Sunday, October 26, 2014

Honor Flight

Oct. 26, 2014
Casa Grande, AZ

We were back in Casa Grande for about few days when I accompanied my dad on a three day trip to
Washington DC. The trip was sponsored by the nonprofit organization, Honor Flight Arizona.  Their goal is to fly as many World War II veterans as possible to Washington DC.  All during the trip veterans are reminded how grateful succeeding generations are for their service.  It is impossible to explain how important and emotional this experience is for the veterans.  We met many wonderful people and will forever have fond memories of the trip.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Up, Up and Away

October 13, 2014
Balloon Fiesta Grounds
Albuquerque, New Mexico

We have been here since the first of the month but have been so busy I haven't had time to add to our blog.  We get up at 4:30 am each day to crew for one of the pilots and if there is an evening glow, we don't get back to the camper until about 8:30 pm.  Each day our bodies remind us that we are a year older than last year.

The weather has been much warmer than last year, making this a great Fiesta.  We have been crewing for a Brazilian team who speak very little English.  It has been a challenge to understand each other but somehow we managed. They have several balloons -  Orca (whale), Frog, Scuba diver, shark and a baby dinosaur coming out of an egg.
The special shape balloons are interesting but a lot more work than the traditional shape.  The whale, frog and baby dinosaur are brand new and had their maiden flights during the Fiesta.

The best thing about crewing for the Brazilian team is being included in the "Brazilian Drinking Party".

Cachaca, the national spirit of Brazil, is distilled from sugar cane and aged in barrels.  It was served with limes and pineapple but that didn't dilute the taste.  I am surprised it didn't eat the bottom out of the pitcher.  I thought the food was much better than the drink.

Last weekend was the best night time glow I have seen.  I shot photos like I was making a Hollywood film and I was sure they were the best photos yet.  Unfortunately when we got back to the camper I found out that I had forgotten the memory card so you will just have to take my word that the photos were excellent.

Most of the week we crewed for the frog balloon.  It is hard to explain the size of this balloon.  Notice how small the basket looks compared to the balloon.

This balloon festival is unique because the public is encouraged to get a close up look at the balloons.  Large crowds wander right up to the balloons while inflation is in progress.

These people are standing directly under the frog foot.

"Going hot!"

The Yoda balloon uses a unique system of controlling the crowds.

Storm Troopers keep the crowds at bay.

The costumed crew for the Darth Vader balloon march on the field in formation.  It is kind of creepy when it is dark.

The stork balloon is owned by a local obstetrician.  The crew's shirts say "We Deliver!"

The local police were on duty.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Restaurants, Galleries & Adobe

September 28, 2014
Roadrunner RV Park
Pojoaque, New Mexico

Sante Fe is a nice town, but just a little too touristy for me. Building codes demand that any new building be adobe style.  The locals refer to this as "Santa Fake" since everything appears to be much older than it is.  Surrounding the main plaza are restaurants, galleries and shops.  Most of the museums are farther out from town on Museum Hill.

New Mexico has a very unusual capital.  It is stuccoed in the adobe style and has a flat roof like all the other buildings.

Inside it is quite pretty.

This is the stained glass roof in the center of the building.

Outdoor sculpture on Museum Hill.

Several dozen of these fish were sticking out of the sand.

Ladders, Trails & Radioactivity

September 27, 2014
Roadrunner RV Park
Pojoaque, New Mexico

We are staying a couple of miles north of Santa Fe, NM for about a week until we leave for the Albuquerque Balloon Fest.

Santa Fe is a nice town, but there are too many tourist for my tastes.  Some of the locals call it "Santa Fake" because all of the buildings are constructed to look like they are several hundreds of years old.

We have been taking day trips seeing the surrounding area.  On our way to Los Alamos area our first stop was the Bandelier National Monument.  Visitors are only allowed to access the site via a shuttle bus. It was about an half hour ride to Frijoles Canyon, home of the Ancestral Pueblo people ("Anasazi" is now considered politically incorrect).  Numerous structures are still standing against the canyon walls with trails along the canyon floor linking the sites together. 

There was a very bad flash flood last year, but this year has been dry.

We weren't sure of the meaning of this sign since it was about 65 - 70 at the time.

It turned out to be a lot further across the canyon floor than we originally thought.

Dave's best side.

It was kind of spooky being inside these structures.  I don't think I would want to spend the night here.

When we finished the main trail we were still feeling adventurous so we started on the extra one mile hike to Alcove House.

We were a little surprised when we walked out of the woods to find that Alcove House wasn't on the canyon floor, but up a very steep area accessible by small steps and four long ladders.  I couldn't get it all in one photo.

Dave had been having trouble with some of the shorter ladders earlier.  His hand doesn't grip very well since his heart surgery.  He decided to sit this one out so I proceeded on my own.

This is a photo of the kiva at the top to prove that I made it all the way.

If you look closely at the red spot at the base of the center tree, you can see the wimp that sat on a log and waited for me to return.

After that big adventure, we visited the science museum in Los Alamos to learn out the laboratories built during WW II.  The area must be safe because we didn't glow in the dark when we got home.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sand, Wind & Rain

September 22, 2014
Alamosa KOA
Alamosa, Colorado

The weather didn't look too promising today but we managed to miss most of the rain as we drove to Alamosa - just a few sprinkles as we went over the pass.We decided to spend the night here use the afternoon to explore Great Sand Dunes National Park.

The sun was peeking through the clouds so we hoped that meant the showers were over.

It was quite a sight.  It's hard to comprehend that all this sand is right up against the mountains.

We made it up the smaller dunes and then the sky suddenly changed.  Note those dark clouds behind Dave.

We are both in such splendid shape that it must have been all that loose sand that made climbing so difficult.  We were thankful that the impending storm saved us from having to make the climb all the way to the top.  We made a mad dash back to the truck and just made it before the sky opened up.

Earlier, before we started climbing the dunes, we took a short hike.  We met a couple on the trail from Rochester, MN.  He worked at IBM and she taught at Mayo High School.