On the Road Adventures

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oct 14/15 -- Meandering Home

We rolled out of Albuquerque about 11 am, and put in a hard day’s drive to Gallup, about 180 miles.  All right – we have our own idea of hard, and today we made it an equally strenous distance to Williams, AZ, the home of the famous Rod’s Steak House.  ger at Rod'sIt’s famous because Gerry tells of eating at Rod’s every year back in the ‘50’s when the family went on the summer pilgrimage to Oklahoma to visit the grandparents.  So, of course, we had to maintain the tradition.

Tomorrow we go to the Grand Canyon.  Yes, it’s open.  For 6 days, thanks to the state of Arizona paying the feds for the honor.  So we’re going to go visit it again, just to spite those brats in Washington.

Oct 12–13 -- Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

We met up with the Tom and Barbara Hughes’ girls (Tom is Gerry’s cousin) in the deep dark of the morning.  We had connected with our balloon crew, but after watching the Dawn Patrol struggle to get the balloons up in the face of weird winds that kept smashing the envelopes down, Todd decided not to put ours up at all, so we just watched the other, bold and daring ones try to launch.





This is our crew, Scot and his brother Todd, who flies the First Responder.  Heather and Richard, from Australia, who flew the Fire Hydrant.  Dave, one of the Monohan crew from New York, and Ron, one of the RV volunteers.  They took off for New York and England the next day, so this was our last get-together.




Here we are with the cousins: Garrett and Kristen, McKenzie, and Kelsey and Jerad.  We had such a good time visiting with them!


They might not have gotten a balloon ride, but the girls at least got to try out the basket!

dinner with the Hughes girlsLater, after we’d all had a nap and got warm again, we enjoyed a great dinner and stories with the girls and their guys.

The next morning we actually slept in until 7!  How sinful!  Then we fixed our coffee, set up our chairs, and relaxed in the sun, watching the balloons that decided to fly on the last day of the fiesta.  It was the perfect morning, of course, with hardly a breath of air, so they hung in the sky for a long time before coming down, many of them right in our front yard.  It was the perfect way to end the Balloon Fiesta experience.

IMG_0349 (640x427)  IMG_0351 (640x427)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Oct 11 -- Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

This was a long day!  The shape balloons were featured again today, so we were there early again.  It was so cool to see all those interesting forms in the air.

241 mass ascention







Then we got to go back at sunset to help set up the balloons for an evening glow.  The balloons don’t take off – they are anchored and just light up with the flames.




Oct 10 -- Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Yesterday was a short day.  We got the balloons up, they hopped across the museum at the end of the field and landed in the parking lot, where we got it put away, and then went back to Cleo and took a long nap.

Today was the day for the shapes, the special balloons, to show their stuff.  It was pretty magical and I enjoyed wandering around and taking pictures, so I’m just going to let the photos speak for themselves.














Oct 8 -- Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

We got to see another beautiful dawn out on the balloon field.  It was actually a bit warmer than previous days and there was not a breath of a breeze.






     178a repairs

Our balloon buddy, Linda, manned the fan to blow it up.  Todd and some of his crew ventured inside the balloon to try and patch a tear.  Balloons work better without extraneous holes.




Lots of colors and shapes lifted off, including our two balloons.

The prevailing winds aloft were a bit brisker than they were on the field, and it moved the balloons off toward the west.  The last time it flew, Tod just jumped across the street and landed in the field in front of our RV.  This time, the little fireman and the hydrant took off for a good, long flight and we all hopped in the trucks to go chase them.  There are signs on the backs of a lot of chase vehicles that read:  This vehicle subject to sudden stops, turns and moments of indecision.




After consulting radios, maps and the GPS, we tracked Tod down to a neighborhood, where four moms had just put their kids on the school bus.  They dragged the balloon to a cul de sac and helped us roll it up.  They said if you live in Albuquerque, you get to know about balloons.


After we got the fireman tucked in his bag, we tracked down the hydrant in a construction zone, where they didn’t need our help at all because they had the construction crew and all their lovely equipment.  I think a front end loader should be mandatory equipment for chase crews.

191c lifting

In the afternoon, Gerry and I took the tram up to the Sandia peaks.  The views were lovely, but the highlight moment was when we were on the way down and passed a tram car with a hitch-hiker riding on the top!  That was the way the staff got to work.  He had a great view!


Monday, October 7, 2013

Oct 7–Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta


Today was a competition day and First Responder didn’t fly so I spent the morning taking more photos.  Because I certainly didn’t have enough!

It took a few shots to get that blue from the flame.


It looks like the bee is about to chomp those tiny people!








Is that balloon a good snack for a hummingbird?

The goal of the competition today was for the balloons to fly precisely over a target and throw their sandbags as close to the center of the target as possible.  Most of the competing balloons lifted off from other fields and lined themselves up to make their drops on the targets.  The guys from our crew said that the competition can get really intense because there is serious money involved for the prizes.  This competition, however,  was very sedate and civilized.  I shall complain tomorrow that I didn’t get to see any combat ballooning.