Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rain and more rain and no balloons!

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Wet and rainy!

Not only was it raining when we finally crashed last night, it was still raining when we got up this morning. Sadly, for everyone, the launch this morning was cancelled, and at last word, the afternoon didn’t look good.

The major problem is that the ground is too wet. The balloons can’t be laid out on the ground for filling with air when it’s wet. Makes them too heavy to fill! We heard that the local TV stations are sending their helicopters to hover over the launch field to try to help dry it out. I love it!!!

Wasted effort as it turned out. It rained again all afternoon! Oh well – at least, for us, there is the next whole week! And the weather is supposedly turning back to sunshine tomorrow!

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Balloon Fiesta Opening

Partly Cloudy

Oops, we overslept! Dashed around the house, grabbed the dog and jumped in the car. Since we’d already planned on where to park, that’s where we headed. Traffic was light, so we assumed everyone was already there. Wrong!

The first turn-off to the balloon field was backed up for at least a mile. We had planned to take the second turn-off, but it was way backed up too. We then decided to go down to the next exit and return when we spotted several cars simply pulled off on the shoulder of the highway just beyond the exit. That’d work!! So we snuck in a spot, and it turned out to be the best seats in the house!!

We heard later that only about 25% of the balloons had arrived, because the weather forecast was so bad. But there were enough for us! It was grand!! I just wish the sun had peeked out more often because the colors of the balloons were so bright and happy, but we were totally content as it was!

It was kind of sad that the weather was not good – maybe because the barometer was falling, but very few of the balloons made it far from the launch field. Didn’t matter to us – we had great seats!

There were so many colorful gorgeous balloons!! And a few of the fancy shapes launched this morning too! A big cow – a goldfish – a stagecoach – Darth Vader – a Greek urn – a castle (which barely cleared the field before it crumbled to the ground) – a great big pair of bees – a ladybug – and more.

We were just sitting, grinning like kids in a candy store, snapping pictures as fast as our little cameras would take them!

Just about the time the last balloon launched, a cop drove up and announced that we had to get off the shoulder within the next three minutes or we’d be cited! I just backed up a little off the shoulder and he was happy.

By then we were starving, since we’d dashed outta the house without any munchies, and we headed north looking for something to eat, and to see if we could find one of the balloons as it came down, to watch up close as it was deflated and folded up. We had only driven a couple miles when we rounded a corner to see a big balloon laid out in the parking lot of a church, with all the crew around doing everything they do to deflate it safely and get it ready for the next flight!!!

After having a late breakfast, we headed back to the coach to rest up for the evening events. We had tickets to the Gondola Club to watch the evening launch from prime seats, which included dinner and entertainment and fireworks.

Everything was great, except the balloon launch was cancelled because of weather, the dinner was only adequate, and it started to rain, seriously rain, and the fireworks were cancelled too. $100 bucks, each, down the drain. Grumble.

What’s really sad though is that the opening weekend was not all it could be, simply because Mama Nature decided to flex her muscles a little. Thankfully, the 37th Annual Balloon Fiesta goes on all week and next weekend, so we’ll have lots more chances to see all the hot air and gas balloons we could ever wish for!

Chase Crew - not.

Friday, October 3rd, 2008


We were so excited at the prospect of the upcoming Balloon Fiesta! We’d signed up to be chase crew, and had bought tickets for the VIP Gondola Club as a prime location to watch three events. Today we went to check out the grounds, pick our first observation point for the mass ascension the next morning, and to take the required chase crew orientation.

This is one of the reasons I’m embarrassed to have taken so long to catch up on the blog – when we went to the chase crew movie and orientation, we found that first, there was no way that I could handle the job physically, and second, we were expected to crew each event. When we had filled out the application, we specified two events that we would like to work – we were there to enjoy the entire show, not work our butts off the whole time. Apparently, lot of people had that problem – and the organizers insist that the app did not actually offer those alternatives…interesting, since each event was listed and offered a place to check to say yes or no to work. Oh well. That part aside, even though I might have been able to help out with the set up and chase and packing up if everything went smoothly, I knew that I was not up to responding in an emergency situation. And I’m still not comfortable admitting that I’m no longer capable of handling such things. So we emailed our assigned pilot and told him we’d had a mechanical problem with the RV and didn’t know when we’d be getting to town. The fact that I was having troubles with my water heater and electrical system made me feel a little less guilty. But I hated doing it, and it embarrasses me even more now because he and his family have been very concerned and understanding, and have since written to hope we had made out OK.

Anyway, we drove all over the area, and picked the ‘perfect’ location to watch the first lift off the next morning!

Sooz had some friends passing thru town, so we met them for an early dinner at a really tacky looking Mexican restaurant that turned out to be superb, as so many little Mexican restaurants can do! We ate too much and laughed a whole lot! Delightful evening!

Sooz arrived!

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Suzie arrived today from Honolulu – one of those horrible flights that took almost an entire day because of the ridiculous routing (Honolulu to San Francisco to Houston to Albuquerque – the direct route!)

Super to see her, as always – and the weather improved as soon as she arrived!

onward to Albuquerque

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Roswell to Albuquerque, New Mexico


214.1 miles

I’m really embarrassed – a month has passed since the balloon fiesta in Albuquerque – I’ve covered a lot of miles, had a bunch of fun adventures, several problems with the coach and made lots of excuses about not keeping up with the blog. Plus we’ve had an election and traumas have struck our nation. Lots of excuses!

So – here we go – on with the adventures!

Left Roswell on a lovely morning, and headed north over flat, dry and barren lands. There were a few fields of bright green crops, so there must be water here somewhere! Fifty miles passed and all I saw living were a few cows. Picked up one typical small town radio station – from rock to big bands to folk music to heavy metal to country, one after the other – kind of fun to listen to!

Nevada’s Hwy 50 claims to be the loneliest road in America – I think this one is a close 2nd! I feel like I’m in a time warp – I look at my GPS map and it doesn’t appear to have changed at all in 80 miles! I’m frozen on a NNW angle on the screen and it hasn’t moved! I laughed at myself when I realized I was excited to see a change in fencing material – I was out of the time warp!! Then I spotted a windmill! Life must exist here somewhere!

Passed thru the little town of Vaughn (population about 500 and shrinking) – it has a classic old-fashioned cowboy movie train station! And then I discovered why – several rail lines meet and cross just outside of town. Started seeing MAJOR train traffic, including two trains of what appeared to be about 200 cars each, loaded with 16-wheel truck trailers. Hundreds of truck trailers on the railroad instead of on our highways!

Climbed steadily up to 6800 feet, and clouds appeared on the far horizon. Started to see a few green shrubs, finally – manzanita maybe?? Didn’t last long though – headed west and started losing altitude and greenery! But there were a few more signs of life – including a shop advertising “wagon wheel tire repair”!

You know you’re approaching a city when the billboards start multiplying and cloning themselves! And one Holiday Inn Express whose welcome sign was forecasting heavy showers!

They were right – I arrived at the American RV Park (after sitting at the highway exit that is one of the worst designed I’ve ever seen, waiting for about a half hour for a multi-car accident to be cleared) and got hooked up just in time – the skies opened up!

American RV Park
13500 Central Ave SW
Albuquerque, NM 87121

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