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Albuquerque August 20 - November 11, 2012

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Travels to/from Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Balloon Fiesta 2012.
Since departing Balloon Fiesta in 2010 we have been planning to return in 2012. We are taking a long looping trip, with a first destination of Rapid City, South Dakota to visit friends. We joined up with other friends there, and extended the trip after Albuquerque to their home in Austin, Texas.


After overnight stops in Brookings and Coos Bay we spent a couple of nights in Newport, where we had made plans to meet up with Don and Mary Murray. We did a lot of visiting, saw their new trailer, and had dinner at the Original Mo's down on the waterfront.

Don M. took a few pictures of us as we were leaving, crossing the Yaquina Bay Bridge. The pictures were taken from the RV park at the Newport Marina.
Original Mo's in Newport
Original Mo's in Newport
Crossing the Yaquina Bay Bridge
Crossing the Yaquina Bay Bridge
Crossing the Yaquina Bay Bridge
Crossing the Yaquina Bay Bridge


Between Brookings and Coos Bay the dashcam caught this vehicle fire.



We visited the little dog park in Newport again, and this time got some video of Nikki playing frisbee.



We stopped and spent a couple of nights at Cecil's place in Aumsville, a regular for us, then up to Portland. Most often we have stayed at Portland/Fairview, but a call this time revealed that they have instituted a strict "1995 or newer RV, regardless of condition" brain-dead policy, so we stayed at Jantzen Beach instead. We have been planning for sometime to sell Blue Thunder after this trip, and it is being brokered by Randy Dupree at BuyByeBlueBird.com. Randy and Carol will be in Albuquerque, but we were able to get things going quicker as they met us in Portland, inspected the bus, and took a full set of pictures. Afterwards we had dinner with them and fellow Blue Bird owners Cliff and Barbara Vaughn at the Island Cafe, a floating restaurant on Hayden Island.
Dinner at the Island Cafe
Dinner at the Island Cafe


After Portland we spent 3 nights at Carbonneau Park, a Corps of Engineers campground on Lake Sacajawea (Snake River), east of Pasco, Washington. This is a very nice park with lots of grass, and good access to the water. Their regular rate, including 50-amp power, is $22, but weekdays this year are half-price, and with a senior pass we paid half of that - $5.50 a night!
Carbonneau Park
Carbonneau Park
Nikki swimming in Lake Sacajawea
Nikki swimming in Lake Sacajawea


Before we got to Pasco we encountered another truck fire. This one set a number of grass fires, not all of which are in the video. They spanned about 2 miles.



From Pasco we headed up to Post Falls, Idaho, where we spent the Labor Day weekend. Nikki did some swimming in Lake Coeur d'Alene, and we did some geocaching. The gilded statue was by local Coeur d'Alene sculptor David Clemons and is at Higgins Point on the Centennial Trail.
Nikki swimming in Lake Coeur d'Alene
Nikki swimming in Lake Coeur d'Alene
Gilded statue at Lake Coeur d'Alene
Gilded statue at Lake Coeur d'Alene


Next stop was Missoula, Montana, and of course Nikki went swimming in the Clark Fork River. The current was the strongest she's experienced, and all she could do was match it and wait for the stick to float down to her. In all of the pictures you will note that she is on a nylon lead - we are trying not to repeat our adventures last trip trying to get her back when she got off-leash in Oregon!
Nikki swimming in the Clark Fork River
Nikki swimming in the Clark Fork River


Missoula has a nice carousel that features all locally carved horses.



Sam with a cozy place to sleep.
Sam snoozing
Sam snoozing


We found a very nice 37-acre fenced dog park in Bozeman, that had a 1.2-mile trail that meandered up and down over hills. Our first day there we walked Nikki on leash (below left). The second day we decided, with trepidation, to let her run free. It mostly went well, as she did at least 3 miles to our one, but at one point a couple of other dogs lead her to a mud hole, with the results you can see below right!
Nikki at Bozeman's Snowfill Park
Nikki at Bozeman's Snowfill Park
Nikki at Bozeman's Snowfill Park
Nikki at Bozeman's Snowfill Park


Joy took this picture of an interesting sculpture at the public library in Bozeman.
Clockwork Cow
Clockwork Cow


Our next stop was Billings, where we had lunch with a former employee and her husband, and also visited Pompeys Pillar National Monument. It is noted for being the only place with physical evidence that William Clark was there. We didn't hike up to the signature, so that's a photo of a replica.
Pompeys Pillar
Pompeys Pillar
Pompeys Pillar
Pompeys Pillar


Headed south out of Billings we made a short stop at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. The picture at left is part of the National Cemetary located there. On to Buffalo, Wymoming, where we saw this herd of Antelope while out walking a trail.
National Cemetary at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
National Cemetary at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
Pronghorn Antelope near Buffalo, Wyoming
Pronghorn Antelope near Buffalo, Wyoming


We spent one night in Sundance, Wyoming. A couple of geocache locations in Sundance: Joy with the Sundance Kid, and an old church.
Joy with the Sundance Kid
Joy with the Sundance Kid
Church in Sundance, Wyoming
Church in Sundance, Wyoming


Our intermediate destination was Hart Ranch, south of Rapid City, South Dakota, to visit our friends John and Jean Watson. While there, we were joined by Michael and Georgia Day, with whom we traveled for the next month. Michael and I did a photo expedition up through the tunnels in Custer State Park. These are a couple of shots where Mount Rushmore is visible through tunnels - there are three tunnels in all that are aligned specifically for that view.
Tunnel view in Custer State Park
Tunnel view in Custer State Park
Tunnel view in Custer State Park
Tunnel view in Custer State Park


I made a few videos at the narrow tunnel located at the needle's eye (the tunnel is not the eye, but is located at the eye). The first is driving through the tunnel.



The second is a group of classic cars from Arkansas headed through the tunnel.



We were fortunate to be there when the daily tour bus came through the tunnel. This tunnel is 8 feet 4 inches at its narrowest, and 12 feet high at one point. I'm pretty sure the bus is more than 8-4 at the mirrors, so they must measure the width near the bottom (look at the scrapes at the end).



Leaving Hart ranch we started down to Albuquerque, staying in Lusk, Cheyenne, Golden, Colorado Springs, and Raton. Michael took the picture on the left through his windshield as we headed south and east into Wyoming; the one on the right I took from a rest area on I-25 north of Cheyenne.
Blue Thunder in Wyoming
Blue Thunder in Wyoming
Rain shower in Wyoming
Rain shower in Wyoming


Here is the old train station in Cheyenne, along with the "Big Boy" locomotive in one of the city parks.
Cheyenne train depot
Cheyenne train depot
Big Boy in Cheyenne
Big Boy in Cheyenne
Downtown Golden Colorado
Downtown Golden Colorado


Michael took this one after we enjoyed lunch in downtown Golden. Most of the still pictures from this point on are his, as I did video where appropriate.


Here are a number of shots of Nikki and Quinn (Michael and Georgia's Irish Wolfhound) playing. Quinn is 9 months old, and at 125 pounds is roughly twice Nikki's weight, but she holds her own pretty well with speed and quickness. Top left is a park in Lusk, Wymoming, followed by a small fenced dog area in the RV park in Cheyenne. The middle two, including Nikki nearly knocking me off my feet, were taken at a dog park in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. The next one (left) is in a dog park in Albuquerque, and (right) at an RV Park outside of Amarillo. The bottom two were in a large dog park within the RV park in Burleson, Texas.
Quinn and Nikki playing in Lusk
Quinn and Nikki playing in Lusk
Quinn and Nikki playing in Cheyenne
Quinn and Nikki playing in Cheyenne
Quinn chasing Nikki
Quinn chasing Nikki
Nikki trying to steal a frisbee
Nikki trying to steal a frisbee
Quinn and Nikki playing in Albuquerque
Quinn and Nikki playing in Albuquerque
Quinn and Nikki playing in Amarillo
Quinn and Nikki playing in Amarillo
Quinn and Nikki playing in Burleson
Quinn and Nikki playing in Burleson
Quinn and Nikki playing in Burleson
Quinn and Nikki playing in Burleson


Sightseeing in the Denver area included Red Rock Amphitheatre and the state capitol building.
Red Rock Amphitheatre
Red Rock Amphitheatre
Colorado state capitol
Colorado state capitol
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Entrance to Cheyenne Mountain
Entrance to Cheyenne Mountain


At Colorado Springs we stayed in Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Above left you can see another Blue Bird that was parked one level above us, and above right is the entrance to the Cheyenne Mountain NORAD facility, just above the houses at the bottom of the picture.

While in Colorado Springs we revisited the Olympic training facility, below.
US Olympic Center in Colorado Springs
US Olympic Center in Colorado Springs
US Olympic Center in Colorado Springs
US Olympic Center in Colorado Springs


Heading south from Colorado Springs we overnighted in Raton, then spent several days at a Blue Bird pre-rally in Santa Fe (meeting for dinner, below left). The group traveled to Albuquerque in a caravan, below right.
Rick Archie greeting everyone in Santa Fe
Rick Archie greeting everyone in Santa Fe
Blue Bird caravan to Albuquerque
Blue Bird caravan to Albuquerque


Now finally we get to Albuquerque, the nominal destination for this trip. Here are just a handful of pictures taken from or around our parking area:
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque


Now a bunch of video. First, the Thursday morning flights:



Thursday evening was prime rib night, something that may be becoming a tradition at western rallies, with the first one this past January in Quartzsite:



Thursday night's fireworks. They did this show every night except Wednesday:



Friday's events, except for the fireworks, were cancelled due to high winds. Saturday the weather was good, and here is the morning glow:



The morning glow was followed by a mass ascension:



Sunday morning was the final mass ascenscion, and Michael and I went up in a balloon. We were both the holders during the initial balloon inflation. The picture on the right is the six passengers inside the balloon canopy, me, Michael, a woman from Canada, and three people from North Dakota.
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012


These three pictures were taken by Joy from the RV parking area as we took off. We were in the balloon with the orange and black checkerboard pattern, top and bottom, with the orange and yellow center stripes.
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque
Ballon Fiesta 2012 in Albuquerque


A long-distance photo of Joy, on the left in the picture below left, and Georgia as Joy was taking the pictures shown above. The picture below right shows a number of our group up on the bluff watching.
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012


A look back at the field we had left from, and a view of our RV parking area. We had the triangular-shaped area in the foreground. The field is just to the left of that picture, and the RVs would be just off the field picture to the bottom right and near the bottom.
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012


Winds were about 5mph at ground level, and nearly stationary at 500 feet, so we drifted along with lots of other balloons like Arkey, below left. After an hour we dropped down and moved further south, exchanging a few greetings with a number of people out-and-about, like those at the (presumably) balloon party shown here.
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012


After landing, the passengers helped collapse the ballon, put it in its carrying bag, and compress it for travel.
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012
Balloon flight, Sunday, October 14, 2012


To sum up the flight, here is a long (33 minute) HD video in 1080P best viewed full-screen:



After our morning flight we headed east on I-40 towards Oklahoma City. Enroute, we stopped at the Route 66 museum in Elk City, Oklahoma.
East on I-40 out of Albuquerque
East on I-40 out of Albuquerque
Route 66 museum in Elk City
Route 66 museum in Elk City


We spent a couple of nights in Oklahoma City, and visited the National Memorial.
Oklahoma City National Memorial
Oklahoma City National Memorial
Oklahoma City National Memorial
Oklahoma City National Memorial


From OKC we headed south to Austin, with a couple of nights in Burleson, south of Ft Worth. While there we went into Ft Worth and had a nice visit with Rick and Rosie Archie at their garden center. We spent a leisurely week in Austin parked at Michael and Georgia's place (below left), and saw the sights such as the Texas capitol. The visit was marred a bit by Quinn eating something he shouldn't have and needing surgery to remove it - reminded us of our old golden Cody, who had to be opened up 3 times!
Blue Thunder parked at Michael and Georgia's house in Austin
Blue Thunder parked at Michael and Georgia's house in Austin
Texas state capitol
Texas state capitol


We started for home on Monday, October 29th, not going far to begin with, spending a couple of nights in Kerrville, where Nikki had a lot of fun swimming in the Kerrville Ponding Lake on the Guadalupe River.
Nikki swimming at Kerrville
Nikki swimming at Kerrville

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