Friday October 12
We Seem To Be On a No-Fly List
Big disappointment this morning. After rising at 3:45 am (yes, you read that right),we caught the first shuttle to the field at 5:00 and reported to the Rainbow Ryders (our balloon ride company) tent to check in. We were assigned a balloon number, and told to come back at 6:15 to meet the pilot. The weather was beginning to worsen, and eventually the rain began. In the interest of safety, we were cancelled, as was the pre-dawn mass ascension of 100 or more other balloons. People were offered refunds, or the opportunity to re-book for Monday (Saturday and Sunday were already booked solid). We are scheduled to leave on Monday for Grand Canyon National Park campground, but decided to book the ride anyway.
We decided to hang around the park and maybe grab a coffee from one of the concessions (they stretch for about a kilometre in the park), but the oncoming storm cell decided to open up right above us with torrential rain, thunder and some impressive lightning (we were all taking shelter under metal pavilions; no-one seemed to appreciate the irony).
Since there was nowhere dry to sit, we decided to take the shuttle back to Priscilla to re-group. We headed to a Denny’s for breakfast, and then head for the famous Tramway (Gondola), which goes to the top of Mt. Sandia, some 10,000 plus feet in elevation, with a spectacular view of Albuquerque, a view we can only imagine, as the tram was shut down due to high winds.
On to Plan C. We decided to head for Santa Fe, about an hour’s drive away. The trip was a bit of a nail-biter because of having to fight heavy crosswinds. We stopped at a Visitors Centre and picked up a map and some advice about what to see. We spent a few hours wandering the streets of this charming city, which is very much an arts and culture centre, with a heavy emphasis on restoring and preserving its history.
You’ll have to turn the computer or your head.
We returned to the campsite and decided to call it a day, as the weather continues to be rainy and windy, so it is unlikely that any balloon activity will be taking place tonight.
Thursday October 11
“There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens..”
So here we are at the Roaring Springs Ranch Resort: (Was it something we said?)
We did manage to scrape together enough dead wood to have a lovely little fire for a couple of hours.
We got an early start, heading for Albuquerque, and were very glad to leave the West Texas Panhandle behind. Generally speaking, the highway took us through some of the most depressing poverty we have seen to date. While the economic crash can partially account for the fact that every tiny town we went through had 2/3 of its businesses boarded up, burned out, or otherwise closed down, much of the rest pre-dates the crash; whole stretches of roadside acting as mini-dumps, littered with everything from old tires to metal and dead machinery of every description to construction waste. It did have its moments however; one such town sports the following sign at its border: “Welcome to Earth – Population 1056”. (I wasn’t aware I had left.) Another had a large billboard which proclaimed in huge garish letters: “50,000 babies murdered by the Democrats and godless leftists”. Not a lot of grey area there.
Once in New Mexico (a much more uplifting state), we had a relatively easy drive to Albuquerque, and checked into the campsite in late afternoon. Rather than hooking up Priscilla right away, we decided to head for the Park n’ Ride and catch the bus down to the Balloon Fiesta Park. The evening event was supposed to be a “Special Shapes Glowdeo”, which translates to many of the balloons which are in the shape of almost anything you can imagine, other than the standard hot air balloon you are familiar with, ascending in the evening darkness, lit from within by their propane burners. This was to be followed by a fireworks show. The weather, however, conspired against the Glowdeo by starting to look like this:
The wind was also beginning to pick up, and eventually the decision was made that conditions were too dangerous for a lift-off. This was disappointing, but we did have a spectacular sunset:
The fireworks show was started earlier than planned and was very well done, probably lasting a good half hour:
We then caught the shuttle bus back and picked up Priscilla. An early start to the day tomorrow, as we are scheduled for our balloon ride at 7:00 am.
Wednesday October 10
Fog n’ Hogs
We managed to connect with Matt and Nichol on Skype last night, and talked to Holly on the phone, after talking to David earlier. It was nice to touch base with home.
We left at 7:30 this morning, and within an hour, we were in the thick of morning rush-hour traffic in Dallas/Ft. Worth, just one more example of our lack of planning. The morning weather was t-shirt warm and humid, and the tall buildings in Dallas were shrouded in fog at their upper levels. Added to this was a a veritable plethora of freeway and road construction work zones, which made it an interesting journey through the two cities. I couldn’t help but think that the money might be better spent on building a highway that bypassed the cities.
Once we cleared the urban areas, our Garmin took us on a drive of several hours through rural East Texas and into the Panhandle. No pictures this time, as there really isn’t much to see, other than the carcasses of several wild hogs on the side of the road, which had evidently tried to play “Hogger”, with little success. We arrived in Roaring Springs around 2:00 pm, where I am sitting in the office kitchen of the Roaring Springs Ranch Club posting this. Not exactly over-crowded; there are only two other campers here. Off to Albuquerque first thing tomorrow.
Tuesday October 9
“I Drink Coffee For Your Protection”
This was the sign that greeted us when we entered a coffee shop in Canton, Texas. Sounded like my kind of place, so we had lunch there, served by the twin of Holly’s ex-neighbour Dot. We are in the nicest resort yet:
The weather, while cloudy, is actually t-shirt warm, so we took advantage of the pool and spa (well, one of us went in the pool, and it wasn’t me.) This being Texas, the music is all country, all the time, but I was struck by the following lyric:
“Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but no-one wants to go now”.
(Country music does have a way of getting to the heart of things)
We did go into downtown Canton and poked around, but it is a pretty small place, so all we really did was fill the propane tanks, which proved to be ridiculously cheap, compared to back home. We are going to spend the rest of the day lounging around the pool and lodge, then see what is on cable TV tonight, since this is one of only two plkaces that have offered this as part of their hookups. Off to Roaring Springs, Texas tomorrow, about a 5 hour drive.
Monday October 8
Check your Glocks and Alligators at the Border
We awoke to a beautiful day today, cool in the morning, but sunny and warmer during the day. We had a leisurely breakfast, then put in a load of laundry. We took our chairs and reading material down to the lake and spent a pleasant hour or so reading in the sun while the laundry was doing its thing. We then decided to head into downtown Ashdown (3 minutes from end to end), but we did stop at McDonald’s for lunch, mostly because it had free wifi (the wifi at the resort seems to be non-functional), so I could post yesterday’s blog entry. On the way back, we stopped in at the local Walmart to do some grocery shopping. Before returning to the campsite, we drove to the Millwood Lake dam and visited a beautiful little park at Beard’s Lake, below the dam:
We spent a lovely hour or so reading beside the lake in a swing chair.
When we got back to the campsite, we got out our chairs and settled in to do some reading in the sunshine. After a while, our neighbour across the way came over to say hello:
“You-all from Minnesota? Ah told ma wife that if all they’s wearin’ is T-shirts, they must be from Minnesota.”
We corrected his impression, then had an interesting conversation, which revealed that he was a retired jeweller from Oklahoma, who had these pearls to offer:
“The Jews own all the diamonds in the world.” (DeBeers is apparently a company owned by Jews)
” We was in Seattle, and we was goin’ to visit Canada, but they wanted me to check my Glock at the gate, so I decided it wasn’t worth it.”
I guess now we know the real reason for the decline in American tourism.
Anyway, we are off to Canton, Texas tomorrow, a short 2 1/2 hour drive, so hopefully I’ll be able to post this when we get there.