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USA RV Park — Gallup, NM

GallupNM_01We left Albuquerque, NM about Noon and Jan drove us to our new campground, USA RV Park, in Gallup, NM.

I’ve been down with a cold since Tuesday and Janet has been doing all the work, since I have the energy of a slug.

I stopped into an Albuquerque walk-in clinic on Sunday only to be told I did indeed have a cold with at least 2 to 5 more days to go. Super.

The doc prescribed some drugs and they seem to be doing their job as I’m mucho better and might actually have to start doing things soon.

Night time temps will all be in the high 20s this week. Brrrrrrrr.

Say Hi

Say Hi

NEXT STOP: Fool Hollow State Park in Show Low, AZ.

A Granfalloon — Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque_15

Cardinal 5th Wheel Convention — a Granfalloon

Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite 60s authors, wrote a book called Cat’s Cradle. In it, he describes a religion called Bokononism.

One of its tenets — a granfalloon — came to mind when I saw the Cardinal convention at our RV campground.

Glider Flight! Moriarty, NM

ALBUQUERQUE, MN — Jan took a glider flight Tuesday. I was supposed to go too, but I chickened out. Here’s Jan’s story . . .

The balloon ride was too expensive, 4 times the cost of a ride in a sail plane.  So instead of hearing the roar of the furnace heating the air to make the balloon rise, the only sound I heard when soaring was the wind.

Moriarity Municipal Airport over the pass and on the high plains desert 45 miles east of Albuquerque is the HQ of Sundance Aviation Inc. where you can soar.  Tom let his fear of flying get to him, so I went up with pilot Brian, a relocated Wisconsinite.

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Tuesday was a really calm day, good for both balloons and soaring.  The tow plane was a converted crop duster, single seater, two cylinder plane with struts above and below the wings.  The sail plane had flying controls in both the front seat and the back seat, and as a passenger I knew that I needed to keep my feet away from the pedal controls and not obstruct the stick.  After a little lecture about what not to touch, like the canopy lever, and how to work the window that let in air, we were off.  Sail planes have two wheels, but they are in a line like inline skates and the pilot has to balance on them using the controls – flying – both on take off and landing.

The young man who acted as the ground crew only steadied the wings before the tow plane began moving us.  Once moving the sail plane pilot (Brian) had to steady the wings and keep them level.  The sail plain is very light and the space needed for take off is very short.  We were airborne before the tow plane was fully off the ground.  Then we circled the airfield gaining altitude.  The field is at around 6000 feet.  We went up to around 7800 feet where the tow plane pilot found an updraft, and we released the tow rope.  What little noise there was to be heard from the small tow plane dropped away as we began soaring on our own.

It was only a basic 15 minute flight.  We did lazy circles above the field, finding the updraft and climbing about 1500 feet and then gradually floating back to earth.  I grinned from ear to ear the whole time.  Flying agin.  Real flying where you can feel the wind push you up and see the horizon miles and miles away.  Moriarity sits on a large flat plain, surrounded by mountains on all sides.  I was surprised by the haze since it was such a clear day with only the smallest puff of one cloud on the horizon.  There were no other planes in the air on a late Tuesday afternoon.  I guess another way to say it is we had the sky to ourselves.  BEAUTIFUL.

Before the ride ended, my pilot treated me to some more aggressive turns so I could feel the G’s and have fun with the roller coaster effect when he pulled up and then pushed over the top and went down and back up, making me feel weightless at the top and heavy at the bottom.  He even showed me what a stall would feel like when you really float and then start flying again by gaining the strength of the lift of the wings by pushing the nose of the plane back down toward the earth.  You need some speed to get the lift out of the wings.  We had been riding the thermal so well that he had to actually do these tricks and use the brakes to slow us down and get us back to earth.  My head was in the clouds when we came back down.  Wonderful.  I kept thinking about my Dad and the times he would take my flying in the two seater Globe Swift.  Great memories.  I am getting verklempt just thinking about it.

Soaring is safer than ballooning.  The sail plane with its long graceful wings is made to soar and come back to earth safely.  I went soaring about 35 years ago and would gladly go again and again.  Perhaps I should learn to fly one?

Where to Spend the Winter?

A number of people have asked us “How do you determine where you spend the Winter?”

There is no simple answer, but one of the main factors is, of course, the weather.

Several months before we started full timing, I created a monthly average temperature map for a number of cities in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

While we didn’t base our Winter home decision solely on temperature, this map helped — US_Weather_Map (3.8MB PDF).

42nd Annual Balloon Festival (Day 1) — Albuquerque, NM

Day 1 @ Balloon Fest

Day 1 @ Balloon Fest (click on pic to enlarge)

DAY 1 — Started at 5 am this morning. Quick shower, quick breakfast, quick dog walking, and out into the 40-degree day.

Then off to the park and ride so we could catch a shuttle bus — a 1-hour ride on a yellow BlueBird bus. Just like the school bus I never rode (thank god). By the way, you cannot take your skateboard on the bus.

As we pulled into Balloon Park, the first hot air balloons were just heading skyward. They’re incredibly beautiful in the morning because when a balloonist fires his balloon up to gain height, the whole balloon lights up in the sky.

However, we were concerned that we’d miss the show, so when our bus stopped, we rushed onto the fair grounds, and towards a couple of balloons that were just inflating.

After then balloons went up into the dawn sky, we thought “Is that it?”

We we wrong. Suddenly balloons were inflating all over the park . . .

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Two short movies of Day 1 . . .