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05-23-2001, Wednesday

Plowshares blown out early
Pine SS to Ozena
Pine SS to Boy Scout Road

Met Tony in Ventura and took 33 to Plowshares.  Rick was hired crew.  Pine was showing signs of lift early and the wind was light north at The Summit.  Ozena was calm and it was 5-8 out of the NE along 166.  A little more E at the base of the hill.  It looked classic Plowshares from the bottom.  They launched about 11:30 the day before.  We got to launch about 10:30 and it was blowing steady at 25 and gusting over 30.

The lapse rate was good.  Forecasted to be 100 on the deck, low 70's at 6, high 50's at 9, and freezing at cloudbase around 14,500.  Bob Hurlbett said the balloon showed some wind at VBG out of the NE down lower, and lighter flow from the SE up above.  The Barometer was a little high at 1020.

We were tired of driving I initially decided to wait.  The clouds started popping back over Abel and Lockwood.  We didn't have the patience, so back in the car just before 11.  Cottonwood was calm, New Cuyama was standard NE, and Ozena was building NW.  We got to launch at 12:33, and I was airborne at 12:40.  The cycles were good, out of the SE about 3-12.  I got a few hundred over on the bump left of launch and went over to the spine.  There was some wind from the south so I looked out front, found a good thermal, and took it to14.  Still no clouds over launch.  I had drifted halfway to Ozena, and the shadows over dry canyon were drifting from the east.  There was a nice cloud west of 33 so I went downwind.  The drift was from the SE, but the cloud top was curling from the north.  The north side also looked darker, so I went for the right side and was wrong.

I got low behind Cuyama Peak, found a some scraps for a few hundred here and there.  The lower drift was from the west and feeding toward the cloud, but I was too low to run further south.  I finally had to fall off toward the river and ride the NW back to Ozena.  Ozena was soarable but I was stuck, so I landed and took chase back to launch.

Tony was reporting Lockwood.  Rick dropped me off and left.  Ozena was blowing 15 and gusting over 20 from the NW.  Launch was cycling from zero to 15 out of the south.  I was airborne about 2:45.  Climbed to 85 on the spine.  Not much drift despite the cycles from the south.  Jumped otb and found a thermal a few hundred yards downwind that went to 11.  The west was trying to push through so it was going to be easier to head east.  Got to Dry Canyon with 7 and got back into the low 8s.  I was on the edge of the clouds and not much drift.  I didn't have enough altitude to look around so I kept working my line right up the road through the badlands.  Never got above 83.  I probably need to be more patient, but it felt like I was close to a thermal would get better.  Tony had reported Quail Lake with 9 and I was trying to hurry.

I ended up in deep in the badlands with enough to run for Boy Scout road.  I got to the rim with 500 over and found some scraps, but the best I could do was break even.  Still thinking I would find something better, I pressed on and found the dirt on Boy Scout Road.

Tony was late getting to the Antelope Valley.  The NW had pushed through and it was gusting over 25.  The thermals were blown apart and the NW / SW convergence was pushed down the valley out of reach.  He was left with north and was on final glide after leaving Frazier with 13.  He landed at the bend in the road past Nenache.

We put 400 miles on the car and I was home at 6:45