Pecos National Historical Park is only about 70 miles from our house, so I am little embarrassed to admit that it has taken us two years to finally make it there. We pass it all the time on the way to wrestling tournaments or football games, but we never really have time to stop. On our way home from Kansas, we finally took the time. It was a great history lesson with a chance to stretch our legs for a bit.
My crazy kids are photo-bomb happy…
I think if they heard “Hey, let me take your picture!” one more time, they would have hog-tied me and left me along the road somewhere…
A little over an hour after Leaving Pecos NHS, we arrived back home. As fun as it is to take trips, it is always nice to get back home. I am pretty sure the kitties were happy to see us! Charbie had fun out exploring with us, but I think even he was happy to have his favorite lounge spots back. Only two days left, and then it was back to school for the kids. There are just two months remaining in the school year, which seems hard to believe, but apparently time really has gone that fast.
Time to start planning our next adventure!
We got up in the morning and walked around downtown Dodge City a little bit. We stopped into the Visitor’s Center and checked out an antique shop I had read about. It is definitely the off season because it was pretty quiet. The Visitor’s Center has a map for people to put pins in their home towns. Each month has a different colored pin, and there were not many locations pinned yet. We were showed the map from last year and it was filled! As it was, we were just the second pin in the state of New Mexico, the first being in Albuquerque.
A fun sign we found on the way to Dodge City.
After lunch we decided to hit the zoo. The Wright Park Zoo is very small but cute, right in the middle of town. It is free to visit, but they do accept donations. We always enjoy visiting the animals, and this little zoo was the perfect place to do that.
It is true what they say about the wind never stopping in Kansas. It blew and blew the entire time we were there, well, except for a few minutes at Fort Larned when the flag was practically still. That probably does not happen very often! We had a wonderful time, though, and western Kansas is beautiful. (I am a sucker for farmland and cows.) Our plan was to start driving towards home until we found a nice place to camp for the night. That happened not too far inside New Mexico at Clayton Lake State Park. It was a great place to spend the evening.
After a good night’s rest, we would head for home in the morning.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is probably my favorite event here in New Mexico. For two weeks each October, hot air balloons fill the sky with amazing color. Each morning they have a laser light show and balloon glow, followed by the mass ascension. In the evening, there are laser light shows and other fun events, like the Special Shapes Glowdeo. We have not attended an evening event, mostly because the morning mass ascension is so spectacular.
This year we were invited to be a part of the Chase Crew for Smokey the Bear! Monday morning we got up at o-dark-thirty and made our way to Albuquerque. The weather was not as cooperative as we would have liked it to be, so the balloons did not get going as early as they did last year when we attended. There are so many balloons that each one has a window for inflating and launch. If you cannot make your window, you make way for the next balloon. Well, as it turned out, it was too windy for Smokey, so we did not get to help set him up or chase him, but we had a really good time anyway.
Once the sun began to come up, there were balloons inflating every where we looked. After a cold morning, it warmed up nicely and balloons began to fill the sky. Any disappointment about not being able to help with Smokey quickly disappeared. I took about a million pictures as we ooh-ed and aah-ed our way around the balloon field. I am not normally a morning person, but this event is definitely worth getting up at 2am for!
Waiting for the winds to calm so we could help inflate Smokey the Bear. Dawn Patrol is getting ready in the background.
The twins sharing a moment
Chase vehicles for Smokey the Bear. The firetruck was really fun (and super cold!) to ride in!
It wasn’t quite the hot air balloon, but they were able to inflate a smaller Smokey out by the Balloon Museum.
We stopped at Fort Union on our way home from Oklahoma. It was an abbreviated visit since we still had to make our way home, but it was a great stop. Fort Union served as a frontier outpost. The history of the fort, which was built three different times, is quite interesting, even though it was only in operation for a short time. We had not really planned it that way, but our trip to Oklahoma turned out to be a lesson in the Santa Fe Trail!
Every spring is the only spring — a perpetual astonishment. ~Ellis Peters