It was cloudy and cold when I left the hotel. I headed a few exits north and arrived at the International Balloon Museum where I paid a $4 entrance fee. There’s a $1 break for New Mexican’s. I got to learn about the history of hot air ballooning. It all started with two wealthy brothers and King Louis XVI in 1783 when a duck, a sheep, and a rooster were put into flight. Yeah, it kind of sounds like a punch line to a joke. The brothers were sons of a wealthy newspaper man and one day observed what smoke did to the papers. Little did they realize yet that it was the differences in the temperature of the air and not the smoke. The first balloons were made of paper and usual there were two in the balloon one to fly it by stoking the flames and the other was on hand whose job it was to make sure the balloon didn’t catch on fire.
|Photo- Some of the history of hot air ballooning.|
From there the ideas and competition progressed to the first flight across the English Channel and then the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean that happened on August 17, 1978. In the Victorian era, the balloon was used often as a form of entertainment. In fact, often woman were falling out of the air in feats of entertainment with primitive forms of parachutes. In 1981, the first balloon flight across the Pacific took place going from Japan to the US. In fact, the Double Eagle V’s actual “basket” was at the museum.
|Photo- Me taking a photo op.|
I was surprised to learn that balloons were used in war. There was an actual “envelop” (the hot air holding part of the balloon) from a Fugo Hot Air Balloon that was used by the Japanese during World War 2. These balloons were launched from Japan in WW2 to be floated into the US in the hopes of starting forest fires. Fortunately, they were launched at a time of year when it was winter in the US and no actual fires were started. However, there was one that was one that did go off and kill part of a family. There’s a memorial to that family in Blythe, OR.
|Photo- Double Eagle V "baskt" that made the Pacfic Ocean flight in 1981.|
There was an area for a balloon school where they had a simulator to teach new balloonists. I had to give it a try. I was really surprised how I did. I scored 72.8 out of 100. But no this will not be a new hobby for me; I’m WAY to afraid of heights to ever consider entering into this field. It was fun though, giving it a try.
|Photo- El Pinto restaurant.|
When I left the balloon museum, there was rain going sideways. I went back in and asked the guy at the counter about a place nearby to grab lunch and maybe wait out the rain. He gave me directions to a place called El Pinto. I had to laugh a bit when he told me this. El Pinto was the other restaurant that the hotel clerk had recommended. It was like everyone was working off of the same list; a restaurant conspiracy? El Pinto was a bit out of the way and very local. In fact, I drove by it the first time. It’s rather back and in away from the road and has an understated sign out by the road.
I walked in and felt under dressed as all of the servers were dressed in white dress shirts and black pants; then there were the woman in designer dresses. Oh, but wait there were some guys in jeans and cowboy hats. Never mind, I was safe. I ordered a stuffed sopapilla with chicken and I was disappointed after Sadie’s a couple n nights ago. This place’s stuffed sopapilla was fresher with lettuce, tomato, and a bit of unmelted cheese. I sat near the bar which was a wonderful room and I loved some of the art they had on the wall. In fact, there was this modern painting of a dog that I would’ve loved to have owned.
The sun had started to try to peak out of the clouds when I left El Pinto. I drove north on I-25 to Santa Fe which is about a drive of 35 miles. The drive was rainy off and on. The highway was climbing quite a bit of the way. It was not quite about 5 when I got checked into the hotel.
I dropped off my things at my room and then took the hotel shuttle down to the Plaza the Santa Fe downtown area. I wandered around the plaza area for a while but it appeared most of the places were closing at 6pm. As places closed down I went in search of some place to eat. I stumbled onto the Ore House; one of the places that had been recommended to me. I found a place at the bar and ordered. I had a bowl of green chili stew which was wonderful but decided to also order a hamburger which one of the guys at the bar said was THE best.
|Photo- Some wonderful architecture in Santa Fe's Plaza area.|
I struck up a conversation with this guy and his girlfriend. He had to be at work and I was still in conversation with her. The next thing I know her and I are bar hopping in Santa Fe. It was so much fun and all I had to worry about was making sure to get back to the corner of the plaza to catch the last shuttle at 9:10PM. Well, my new friend said not to worry because the hotel that I was staying at was on the way home for hr. and her boyfriend. Her boyfriend actually joined us at the 2nd bar having finished what he needed to do at work. We visited what they called the “Bar Triangle” of Santa Fe. The 3 bars were the Ore House, the Matador, and Evangelo’s. It all worked out great. At about midnight her boyfriend gave me a ride back to the hotel and then swung over to his girlfriend’s.
|Photo- The sign inside at Evangelo's Bar. A common sign inside the bars in Santa Fe |
was that they only took cash but this one took it a bit farther.
DAY 82- 7200 Ft…
I woke up at 6:30AM to a cold gray morning. I had drank a whole lot of water the night before I went to bed; no hangover this time. But I felt like I had a weight on my chest. I was finding it a bit hard to breathe. I threw on some clothes and went down for breakfast hoping maybe a hot meal with coffee would make the difference. It didn’t. I just felt run down and wiped out of energy. I made a couple of phone calls. My Aunty Lindy made the suggestion that it might be the elevation combined with a storm system that was going on in Santa Fe. Could it be that my body was not adjusting to the 7200ft. elevation of Santa Fe?
I decided to make it a day off. I went out once to grab something to eat but otherwise hung out in my hotel room. I watched TV and did a bit of surfing on the internet. I just took it easy. I was hoping that a day of rest and allowing my body to adjust to the elevation was all that I needed to do.