2018 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Last October found us at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta once again. Rob’s sister, Mary Beth, and her husband, Jim, came down so we were able to experience it with them, and we had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, we were not quite as lucky this time around as we had been in the past. We went to two sessions, one evening and one morning. At the evening session, the wind was too strong and no balloons were able to inflate. We missed out on the night glow, but we did get to see some parachuters, the laser light show, and an incredible fireworks display.

At the morning session, lots of balloons were allowed to inflate, but none could take off, so we were not able to see the mass ascension. Normally the Canon balloon takes off first with the American flag while they play the National Anthem, but this year it was unable to do so. Instead, pilots all around the field lit their propane in what I heard was called a candlestick display. It was quite amazing and the first time we had ever seen it done. Balloons then filled all around the field and it was absolutely beautiful. I missed watching the mass ascension, but it was still wonderful to be able to share the experience with Jim and Mary Beth.

Candlestick Display

Happy Snow Year!!

Er… I mean… Happy New Year!! Let me start by saying that I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! Because I am running so far behind schedule, I not only missed the twins’ wrestling season, the start of Liam’s wrestling season, and other family happenings, but I also missed Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and now the New Year. As embarrassing as it is to admit, my last post was back in September…

I remain shocked at just how fast time goes. I am pretty sure just last week the new school year was starting, and now here we are in second semester already. When I stop and think about things coming up this year, I find myself speechless. Liam, who was born just last year, will be 16. 16! The twins will be 14 in a couple of weeks. How?! Come October, Rob and I will have known each other for 20 years. I do not feel old enough to have known someone for 20 years! And somehow we will have racked up 18 years of marriage in June.

Peej is under there somewhere…

Will someone please remind me again where the time goes? And why, oh why, does it insist on going so fast?

I am not usually big on resolutions, most likely because I tend to fail so miserably at them, but I do have one major focus for this year: PAY ATTENTION! Last year, so many things slipped right through my fingers. Holidays snuck up on me and passed by before I even had time to realize what had happened. The summer came and went while I was still trying to find the Valentine’s decorations. Christmas came before I even had time to figure out what the kids wanted to be for Halloween. I will not let that happen again. Time is too precious to let it slip away.

I must admit that 2019 is not off to the best start for us. As many of you know, Rob is a government employee working for the National Park Service. This is week 4 of him being on furlough due to the partial government shutdown. I keep telling myself that a paycheck is highly overrated, I just cannot get myself to believe it yet. I will keep trying… I am determined not to let this little setback set the tone for the whole year. This, too, shall pass, and when it does, life will go on and we will not look back.

We welcomed the New Year with a ridiculous amount of snow. It started snowing on New Year’s Eve, and continued to snow for the next 24 hours. Last Sunday we got another 8 inches. It is great for the mountains and the ski resorts that have not been open for the last few years, and it will make for an amazing spring, but right now… holy cow. Coming from up north, we are used to snow, but it has been a few years and even we are a little out of practice!

Since Rob did not have to go to work, he drove me to work a few days in a row, then helped pull multiple people out of ditches and parking lots. He was armed with a tow rope and tire chains and ended up being a life-saver for multiple stuck motorists. I think we got 22 inches in that first 24 hours. For around here, that is A LOT of snow.

Let me just take this moment to say that I hope that this year is your best year ever. May your struggles be few, your joys be many. May we all always remember what is truly important in this life, and just how precious time is. Anyone want to go build a snowman? (It doesn’t have to be a snowman… 😉 )

Navajo Lake State Park

A couple of weeks ago we ventured to Navajo Lake State Park. We spent the weekend camping and playing in the lake. It turned out to be a great place and everyone had a wonderful time! The park is actually quite big, with quite a drive from one end to the next. We camped on Sims Mesa, but we also drove down to the dam to see the San Juan River. The San Juan is supposed to have some of the best fly fishing in New Mexico. Next time we go, we will camp on the San Juan so Rob can get up early and fly fish.

This visit was more water play than fishing. We took the kick boats out, the kids played in the water, and the boys even found a great rock about 15 feet up that they jumped off over and over again.

Many years ago, Rob challenged me to stick my head under water in the Willamette River. I was hesitant at first, but eventually did it. Boy, was it cold! The San Juan was cold as well, so I double-dog dared Rob to stick his head under. To my surprise, he did! (I guess one never can resist a double-dog dare!) That got the kids all interested, so after an offer of $5 each, the did it as well. It was fun and cold and now I owe quite a bit of money for various challenges!

It was a great weekend get-away and we look forward to going back. There are so many great places to camp and fish that we rarely hit the same place twice, but Navajo Lake and the San Juan River will definitely be an exception.

Pecos National Historical Park

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.

Ruins

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!

Dodge City and Beyond

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.

Kansas Countryside

Dodge City

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.

 

Fiesta!

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.

Cats!

Another kitty!

The twins sharing a moment

The kiddos

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.