"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Albuquerque Balloon Festival, NM

Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico
Lake Cochiti Campground



We found out that the Albuquerque Balloon Festival was going on while we were in the area (thanks Cori).  So we decided to attend the last day for the Mass Ascension.  This is where you get up ridiculously early (4:30am) and drive about an hour to get there in the freezing cold and stand up because you forgot to bring chairs, in the dark, waiting for the balloons to take off all at once. 

 
It took a while for the committee to decide if the balloons could go up as the wind had picked up a bit (could it get any colder?)  Finally they decided it was ok and group by group, they started filling the balloons for take off.  Can you tell I wasn't as excited as Steve to be here?  Well, he promised to take me to Cracker Barrel for Sunday Chicken for lunch.  Ok, I'm in.

 
Hard to believe all that balloon is folded into that red bag.


It was pretty amazing how many balloons were crammed in all over.





 

 Up they start to go in groups.




 
It was pretty cool to see 500 hot air balloons floating above Albuquerque all at once.

 
I stood as close to the balloons as I could as they were filling them up to stay warm.


 
There were a few really, really large balloons shaped as characters.  They got them filled, but most of them did not lift off.  Maybe it was too windy?



Arrrg!





There were a lot of people here. 
 









I admit, it was pretty cool to see so many colorful balloons.

The penguin balloons had banners on them that were displayed once up in the air asking, "Will you marry me?"  How romantic.  Oh, and they said "yes".
 
We had about an hour to burn before the Cracker Barrel opened so we did a little geocaching while we walked around the historic section of Albuquerque.  It's a really colorful and energetic town. Again, we found some amazing things while caching we otherwise would not see.  This was one of them.  In 1970, a parishioner of the 300-year-old San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church carved the image of the Virgin de Guadalupe in an old Cottonwood tree that stood behind the church.  Many never noticed it.  It was struck by lighting in 2014 and the trunk with the carving was moved to the front of the church.  It's pretty awesome.

 
Then not too far away was a tiny chapel hidden behind some stores.

 
Down the street was a beautiful park by a museum with large sculptures.  Really neat.


 
I really liked this large grouping called La Jornada.


 
By this time we had been up for hours and I was starving!  Off to Cracker Barrel for my favorite Sunday Chicken.  Not the same fried chicken they have all week.  This recipe is only served on Sundays.  We hadn't been to a Cracker Barrel since February in Phoenix.

 
On the way out we saw this spider enjoying his lunch too.


On our drive back to Cochiti, we geocached some more.  When we pulled into a small store in an even smaller town to get something to drink, this sign was in front of the store next to a handicapped space.  I thought it was pretty cool.

Another clever geocache hidden behind a tree.

There was a strange storm that was really picking up and starting to catch us.  Really weird looking.  Lots of thunder and lightning, and then it looked like this:

Kind of looked like a giant UFO coming down to Earth.


Then it left as quickly as it moved in and left a pretty rainbow.

 
 
One last stop before we leave New Mexico.
 
 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hiking in a Slot Canyon at Tent Rocks

Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico
Lake Cochiti Campground


If you read our last blogpost, you know that we re-routed our trip back to Arizona so that we could stop in this area to hike the slot canyon Ingrid told me about.  It is a magical place. Thanks Ingird!

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is managed by the BLM and is about 40 miles SW of Santa Fe, NM.  Kasha-Katuwe means "white cliffs".  The area is made up of layers of volcanic rock and ash deposited from a volcanic explosion that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago. Over time, weathering and erosion of the layers created canyons and tent rocks. The tent rocks are cones of soft pumice and tuff beneath harder caprocks, and vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet.

 

The trail begins at the monument parking area. The Cave Loop Trail is 1.2 miles long and is easy. The more difficult Canyon Trail is a 3 mile round trip trek into a narrow canyon with a steep (630-ft) climb to the mesa top for excellent views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia mountains and the Rio Grande Valley below.

Starting the trail. It's hard to imagine what's to come from here.

As you get close to the slot canyon portion of the trail, it's surprising to see these pine trees in the desert landscape.


 
Starting to enter the slot portion of the trail.

The walls get taller and much more narrow.

This is probably the narrowest part.



The colors of the cliff sides are just beautiful.  Ghost trees strangely balanced in the canyon.


 



You can see the dark caprocks that balance on top.


 
 
We had some crazy weather while on this hike.  Half the sky was very dark and if you looked the other way, sunny.


Looking straight up there was this pretty colored aura around the sun.


Now were getting to the steep part.  After the steps is a little bit of rock scrambling to continue on.

Good view of the different layers of rock.
 
View from the top of the canyon floor and tent rocks below.

And amazing 360 degree view from the top.

 
Steve and I having a little snack and enjoying the tent rocks.




Time to head back down.



Back through the slot canyon.








Crazy roots on this living pine.


We also took the side hike to the Cave Loop to make the hike 4.2 miles.

The black part on the ceiling is from fires.






 
It was fun to walk around these "tents" just sitting below the canyon.  How strange it must've been to come across these out in the middle of no where?


Sentinels on top of the ridge.

We also did the Veterans Memorial Trail which added another mile to todays outing. Gorgeous view again from this vantage point.

What a great place to see!  Being full time on the road allows us more time in areas we might have skipped over before.  We really like the lesser visited areas.  While there were very few people here, our next outing has us surrounded by many more people and lots of balloons! 
Guess where we'll be?