Today’s planned itinerary:
involved ending the “roadtrip” portion of the adventure, and settling in for a few days in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
First change-up to this location versus the others is that I needed A/C instead of heat in my hotel room. I didn’t sleep all that well, though, so 4am came without a lot of restfulness.
Oh well… There’s adventure to be had! Who needs to sleep?
The second change-up is the new rental. This economy, a Versa, is way more “economical,” shall we say, than my previous car. Meaning, it has power absolutely nothing. It does come with a GPS unit – I told him I didn’t need one but it was already built in, no charge – but I hate it. It’s not intuitive to use AND it has a just-in-time approach to directions. Uh-huh. I’m not from here so I don’t know the roads, and – silly me – I really like having a clue which lane to be in before I get to my exits.
Then this morning in the cold (ok, cool at 5, but getting *significantly* colder through the pre-dawn hours) and dark, I couldn’t find my car. Brain fart…. I was looking for the Aveo. Riiiiight. New place, new car. Good thing I remembered the car’s plates because there’s no little blip-blip on the key ring to locate it. (That’s the technical term, in case you didn’t know.)
So that was a great learning to gain early on in the day: I need to pay close attention to where I leave it because the car won’t help me find it again. I made the requisite mental note as I left my car at the pickup location to ride over to the Fiesta.
It was still pitch dark out when we arrived. The temperatures were dropping… even moving, I lost feeling in my hands and face in short order. The “Dawn Patrol” took off between 5:45 and 6:30, only visible – other than when they fired the propane – because of the lights on them as they set up.
A little after 7 the first of the balloons were preparing to take off.
I’ve been to a Balloon Festival before… This one is different in two key ways. First, it’s bigger, and second, the winds here change direction depending on the altitude. This means that instead of taking off and then landing wherever the wind takes them, here the balloons take off headed in one direction, rise higher, and then float right back the other direction creating a loop overhead. Up, up and less “away” than “around and around. ” Which is kind of cool.
It was amazing, and once the sun came up the morning got lot closer to bearable. (Meaning, I stopped thinking I might lose appendages to frostbite.) Still, by 8:30 I was back on the bus, headed toward warmth. By 9:30 I’d been back to the hotel, had a cup of mocha, and started to make a plan for the day, which ultimately included:
1: Old Town. Shopping and restaurants abound. Church Street Café is shortlisted online for great New Mexican food… However the taquitos at home are better (I live close enough to NYC to be able to get good almost-any ethnic cuisine); these might actually have been packaged. That said, the salsa was fantastic… homemade and WAY hotter than anything served back home. Holy Moly!
2: Petroglyph National Monument. I took two of the smaller hikes in Boca Negra Canyon (less than 45 minutes all together) – the ones I was assured would most likely be snake-free, which is critical to my enjoyment. (Seriously… there was a sign on the ground *about* rattlesnakes, and when I saw it out of the corner of my eye, my heart jumped out of my chest for a moment.) Happily the adventure was slither-free, the day was nice and bright and warm by this point, and the glyphs are pretty cool.
3: Unscheduled stop back to the hotel. I was on my way to the next adventure when I became aware that if I didn’t get in a short nap, further driving was going to be a major problem. One diversion back to bed and a sleep cycle later, I felt like a whole new person.
4: Sandia Peak Tramway. The Sandias get their name because of a mineral mixed in with the granite that gives them a vaguely pinkish hue in low light and makes them truly reddish at sunset. The tram ride takes 15 minutes up the mountain but it takes at least an hour to get through the line to come down. Still, its pretty cool (and not just in the colder-at-high-altitude sense) , and I bonded with a nice couple from West Virginia who let me know that if I were to revisit WV, I should see the Greenbrier. See, these are the things I need to know! 🙂
Evening activities at the Fiesta were canceled due to impending weather, so I just went to dinner (where the blond hostess was extremely attitudinal about my being solo and yet not wanting to sit in the bar; the manager made me the same offer, sans the attitude) and I sat at a table (not at the bar) and chatted with the waitress who is new to Albuquerque (having come here from south of Tulsa for school) and I “watched” the TU-UTEP college football game via GameCast on my phone. (Win!)
Since the evening Fiesta activities were canceled tonight, I will have to reconsider my plans for tomorrow. No worries, it’s all good. Maybe I’ll make a day trip over to Santa Fe and then catch the evening events tomorrow night?
Could be…. time will tell.