my friend !!
the thrill-seeker girl :)

Dave said...

Great photo's - how were they taken when you were up in the air?

Chuck said...

Glad you had a nice time there Ace! I'll have to get to France myself here one of these days. Probably not until next year though for financial reasons (i.e. I keep spending all my money getting my car fixed.)

Ace said...

@ memories here too, my hysterical screaming was from joy, not fear...HaHa! As Arnold The Terminator said, "Ahhl be bhaack! Google "Space Diving" for the ultimate adrenaline rush!! I know you will be first in line to do this!!!

@Dave....Yes we were aloft at the time. The pilot had a camera which he used with a free hand in a assumptions or jokes, please! Har!

@Chuck....If you quit driving your auto into immovable objects, you might scrape up enough jack for a trip over here one of these days. You won't care about the car after that!