Sunday, October 28, 2012

Albuquerque, New Mexico

On our way to Albuquerque we went through the border patrol, even though we were a long way from the border.  We were a little surprised to see the sign on the interstate that said US Border Patrol up ahead. All cars must stop. There was also a sign that said cars would be searched with dogs. We pulled out our drivers licenses and felt a little uncomfortable about the idea of being searched. When we got there though the patrol officer asked us if we were us citizens, we said yes of course. She asked us where we were going, we said we were on vacation and driving up the state. She said OK and that was it. She never looked at our ID’s, our car tag, asked our names, or anything. We could have been terrorists with a suitcase of drugs and a few bodies in the trunk. What was the point? I’m assuming if we appeared foreign they would have looked closer but isn't that racial profiling? Shouldn't they search everyone equally?  What if we were illegal aliens from Canada!


I hope they don't look in the trunk.

After crossing the border.....?......we headed north to Truth or Consequences.  It was a small town, as many of them are in New Mexico.  Originally named Hot Springs, the city changed its name to Truth or Consequences, the title of a popular NBC radio program. In 1950, Ralph Edwards, the host of the radio quiz show Truth or Consequences, announced that he would air the program from the first town that renamed itself after the show. Hot Springs won the honor. Thanks Wikipedia!  






After leaving Truth or Consequences we went through Elephant Butte.  There isn't much in Elephant Butte except for the Elephant Butte Lake and State Park. And the funny name.




Elephant Butte Lake

We made a quick stop at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. We try to stop at all the Hard Rocks if there is one where we travel.  Since when is Senior Bingo Hard Rock?  It is always fun to see all the garb of the stars. I had never been in a real casino so we decided to gamble a little. I lost $2 on a slot machine and that was enough for me. Ken played a few hands at the Black Jack table and lost $20 in about 15 minutes.  





We finally got to Albuquerque late. Checked into the hotel and had dinner at the hotel restaurant which was the worst meal ever in the history of eating out.

The next morning we went to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta  http://www.balloonfiesta.com/ . Albuquerque has been hosting the event for 40 years.  It has become a very large event with over 600 balloons.  It’s the largest ballooning event on earth, the most photographed event on earth, and the largest annual international event held in the United States. 



So cool watching them light up



The mass ascension is where all the balloons take off together at 7am. It is still a little dark and the balloons glow when the burners are fired up. Beautiful! We got up at 5am and left the hotel at 6am. It was only about 10 miles down the interstate from where we were staying so we thought we had plenty of time. So did about 100,000 other people. The traffic was backed up for miles. It took us almost two hours to get there. Luckily it was close to the interstate and we could watch from the car. I was very surprised when I realized how close to the interstate it was. There is so much open land in New Mexico I had no idea that it would be held in downtown Albuquerque. We finally got parked and walked about a half mile to the entrance. A very nice couple said they were not going in that day and gave us their tickets.  We gave our tickets away to a couple in St. Augustine once.  What goes around comes around.  


Stuck in traffic

Early morning ascension



There were balloons in every imaginable shape and color.  Hot air balloons are not known for their great steering and navigation abilities, so there were stories all week about them coming down in the road and on power lines and buildings. I really wanted to ride in one until I heard that and decided maybe another time.









Tea anyone?

This balloon was utterly awesome.

The mother ship.

That's just weird...

Spider Pig

Every dog's dream

Coming down in the road


That's a big shark

Dark Side Of The Moon Balloon

Da da daa da da daaa da da daaa

Thank you. Thank you very much, uh huh.

Whoa! Crazy zebra.

The Fiesta was packed with food and craft vendors and several stages for entertainment and music. We walked and saw and took pictures for a couple of hours. We were done and tired by 10am though and went back to the hotel to finish our nights sleep.  






Sunday, October 21, 2012

White Sands, New Mexico




Notice the rain to the right and clear sky on the left

 Wow! Amazing! Awesome! Like nothing I have even seen before… Well, that about sums it up. I had heard of white sands and seen the pictures but they don’t do it justice. The desert is located in Tularosa Basin New Mexico, sort of between Roswell and Las Cruces  in the middle of the military missile testing range, near where the first atomic bomb was tested. It is a national park though, and open to the public.  Bring your Geiger counter.



You could easily get lost out here

It is a photographer's heaven. It doesn't seem like it would be because it all looks basically the same but it is just breathtakingly beautiful in every direction and the light and shadows are so dramatic. I understand why many artists have painted it, it already looks like a painting.




Ken was so excited when we first arrived he jumped out of the car with the camera and took off. 





I followed him without sunscreen, a hat or water at first. Figured out pretty quickly that all three things were very essential.  The sun is intense but it is always windy so it helps keep the heat bearable.  We were there in the fall but even so standing with my back to the sun the back of my jeans got so hot it felt like I was standing next to a bonfire. 





I now understand why SPF 70 was invented. 






 Strangely though the sand wasn't hot, it was actually cool to the touch. This is due to the high rate of evaporation of surface moisture and the fact that the sands reflect, rather than absorb, the sun's rays.  






There were lots of people there sledding down the steep slopes just like it was snow. It resembled snow a little bit, firm and slick in some areas and soft in others. It looked like a lot of fun. The sand also sparkled like glitter.    




  

Its white sands are not composed of quartz, like most desert sands, but of gypsum and calcium sulfate. It is the world's largest surface deposit of gypsum.




Clouds forming over the mountains

Gypsum is one of the most common mineral compounds found on Earth but is rarely seen on the surface, as it dissolves easily in water.  The desert dates back to around 100 million years ago, during which it was covered by a shallow sea. As its waters gradually receded, saltwater lakes were left behind, which eventually evaporated in the sun. In addition to the salt, gypsum was also laid down in thick deposits on the old seabed.  Thanks Wikipedia.





We stayed until sunset which was spectacular. The temperature change was dramatic, as soon as the sun set it was very chilly.    After sunset we hit the road on our way to Truth or Consequences.  Whichever came first....





Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lincoln, New Mexico

At the suggestion of the manager at the hotel in Roswell we decided to take a detour to the small historical town of Lincoln, NM. 









One of the original buildings in Lincoln




It wasn't exactly what I was picturing. It is an old west town but I was envisioning more of the Wild West look in the movies. It was very small and did have some cool old buildings. It has the original jail/courthouse the Billy the Kid escaped from, killing a couple of guards on the way out. It has a bullet hole in the wall that supposedly was made by Billy the Kid’s gun. It also has a lot of interesting photos and relics from that time. 




Bullet hole made by Billy The Kid

Only known photo of Billy The Kid

It is about 20 miles out of the way driving from Roswell to White Sands. A fun little detour if you have the time. $5 gets you into all the buildings.

While leaving Lincoln we saw this crossing the road. Big enough it could be seen clearly from the car. Thought is was a small animal at first.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Roswell, New Mexico

Finally back doing some traveling after a long hot summer. Ken and I are spending the week in New Mexico. We hope to see some great art, take some awesome photos and maybe see an alien. Our first stop was Roswell. I had an idea that Roswell wasn't a very big city by the size of the dot on the map but I was very surprised when the plane landed at the Roswell INTERNATIONAL Airport and the captain said we had to wait a few minutes for them to bring the STAIRS out. Stairs? What? Well, it was really a ramp, into the airplane parking lot! The “terminal” was a small building with a rental car counter, a pay phone and a one stall bathroom.
The town is very small and seemingly pretty poor. If it wasn't for the UFO landing I doubt anyone would have ever heard of it. In fact the UFO tourist business is probably a saving grace to their economy.





There isn't anything to do other than the few UFO tourist attractions and some cheesy gift shops. We went to the UFO Museum which was very interesting. Ken was already a “Believer”, I never gave it much thought but they had some convincing info, pictures and stories. They also had one of the Painted Ponies from the Trail of Painted Ponies http://www.trailofpaintedponies.com/tale-of-the-trail.php. It had been covered in the old newspaper articles about he UFO landing in Roswell.




UFO Museum




Funny Poster

Original News Paper Report on UFO Crash

Inside UFO Museum

Painted Pony

We also went to the Alien Zone where you can pay $3 per person to take pictures of or with alien dummies. Tacky yet very funny and entertaining, when in Roswell, why not.



It is getting a little weird in here


Chillin

Whoa! What is that alien doing?

Looks like he has had a few to many beers

I always knew he was a little different

ET phone home

Unfortunately and much to the disappointment of Ken you can’t actually go to the UFO crash site. Supposedly because it is on private land and the ranch owner got tired of people coming onto his land. There isn't even a sign. I was very surprised, I figured there would be tours and a theme park, because that is usually how America rolls. Not even a sign to take a picture of. Hmmmm...makes you wonder.



Sunset outside of Roswell


We were also hoping to catch the record breaking sky dive of Felix Baumgartner while we were here but do to high winds it was postponed. We did get to meet some of the Red Bull crew that are staying in the same hotel though.