Albuquerque, New Mexico

Day 489

     Albuquerque was founded in 1706 as a Spanish colonial outpost and military garrison. The town was named in honor of Francisco, Duke of Alburquerque, who was viceroy of New Spain from 1653 to 1660. The town of Alburquerque was built in the traditional Spanish village pattern: a central plaza surrounded by government buildings, homes, and a church, as I described in Day 471, Santa Fe. However, what was the Governor’s Palace in Santa Fe was Casa De Armijo on the site of Don Ambrosio Armijo’s Hacienda, built in 1706 and one of the first homes in Albuquerque. It is now a collection of souvenir tourist trap shops. Day 489 Albuquerque NM 6586_Fotor

     The church is San Felipe de Neri Church.Day 489 Albuquerque NM 6581_Fotor

     San Felipe de Neri replaced an older church, dating to the founding of Albuquerque in 1706, which collapsed in the winter of 1792–3. Built in 1793, it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city.

     In the central plaza I found these 2 peasants:Day 489 Albuquerque NM 6583_Fotor

     A short distance from the plaza was a Navajo Indian having a book signing, he was a Code Talker in World War II, at the Battle of Guadalcanal.Day 489 Albuquerque NM 6593_Fotor

     We also stopped at the Culture Center of Pueblo Indians. Along with their history, some of their dances were demonstrated. Day 489 Albuquerque NM 6525_Fotor

     All and all, a very pleasant day in Albuquerque.Day 489 Albuquerque NM 6594_Fotor

West Mesa Escarpment, New Mexico

Day 488

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     The West Mesa Escarpment was formed thousands of years ago (200,000 they say) when molten lava came up in this area from the fracturing of the earth’s crust. As the lava cooled, it sealed up the fracture, resulting in 6 volcanos being formed. After they erupted and cooled, they left the West Mesa Escarpment (west of Albuquerque, New Mexico) which is 17 miles long. We hiked 4 miles of it today. Day 488 West Mesa Escarpment NM 6346_Fotor 

     An escarpment is a long, precipitous, clifflike ridge of land, or rock, commonly formed by faulting or fracturing of the earth’s crust. (However if you remember from day 403, the Niagara Escarpment was an 80-foot wall carved by the Niagara River.)Day 488 West Mesa Escarpment NM 6355_Fotor

     The land between the escarpments, Rio Grand Valley, is mostly desert. Day 488 West Mesa Escarpment NM 6317_FotorDay 488-3_Fotor

     Some of the rocks had graffiti on them from 400 – 700 years ago. Scientists now call these Petroglyphs. Day 488 West Mesa Escarpment NM 6314_Fotor

     I actually think they are from aliens.  Day 488 West Mesa Escarpment NM 6330_Fotor

     Or the Pueblo Indians of the area recorded their sightings of aliens, noting their endowment:Day 488 West Mesa Escarpment NM 6308_Fotor

     The view from the top of the Escarpment was cool. Day 488 West Mesa Escarpment NM 6366_Fotor


Balloon Fiesta 5

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Today, we hung around the RV park.

Beginning at dawn, the balloons began flying over us

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as the balloons did their mass ascension. 

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We had an excellent view from inside the Sphinx

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We could even watch in our pajamas

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It looked as if the balloons would hit the Sphinx

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At one point, we counted 90 balloons that we could see at once

Day 487 Balloon Fiesta 5 NM 6486_hitFotor and estimated that between 250 to 300 balloons flew over us.Day 487 Balloon Fiesta 5 NM 6466_Fotor

Balloon Fiesta 4

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     There are over 2,200 RV’s at Fiesta. Today, the balloons are doing competition. We can see them from our RV.

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     Some of them actually landed in the RV area. Day 487 Balloon Fiesta 5 NM 6282_Fotor

Now, that is cool.   Day 487 Balloon Fiesta 5 NM 6280_Fotor            

     In this RV area although we have water and electric, we do have to have our waste (mostly Barbara’s) pumped out each week. 

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Balloon Fiesta 3

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     A gas balloon is a balloon that flies in the air because it is filled with a gas less dense than air or lighter than air (such as helium or hydrogen).

     Unlike the hot air balloons, which go up and come down in a couple of hours, the gas balloons participate in a cross-country distance race. The race lasts a couple of days, and the balloon that travels the longest distance wins. 

     The balloons here are filled with hydrogen. To begin, the gas delivery tube is attached from the tanks to the balloon. Crew members sit on the opening until enough gas is in the balloon to make it stand upright,Day 485 Balloon Fiesta 2 NM 6028_Fotor

then they jump off to let the balloon rise and continue the filling.Day 485 Balloon Fiesta 2 NM 6033_Fotor

     When the balloon is filled the tube is disconnected and the balloon is launched. Day 484 Balloon Fiesta 3 NM 6067_Fotor

     The balloon operates by the light gas raising the balloon. As the balloon rises the gas cools. To obtain more height the balloon carries “ballast”, which are bags filled with sand. Less ballast = less weight and the balloon rises. As this process repeats itself, the ballast is used up, and the balloon must land. 


Balloon Fiesta 1

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      The Balloon Fiesta began in 1972 as the highlight of the 50th birthday celebration of a local radio station. Today it is the largest balloon gathering in the world, with over 500 balloons here today.Day 483 Balloon Fiesta 1 NM 6245_Fotor     

     Part of the reason for the success of the Fiesta is the Albuquerque box. The “box” is a set of predictable wind patterns that can be exploited to navigate the balloons. At low elevations the winds tend to be northerly, but at higher elevations they tend to be southerly. Balloonists use these winds to navigate in a vertical box. They ascend slightly from the launch park, move south, ascend further (over the RV park where we are staying), move north, descend, and repeat the box or land back in the launch park or nearby.     Day 483 Balloon Fiesta 1 NM 5903_Fotor

     The hot air balloon is the first successful human-carrying flight technology that let man break his tether to the earth.  The first manned hot air balloon flight was performed by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes on November 21, 1783, in Paris, France.

     Today we rose at 4:30 in the morning to watch the first balloons ascend. Day 483 Balloon Fiesta 1 NM 5806_Fotor

     The air was crisp and not a cloud in the sky. Called the Dawn Patrol, about 10 balloons go up to track the winds and landing sites. 

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     At sunrise, the flag was raised (no one took a knee) and over 500 balloons took to the skies.

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     How do they get this many balloons up safely? These guys: Day 483 Balloon Fiesta 1 NM 6154_Fotor

     They are called “zebras” because of their stripped shirts. They determine the orderly launch of each balloon. 

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