Posts Tagged Albuquerque balloon festival

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2015

ABQ

Beautiful start to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

The internationally known Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has wrapped up and what a spectacular event it was!

The Balloon Fiesta is a bucket list item for a lot of folks. It’s  one of the most “hands on” events there is as you can be right on the field with Darth Vader, The Bumble Bees and the crowd favorite, Spider Pig.
Have questions about ballooning? Just walk up and ask the crew how things work while they are airing up. Or better yet, volunteer on a balloon crew and get free entrance for the week and possibly get a balloon ride as a thanks. Stand in one place too long and your liable to be bumped in the behind by a rapidly expanding balloon preparing to launch. Hear the Zebra’s whistle as the balloons take flight right over your head…by the hundreds! (550 of them to be exact)
Our camp site was in the General campground just south of the launch field. It was dry camping so no hookups for $30/night. What you lack in amenities is made up by the close proximity to Balloon Fiesta Park.
While thousands of others sat in traffic for hours we walked to the field in 15 minutes flat, 5 minutes if you catch a shuttle right from the campground.
However, the biggest bonus was being woken up to the whoosh of balloons firing right about the RV…for two hours straight. RIGHT OVER OUR HEADS! If we didn’t feel like going to the field in the morning we just waited for our whoosh alarm clock, made tea and headed to the lawn chairs right from our campsite.
Landings in the campground happened pretty much every day, so be prepared to set your coffee down and jump up to help.
Though we went to the Dawn Patrol a couple of mornings our very favorite event was the Glowdeo where the Special Shapes balloons were ignited after dark. Nothing is more magical than walking around the field being surrounded by glowing balloons. It’s enough to make grown adults feel like kids again. There is so much laughter and smiles at this event…it’s the happiest place on earth (Sorry Disney World).
Want more info on the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta? Check out RV buddy WheelingIt who did an amazing 4 part recap of the event, including some gorgeous pictures!
While we were at the Balloon Fiesta we were a part of the newly formed Xscapers RV club.
RV club, Escapees, was originally created to provide encouragement and resources for full time RV’ers. But as the Escapees population has aged and retired a resource for a younger crowd was needed. Thus, Xscapers has been created in order to appeal to a bit younger crowd who are still working on the road.
ABQ

A small group of Xscapers sharing dinner our last night in town

Xscapers came into being just this year and the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was our very first “Convergence”. A convergence is a rally of sorts, but without all the fan-fair and stringent structure. Since most people in the group are still working, Xscapers intentionally do not schedule seminars/workshops during working hours. There were a few activities and happy hours scheduled through the week but not until late afternoons after working hours.
Other activities and socials organically formed, creating plenty of opportunity to get to know our group better. Drive Dive Devour hosted an impromptu, “How to make pizza on your grill”, The Roaming Pint set up a teekee bar complete with gas fire pit. We invited others for a hike in the Sandia Mountains and there was a bike ride to a bike-up coffee bar.
We made lots of new like-minded friends that we hope we run in to on our travels down the road.
Well, that’s it from Albuquerque.
Next stop…Flagstaff!
ABQ

Heading down the road to Flag!

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The B-line to Albuquerque

ABQ

Sunset from the road heading west

We made a B-line to Albuquerque to take in the splendor of the Balloon Fiesta and IT IS SPECTACULAR!

From Dumas Texas we made a 2 hour drive to Ute Lake State Park to camp for two nights. This is a dry, barrow campground overlooking the very nice Ute Lake. Evidently this is a great spot for birders and fisherman alike. The lake is shallow with a lot of reeds and grasses along the banks. What is brown and desolate by day turns to an incredible glow of oranges, yellows, blues, purples and pinks when the sun hangs low.

The sites are packed gravel, super long and have great separation. Each site has a covered patio with picnic table, fire pit, grill and lots and lots of goat head stickers. Sam enthusiastically jumped out of the camper ready to explore his new surroundings and was stopped in his tracks with paws full of stickers.

If it were not for the goat heads we would have stayed a bit longer. But after two days we decided to move on.

Our next stop was just 20 miles down the road in the little town of Tucumcari, New Mexico. Tucumcari mountain is an isolated mountain in a sea of brown dessert that was a landmark back in the 1800s for those traveling west from Arkansas to California.

We camped at the nastalgic Cactus RV Park, one of those original destinations back in the hay day of Route 66.

Tucumcari New Mexico

Tucumcari Mountain…a landmark for wary travelers heading West

Tucumcari banks on those who follow old Route 66 as a bucket list travel trip. Though the town is a bit weathered and tired, The Cactus RV park had charm. On one side of the unimpressive office is a vintage looking “motel” face with the look of old New Mexico brick and stucco with a courtyard RV parking lot of crushed gravel.
The sites are maticulously groomed with lovely shade trees on some of the sites. Though the sites are fairly close together the trees offer defined seperation, giving the impression of space. And for $24/night (includes tax) for full hook ups, you can’t beat the price. Don’t come here looking for amenities because you will not find them.
From their website, “This is a BASIC OVERNIGHT PARK with 30/50 AMP, working WIFI and CABLE TV, and easy PULL-THROUGH spaces.  This is a SATELLITE FRIENDLY RV Park. We are mostly an adult RV Park.  We do not have a pool, playground, game room, laundry, showers, or restrooms.  To those people who expect too much, we say that, “you have the pockets of a pauper and the expectations of a prince.”‘
Would I stay here again? Absolutely! It’s convenient to Hwy 40, clean and quiet. What more could you ask for an overnight stay.
After two nights it was time to make our last push to Albuquerque, arriving two days before the big kick off, on a Thursday.
We pulled in around 1:30pm at the “General” campground just south of Balloon Fiesta Park. There was no traffic on the highway nor pulling into the campground. Lots of folks were here already, but most would be pulling in Friday afternoon.
This is dry camping, so be sure to have empty holding tanks and all the water you can carry. The General campground does have a third party provider who will pump your tanks for $25 and fill you water for $25 if you need it.
ABQ

Sandra’s Mountains from our ABQ campsite

This will be our first boondock camping with the new rig which meant Jeff had to get to work at connecting the new solar panels to the batteries. Before we left Arkansas we had just enough time to mount the panels on the roof and put the batteries in their assigned compartments. But we had no time to connect anything. And, our solar controller was on the slow boat from china…so we didn’t even have all the parts.
Fortunately for us Technomadia had an extra solar controller that they let us borrow until ours arrives here in ABQ. So up on the roof Jeff went to connect the panels to the combiner box with the help of our ABQ neighbor who is an electrician with some really nice tools.
As of day 5 with no hook ups we are generating power, still show 95% full on our water, 0% on our gray and 10% on our black.
Boon docking life is good!
ABQ

Be sure to check your shoes. You never know what you will find in the desert!

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The View From our Window is Finally Changing

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The Domani’s view for 3 1/2 months. Nothing to see here folks!

I love watching HGTV. Having been a General Contractor and dabbling in interior decorating, I have to say that I’m addicted to real estate and rehab shows. House Hunters, Fixer Upper, Addicted To Rehab, Property Brothers are all of my favorites.

I guess that is why Jeff and I felt ok about purchasing an RV project. There is a certain thrill and satisfaction that comes from making something out of nothing. But I have to say, this project has been one of those labors of love that is often seen in rehabbing an old Victorian home along some of our countries most historical main streets.

The old dilapidated, leaning home that people thought was a total tare down is resurrected into a magnificent showpiece, lovingly restored back to its former glory. Usually at a cost that exceeds what new construction would have run all in the name of love.

I think that is where we are at with our Domani.

Carriage Domani

Damage only a mother could love!

We should have probably taken a bulldozer to her the day the roof was pulled off. But she had bones, class and character that couldn’t be overlooked nor found in new construction. And now that we are nearing the end and we have had a chance to spend some quality time with our girl, she has made an impression on our hearts. She has become our labor of love!

After 3 1/2  months of pulling our hair out restoration, it’s all finally coming together. And we couldn’t be more pleased with our home on wheels.

Things I love about the Domani:

Counter space: Every RV’er knows that countertops are a premium in campers. Though still small by housing standards, I have twice as much counter space than before. And, they are solid surface rather than plastic.

Lobster Pot Sink: These sinks are popular in Airstreams. Frankly, I have not heard of too many people liking them. But me? I’m a fan! It’s deep, it’s wide and there is plenty of room to wash a pan without mopping the floor at the same time.

Bedroom Door: It’s the simple things that contribute to happiness. Having a door that closes off the bedroom from your spouse watching howling piano playing puppies on facebook at 4:30AM is one of them.

Open shower & sink, enclosed toilet: We have an open shower/sink area to the bedroom with an enclosed toilet closet. Jeff and I are both vertically endowed, so having a sink area that allows brushing our teeth without hitting our elbows feels palatial.

Carriage Domani

Open bath, elbow room and a bedroom door. What more could a 6′ tall girl ask for!

Closet & Cabinet Space: The Domani is only 32’ long so there was some bedroom closet space sacrificed along the front of the coach that typical 5th wheels have. But I do have a tilt out laundry bin and 24 upper cabinets in the living room/kitchen that more than make up for it.

Full Length Mirror Closet Door: I didn’t know that I wanted a full-length mirror until I had one. It’s very helpful when you are putting on a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops to make sure that the fit is just right…. she says sarcastically!

Carriage Domani

Bedroom with Closets, Cabinets, tilt out laundry and full length mirror

Storage Bay: Holy mother of storage! Jeff and I both could fit in there with enough room to roll around in. I’m thinking of turning it into my office.

Larger Frig: Who doesn’t like more refrigerator space. Our frig now has an extra shelf over our previous frig, which is like going from an apartment sized refrigerator to a side-by-side.

Carriage Domani

Big Sofa. Big Windows!

Big Windows: In the Domani we have lots of big open windows and skylights that let the light flood in. We removed the old smelly accordion blinds and are replacing them with MCD roller shades (more on that in the next post). The views are going to be great once we get this baby out on the road!

Sofa and Two Chairs: Before, we had a jack-knife sofa which was adjacent to the kitchen. So when we wanted to put our feet up they ended up on the kitchen counters. (The multipurpose kitchen sink/ottoman). Now we actually have a sofa long enough to stretch out on and two very comfortable chairs. The space between the sofa and chairs is cavernous so no more footsies with Jeff while making dinner.

What now?

We are disappointed that we did not make it to Iowa for RAGBRAI this year. The repairs just kept us stationary a while longer.

We have now moved on to the MORryde parking lot for a new hitch, basement slide out tray and new axles and will hopefully finish up here end of next week.

Carriage Domani

MORryde’s cozy camping lot

We have our sites set on getting our girl back to Arkansas for a wedding in September before heading out west for the fall and winter.

It’s been a long time coming and we are itching to get on the road. I’ve booked our campsites for the Xscapers Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and the Grand Canyon, both in October, which gives us some sense of hope that we will be rolling out of Elkhart very soon. We’ve kissed the frog and she has turning into princess charming. Now lets ride this thing off into the sunset!

Can’t wait!

Carriage Domani

Finally out of that dang shop & riding off into the sunset MORryde’s parking lot.

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On The Road Again

St. Louis

St. Louis Arch

We’ve spent the last two weeks traveling out west and back again.

Our trip started with driving to St. Louis to drop Sammy-do off at my Mom’s for a little paw sitting. Sam loves going to his grandma’s because the food scoop overflows, the squirrels are plentiful in a fenced in back yard and the cute factor gains a little extra loving. We hate traveling without him, but it’s comforting to know he is being super spoiled while we are gone.

While we were in St. Louis Jeff and I decided to try something new. We took a running tour of downtown. After 3 hours and 6 miles I learned things about St. Louis that I never knew. We went with St. Louis Running Tour, THE ONLY running tour in St. Louis. Our tour guide Joe showed us iconic buildings like Union Station, The Arch and Cardinal Stadium. Joe also gave the behind the scenes facts and sometimes seedy drama that unfolds during the development of the new frontier.

It is a run and it is a tour so there are lots of stops to talk with bursts of running to the next destination. Our longest stretch of running was no more that ¼ mile, so if you do this thinking you are going to get your 4-6 mile solid run in, you won’t.

We didn’t take the tour for the run, but to learn & see more about the city that I grew up around…while getting a little low-key exercise. Definitely a very fun morning with Joe!

Hardware Show

The super awesome CFX refrigerator/freezer by Dometic

That afternoon we flew off to Las Vegas for the National Hardware Show. Dometic had a huge display of their new portable refrigerator/freezers (CFX) that run off of 12V, 24V or 120 and their super insulated coolers. They are great for tailgating, RV’ing and boating. We have a CFX frig/freezer that is the best! You can set it to freeze or refrigerate anywhere from 50 degrees down to -8 degrees. That’s a lot of frozen solid ice cream…on 12volts of power no less! It makes up for the small refrigerators that RV’s typically have.

Las Vegas is an interesting town and one that neither of us is particularly comfortable in. I recharge in tranquility and nature. So when you go out for a run at 5AM and the street department is already at work with jack hammers and the all night partiers are just reaching their peak volume, my soul is just piled on with more noise that I went out to decompress from. Throw in a couple of propositions from some ladies of the night (Jeff) and we were ready to get rolling.

From Las Vegas we drove the Dometic RV back to Elkhart Indiana. We were going to hit the central, most direct route through Colorado, but with forecasted snow in the mountains we redirected to the southern route. Our first stop was in Flagstaff where we drove though sleet, snow and rain.

Saturday morning we woke to 1” of snow. The sun popped out and we decided to wash the Vegas grime off our running shoes with a trail run before hitting the road. We stayed at the Flagstaff KOA and they have access to trails right out the back gate. It was a stunning 5-mile run as the sun filtered through the snow-covered foliage. Now this is what I’m talking about! Running through the woods fully alive…nothing is better for the soul. I love this KOA for its convenience to town, trails right out back and very little road noise.

Our other stops

Albuquerque, New Mexico– Long push day to the KOA. Very nice park with level sites, good spacing but very close to the highway. I was able to get a 3.5-mile walk in just within the park by making 3 loops. It was a big RV park! We met a group of French Canadians who where traveling together. One of them had a Heartland Edge, similar to our Ironman Can we just sold. We are hoping to come back here in October for the Xscapers very first Convergence at the Balloon Fiesta.

Amarillo TX

Oasis RV Park just down the road from the Cadillac Ranch

Amarillo, Texas-Oasis RV Resort. This was a really nice RV park as well. Very level and spacious sites with weight room, hot tub and pool. We didn’t use any of the amenities and reviews are mixed on this RV Park as it relates to smell. There are a couple of VERY LARGE cow farms nearby. So the prevailing winds has a directed correlation to the type of experience you will have here.

Luckily the temps were cold and the wind was blowing from the North, so we had no issues of smell.

Tulsa, Oklahoma-Long push day to KOA at Will Rogers horse racing track. This is mostly grass covered RV parking. A lot of the sites were flooded with the recent rains, so we were upgraded to a raised gravel site that backed right up to the horse track. We arrived at 4pm so we were able to catch the last 3 horse races.

It was entertaining as the horses made their 90-second run (if that) around the track, then a water truck and 3 tractors made their way around grading the course with diligence and speed. Their job took about 15 minutes that was repeated after each 90 second run. We found it quite humorous and had more fun watching the tractors than we did the horses. I know…we are strange that way.

We went out for a run the next morning at 6AM to soothing country music over the loud speakers while the horse trainers were already out running the horses. We definitely felt like we were back in our part of the country where people wave as they drive by. If you are from the country you know the wave…one or two fingers just barely lifted off the steering wheel just to give you a friendly hello.

Tulsa OK

Horse Races at the Will Rogers Downs KOA Park

St. Louis, Missouri-Long push day to Mom’s house. We got to see our fur baby and stayed two nights so that Jeff could put in a solid workday that didn’t involve the swerving and jostling that comes with driving a can of marbles down the road at 70 mph. It was hard to leave Sam again especially when he was lying in front of doors, at our feet and around our shoes to ensure that he is not left behind. 😦

Elkhart, Indiana-Long push day to our final destination, MasterTech RV. They are doing the work on our personal RV project. The slide on the Dometic RV decided to stop working in Albuquerque so MasterTech is going to work on it for us. And they provide free parking with electric hookups.

It’s been a long trip with a few memorable moments. Now that we are here in Elkhart we get to check on the progress on our personal RV project over the weekend. The water damage on our roof was much more extensive than we originally thought…but everything is fixable.

More on our project in the next post. Until then…get out and play!

Elkhart, IN

The new rolling crib will be good as new…we hope!

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Map. Darts. Our Next Destination.

Searching the Arizona BLM map for free camping

Searching the Arizona BLM map for free camping

Jeff and I are having a hard time deciding where we are going next. I know…tough problem, right?

This RV travel planning was easy when we had events on our calendar. But once the Rim2Rim/Rim2Rim2Rim at the Grand Canyon and Ironman Arizona in Phoenix was over, we found ourselves in a “throw the dart” moment on where to point the RV.

So, how do you decide where to go when you don’t have to be anywhere?

Mesa AZ

Visiting a highschool swim buddy in Mesa, AZ.

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Caught the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!

Here are some things that helped us finally hitch up the RV and go.

1. Just pick the next stop. We got stuck trying to figure out the next 2 months at one time. So rather than throwing darts (which I don’t recommend in a small RV…you’ll poke your eye out) draw a 150 mile circle around your current location to narrow your choices on where to stop next.

2. If you don’t like the destination, hook up and move.

We had another RV’er tell us, “we have wheels under our homes for a reason and we can use them any time we like!”.

Too hot…hook up and move. Neighbor with loud music or barking dog…hook up and move. Don’t like the local ice cream…hook up and move.

There is comfort in knowing that if you don’t enjoy your destination you can leave and go somewhere else…unless it is your Mother-in-laws house for the holidays. Then it’s best to stick around as long as your wife says.

Mittry Lake, Yuma AZ

Mittry Lake, Yuma AZ. Moved earlier than planned due to swarms of mosquitos at 5pm sharp every day!

  1. Look at where others have gone before.

Consult your favorite RVing blogs to see where they have gone. This helped us find our current free BLM campsite in Yuma.

  1. Check out a cities calendar of events on their website.

Once you narrow down your search, pull up the cities calendar of events to see if they are doing something that interests you. We saw that Lake Havasu is having a festival of lights, lighted boat parade and an ugly Christmas sweater 5K in December. Who wouldn’t want to run a 5K in the dessert in a hot ugly Christmas sweater?

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  1. Look for inspiration

A relative’s birthplace, a memorable childhood camping trip, a place you have always wanted to see. For us, Jeff’s Mom was born in Yuma. We felt a pull to visit while she still had some memory and stories of the place that would bring the town to life.

Surprisingly, picking our next destination has been the hardest and biggest surprise so far about full time RVing. But with a little bit of thought, research and inspiration we have managed to pull up the jacks and move on down the road 150 miles further.

Now, where did I put those ugly sweaters?

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