Monday, October 16, 2017

Mass Ascension

Balloon Fiesta Park – Cold

Mass Ascension is the launch of all the participating balloons. The balloons launch in two waves. Zebras (launch directors) serve as traffic cops to ensure the safety of all involved.

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It was so cold this morning that taking pictures was hard because my fingers were so frozen they wouldn’t push the camera button. And I had heavy winter gloves on.

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WOW WOW WOW – I don’t know any other words to describe the experience of watching 500+ hot air balloons launching into the air and passing overhead.  

This balloon was inflated and launched just one row over from us.

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The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta began in 1972 with 13 balloons. In 1978 it became the largest balloon event in the world.

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Jim made me a cup of hot chocolate and I would take a few pictures and then go inside to sip and warm up so I could go back outside and take more pictures. I have hundreds of pictures and choosing just a few is almost impossible.

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After this morning I now understand why the guy who parked us said this was the place to be. The Albuquerque Box is a weather phenomenon where the lowest winds are moving in one direction and the higher level winds are moving in another. In a perfect Albuquerque Box the high winds are from the south while the low winds are from the north. This allows pilots to better control where they fly and where they land.

DSCN4221This balloon landed right behind us. The basket was tipping over as the wind pushed it along the ground and people were running to help hold the basket upright. They were able to launch the balloon after traffic in the air over them cleared enough.

These two little boys were so excited about being able to help hold the balloon.

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As the balloons lifted into the air, the lower level winds brought the balloons directly over the top of us. The views are just incredible. There is no way any picture I take can do justice to this experience.

DSCN4251 This picture was taken from our doorway. Balloons were everywhere.

These pictures were taken Tuesday morning which turned out to be the best day for us because the winds blew the balloons directly overhead. Wednesday and Thursday mornings, the balloons drifted more to the west over the Rio Grande River.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta–Dawn Patrol

Albuquerque, NM  The high doesn’t even count because the low was so cold.

We were told the shuttles start running at 4:30 a.m. Yes, that’s in the morning. Jeri and Terry are much more adventurous and were willing to ride the shuttle down to the launch field. It was 33 degrees when they went down at 5:00 a.m. Jim and I were still in bed.

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We got up about 6:00 because that is when the Dawn Patrol was to take off. The Dawn Patrol began at the Fiesta in 1978 when two California balloonists developed position lighting systems that allowed them to fly at night. Dawn Patrol pilots take off in the dark and fly until it is light enough to see landing sites. The other balloonists can watch the Dawn Patrol and determine wind speeds and directions at different altitudes. When they determine that the wind is cooperating (blowing about 4-6 mph – no more than 12 mph) the green flag goes up and everyone springs into action.

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My camera does not take pictures in the dark. This is what it looks like.

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The next posts are going to be mostly pictures of balloons with some fun facts thrown in. Also my impressions of the Fiesta.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

On The Way to See Balloons

Acoma, NM  High 78  Low 35

Albuquerque, NM  High 54  Low 33

I am behind on posting blogs. We are at the balloon fiesta. Internet is slow – guess there are too many people trying to upload pictures.

Time for a rendezvous with Jeri and Terry. Jeri found an RV park at Sky City Casino about 60 miles west of Albuquerque. Nice long pull thrus with full hookups for $20 a night. We made reservations for two nights and parked next to Jeri and Terry.

I totally forgot to get a picture so I’m using Jeri’s. Thanks.

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We are on our way to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This event has been on Jim’s bucket list and this is the year to check it off. Especially since we have such great company.

Monday morning we arrived at the Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque. They really have the traffic and parking down to a science. We registered for the “cheap seats” and when they parked us, we could not be any further away from the launch field unless we left the park. The volunteer who parked us told us that if he wasn’t a volunteer these are the sites he would be in.

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We paid $35 a night for boondocking on an old landfill. Generators have to be 2 feet above the ground because of methane gas. It is not the most level spot around. Our hitch is flat on the ground. But we are level. We are directly across the road from the shuttle stop, the garbage dumpsters, and two porta potties. Just glad the temperatures are not hot.

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RVs everywhere. The woman at the check in booth said there were around 1800 RVs parked here.

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We have no idea what to expect so I guess we’ll figure it all out tomorrow. For now we’re going to dinner at Wise Pies with Jeri and Terry.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Shiprock

Farmington, NM  High 81  Low 52

We left Price and headed towards Moab. Figured we’d boondock a few miles south of town but when we reached that point, it was only 11:30 in the morning and we decided to push on a little further. Well, a little further because a little further and finally after 316 miles we ended up at the fairgrounds in Farmington, NM. We stayed here last June and really like it because there is nobody around.

I had one thing I still wanted to see in June, but we ran out of time. This ride was the only thing planned for this stop other than relaxing. Well maybe laundry.

This is Shiprock

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Shiprock is a monadnock which is an isolated rock hill, knob, ridge, or small mountain that rises abruptly from a gently sloping or virtually level surrounding plain. It is what is left of a volcano’s throat after years of erosion. It’s peak elevation is 7,177 feet above sea level and rises 1,583 above the plains of the Navajo Nation.

People used to be able to climb the formation but in 1970 the Navajo Nation declared the rock to be sacred and it is considered extremely important to the people and their religion.

The name Shiprock dates from the 1870s because the peak resembles an enormous 19th century clipper ship.

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You can see the rock for miles from the highway, but getting to it is a little more complicated since there are no signs. I found some pretty good directions on the internet and we eventually found the dirt road leading out to the rock. I wouldn’t recommend trying to drive that road in a car and definitely not in the rain.

Sunset in New Mexico

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Sometimes the Weather Just Won’t Cooperate

Price, UT  High  44  Low 33

After leaving the Heber Valley, we spent the next three nights at the Blue Cut RV Park near Price, UT. There’s not a lot to see in this area except beautiful country.

Blue Cut RV Park has really close sites but the people are super nice. And it also has the required train tracks right across the road.

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The view from our window.

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Without the train

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On Monday we decided to take a drive up to Nine Mile Canyon. Nine Mile Canyon is called the World’s Longest Art Gallery because it has  at least an estimated 1,000 petroglyphs and pictographs rock art sites, with more than 10,000 individual images. 

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We got a late start and it was snowing on us as we headed out. The canyon is up in the mountains and the petroglyphs are about 24 miles up into the canyon on another winding, curvy road. The higher we climbed the colder it got.

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After driving for almost two hours, we stopped to let the pups out and with the wind blowing, I nearly froze to death. At this point, I told Jim all I wanted to do was go home and have a cup of hot chocolate.

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We did, however, get a few really good pictures.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Olympic Park Tour

Park City, UT 

Jan told us about the tour of the Olympic Park and that sounded like a lot of fun. We bought tickets ($7/per senior) for the 11:00 a.m. tour.

DSCN4040Our tour guide was Carl Roepke. What a great guide. He was a member of the USA Luge Team from 1983 to 1988. He is the 2008 and 2009 U. S. Luge National Masters Champion. He helped develop the tour program at Park City. We were really lucky to get him for our guide.

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If you pay attention to the announcers at the Olympics in S. Korea in February, you will hear his amazing voice. He has been a commentator for several Olympics as well as other sports championships.

DSCN4045He explained to us how to ride and control a luge. Then he moved on to the bobsled. The park is full of athletes who are competing to be on the USA teams for the February Olympics. The young man in this picture is a pusher for the bobsled team. His name is Zach and he’s from Oklahoma. He has already been picked to go to Lake Placid for additional qualifying. The athletes usually don’t know til the middle of January if they will be competing.

Outside he let us watch the skiers practice their jumps. There is no snow so they land in the swimming pool. I tried taking pictures of the skiers and this was the best I could get.

Can you see the skier and their coach way up on the slope?

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The bubbles make for a softer landing for the athlete and also help them judge where they should be for their jump.

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He really isn’t going to do a belly flop. I caught him in mid-somersault.

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We then took the shuttle part way up the mountain so we could see the start the of luge and bobsled runs.

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Under the cement are refrigerated tubes. He explained how water is sprayed on the cement to form the ice for the luge and bobsleds to use. It is amazing how precise they have to be with the spray of the water in order to make the course safe. This seemed to be one of the jobs that Carl really enjoys doing. The guys wear shoes with spikes in the heels and walk backward down the track. It takes about 7 days of continuous spraying once the weather gets cold enough.

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Then we went higher to see where the skiers start their runs. I can’t even imagine heading down the mountain strapped to a pair of skis. It was hard for me to even look over the edge.

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Carl was telling us about the competition that was starting the next day. There were going to be over 700 athletes from around the world challenging themselves to make the team. There is a white starting line back at the beginning of the grass. The athletes line up and are timed as they race up to the top by climbing those blue ropes. If they don’t make it in less than ten minutes they aren’t going to make the team.

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There was so much more he told us but without recording everything I can’t remember it.

The view of the venue from the top is amazing.

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Memorial Hill

Midway, UT

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Memorial Hill is dedicated to those who have served in any United States military conflict while a citizen of Wasatch County.

I used this picture from the web to show you what the road up the hill looks like as it winds around and around. (Another one of those really narrow roads that I just love.)

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These are pictures of the monument that lists the names of all those who have served from Wasatch County.

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The views from the top are incredible. You can see the entire Heber Valley.

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My little point and shoot camera really doesn’t do the views justice.