Posts Tagged ‘africa’

Jim Forster: My Travel Destinations

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

As the tournament season winds down, for most of us, our focus turns to work and/or school. We still continue to ski, but as Fall is upon us and Winter approaches, the weather and cooler temperatures reduce the opportunity to ski. I would like to share with you some of my recent travel experiences, since I’m not sure how many of you get the opportunity to travel to other countries. I am very fortunate that my chosen profession affords me to travel all over the world, as I just returned from a 15 day trip to South America and Africa. I left Brownsville, TX. the night of September 16 ( this was a technical stop for fuel and to swap crews, as the trip originated in Oakland, CA. ) and flew to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, a 9 1/2 hour flight, where we spent 2 nights. Then it was off to Windhoek, Namibia on the continent of Africa, a 7 hour flight and the weather over the South Atlantic was absolutely beautiful! Not many aircraft cross that far south, but it was a smooth flight. Namibia used to be called Southwest Africa and gained its independence from South Africa in 1990. It’s a progressive country and fairly modern, having been settled by the Germans and their influence was seen everywhere. My crew and I booked several game safaris and spent the next 6 days exploring the wildlife on some of the largest private game reserves in the world. All the big game animals of Africa were seen and the scenery was spectacular! I actually got within 2 feet of a female cheetah, as they are pretty calm compared to the other big cats.


Th
en it was on to Maun, in the northwest part of Botswana,  a short flight, only 50 minutes. but Botswana was a big change from Namibia. Here we were in the ‘bush’, as this was in the Okavango Delta, a part of Africa that all the animals come to water and feed themselves. It was very hot, about 100 degrees and there are several game parks that are protected from hunting and poaching. We spent 5 days there and took a safari in to the Moremi National Park and really saw the animals in the wild and up close. Elephants, giraffe, lions, hippos, water buffalo, zebras just to name a few. They truly are magnificent animals up close and in their natural habitat, no bars or fences to keep them in, it made me appreciate just how much that they need to be protected. We then took a boat tour through the delta, and it was very much like being in the Everglades. tall grass and water for miles. That’s were I came in close contact with a large group of elephants and at times, was as close as 20 feet! We probably saw about 200 elephants that day, pretty amazing. There were stretches of glass, calm water and all I could think of was how much that I’d love to ski on it. But there’s no skiing there as the water is full of hippos and crocodiles :-(. Oh well, I can still dream about it though.


I really enjoyed my time in Namibia and Botswana, but everything must come to and end and it was off to London, an 11 hour 48 minute flight. Here, we took on an extra pilot as we require 3 pilots for flights over 10 hours. We landed about 10 PM and spent 2 nights there. The weather was noticeably cooler, about 68 degrees and we stayed at the Parklane Hilton, right across the street from Hyde Park. I always enjoy the hustle and bustle of downtown London and my stay was too short. The next morning, we took off and flew the final leg home to Oakland, another long flight of 10 hours 30 minutes. Our route of flight took us far north to 78 degrees Latitude, which is above the center of Greenland, before turning back to the southwest over the Artic Control areas of Canada and into the Pacific Northwest, finally landing in Oakland. What a trip! It was for me, a trip of a lifetime and don’t know when I’ll go back again. So when you’re wondering what to do with your spare time or a vacation, remember, the possibilities are endless, don’t be afraid to go out there and see the World!

Jim Forster

Evert Aartsen: European and African Barefoot Championships

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Evert Aartsen, Jr.

The European & African Barefoot Championships took place in Kimberley, South Africa on October 23 – 26. I had not skied in almost two months before the tournament because of the cold weather in Finland but we did have the boat for one hour on Tuesday the 22nd. I got a few runs of tricks and a few runs of slalom within that hour that I shared with two other Finnish skiers.

We stayed in the Protea Hotel together with the Brits, Austrians, Italians, and the judges. The ski lake was about 30 km from the hotel. On the way to the lake you could see a few wild animals which was pretty cool for me. On Wednesday, the first day of the tournament,  the first event of the day was Seniors Jump. My first event was tricks which was the last event of the day and I was the last skier so I had a long first day.  Once  it was time for the Open men to ski, I felt good and was ready but it all changed after the first run. I crashed on my toe up!  I ended up with a really bad score in the first round. I was second last after the first round!

Next day we were supposed to do the open mens Jump at 8am but the water was to rough so they decided to finish the first rounds of all the Juniors and Seniors first and then see if the water gets any better. But the water did not get any better at the end of the day so the decided that we try again the next day and hope for better water.

So on Friday morning the water was good so we started with Open mens Jump. We got up till the fourth Jumper when the wind wanted to screw us up again!So after a long wait we started to slalom in the rough water which was better than jumping though. we skied on the other side of the lake where the water was a little better.On the first round of slalom I had a bad score again cause I fell early on my first pass. And after the first round the 3:rd place score was 14.2. And I was hoping to score higher than that in the next round.That day the water was a bit up and down all the time so we never Jumped instead of jump we did the second round of slalom.The second round was a lot better for me. I was so happy when they told me the score from the boat. It was 15 flat that would had given me the 2:nd place. but when the official scores came out I saw that they downgraded me by 2 points so I had 13 flat which gave me a 5:th place in slalom.

And on saturday was the last day of the tournament. we had Open mens Tricks round two, and both rounds of Open mens Jump left.we started with the first round of Jump. I was jumper number 9. I was feeling really confident about jumping. So when it was my turn to Jump I went out and landed my first jump which was a 23.4m jump which was the biggest jump in the first round. On second place was my big buddy Stefan Wimmer with a 22.2m jump!After the first round of jump we did the second round of tricks. I improved my score a little bit. After the second round I placed 7:th in tricks.and now we only had one round of jump left and it was pretty late already so the officials decided to give each jumper only two jumps. I was feeling good but also a bit nervous because there was still a few jumper who had the potential to beat that 23.4m. but lucky for me I was the last jumper of round two. And when I was sure for a medal i was pretty happy already but there was still Garth Strydom and Stefan Wimmer to come. Garth improved his score from 21.1 to 21.4. so now it was only Stefan left. he did not improve with his first jump. and I was standing on the dock during his last jump. and he did not land it! I felt bad for him. but still I was pretty happy because I just got a gold medal and I broke Stefans 2 year Jump title.Sorry Stefan! 😀

Evert Aartsen Jr.