Thursday, October 31, 2013

Balloon Fiesta - Sights and Delights

There were over 500 balloons flying at the Balloon Fiesta. The balloons tended to launch in two large waves. It was so much fun to see them drift towards us, over us and continue on their way - and even more exciting when they chose to land in the field near the RVs or among the RVs.

The balloons came in every color, every shape and every size.

It certainly didn't hurt that the balloons were offset by the 
gorgeous New Mexico blue sky.

Mr. Dreamy took most of the pictures.
He shot about 250 each day!

I had a hard time picking out a favorite.

Each time I thought I had found a favorite,
I'd see a new color combination or shape
and I'd decide I liked that one even more.

Angry Bird looks like he is attacking the hummingbird.
There was a pink pig balloon - but it never launched
at the same time as Angry Bird.
It would have been fun to have Angry Bird
going after the pig!
(You won't understand unless you've played Angry Birds)

I liked the shape and colors of the carousel.

The details on the balloons are amazing.
There are often special baffles inside the balloons
to direct the air into different features of the shapes.

Pegleg Pete was popular.

I thought the zebra was very cute.

We never decided what this balloon,
 called "Bob", was meant to be. 
He reminded me of a Lego person,
and looked kinda like a lighthouse.
If you look at the gondola, you get a feeling for just 
how big Mr. "Bob" is!

Each day we'd discover new shapes.
Some we may have overlooked on previous days,
others didn't fly each day.

These are among the many balloons that landed 
in the field near our RVs

The Ark was a crowd pleaser.

There were three bees that launched together. 
Sometimes they looked like they were holding hands
and dancing together.

I'll leave you with a happy,
sunshiny face.

I hope you have some sunshine in your life!
Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Balloon Fiesta: Wake Up Call

Mornings came early at the RV park during the balloon fiesta. Most mornings we were awakened by either the helicopters, or the buses... or both. Our RV was parked next to the perimeter road and shuttle buses began running from the camping area to the launch field at 4:30 AM. They came by every 10 to 15 minutes. Around the same time we'd become aware of (hard not to) the helicopters that were circling overhead. Three competing news stations had their traffic crews up before dawn to get pictures of the traffic and whatever was happening on the launch field. The plus side to this is that we could watch the action on the field from our TV, and know when balloons were launching.

The "Dawn Patrol" was first to launch each morning. The patrol consists of a dozen balloons that launch around 5:30 AM to test the winds. Looking out the RV window we could see the first balloons rising from the launch field.

With just a step out the door we could greet the dawn and the Dawn Patrol, with coffee, cameras and dogs in hand. Yes, it was quite a juggling routine and provided comic relief to other early risers in RV land!

Notice how the balloon glows when the burner is fired.

One morning we managed to sleep in, only to be awakened by the sound of a hot air balloon burner right over our heads. What an unforgettable sound and an unforgettable experience!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Balloon Fiesta - A Blessing in Disguise

On a whim Mr. Dreamy and I called RV tour companies to see if they had space available for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta that was coming up, at that point in time, in less than a month. We figured it might be hard to get a reservation to camp at the event, but the tour group would have spaces reserved. We lucked out. The Fantasy Adventure Tours company just had a cancellation and we could join them. On October 3 we left our home for our adventure and oh shucks, we missed the snow that came the next day! (You can tell, I bet, how disappointed I was!)
When we arrived at the camping area I was really bummed out as we followed the golf cart into the RV parking area. We drove further and further away from the balloon launch area, past hundreds, nay, thousands, of RVs. When we were directed to our parking spot we were the last RV in the row, as far as one could get from the activities. Our rig was about 1/2 mile from the road. And this was supposed to be a 'premium' site! Geesh!

Shortly after our arrival we had the first tour group meeting and began to get to know some of our fellow adventurers. The first thing on the agenda was a demonstration and a talk by a balloon pilot. It was fascinating! Some of the information shared by the pilot included:
  • Balloons travel with the wind. The winds in Albuquerque will sometimes allow balloonists to ride a 'box', where balloons can go one direction, change altitude and ride the wind in the opposite direction, returning close to their launch site.
  • Balloonists can not see above them. The pilots carry whistles to alert balloon pilots below them as to their position.
  • Balloons will often lightly bump against each other during the Fiesta because there are so many of them in the air. When they bump it is called 'kissing'.
  • The burners are powered by propane. The tanks are much like those we use for our gas grills, but they must be FAA approved, and thus cost much more. There are 3 or 4 tanks in the gondolas.
  • Balloons can stay aloft about 2 hours. Less time if the weather is hot, more time if the weather is chilly.
  • Most pilots use traditional wicker gondola baskets. The wicker is strong and allows for flexibility. If they weren't flexible, they might crack or break due to a rough landing. The gondolas range in size from two-man (three if you are very cozy) triangular shaped gondolas, to large rectangular gondolas that can carry 6-8 people, or even more.
  • The 'envelope' is made of ripstop nylon. The smallest are about 20,000 cubic feet and about 5 stories tall. Balloons can go up to 500,000 cubic feet and 16 stories tall. The balloons weigh hundreds of pounds. Launch crews do not handle the balloon with their bare hands as the oils cause the nylon to break down faster. 
  • Balloons can fly with holes in them. FAA regulations require that any hole larger than the size of your thumb be repaired. It costs about $100 for a small repair.
  • At minimum, balloonists carry an altimeter, a rate of climb instrument and thermometers to measure the temperature inside and outside of the balloon. There are "aps" for iPads and iPhones that allow chase crews and pilots to communicate with ease. I asked how pilots might know about variations in wind speed above or below them. They can only judge winds by what other balloons are doing as well as by using a "spitometer" which helps indicate wind currents below the basket. Oh, the pilots may also carry shaving cream or popcorn to test wind directions below, in case they run out of fuel for the spitometer!
  • Ballooning falls under FAA regulation. The equipment must be inspected annually. Pilots must be licensed.  
  • Rate of ascent is controlled by the burner, and possibly by jettisoning ballast. Descent occurs when the balloon cools, and by opening vents. The top of the balloon has an opening with a parachute-like valve in it (seen in picture below). Once the balloon has landed, a line pulls the parachute away from the envelope allowing the hot air to escape and the balloon to deflate.

  • We were encouraged to help pilots and their crew. We were told that as a balloon comes down, we should ask the pilot if he wants us to "lean on"to help stop the basket, and secure it until the chase crew arrives. In the picture below, the Dreamers are leaning on.

After hearing the pilot's presentation I was beginning to get excited about our coming adventure. But, not nearly as excited as I was the next morning, when I discovered just why we were parked in the south 40. It turns out that the wind patterns take the balloons right over our camping area! This picture shows "Cinderella's Coach" on the left, with balloons heading our way. We enjoyed this scenery seven of the eight mornings we were at the fiesta. (One morning the balloons couldn't launch as it was too windy.)

At the end of the row of RV's in the picture above, you might notice an open area. (It is the rectangle marked with an X in the map I included showing where we were parked.) That is a field that was used for targets during competitions, and for landing by many balloons. It was just a hop, skip and jump from our home on wheels. However, there were times when the fickle wind took pilots off their intended course, and they chose to land amongst our RV's! Here, Mr. Wizard's pilot, adroitly put down in a vacated RV parking spot, and used the roadway to take down his balloon.

And, here is another, just behind Cinderella's Coach! How's that for a front row seat?!

I'll be writing more about the Fiesta in future posts...

Monday, October 28, 2013

What's With Those Scorpios?

Today is Birthday day. 

It is both my brother's birthday, 

and that of my younger son.

They are both delightful men. It is hard to think of my son as a man, but... 'tis true as he turns 25 today.

My brother and son don't really favor one another.... except in their actions. They are both engineering types. They like precision. They love a good problem to solve. They are friendly and outgoing. They are Scorpios.

I don't have a lot of faith in Astrology and the meanings of Zodiac signs, but I found it interesting to look at 'my' boys and see if they follow published norms.

Here are a few snippets from various sources:

"Scorpios cannot refrain from testing others with cutting remarks, not because they want to hurt them, but because they want to know them better through their reaction."

This is partially true for both men. I don't think either would ever say anything truly hurtful, but they both enjoy analyzing people and are very perceptive. My son has an incredible vocabulary and a quick wit, which he will use in conversations, sometimes just to test another's perception.

Another quote about Scorpios:

"Your aggressive attitude may equate with sly inquisition as often, you remain silent, introverted and secretive, mulling over turbulent thoughts in the depths of your mind, leaving others puzzled by your quite strange behaviour."

Neither guy shows much outward aggression. However, if pushed they will both boil over, rapidly! However, my son is often very quiet.  My brother? Perhaps when he was younger.

"Scorpios are fiercely independent. They are able to accomplish anything they put their mind to and they won't give up."

Wow! Ain't this the truth! Perhaps I should have read this when my son was a child - it might have prevented a few battles! Both men have followed untraditional paths in their lives. My brother has been very successful - I'm thinking my son will be so as well. I do know that he won't give up!

"Scorpios have an excellent memory and combined with an inability to let things go, they can hold a grudge against someone who did them harm forever, in fact a Scorpio rarely if never forgives and forgets."

This cracked me up. My son was the type who remembered everything - well, except to do his homework! One time, when he was 4, he pestered us about doing something his brother was doing. We told him he could do it when he was 7. Wouldn't you know, the day he turned 7 he asked about it?!

"Scorpios make excellent doctors, surgeons, scientists and leaders, they are perfectly suited to any form of business that makes a difference in the world, greatly impacts people and society and a most importantly, Scorpio has to be in a power position."

My brother was never happy working under someone else. He started his own business and ran it successfully for years. My son may be the same. He certainly wants to do things that help people and he actually refused to apply for jobs in companies that have a negative impact on the environment or defense contractors.

There is so much more I could read... and write. It was very interesting to read the descriptions on different sites, and see how they related to the men. But, I guess one can always interpret things and twist them to fit the situation.

Regardless, I hope that both my brother and my son have a wonderful Birthday and a fabulous year!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Scary Times

I discovered that in my absence from writing my blog, my friend Jenny stopped hosting the Saturday Centus. She has not been feeling well and just couldn't keep up with it. I really enjoyed her challenges. I feel so badly that she isn't feeling well... and hope she is feeling better soon.

With Halloween in the air I decided to create my own personal challenge - writing a spooky poem... with a twist! I hope you enjoy this true story from my childhood.

Long ago at Grandma’s farm
My sister and I thought we’d come to harm.
T’was a stormy night and the winds did blow.
The cat did cry it’s plaintiff meow.
We were in the cottage,  just sis and I
Alone in our beds we did lie.
The grownups were out on this stormy night,
Not there to share our heart-stopping fright.
There came a tapping...
do you hear it as well?
Tap - tap - tapping on the wall?

The tapping came. It was silent then.
Tap. Tap. Tap. It came again.
I looked at my sis, who’s eyes were wide
My heart was pounding deep inside.
‘Tis a huge spider we did decide
Trying its best to get inside.
Sis, being older, gave a reassuring look
And grabbed the nearest reading book.
There is the tapping...
do you hear it now?
Tap - tap - tapping on the wall?

She used the book and the wall she did pound
Hoping to silence the sinister sound.
The tapping stopped. But it came again.
Tap. Tap. Tap. What an ominous refrain.
How could we stay there, how could we dare.
With some sort of monster lurking out there?
Threatening our lives or our sanity, perhaps
It was probably a zombie, skin hanging in scraps.
There is the tapping...
do you hear it now?
Tap - tap - tapping on the wall?

All that long night, along with our hearts
The tapping would stop, then it would start.
Sis and I lived through that night of hell
With nary a scratch, but a great story to tell
Of the night in a cabin on my Grandma’s ranch
Scared out of our wits by a silly branch.
A branch that swayed lightly in the breeze.
A branch stretching out from a nearby tree.
There... hear the tapping?
Can you see it now?
Tap - tap - tapping on the wall?

Were you ever terrified as a child? What story could you tell?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's Fall, Y'all

The trees are showing their true colors!

 Did you know...

chlorophyll (the substance that helps plants create food)
masks the "true" color of the leaves?
As days grow shorter, 
plants stop their food making process and
chlorophyll is no longer produced.
This allows the true color of the leaves to show through.

Happy fall, y'all!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Had a Good Trip?

The Dreamers travelled to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in Cinderella's Coach (more about that later).

A balloon lands just behind the coach

Mr. Dreamy pushed to get us home in time for Dreaming to do laundry, straighten up the house and repack for our trip to San Francisco. Oh, and Mr. Dreamy had some things on his "Honey Do" list, too.

When we pulled into the driveway it was cold and windy. It wasn't a very nice welcome after an almost heavenly week away. While Mr. Dreamy stepped inside the house, to do what we all do when we arrive home after a prolonged drive,  Dreaming decided to get started with the list of tasks associated with arriving at home. 

Not my picture... I found it here

Our car is often towed behind Cinderella's Coach, using a system similar to that pictured above. As you can see, there are bars, and wires and pokey-outy things all over the place. First thing we usually do when we arrive home is to disconnect the car. Step one is to take all of the hooks and pins off of the car, so it can be moved away.

Not my picture... I found it here

On this fateful day, Dreaming had just pulled the last pin, and this time she carefully lowered the bars to the driveway. (She has been known to drop them unexpectedly, and Mr. Dreamy, who often wears his Teva sandals, does not particularly care to have the bar dropped in such close proximity to his toes!) Oh, and yes, by this time Mr. Dreamy was back from the necessary room and was watching the action. The next step is to disconnect the wires and cables from the coach, and then the tow bar contraption can be folded up and tucked away. That is Mr. Dreamy's job.

Not my picture... it was found here

To do this Mr. Dreamy stepped over the bear trap tow bars, but.... he caught his toe on something. Since his other leg was also behind the tow bar assembly, he couldn't very well catch himself and recover, and he went down. Hard. I still get creepy feelings when I think about it. I ran around the car and hunkered down to talk to Mr. Dreamy. He was breathing hard (think woman in labor type of panting). 
I asked if he was "OK". 
He just groaned a bit. 

I asked him to "talk to me."
He continued to pant and groaned a bit. 

I asked, "Do you know who I am?" 
He responded, "No." 

Mr. Dreamy tried to get up, and collapsed back onto the ground.
I told him to stay, ran to get my cell phone and a towel.
I called 9-1-1
Mr. Dreamy took the towel and held it to his face.
He got to his feet, albeit a bit unsteadily,
and by the time I was connected to a paramedic
he asked me who I was calling.
He indicated that he didn't need paramedics.
(Oh, and yea, he said, he didn't need to go to the ER.)
I declined assistance from the paramedics,
put Mr. Dreamy into the car, upon which he was leaning,
and off we went for an adventure in the ER.

This is my picture!

The hospital is exactly 6 miles from our house. As I drove, Mr. Dreamy asked, "What did I do?" I responded that he tripped over the tow bar of the car. He commented, "I don't remember anything." He paused, and then asked, "What did I do?" Our conversation for the entire trip was a replay of that which had gone before. Needless to say, I was a bit concerned.

Three hours later we returned home. The tally of injuries:
  • a depressed fracture of the anterior maxillary sinus
  • no evidence of brain trauma (but the presence of a brain was noted)
  • both wrists strained
  • a laceration requiring 7 stitches

It has been a week since Mr. Dreamy's fall. He has been quite a good sport. I played nurse and removed his stitches a few days ago. He will need to follow up on the fracture, and possibly have further studies done of his wrists. 

So, our trip to Albuquerque was good. 
The trip afterwards, not so great!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Glorious Day

Today my baby boy is getting married.

But wait, you say, didn't he get married last year?

Perhaps they are stuck in a time warp....
or maybe it is just that they had so much fun last year....
or maybe it is simply because they wish to celebrate with more people...

whatever the reason...

Chris & Zoe are celebrating their marriage


Tonight we will attend the celebration. The reBride and reGroom will have a ring ceremony, and dances, and toasts in their honor. 

What fun!

Friday, October 18, 2013

One Month in the Life of....

It has been one month since I last posted (I'm not Catholic, but that sure sounds like I'm going to make a confession - but really, nothing to confess at all!). Wow! I can't believe I've been ''off the air'' for that long! I guess the saying, "Time flies when you're having fun" is true.

But sometimes I think "Time" looks more like...

In some respects, I can't even remember what I've been doing with all of my time! But, in the month I've been AFK (Away From Keyboard) I have:
  • travelled to Seattle
  • travelled to Albuquerque
  • travelled to San Francisco
  • packed suitcases
  • unpacked suitcases 
  • sat in the ER while Mr. Dreamy was but back together again
  • sifted and sorted my sister's belongings
  • packed boxes
  • unpacked boxes
  • got new eyeglasses to replace those broken in my crash
  • attended the Balloon Fiesta
  • had a yummy lunch with a High School friend
  • won some Words with Friends games
  • lost some Words with Friends games
  • had some yummy meals with my brother
  • visited my sister
  • drove the motorhome another 25' (total driving distance is now well over 150'!)
Oh, and I cleaned the house!

Thrilling, right?
I bet you wished you could have been there!

More, later....

What is Four?

Have you ever thought of the meaning of "four"?  Four is the number of: seasons in a year. corners and sides to a square. virtues....