Mecca looks like a balloon festival

Mecca looks like a balloon festival

I’ve written about ballooning and festivals a few times already and if you want to check out my trip to Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta look here or the Arkansas Balloon Festival can be found here. Both include tons of pics of balloons.

I think I can say annual with confidence since this is my third year in a row…my annual trip to Albuquerque. Has a nice ring to it. By the time I left on Tuesday afternoon I was thinking I’d be lucky to make it through Oklahoma before I was ready to stop for the night. It had been a long day at work and then add driving on to that…. Thankfully I had lots of phone calls and long chats with friends and family all the way up to 1am when I finally stopped in Amarillo, TX. 

As you drive into Amarillo heading west bound there is a big sign that says ‘Amarillo’. Once I see the sign it’s like George Strait kicks on in my head. Amarillo by morning up from San Antone… Off to bed with balloons dancing in my head…not really but it sounds good.

I had planned to be up early, so I could finally check out the Cadillac Ranch. No such luck since my alarm didn’t go off for the second day in a row. Wth – It took a phone call to bring this sleeping beauty around to the living. Ugh it was after 8am and later than I wanted to start my day. A frantic beauty prep and I was hitting the road to Albuquerque aka Mecca. 

The landscape of the southwest is somewhat desolate with low growing plants and dark red outcroppings with arroyas here and there. I spotted a train that looked a mile long, passed a million trucks and campers, and cruised down the highway at a brisk 80mph. Before I knew it I was driving through the Sandia-Manzano mountains coming into Albuquerque. It feels like coming home, but I’ve never lived there. Crazy thing about this vacation I get up at 4:45am, so I can meet my pilots by 5:30am to drive to fiesta field. That’s love peeps. 

I would like to say this was vacation only but work creeps in especially when you have a big project on a time constraint. So there were about three hours with my head stuck in a laptop sitting in my hotel room. Then there were the phone calls and requests that relate to the project. It will be worth it in the long run isn’t that what we say to ourselves. 

Each day was beautiful for flying. I was a little rusty since I haven’t crewed in a year, but I’m happy to do the work. My pilot landed on the field every day I was there so I had it pretty easy this year. No tumble weeds, locked gates, soccer fields or the reservation. I might be jinxing myself for next year. Omg

We tailgated a couple of times and watched the balloons come across the field while pilots were trying to hit the target with their baggie. An evening hanging out at a beautiful home with the oldest wisteria I’ve ever seen. Saturday was game day and off to the Uptown bar to watch some SEC action. Like the previous year there were a bunch of Sooner fans there watching their game against Texas. The UT fans were huddled in the corner and left pretty quick at the end.

Ate at some familiar places and got to try some new ones. Jimmy’s Cafe was delicious. Highly recommend eating there. I had the huevos rancheros with christmas. Yum!

Spent time switching out baskets and envelopes. It may all seem kind of mundane and like a lot of work I’m sure to some. I enjoy the experience, the people I’m with, and the ability to just be myself. I took naps! It’s a privilege at my current age to be able to nap. Once I creep up in years it might be the norm. Lol

On one of the nights we went to the balloon glow and fireworks. Hung out on the tailgate and drank bloody Mary’s. It was an interesting evening especially when we saw the senorita balloon break away from its tiedown.

On the last day we flew I got to go as well. It was the highest altitude I’ve been in a balloon so far. We were going up to 7200′ not sure if we got all the way to that or not, but I know we got to 6800′. The fiesta field still looks huge from that height. It’s just so massive. There was so much balloon traffic that day – more than I’ve ever seen on one of my trips. All of us in the basket were keeping an eye out for balloons above, below and to the side. Some are just so huge you don’t want to hit by accident. Talk about a potential catastrophe. We went from that height to down on the deck pretty much, so we could land on the field. My pilot did an excellent job. I’m fortunate to have the experience and grateful I continue to have the opportunity to fly. 

If you’ve never been it should be on your bucket list or must see items. It’s a sight to behold that’s for sure.

Until next year mecca.

-G.

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Let’s go for a ride

Let’s go for a ride

Last week, I was in Florida working and extended my trip through the weekend to spend time with my friends. Taking a mini-vacation! Like super mini. We had things planned out pretty much, but a ride on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle to the beach totally turned my head. 

It has been so long since I’ve ridden I can’t even recall the year. I just know it was with my dad. When I was a little bitty thing my parents put me on a bike in a diaper and a dew rag…favorite picture ever! The picture is gone thanks to a house fire when I was 15, but the memory lives on. That last time riding with my dad I remember I was finally tall enough and strong enough to hold his bike up. Well I still had to lean heavily to one side. Those short legs of mine and that Yamaha didn’t go together. He had more than one so he took one sister and I took the other! I was excited because I’d finally earned the right to ride by myself on one of his bikes. Dad would normally take two of us or one at a time. Off we went for a ride down the back roads enjoying our time together. As a kid of divorced parents sometimes it was tough, so I loved those times with him. I miss the opportunity to spend time with him but cancer is a real bastard. 

I didn’t realize until we were tooling down the road how much I would be reminded of those times and would miss him in that moment. It about brought tears to my eyes and I didn’t want to ruin a happy time with sadness. I sucked it up and knew that it was going to be another awesome experience to go along with the times I spent riding with my dad. There was a huge grin that could NOT be wiped off my face…my joy was apparent cause my dimples were showing! 

I’m on the controlling side so it says a lot when I have trust in the driver because I never worried or got anxious. There are people I’ve ridden with that I never wanted to get behind again, or I wanted to take over! He wasn’t one of those – because I got on that bike any time there was an opportunity. Cold as hell that last time out but totally worth it. Too bad for him I spent most of my time sight seeing, so I didn’t say a whole lot. I know my head was on a swivel. I had never been to the Tampa area and I was taking it all in. Lots of farm country – more than I expected. Well I did give notice to be prepared for my cold hands cause I tucked them anywhere I could. Lol No shame my fingers were freezing!

The tiki bar was fun and the music was interesting. Karaoke would’ve been way more entertaining. The views of Tampa Bay were exceptional. There was a cruise ship coming out of Port so the sun was an amazing backdrop. Food was good…my shrimp tacos were delicious. On another day we saw the manatees. I had never seen them in person or mangroves so that was fun. Check out the video of the manatees swimming around by the coal plant. They like the warm water this time of year…it’s about 20 degrees warmer. 

The horticulturalist in me was excited to see and touch the mangroves. I did not remove any since that’s against the law fyi. I’m a bird watching enthusiast – my nerdiness knows no bounds. Really. Did a little bird watching, saw a sea turtle and some huge redfish. Ummm just hand me a rod and reel cause redfish are good eating! I’ll just need someone to bait it and remove the fish. Yes I have high expectations when it comes to fishing, but I will catch a ton if they’re biting! After some wildlife adventures we were off to the Hot Tomato. Holy cow the BLT has 10 pieces of bacon on it. Excellent little hole in the wall. Highly recommend that place. Sorry I ate the sandwich and never thought about taking a pic. Just trust me on this one.

Cruise ship in the distance

Mangrove roots
Brown Pelican

So the weekend didn’t go exactly as planned, but it was what I needed and didn’t even know it. It was relaxing and I enjoyed the people I was with and the places we went. Obviously I need to do this more often – find that work/life balance. Don’t get me wrong I would’ve had a great time with the original plan this was a fabulous alternative. Go for a ride on a Harley with a fantastic person or just tool down the road on your own!

HAVE FUN! Enjoy life’s little moments!

-G.

Stress reduction right here

Stress reduction right here

Sometimes you just need to take time off and enjoy life. I’m a known workaholic, Type A individual, so I always struggle with “me” time. Even family time…I hate to say.

I just got back from some me time. If you haven’t read my travel blog about the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta you can check it out. Lots of pictures included.

I’ve mentioned  before in another blog post how I got hooked on ballooning. You can read that here.

Stress can weigh you down and I’ve had to take a health sabbatical from weight lifting so that’s not a stress outlet at this time…which sucks booty! Lots of my stress is self induced because I’m a perfectionist. Class A overachiever. I bet some of you can relate. I’m tough on myself! No one demands more than I do and the thing is I could do less and get away with it. My personality just doesn’t allow for that kind of slacking. 

Obviously a vacation was needed. How can you not be in the moment when there is so much beauty to see at the balloon fiesta? How can you not be in the moment when you’re crewing and chasing your pilot? How can you not see the beauty in the Sandia mountains before and after the sun crests over them? Let me tell you – there is no way I can be thinking about work, projects, stress or anything else because I’m in the moment and I’m living it up!

Seeing all this beauty just makes you appreciate life. Take a deep breath and live. Be at peace. I’m about to start chanting I swear…kidding. Maybe not…

Being around water does the same thing. I find something peaceful about it. Probably why I love getting out on the lake and just soaking up the sun. I don’t do it enough! 

One of my goals for this year was to work on my work/life balance and I’m failing miserably. I’m renewing my efforts. I think in large part due to writing blogs about travel and my own musings. Self therapy I swear! Good for the soul and all that shizz. Fortunately I’ve got some good peeps that are interested in participating in these adventures.

Who wants to be a Debbie downer…not me. This week has been an overload of positivity. If I had a positive meter attached to me it would be off the charts and smokin’. All those positive vibes from everyone in attendance at the fiesta…whew you can’t help but feel the energy. I’m pretty sure I’ll make people nuts with my overload but they’ll get over. It’s a good jolt! 

So if you are a bit like me in the type A department and/or a workaholic I know it’s tough but take some time to decompress. Find a passion, look for an adventure, kick back, read a book, take a nap, just do something that doesn’t hit high on the stress meter. Unless you’re an adrenaline junkie then you might like those stark moments of fear or stress. You’re sick but that’s ok. I’m the accepting type. 

Back to the grind except in this case I’m on a work adventure!

-G.