Friday, October 28, 2011

Mogollon Rim Country

(Chuck) We spent nearly two weeks in Forest Lakes, AZ. It was a great restful stop in our travels. We explored a little and hiked a lot, which is a good combination for us. Our travel companions Bruce and Dee seem to be very comfortable with spending time together on the road and yet maintaining separate identities; a great way to travel as couples.

003Beautiful Rim Country above and Chuck fixing a flat tire on Jan’s bike at right. 001 006Bruce & Dee and Chuck & Jan on a hike around Black Canyon Lake.
005Dee & Bruce and Jan at All Bikes in Rye, Arizona above. And at right-Chuck and Bruce fixing pancakes and ham one morning and Chuck grilling in the snow for dinner! 008 014

007We owe a large THANK YOU to Dean and Judy for the use of their cabin property. We boondocked there and it was a good place to stay. They arrived to spend four days with us and we had a great time. When we first arrived at Forest Lakes , we were greeted with a wonderful view from our front window of the green forest and one beautiful broad leafed tree that had turned bright yellow. As the days passed the color turned to more of a gold; the temps were getting cooler. On day twelve the wind seemed brisk and as I looked at the tree all the leaves were blowing in the wind.003 It was a sign that we should have been paying more attention to the weather. That evening we were greeted with a snowfall that totaled about four inches. Fortunately the ground was warm and most of it was melted by the next morning. ‘Momma didn’t raise no dummies,’ it was time to leave. That is why our house has wheels. We went down the hill about 4,000 feet in elevation to a favorite spot south of Payson, AZ and we are once again wearing shorts and short sleeved shirts. 74 degrees at 11 am is just right. We will stay here for a few days and plan our hike to Devil’s Chasm, which is in the mountains East of Lake Roosevelt.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Forest Lakes


(Jan)  Dean & Judy invited us to their cabin and Bruce & Dee and Chuck & I joined them for a wonderful long week-end. It was so good to catch up on each others travels and spend some great hours hiking together. The first day all six of us headed out to a large sink hole and then on towards the rim. Above are Chuck & I, Dee & Bruce and Judy & Dean. 
007Judy, Bruce & Dee and Jan above along the Mogollon Rim. (pronounced Muggy on) Chuck& Jan, Dee & Bruce and Judy & Dean with Chica at a ssink hole on the Mogollon Rim 018Judy, Jan & Dee in the cabin.

003On the second morning four of us traveled west on the rim to do a little more hiking and explore several of the lakes in the area.  The weather was perfect and the scenery breathtaking for our hike along the rim on the paved trail. Afternoons and evening were spent visiting, grilling and playing cards. What a special time with good friends!

Judy & Dean had to return home to Prescott on Monday but the four of us are staying on here in or RVs in this peaceful forest for several more days. Yesterday we hiked around the Woods Canyon Lake and did some geocahing along the way.  On way we spotted several Bald Eagles, Elk and some Bear scat.  On the first day we were here I saw a Mexican Gray Wolf when Judy, Dee and I were out walking. 

We’ll do a little more hiking, geocaching, biking and waiting for our mail to arrive at the Post Office and then continue on our way southwest.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

(Chuck) When we left the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, we moved to the Sandia Casino in ABQ for one night of rest and an opportunity to relax with friends as we each assembled our travel plans. Mark and Judie were to spend the rest of the week in ABQ for dog training and Bruce and Dee traveled to Chinle, AZ to Canyon de Chelly National Monument with Jan and I. We spent two nights in the campground and enjoyed the drives on the North and South rims of the canyon to view the ruins. Field glasses were necessary and at each pull off it was exciting to spot ancient Indian ruins across the canyon. It is a very pretty place with colorful rock formations.

020A prominent feature on the South Rim Drive is the 800 foot spire named Spider Rock since ABQ 052

since ABQ 034Ruins seen from the North Rim Drive, above. Bruce & Dee and Jan & Chuck at a canyon overlook at left.

059Jan and Dee on the South Canyon Rim headed down the White House Trail. Jan & Chuck at right going through the lower tunnel  on the WH Trail. since ABQ 062 041 Bruce and Chuck hiking across the canyon floor towards the White House Ruins.
The highlight of our stay was the White House Trail hike. It is about a three hour hike which takes you 600 feet down the wall of the canyon to the floor. Then the trail leads you down the stream bed and across to the opposite wall to view White House Ruins, one of the many ruins in the area. This hike is the only authorized free hike in the Monument. All other activities are provided, for a fee, by Navajo and Navajo sponsored guides. 052

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The final days at ALB & our CARE Auction


(Jan) Sunday morning was the Farewell Balloon flight. We woke up to see the Dawn Patrol and then this beautiful wave tn[4]of balloons ascending, and some of them descending, by our rig. It was a joy to sit in our lawn chairs and watch this beautiful sight. And even though Chuck nor I got a balloon ride, over half of our Boomer group crewed with a pilot that gave them rides. The pictures at right was taken by our friend Dee from a balloon looking back at the mass ascension one morning. We did get to crew a couple of times with two different balloons and had our field passes for the entire event. On other mornings that we were on the field by 6 A.M., unfortunately, we were not needed by our pilot or the weather was too rainy or windy. It’s certainly an event we had a great time at though and look forward to doing again.IMG_5306_thumb[1]

We had a grand time in between the morning events and the evening glows riding bikes, visiting the Balloon Museum with Art & Connie, shopping for shirts & hats with Bruce & Dee, playing Pegs & Jokers with Ron & Sharon, Koz & Jackie and Bruce & Dee, Happy Hours with the group, visiting at each other’s rigs through the day, dinner at Koz & Jackie’s one evening and the CARE Auction.

DSC01814The Escapees have a retirement RV Village at Livingston, TX that we raise funds for each time we have a large gathering. This event’s amazing total of $2,876.00 was twice what we had targeted for! Our rainy start for the auction on Tuesday was continued on a sunshiny Sunday. Vicky Webb was our Chair for the event, Terry Webb and Chuck did an excellent job auctioneering as Beth Miller and I were their ‘Vanna Whites’, Ann Meileke & Joy Melton handled the money, Many, Many great items were donated including 2 wonderful copper balloons crafted and donated by Judie St. Croix, Ann knittted an beautiful afghan for the raffle, Chuck and Mick Meileke did water deliveries for CARE donations, Terry & Vicky donated wine, also for CARE donations and we had wonderful bidding and support from our Boomer Group!

DSC01833That evening we headed over to Rudy’s for some Bar-b-que with our “Clown-n-Around’ crew mates Mark Thornton, Judie St. Croix and Don Hankins. The brisket, pulled pork, ribs and stuffed baked potatoes were fabulous; almost as good as the bar-b-que that our son Eric makes in his smoker back in Chicago!

It was time to move to a new location Monday after spending the morning offering & collecting Boomer Hugs and fond farewells until many of us meet again at Mittry Lake for Thanksgiving or Quartzsite for our annual gathering. About 5 of us moved to Sandia Casino where Judie & Mark hosted a Happy Hour that afternoon. We are now at Canyon de Chelly National Monument on the Navaho Reservation at a lovely campground shaded by tall Cottonwood trees.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Special Shapes Rodeo Days

037DSC01751(Jan) Thursday and Friday at the Balloon Fiesta are Special Shapes Rodeo Mornings and ‘Glowdeo’ evenings with fireworks.  For the rest of our time here we are crewing for Clown-n-Around with regular crew members Judie St. Croix and Mark Thornton and Don Hankins. Our pilot is Andrew Avon and the balloon is owned by Todd and Scott Monahan all from Upstate NY. Unfortunately the weather has turned windy and rainy! Yesterday morning we were up at 5 and on the field by 6. We did get to inflate the balloon but could not fly as the winds were too strong. After inflating the balloon we were able to put our weigh on the basket and display the balloon for about an hour before deflating and packing up. Last night was too windy so no set up. This morning it was rainy but we were at the field by 6. They can launch in  light rain but the wind came but so the event was officially cancelled by 7.  Sure hope the weather clears for tonight’s ‘Glowdeo!’ We’re really enjoyed this crew and pilot.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Wild Weather Day in Albuquerque

Pirate's Treasure coming in for a landing!(Jan) The clouds were threatening when we got up yesterday morning at 5:30 as we and our crewing partners Diane and Andy Hitzel headed over to the launch field.  At the pilots briefing it was announced that there was about a 2 hour flying window of opportunity. We reported to Jane, our pilot and for the third time were told that she had plenty of crew. Jane did send us over to a friend of hers, however, who was short on crew and we were greeted with ‘We’re so glad that you’re here.’ We crewed for Terrible Tom Schroeder’s balloon Pirate’s Treasure. TT and first mate & wife Jeanne welcomed us aboard with regular crew Gene, Bill & Monica. We had a ball being regular crew and getting to do everything it takes 10-04-11 B Mass A 02to inflate and fly the balloon. As well as unpacking and laying things out, I got to man the fan and Chuck held the throat of the balloon as it filled with air. After the balloon lifted off. We packed up the things left on the field and hopped in the chase vehicle. From down below in traffic we watched our balloon head south and eventually picked Tom and his passengers up in parking lot to the 010south. After they landed & deflated the balloon, we packed everything up and then had time to visit with them for awhile before heading back to the launch field. Above are Andy Hitzel, Tom and Jeanne Schroeder, Monica & Bill, Chuck & I and Gene. Diane Hitzel was our photographer.

When we arrived back home the sky and our landing field were still filled with balloons and we had a great time watching and talking to the crews and pilots.

It began raining at mid day and plans for our CARE Auction and Potluck were in doubt. There was a break in the weather by midafternoon and the decision was made to go with the auction around 3:00 or as soon as we could get everything set up. Terry & Vicky Webb were the chairs along with their faithful crew – Beth Miller, Carole Schneider, Ann Meileke, Joy Melton and Chuck & I.  Terry & Chuck auctioned through some sunshine and drizzle but just as the sprinkles grew heavier and we were deciding to try another day, the heavens opened up and the wind gusted! The awning that we were working under flew up and had to be brought in. We quickly covered the remaining items and our cashiers Joy and Ann with tarps. We loaded the auction items into Reinheimer’s rig as fast as we could & then everyone ran for cover. It all happened in minutes and we were thoroughly drenched by the time we were done!  We will continue the auction Sunday at 1:00.

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After everyone got home, out of our sopping clothes and showered, it was time to eat. And what a better way to do it than share our potluck entrees with several neighbors? We called the Millers, Schneiders, St. Croix/Thorntons and Webbs and we had a wonderful time with a great Boomer group; great food, shared stories and lots of laughter. Below in front are: Carole, Judie, Vicky & Terry; in back are: Dick, Chuck & Jan, Mark and Beth& Dick.012

Monday, October 3, 2011

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta


(Chuck) The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a spectacular annual event. It is the premier ballooning experience in the world. This year marks the 40th year that it has been held in Albuquerque , NM . The weather this year has been excellent and at this point all events have been held. Sunday’s example of the "Albuquerque Box” was a good display of why the event is so successful. Albuquerque has a thermal and wind feature which allows the balloons to take off and drift downwind for a period of time and at the pilots discretion to rise to a higher altitude and ride a reverse wind back toward the take off area and beyond.  


106Special Shapes Balloons


007004We have found once again that there is a big benefit to being in the company of the Escapee Boomers. It is a group of experienced RV’ers who know how to get the most out of life. Our group of 40 rigs are only a fraction of the thousands of rigs here at the fiesta, however we have prime spots and at reasonably modest rates that Boomers are accustomed to. The Boomer hosts for this Boomerang are Luke and Judy Reinheimer, and they have once again provided us with a great experience. In front of our motorhome is a “landing field” that has been a center of activity for the last two days. Fifteen to twenty balloons landed here today and at any time this morning there has been at least a hundred balloons in the sky.

Most Boomers are “crewing” with a balloon, which means that they prepare the balloon for flight, inflate it, chase it, recover the balloon and pack it away. It can be a lot of work and a lot of fun. The mornings are cool and the afternoons are hot and everybody seems to walk around with a smile on their face and a camera in their hand.

019Chuck and Jan joining Boomer friends Diane and Elise in stabilizing a balloon on the ground upon landing until their crew comes to retrieve them. One of MANY photographers getting that ‘perfect’ shot.028 IMG_6951A balloon drifting through the drainage canal behind our rigs.

Balloon teams from all over the world participate in this event and news coverage originates from more than 50 countries. It has become the most photographed event in the world.

Here is a link to a web-cam which is at the balloon field. Check at about 6:30 to 7:00 am on each day.

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