Visiting Grand Baby Alex

Before I get into something actually interesting in this post…like grand baby Alex…I gotta digress for a few. Although this is about politics…it ain’t political…but if you’re easily offended, bored by politics or just don’t want to read about them any more…feel free to skip down a bit.

This week…we saw 3 resignations from congress…one Senator and two House members. Mr. Conyers may…and I stress may as I’ll discuss in a minute…have done something he needed to resign for. Mr. Franken…well ‘round these parts we think he’s an idiot and most definitely don’t agree with much he says…but he was also hounded out of office…primarily by his own side…and most definitely not deserved. Mr. Franks also resigned.

Now the official reason all of these members resigned…not to mention Weinstein, Spacey, and the other dozen (at least) high profile folks who’ve gotten into trouble the past few weeks…is because of inappropriate actions, sexual harassment, assault, or whatever it’s being called today.

Meanwhile…over on Fox a female commentator made what seems to me to be a perfectly valid point. She asked why we anointed the statements of the female victims of these actions as gospel truth without any investigation and what happened to innocent until proven guilty…and said that we needed to stop the current trial by social media. She did not say that the women should be disbelieved…she said that why should what they say be considered absolute truth and whatever the man in the situation said be considered as completely false. She encouraged investigating allegations…and if they were proven the perpetrators be punished…but insisted that due process be provided to determine the facts.

Mr. Franken was forced out by his own party for political purposes…the Democrats want to be able to say they took the high ground so that in the event Mr. Moore wins the Senate race down in AL they can demand his immediate ouster. As far as I’ve read…and I’ll admit I have not researched it in excruciating detail as Ima getting tired of it…none of his actions took place while he was a Senator but are leftovers from his previous career as a comedian. Back in the day…he was one of those comedians that specialized in being a jerk…I’m not approving of his actions but I find it strange that the woman involved didn’t complain back in 1998 or whatever it was but waited until now.

I’m obviously against sexual harassment and assault…who wouldn’t be…but let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. When a woman (or man as in the Spacey case) alleges something…by all means investigate. The police, House Ethics Committee, district attorney or whoever the appropriate party is should determine the facts and if warranted then either charge the offender with a crime, force them to resign, or whatever other action is appropriate.

What should not happen is what is currently happening…with all the #Metoo hashtags and Silence Breakers as Time called them…is that any woman can allege anything about any man…and she will be believed absolutely…and the man will not be believed and his career and life as he knows it is effectively over. 

That just ain’t right.

I think this from the Internet sums it up quite well…don’t read anything into it being Ms. Pelosi’s photo as her party does not have a monopoly on stupidity.

NationInDistress

Come on people…we’re better than that. Investigate and punish the guilty rather than just punish before finding out any facts.

Ok, on to something more interesting…ya’ll that skipped down before can start reading here.

We had a great visit with Alex and his mom and dad the past week. Leaving last Sunday after Mass we stopped over night just about the GA/SC border and proceeded on up to Midlothian the next day. We spent 4 great days seeing Bryan, Jen and Alex…cooked dinner for them one night, ate out, baby sat Alex, and just generally did the grand parent thing.

Here’s a shot of Alex and his granny on the couch.

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He’s actually a pretty smart kid it seems to us…and he’s at that age where you can actually have an intelligent conversation with him…and when he’s still interested in being helpful.

After our visit was done…we headed back south Friday morning. Dropping Alex off at Isabel’s grand mother’s house for a play date about 0730 we bought gas, cokes, and bagels and headed south. It rained pretty much the whole day…and by 1100 when we were half way through NC we saw it was snowing in Midlothian…we got out of there in the nick of time I guess…and they had 4 or 5 inches I guess by the time it was done. 

We stopped 650 miles later in Gainesville FL after a long day of driving in the rain…and got up Saturday morning and did the last 250 miles back to Seminole where we picked up our 4 packages that came in during the week and got unpacked. Weather is pretty cool in FL when we got back…it’s only about 70 and overcast and rainy.

All in all…a good time and we were so glad to see both the kids and Alex for a visit. We’ll see them again in the spring and fall to bookend our travel season this year as we’re headed to the Canadian Maritime provinces which means we’ll go up the east coast and then back down.

Interesting things from the net this week.

Everybody has heard the story of Sleeping Beauty…but have you ever heard the origins of the story? Check out the details here.

SleepingBeauty

This link…If Scientists Wrote Christmas Carols…comes from facebook and is a short video showing you how Christmas Carols would be different if they were written by scientists. Thanks to Jen for this one.

For those of you who still have that 4 letter word W-O-R-K in their life…just be glad you don’t work for Johnson and Johnson.

IHateMyJobDay

Here’s an article about a guy whose shed was getting burglarized who called the cops.

RoundLikeAShot

Mother Nature is just showing off out in Hawaii on the big island where the volcano is erupting.

MotherNatureShowingOff

And in the Christmas spirit…

JollySanta

This is the most Russian headline I’ve ever seen.

MostRussianHeadlineEver

Some town up north got themselves a new salt/sand spreader for the winter…go ahead and hum along with this one if you’re over 50…you know you want to. For those of you under the age of 50 who just don’t understand…google Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss and their song from 1959 sung by Brian Hyland about a shy lass that wore a revealing bikini at the beach.

BestNameEver

And finally…the Lord’s Prayer as rewritten by a publican (that’s a bar owner for those of you under the age of 50)

ThePublicansPrayer

Cyas.

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Headed Off to See Grandbaby Alex

Just a quick post since we’re headed off in the morning to visit Alex…Neil’s not taking a computer with him but just an iPad and posting from it it harder.

We didn’t do much this week…Neil washed the house and Big Red and we put out the outside Christmas decorations. Other than that…it was choir on Sunday, bingo on Tuesday at the Elks, and tacos on Thursday. Today Dec 2 is Connie’s birthday…so we went down in the late afternoon to a local seafood place named Lobster Lady…it was pretty good food albeit somewhat of a hike from Seminole at about a 30 mile round trip. Brews were 2 for 1 pints at only $5 each…so it was worthwhile.

After Mass in the morning we’re headed for Midlothian VA to see Alex…his birthday is next week and we wanted to get up and visit him as well as Bryan and Jen…we dug out our air mattress and will just stay with the kids rather than getting a hotel. We’ll get there mid afternoon on Monday and head back down Friday for arrival on Saturday…that way Connie won’t miss any choir time.

Neil didn’t get down to the eagle nest this week…but with two eggs on the nest  now here’ a capture from the web of Harriet incubating the two eggs…this is from the infrared camera that takes over at night.

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I’ll make sure he snags some photos of the Alex while we’re up that way for ya’. 

Interesting stuff from the net this week.

This is the name of an actual street in Fountain CO.

NewImage

Sorry…that’s all I found.

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 1 Comment

Post Turkey Day

Well…we’ve continued to do our thing here in the warm southwest of Florida at Seminole Campground. Nothing really much going on and really no Fun Stuff© to write about so I guess I’ll just write about life.

Both of the adults had a filling/crown prep on Wednesday morning…they each had a cavity that needed fixing. Neil’s was underneath an existing crown from 2005 so that needed to come off and get replaced and Connie’s was on a tooth with several fillings already and there wasn’t a way to fix it without a crown. They go back in a couple weeks to get the permanent crowns installed.

Little Red got a flat tire on Tuesday…Neil went out to pick Connie up from Bingo and the low pressure alarm went off as he exited the campground so he turned around, parked, and took Big Red instead. Investigation the next day when it was light revealed a roofing nail stuck in the tread on the right front…he had gotten way over on the road going out to let a dualley pickup go by and must have picked it up there…not surprising as a whole bunch of roofs (and the included nails) got blown off during Irma a month or two back.

We had a nice Thanksgiving day…Neil’s brother Ron texted him early while Connie was off singing with the choir at Mass. Dinner for us was a whole chicken that he brined for about 24 hours in the fridge in a Caribbean jerk flavored brine…then it was spatchcocked…that means you cut the spine out and spread it flat…and grilled. He also made some baked sweet taters and the best corn casserole he’s ever made to go along with it. Don’t know why it was so outstanding…but he did a couple things he normally doesn’t do…duck fat and bacon fat being high on that list along with some corn starch and cream to thicken it, grated cheddar to make it good, cilantro/lime/hot sauce for flavor and some Panko bread crumbs and Parmesana Regianno cheese on the top before being put in the oven to brown the crumbs. The chicken was outstanding…juicy and flavorful…another in the (so far) uninterrupted series of great meals we’ve come up with since our arrival.

Neil’s been biking a lot since we got here…and his legs and cardio are coming along nicely. He hadn’t ridden from our departure in May until September in Coeur d’Alene ID…his first two rides there he was barely able to do 11 miles at about 13 miles an hour at the 2,300 foot elevation. He did a little better in Cedar Key and when we got here to Seminole he started getting out a lot more regularly…5 rides so far. His first here was 12.5 miles and his latest today almost 19 and the speed is back up in the 15-15.5 miles an hour range except for the longer ride today. He’s going to continue and after a few more long ones he’ll be back where he wants to be for the winter.

Neil hasn’t  been down to the eagle nest yet…but will hopefully have time to get down there this week…as of today Harriet and M15 have two eggs incubating that were laid on the 19th and 22nd…a 3 day separation is about normal for a bald eagle and the standard incubation period of 35 days should see hatching on Christmas Eve and Dec 27 assuming all goes well.

Ok…interesting stuff found on the net this week.

Who would have thunk it?

WhoWouldaThunkIt

In another who woulda thunk it report…trash in ocean comes from rivers…according to a study discussed at that link…done by the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig, Germany reports that most of the trash floating in the ocean…you know, the “trash islands” that the tree huggers like to talk about…comes from rivers. According to the study…10 rivers around the world result in 88%-95% of all the trash floating in the ocean. Now if any of these rivers were located in the USA…Al Gore and the tree hugger crowd would be all over it…but as it turns out 8 of the 10 are in Asia and the other two are in are in Africa…China leads the list with 4 (Hai He, Yellow, Pearl, and Yantze). Russia, India, and Pakistan each have one and the remaining 3…the Mekong in SE Asia and the Nile and Niger in Africa…drain multiple countries. So it’s not the USA that is polluting the oceans as the Blame America First crowd would say but ABTUS (anybody but the US) doing so. Just like the carbon emission problem…it’s China in first place, not the US.

Thanks for pointing that out.

ThanksForPointingItOut

This guy at Wirecutter.com that mapped out his bike ride the day before Thanksgiving clearly has way, way too much free time on his hands…that’s probably only about 7 or 8 miles but he clearly had to carefully plan things out before leaving.

WayTooMuchFreeTime

On somewhat of a political note…and what with all the alleged misconduct from either the recent past or 40 years ago we’ve been reading about.

MeetingWomen

 Seems like the Veep had it right on this one…at least it’s both sides of the political divide that are getting caught up in it.

And on a slightly more political note…actually I guess it’s a “you should read the Constitution” note…a Fox contributor posted this via a tweet yesterday.

CitizenOfTheYear

And naturally she was immediately attacked over it. ‘Round these parts…we think kneeling for the National Anthem is unpatriotic and should be banned right along with flag burning…but that’s just our opinion. However, the twitterverse is aflame with hatred for this woman and demands by lefties that she be punished for this…apparently liberals only believe in free speech that they support rather than free speech for all. Funny…from my reading of the Constitution it doesn’t really matter what you say…you have a right to say it but if it’s not something that liberals support than it’s not free speech…it’s hate speech, racist speech, or misogynist speech. That ain’t how it works folks…

I don’t know who this dog is…but he looks like a lot of fun.

ReallyFunDog

Things just got serious…

ThingsJustGotSerious

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments

Getting Into the Winter Routine and Connie Joins the Elks

Well, another week down and not much to report. Neil went on a couple of bike rides and we continued checking stuff off of our “Arrival in Fort Myers” list. We had our dental cleaning and each of us has a cavity that needs filling…Neil’s is under a crown so that will need replacing while Connie’s is in a tooth that will require a crown to go along with the filling.

We’ve mostly been eating in…haven’t cooked a bad meal since we got here…now that we’re in winter home mode we tend to eat out less and between the two adults we’ve really been dishing up some tasty grub.

Connie joined our local Elks Lodge…she’s been getting in on her spouse card and is a member of the Ladies of Elks auxiliary…but decided it was time to become a full fledged member. Neil thinks she really just wanted to know the secret handshake…which she now does.

Along the way this week…Neil hung up the Tiki Bar sign that our friend Maureen from the Low Key Hideaway bought us…Neil admired theirs and threatened to steal it (just teasing!) so she got us one.

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He hung it out and plugged it into the timer we have that normally runs our Christmas lighting…it’s set to be on from sunset until 4 hours later. 

Connie continues to not be a winner at Bingo…hopefully her luck will change and she’ll make enough to break even on the cost. Today we got roped into selling the hotdogs and nachos at the Quarter Auction…Connie was going to go anyway but Neil would have stayed at home until Frank called and asked if we would sell as Frank and Gail (the normal sellers) have to head an hour north to the Deep Creek Lodge for some sort of District Deputy visitation thing…another reason not to become a lodge officer as you end up not only spending more nights at your own lodge than normal but also you are expected to participate in visitations, initiations, and other social/lodge business events at other lodges close by.

Little Red continues to impress us…her engine is really quiet and several times we’ve either tried to start it when it was already running or started to leave the car without turning it off. We’re really liking having a car again…it will make travel days a little harder on Connie as she will drive separately and slightly harder on Neil as well as he won’t have any people in Big Red with him to handle tasks like refilling his drink, checking the navigation or googling for some bit of information we need…all that will have to happen at rest stops instead.

The college football season is getting down to the serious portion…last week 4 top 10 teams including Georgia, TCU, Notre Dame and Washington all lost. Alabama was tied to behind most of the game but as is the norm for a Saban coached team they won the fourth quarter convincingly and scored with about a minute to play to give themselves a 31-24 win. They’ve got a cupcake this week in Mercer but next week it’s the Iron Bowl against Auburn (who beat Georgia soundly last week when the Dogs were ranked #1) then the SEC Championship Game against Georgia once we beat Auburn then it will be off the the playoffs. Nothing certain at this point…and while the Tide is looking pretty good they have to continue to show up, follow the process, and have every player do their job.

On to interesting stuff found on the net.

Good question…

GoodQuestion

Another good question.

GoodQuestion2

Another pano gone wrong.

PanoGoneWrong

Story about an old pilot.

ImALesbian

That must have been one bad fall.

OneBadFall

This just in…

ThisJustIn

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 1 Comment

Transit to North Fort Myers FL and New Family Member

OK, last post of the travel season…obviously I’ll keep posting during the winter but as we’re not doing nearly as much Fun Stuff© a lot of it will just be daily life.

Wednesday Nov 1 we came to the end of our 11 day stay at the Low Key Hideaway in Cedar Key. I need to give a shout to Steve from northern GA who we met there…he gave us 4 bottles of wine he made and brought another 2 over the last night before he left to go along with the steak and taters that Neil cooked…well, actually he brought the steak too as it was already thawed out and needed to get eaten and Neil was going to make hash for dinner as we had spent way too long hanging out at the Tiki Bar drinking brews. Anyways…he was there with his Sheltie Collie Cooper who was about the most laid back dog ya ever seen. Just laid there and watched the world go by.

We made our reservations for the last 10 days of October next year at the LKH…then hitched up and hit the road about 0830 or so for the 280 mile trip down to Fort Myers. We arrived and pulled into Seminole Campground right about 1330. We had 7 packages of various sorts waiting for us…new grill, new zero gravity recliners as ours were falling apart, and various other things we needed to get and pretty quickly got pulled into our site 101 for the 6th consecutive winter season. Neil spent the rest of the afternoon and most of the next morning doing outside setup while Connie did inside setup.

Other than that…we ain’t done much. Had dinner at the Elks a couple times, went to Bingo, went to Mass on Sunday, Neil had a few bike rides, and that’s been about it.

Here’s a shot of our setup…amazingly enough it looks almost the same as last year’s setup.

IMG 2262

We do have all new gravel in our site…all the sites on this side of the park got sort of washed out by the water from the creek during Hurricane Irma…and the tree that used to sit just near where our flagpole is came down during the storm as well. We’ve also got new sod along the side of our site and patio .

Connie made us a nice little Thanksgiving decoration for the picnic table.

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Our friend Jeff is here…but he’s got a friend from TN here with him for a couple weeks so we haven’t seen him too much to catch up…Doug is leaving tomorrow or Monday so we’ll see him at Bingo and such now. Connie put in her application to become a real Elk in addition to being a member of Ladies of Elks…Neil sponsored her and she found a couple other members to recommend her as well.

That’s about it I guess…oh yeah, about that new family member thing. As you recall when we were up in IN in May 16 to pick up Big Red Connie had a detached retina that needed surgery…long story short is that she was better by the time we left Fort Myers this past spring but had basically not been able to drive for most of the year from May 2016 to May 2017. Luckily…our 11 year old 176,000 mile Mazda 6 needed some expensive repairs that just weren’t worth it the week after her eye problem…so we donated it to the Catholic Charities up in IN and have been using Big Red as our daily driver the past year in addition to pulling the rig around. After being single vehicle RVers for a year…while it works just fine…there are some drawbacks. Low mileage even when not towing…let’s face it Big Red ain’t an economy vehicle…along with the pain of parking way away from everything convinced us it was time to get another vehicle again for our daily driver. So with no further ado…let me introduce you to the newest member of our traveling menagerie…Little Red.

IMG 2619

Little Red…we’re pretty sure that it’s a she…is a 2017 Mazda CX-5 Touring…she drives pretty similarly to the Mazda 6 we donated. We researched and test drove it last along with a Ford Escape and a Toyota RAV4…all 3 look almost identical as we were looking for a 4 door lift back with enough storage so that we could keep the hiking bin and the cooler in the car without blocking the back seat. We eliminated the RAV4 pretty quickly…it was the most expensive of the 3 and had the most uncomfortable seats we’ve sat in for quite awhile. The Mazda has better fit and finish inside than the Escape did…has more features…and was cheaper besides. We did all our testing in one day, bought the next day, and picked up on Monday.

Ok, on to interesting things found on the net.

Only in New Zealand.

OnlyInNewZealand

Only in Canuckistan.

AhCanada

RV auxiliary holding tank.

AuxHoldingTank

When you lie on your resume but get the job anyway.

LieOnYourResume

So close.

SoClose

Why is there a man on the toilet on my phone?

ManOnToiletOnPhone

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 1 Comment

Cedar Key FL

Saturday Oct 21 was our scheduled departure day from Foley for the 401 mile transit to Cedar Key FL for a 10 day visit at the Low Key Hideaway…one of our favorite 3 or 4 parks. Cedar Key is a really laid back place…there’s not really much to do…and you either get it and like…or you don’t.

After an early alarm Connie made coffee and we pulled out on schedule right about 0630. One quick stop at the Krispy Kreme to pick up breakfast…hey, the Hot light was on and that means fresh, still warm from the fryer glazed donuts…we got 6 (4 for breakfast and another 2 to have warmed up with ice cream on top later) and we hit the Foley Beach Expressway, then the Baldwin Beach Expressway. Both of those are 4 lane at grade highways but miss all the traffic on AL-59 which is the old way into Foley and Gulf Shores.

After 30 miles or so we exited onto I-10 east and headed east. After 250 miles or so we exited onto US-19 then US-98 then FL-24…everything past the freeway was now 4 lane at grade highway except the last 20 miles or so on 24…but that’s a straight and wide 2 lane road much better than taking 345 through Chiefland.

We arrived and Neil parked in front of the joint while Connie ran into the Tiki Bar to find us some traffic blockers. Mo (Maureen the owner) and Shannon the bartender came out and blocked the traffic for us while Connie got on her radio and did her usual mombacker job and we got parked lickity split…once we were in our site 3 he had to pull forward across the road once to get centered.

What…ya don’t know what a mombacker is? He’s the guy that stands out behind the garbage truck down in the south and directs the driver…what they say is ‘mom back, ‘mom back until the truck is in the correct place.

We had half filled out black and gray tanks with water and the normal vinegar and Dawn liquid combo to scrub them clean on the way down with the sloshing around…so after getting power and water on he dumped and flushed the tanks then we settled in to watch the ‘Bama Tennessee game…as expected the Tide won 45-10. Tennessee’s only touchdown was on a long interception return by the backup freshman quarterback…he’s still a bit inexperienced and while the receiver he was throwing to was wide open on a crossing route in the back of the end zone he forgot about the middle linebacker in zone coverage…who happened to get the ball thrown right to him for a pick six. Oh well…he’ll learn to read the defense better with some more reps. Bama’s off this week and LSU comes to town on Nov 4.

The only things we’ve got planned for the 10 day stop here are the annual end of the travel season fall cleaning…we’ll spread that over a couple of mornings and get the whole inside of the rig cleaned up for the winter season…and the nightly happy hour at the Tiki Bar. They’ve got a bunch of great brews here…Maduro, John Boat Beach Ale, Vanilla Porter…not to mention they’ve got Goslings Rum and Ginger Beer so Neil can have a Dark and Stormy or 10. Other than that…we’ll eat pizza at the Tiki Bar, grill, Neil will ride the bike some, and there’s even a Catholic Church in Cedar Key now so we don’t have to schlep up to Chiefland for Mass. It’s just a mission from the parish up in Chiefland…the parish bought (or had donated, don’t know which) a house which has been refurbished into a chapel and it’s just a half mile south of where we are sitting.

Here are a couple of shots from google of where we are staying…

Cedar Key itself…

Screen Shot 2017 10 27 at 8 48 08 AM

And a closeup of the Low Key Hideaway…3 RV sites, 5 hotel rooms, and the Tiki Bar. We’re in site 3, the most southern of the sites and the occupied one in the photo below…the Tiki Bar is the metal roofed building right at the land end of the wharf. Mo and Frank are putting in another 6 sites south of the current site 3…but most of them would be too short for our rig as the DoT folks are making them put in a pullout road between the sites and 24. The stated reason for requiring the road is to let RVs back in without blocking traffic…but they’ll still have to block it for everything but really short travel trailers. We have stayed in site 1 and 2 would also work but we’ve been in 3 most of our stays here.

Screen Shot 2017 10 27 at 8 51 01 AM

So…what’s it like around here?

We spent two mornings cleaning the house top to bottom inside but other than that it’s just a series of days that go “wake up late, lounge around in the sun, go to the Tiki Bar”. Here’s a few photos from around the joint.

Taken out our window looking northwest towards the Tiki Bar from site 3.

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Part of the local fauna…an Osprey that spends at least 4 hours every day perched on this stick 30 or so yards offshore.

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Little Blue Heron…there’s also a Great Blue Heron and Great Egret along with some Ibis but I didn’t get a shot of them.

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Sunset…these sunset shots are all iPhone photos as it’s just easier than hauling the tripod and real camera over to the bar.

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View looking out from inside the Tiki Bar.

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These two taken from the performer deck on the other side of the Tiki Bar from the RV sites. The former owners Pat and Cindy Bonish made the walls out of empty beer bottles.

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Roseate Spoonbill…we keep seeing the same 3 of these out in the water when the tide is low.

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Interesting Stuff From the Net.

I just don’t know what to say about this.

MooseCowRape

 

This is why I don’t trust people.

WhyIDontTrustPeople

Meanwhile…in Texas.

MeanwhileInTexas

I knew it.

IKnewIt

How to prevent workplace violence.

WorkplaceSign

Wait for it…

WaitForIt

Royal babysitting technique.

BabysittingTechnique

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

OK, time for a catch up post with photos from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta…we thought it was the Festival until we got there and found out that it’s a Fiesta instead.

We arrived on Friday morning to take part in an Escapees HOP…basically a mini rally centered around something…the Fiesta in this case. For our participation fee…we got a catered breakfast every morning and dinner most evenings, plus parking spaces and 4 tickets to the launch field…as I’ll discuss in a bit we only used two of the four we had available since mostly the balloons came to us.

The schedule was pretty much the same almost every day. Depending on the winds…the first balloons up were what’s called the Dawn Patrol…experienced pilots who go aloft to check the wind and for the existence of what’s known as the Albuquerque Box. Basically…with the box a balloon goes up and goes either south or north depending on the direction of the box today and after awhile goes higher and catches a wind going the other direction so they end up back at the launch field for landing. This makes it a lot easier for the ground crew to get to the balloon to help deflate and stow it away. 

Once the wind is verified…and mostly it needs to be 8 knots or less to safely launch…the Mass Ascension starts…this is a launch period of an hour or so when literally hundreds of balloons launch…Neil took an estimated count one morning and the total number he could see airborne was more than 300.

After the Mass Ascension…things sort of die down until the evening when there’s another display called the Sunset Glow…the balloons here don’t actually launch but are tethered to a vehicle on the ground and just inflate the envelope with what is called the glow burners…they have a lot more orange flame than the normal burners which are hotter, blue, and almost not visible.

A short description of a hot air balloon is probably necessary. There’s the envelope which is the bag or shape that holds the hot air. The envelope is connected to a basket…yes, an actual wicker basket…that holds the pilot and passengers along with 20 gallons of propane which gives them about 2 hours of air time. Mounted to the top of the basket is the burner assembly which consists of 4 burners in total. Two are rated at 1.5 million BTUs each and are the normal burners. When they light those suckers off you can feel the heat on your face 50 feet away. There are also 2 glow burners which burn with a less aerated mixture and make a more visible orange flame. The glow burners are only about 1 million BTUs each.

The envelope is nylon and is only about as thick as the stuff they make a parachute or day pack out of. It’s thin enough so that even the largest envelopes like the sheriff or Wells Fargo stage coach below would easily fit into the trunk of a car.

To inflate…and this entire process can be done from in the truck to airborne in 15 minutes if they want to…the envelope is pulled out of it’s storage bag and laid out on the ground on top of an old envelope that protects it while it’s inflating. The basket is attached with it’s burners and laid over on it’s side on the ground. The basket is tethered to a truck or car and a long rope is attached to the top to hold it still while it’s inflating.

Next…a large gasoline powered fan about 3 feet in diameter is started and aimed into the opening at the bottom of the envelope to do what is called “cold packing” of the envelope…essentially make it look like a balloon laying over on it’s side on the ground.

Next…the burners are fired up to heat the air in the envelope and it goes from laying on the ground to vertical in 30 or 45 seconds…it happens really fast.

Finally…the pilot and passengers hop in the basket, the tether is released and the pilot lights the burners to get aloft.

Saturday morning…we used two of our tickets to head over to the launch field and watch the setup and launch up close and personal as one would say. The Fiesta allows spectators right out onto the launch field and as each balloon is ready to go these guys in referee shirts blow their whistles, clear the bystanders from immediately downwind from the balloon and allow the takeoff.

This first set of photos is all from the first morning…we ate breakfast at 0500 and were at the launch field by 0540.

First launch.

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Even with a huge launch field…the balloons are inflated pretty close to each other.

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The group testing their burners at the official 0600 Grand Opening. Loud and hot.

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Getting ready for the Mass Ascension.

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Sometimes they pass directly overhead…about 50 feet up at this point.

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Cold packing…you can see the fan in front of the guy with the blue watch cap and the ground crew holding the envelope open for him. In the foreground are the main burners for the next one in line.

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Main burner right before liftoff…still a bit orange in the flame as the pilot doesn’t have it adjusted properly yet.

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The shapes were out as well.

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Beefeater.

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Attack of the killer spiders I guess.

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Keystone Cop.

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Darth made an appearance of course.

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As did Yoda.

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And the prisoner.

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Only you can prevent forest fires.

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The armadillo sheriff was our second favorite.

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Mexican lass.

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We never did see this one fly…got this as we boarded the bus back to the RV at 0745 or so.

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Evening Glow got weathered out…too windy. So the next morning after breakfast we just watched the Dawn Patrol and Mass Ascension from right outside our meal tent.

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Tall Steve the Penguin from New Zealand was our favorite…grand baby Alex liked him too.

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Did I mention there were a few balloons there?

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The Wells Fargo stage coach had a problem the first day and was deflated…they got it fixed by Sunday morning though.

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Yeah…a few airborne. About 100 in this shot and there were another two hundred at least. 

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Angry Birds.

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Pancho and his guitar and the Mexican girl got to know each other a little better.

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This one landed right in front of us to swap passengers. Neil went over and helped hold it and load the little old ladies out of and into the basket.

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Passing just in front of the sun.

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More than one landed right in the RV park.

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Except Darth who just flew down the row…he would have hit the rigs if he was any to the left or right.

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One day there was a bombing competition…the balloons had to take off at least a mile from the center of the field and then fly to a rowboat sitting in the middle of it and drop a marker. Closest to the mark wins. Several launched from the RV park…including this one right behind our rig. You can see it with the bike racks on it on the right side of the photo. They’re in the middle of cold packing.

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And on go the 3 million BTUs of heat.

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And up she goes.

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Yup…we wuz there.

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And we have liftoff.

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This one had taken off from the field I guess…but did a touch and go behind our rig…this was taken through the back window.

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And Tall Steve remained our fave.

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Commemorating the POW and MIA soldiers.

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Another one passing the sun…stopped and picked up passengers right behind our rig as well.

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And rinse and repeat…we did this for 5 days total.

A few thoughts on the Fiesta.

We had a lot better time than we thought we would…originally we were just going to visit and travel with Bill and Linda but the Fiesta was a lot better than we thought.

We are glad we went…but not being real balloon enthusiasts only staying the first half of the Fiesta was about right…we could actually have left a couple days early as each day was mostly a repeat of the day before.

Escapees HOPs are pretty disorganized overall…but then they’re run by volunteers. We almost parked in the wrong spot on arrival and meals weren’t as organized as they should be…but we parked, had fun, and got fed so overall it was just fine…albeit not as tightly run as we would have liked.

This is already photo intensive…so no interesting stuff this week…but I do have some nice shots from the Low Key Hideaway in Cedar Key that I’ll put up tomorrow.

Cyas.

 

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