Wednesday 25 November 2015 – Tocopilla to Taltal
After yesterday’s disappointment, it was time to head south so that on Saturday, Jonathan and I can fly home. Today was very much a driving day, so up early, down R1, the coast road, to Antofagasta, a hotdog at the Copec, then down R5 and off to Paposo past the Observatory Parranal.
It turned out that ‘our’ side of the road had a Shell, rather than a Copec and that they did not do hotdogs – never mind, a Snicker would have to do. We met Jack from DC who was on month 4 of his tour of South America by motorbike who was on his way from Taltal north. ‘No rooms in Taltal, due to a miner’s conference’ he warned. ‘We know, a friend has booked us in to use up the last available space!’
With all the excitement, we left, forgetting to fill up with motion lotion. We calculated that we should just about make it on the vapours, but as usual, our fuel gage went up rather than down. Still, it was good to reach Taltal where at the Copec we managed to add some 46 litres to our tank so we suspect we had 4 litres left. Compliments to Jonathan to getting us there safely!
After filling up, I had some unfinished business to attend to – flying a drone and this time actually filming it! And so we arrived at the C. cinerea population at Las Breas, where last time we flew but failed to film. Weather conditions seemed OK, but the wind got stronger, with gusts as we set up and did the pre-flight checks. Don’t be rushed in these things! I was, and take off failed horribly, with PKDrone blowing over and breaking two out of four of the rotors. Never mind, I had brought along a set of spares. But what had gone wrong? The drone has two types of blades:- two left screw and two right screw that should be fitted alternately – left-right-left-right. I had fitted left-left-right-right! No wonder! Doubly careful I fitted the spare blade3s in the correct order, this really was the last chance!
Brian shouted that he had found something unusual – he’d have to wait!
Was the video switched on this time? You bet!
Was the wind OK? I’d have to gain height as quickly as possible to clear the surrounding Copiapoa – success! We flew for about five minutes, then landed and took out the SDXC card and started up the laptop in the car to make sure that we had indeed recorded some images of the flight. YES!!!!
We made two more flights of about five minutes – 15 minutes of material to fit into a presentation – just as well that had failed in all our previous attempts or we would have been spoiled for choice!
So what had Brian found? The bonus of the day! Among some million plus Copiapoa cinerea of all shapes sizes and ages stood a plant that was best called C. krainziana or C. albispina. We all took many images of the stranger in a strange land. Very strange!
Great day! Tomorrow we head south again – probably as far as Pichidangui.