Thursday, October 14, 2010

Albuquerque balloon festival

The end of our summer vacation could not have been better. We were very lucky to be passing through Albuquerque during the final weekend of the balloon festival, plus we know a couple wonderful women who let us park Howie next to their house overnight, plus Danny and his friend Patrick drove down from Denver for the weekend. We all had such a fabulous time watching balloons, talking and laughing, what a way to finish up our western tour this year.

Annette, Danny, me, Patrick, John, and Deb (and too bad there wasn't a balloon attached to this basket!):

Saturday evening was going to be a "balloon glow" but the winds were too high to allow any balloons to be inflated. But we got to see the rest of the equipment in action:

John are a ...

The next morning before dawn they set up 10 balloons in a row for a version of balloon glow, which was really neat:

We couldn't believe how close you could get to the balloons and the folks manning the big flames from within the baskets:

John has an idea:

Balloon festival friends:

Around dawn, balloons started taking off here and there:

Heading over to another part of the huge field:

Balloons in various stages of lift-off (hard to believe how close together they sit):

John and Annette:

Many things to look at all at once:

This group shot would have been better with just a little more light:

Fanning a balloon to get it started before sticking a flame under it:

Balloons everywhere!

Pepsi, anyone?

Looks like this cat is eyeing the small child:

The owl on the other side of the pussycat balloon:

Nice cow! There was too much wind for this balloon to fly, but at least we got to see it:

Peace - or - Team V!

Sometimes they do:

Look what John got me!

Danny and John:

Humpty Dumpty:

I like the colors in this photo:

Wells Fargo stagecoach:

Yep, that's a rooster:

The bees getting ready to take off - they are so cool:

Bye bees!

On the busride home, we spotted this random balloon out the window:

Too much fun! What a great experience - we highly recommend this event! And a huge thanks to Deb, Annette, Patrick, and Danny for making it a very special weekend.

Wheeler Peak - another high point

After John's solar class, we drove down toward Albuquerque, with a stop at Taos Ski Valley along the way. It was time for an actual attempt of a climb up Wheeler Peak, the highpoint of New Mexico. We had (barely) enough time, our legs weren't sore from a race the previous day, and there didn't seem to be much, if any, snow at the top of the mountain. It was now or later.

More colorful aspens on the drive through Colorado (Harvey is barely visible on the dashboard, but he appreciated the trees too):

Starting our hike up from the parking lot. This sign made me giggle:

Where's John?

Our first attempt ever at building a cairn:

The climb up from the lake was very steep, but that kept us warm on a chilly morning. Once on the top ridge, the wind was blowing and it was pretty cold. One of the last little sections to climb before reaching the top:

John checking out the trail register:

And signing us in:

The plaque at the top:

If you look really closely, you can see a strange moraine-type feature in the gray dirt just above the lake:

Taos Ski Valley down below:

Obligatory selfie:

John's highpoint pose of the day:

Yoga on the rocks:

A shout-out to Markus and Brandi - our last one of the summer, saved for just such an occasion - thank you for the delicious chocolate!

A summary of this (and other) highpoint accomplishments:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Desert Winds race report (long)

Howdy all,

I have (finally) finished my (very long) race report from our Desert Winds experience and Kip has posted it on the team website:


Friday, October 8, 2010

Petrified Goblin Reef??

Our last full day in Utah... we woke up at Bryce and headed east on a wonderful scenic drive. We made several neat stops along the way and I took too many photos as usual.

First up, Petrified Forest State Park, with a ton of petrified wood lying around near the trail:

We were amazed at all of the colors infused in the pieces:

At first I was afraid, I was petrified...

The most spectacular specimen at the end of the trail:

Scenes from our drive along routes 12 and 24 toward Capitol Reef:

We drove down the scenic drive in Capitol Reef National Park:

Not sure how this rock is still hanging on:

Harvey went out on a joyride! He has been a caged monkey for too long.

Interesting jaguar face:

Navajo sandstone dome:

Continuing east (because the campground was full), we found more great scenery along the way. Mancos shale on the way to Hanksville:

And because we couldn't resist heading into Goblin Valley State Park (we were passing so close to it anyway), we stopped at the overlook to eat dinner and watch the evening shadows over the goblins:

Hi John!

Don't squish Howie:

A parting shot - sunset over Howie and the Goblins:

Yep, it's true - Utah Rocks!