Tuesday, October 6, 2015

AIBF final day

Well, here it was, our last day at the Balloon Fiesta, and it looked like a quiet one. There was no mass ascension scheduled so we slept in. Or so we thought. About 7:15 we heard a "whoosh" outside, and then another. Jumping out of bed and quickly dressing, we rushed out to find ourselves bombarded with balloons.

We learned later that this was an unscheduled ascension to give rides to the volunteers. It seemed that a large number of them were coming down in the field right in front of us.

That's our motorhome in the foreground

That meant that they were coming in low.

In fact, one of them scraped the roof of a fifth-wheel parked behind us, damaging the air conditioner cover.

Then came very close to our rig.

It was beginning to get personal.

One came down in the street at the end of our row. A bunch of us rushed over to help. He needed extra weight to hold it down. Then he lifted it a couple of inches off the ground so that we could pull the basket a little more to one side. Deflating the shroud wasn't all that easy, the hot air doesn't want to come out sideways.

Then the wind shifted and the remaining balloons sailed off in a different direction.

It was certainly an exciting way to end the Balloon Fiesta for us. We won't be able to top that, so I don't think I'll try. For the rest of the trip, I'll try putting up pictures on Facebook every few days. Folks can follow us that way. So for now, "Good night and good luck."

Monday, October 5, 2015

AIBF Day 2

Today we headed back down to the Launch Area to watch the mass ascension. This time we stayed outside the gate and watched from the hill. Not as intimate but also not as crowded.

There are hundreds of balloons, so naturally they come in all colors and patterns; also all kinds of shapes. Today I want to show you some of the interesting shapes. Not all of them, there are too many. But here are a few:

Okay, that was the standard shape, but the decoration is pretty amazing.

 Here are some gathered, still on the ground. Perhaps this gives you an idea of their size.

Must represent both sides


And in the air:

And finally, a representative from Brazil, a man-eating fish. Lots of detail here.

That's it for today, what wonders does tomorrow hold?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

AIBF Day 1

Well, here we are at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, at long last. This morning we got up at 5:45 (people who know Gene look shocked now) and caught a shuttle to the launch site. They told us just to follow the crowd, and crowd there was. It looked like St. Peter's Square when the Pope is speaking. What's more, the crowd is free to mingle amongst the balloons.

As luck would have it, we were standing next to a trailer when the crew started pulling out the pieces. We got to watch the whole process of setting up and inflating a balloon close up.

This last picture was supposed to be a video of the balloon taking off but only the last frame transferred.

The whole process took about 45 minutes.

Then we stood around and watched the scene around us. We were surrounded by balloons filling up and taking off. (Also by incredible numbers of people.) The pictures don't do it justice.

Hopefully more tomorrow if I can solve a sudden connection problem.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Santa Fe

Drove down from Taos to Santa Fe. The road follows the Rio Grande river most of the way. It still has a gorge much of the way. Jean called ahead and got us a space at a campground in the city. The directions didn't seem to match the maps she has. Tried calling back but got a recording, the lady had already left for the day. Eventually we figured out that "Serio" was actually Cerrillos St.. When we got that straightened out, we still couldn't find the campground. We found it on a app on Gene's smart phone and got the GPS coordinates. The campground is behind some buildings, and the sign is covered by trees. It turned out to be a good spot, quiet and  right on the bus line to downtown.

So next morning, after a good breakfast at a local cafe, downtown we went. We wanted to spend some time in the Plaza, the old part of town. Jean was especially interested in the Indian vendors that set up in front of the old Governor's Palace. It turns out they were all selling jewelry.

We learned about a nearby Wells Fargo, so we walked two long blocks from the plaza. It was cool and restful inside, so Gene rested while Jean did her business. Santa Fe is at 7,000 feet elevation, and we (especially Gene) tired easily and a little bit of walking led to heavy breathing. So the rest was welcome.

Next we walked several blocks to the Georgia O'Keefe museum. Gene went through two rooms, and then retired to the film where he could sit down (no benches in the rest of the museum). Jean continued on through the rest of the exhibit, then joined him and watched the film.

Back to the plaza, we enjoyed ice cream on a shady bench; and being well-rested, took a tour by the shops around the edge. Most (but not all) of the shops here are high-end and very expensive. There is lots of turquoise, they even cover skulls with it.

The view up one of the streets is to the cathedral. We didn't go there, just enjoyed it from a distance.

In Santa Fe, they like to hang long ropes of red chiles out front as part of the decoration.

We also spotted a mural that covered the whole side of a small building.

The bus took us back to near the campground. We paused in our walk back to have sandwiches at a Schlotzsky's, which we haven't seen since Newport News.  All in all a tiring but enjoyable day. Tomorrow we are off to Albuquerque.