Thursday, October 25, 2012

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

As I believe I've mentioned before, going to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has always been something I've wanted to do, ever since we tried (and failed, due to windy conditions) to see it when I was three years old. I love hot air balloons! When at long last we planned this trip at the correct time of year, I was fully prepared for it to be cancelled due to wind or rain again. But I was hoping, hoping the weather would cooperate! The Friday was rainy and cold, but the Saturday and Sunday were bright and clear and lovely. We were so happy! It was everything we'd hoped, and even better. When the first balloons go up, it's still pretty dark outside, and as they turn on their burners, they light up like floating lanterns in the sky. These first balloons also have little lights floating from their baskets---tiny diamonds below them---see?
Then suddenly the sky starts turning pink, and you walk onto the field and you're surrounded by all these huge, breathing, billowing creatures. They sway uncertainly as they lurch upright, like a genie who's spent too long in his bottle and is feeling rather stiff. I love being in among the balloons. I think they seem friendly, even when they puff fire and make hraaaa! noises at you.
They rise up into the sky a few at a time at first, and then suddenly whole swarms of them are lifting off: stretching and straining upwards and finally breaking free of the earth.
Hundreds!
There are lots of funny ones: floppy-trunked elephants and storks and clocks and penguins.

Those were a big hit with the children.


When the sun comes up, everything becomes, if possible, even more beautiful. Rainbow bubbles catching the sunlight!
They are mesmerizing.

I have experienced nothing like it. The sheer numbers . . . over 700 balloons, I think . . . and the way they loft so simultaneously into the sky around you. It's like you're underwater, watching the whole world float up past you to the surface. I can only imagine how cool it would be to lift off within that colored cloud.

We watched from a different viewpoint the next day. From that distance, there was less of the submerged-by-balloons feeling, but there was the sudden breathless surprise of seeing them suddenly foaming up out of the trees, surging out in waves like bubbles from a bubble machine.
And then spilling over the buildings and right over our heads.
Abe took this picture out the back window of the car. A flock of bright birds following us back to our hotel!
All the way back.

That night we went back to watch them glow again. No flying this time, but they stood in rows and blinked on and off like fireflies. It reminded me so much of the gas lamps that light Embassy Row in London---the sound of the gas hissing gently in the dark; the fuzzy edges of the light, so different from the starkness of fluorescence; the feeling of being in another time. It was beautiful.

There were fireworks to cap it all off; you can see that we are a family that enjoys fireworks. (Sort of embarrassing: need I be quite so stereotypically "ooh-and-ah"-ing?) (Though I do especially like Sebby's dumbfounded expression.) 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall, Mesa Verde, Tram, Scenery

Who would have thought there would be such lovely Fall colors in New Mexico? Well, anyone who knew anything about the place, obviously. But I was surprised.

More Fall leaves

Mesa Verde is such a surprising, interesting place!

Hiking

Hotels are fun

The tram, and the beautiful view from the top

Sam follows Junie around

Daisy smiles

Windy

Shiprock

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

White Sands

I think White Sands is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Bright white and bright blue, as far as you can see, and the warm sand surprises you by sparkling like ice crystals. It was a hot day, and the sand felt so nice: cool and almost-damp just under the surface, perfect for burrowing your toes and your fingers into. It's gypsum sand, and it doesn't feel like sand on the West Coast  beaches I've visited. It's softer, finer, and more powdery. Less clingy. More delicate. As we walked back to the car, most of the sand just fell off us in little sparkling showers (though, Sam would have me add for realism, not the sand in all the children's hair. And eyebrows. And noses. Okay, we still needed baths. But we didn't feel dirty!).

A tiny walker tries to catch up
Everyone* got buried at some point. It felt so NICE.
*(Except for this troublesome toe)

The boys made all these amazing caves and cliffs and canyons. The sand had just enough crust to it that it was susceptible to being coaxed away from underneath. It was so cool: like watching weathering and erosion happen in super-fast motion.
"The Grand Bunyon" :)
She didn't want us to carry her, I promise!

This little one was SO HAPPY here. She bumbled her way up the hills and slid on her tummy down the hills, and poured sand over her toes and head, and tasted sand, and tumbled head-over-heels every few minutes. She was so pleased with herself. Since we've been back, she's gotten into my bucket of flour in the pantry on three separate occasions, pulling it out by handfuls and getting it all over the floor and her hair and face---and she's not previously been much of a mess-maker---and I can't help wondering: is she trying to re-create White Sands? The happiest hours of her baby life? Poor little lamb.
We all got a bit sunburned (how did I forget the sunscreen?)

Explorers going off the edge of the world

Sliding

Intrepid

Tiny

Also tiny

We felt like we were the only inhabitants of some strange, shimmering white world. 
We wanted to stay there forever!