Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Friends and Joplin

We had a very nice time having dinner with Jeanne and Jack Albers. We decided to go to Lannings and local restaurant downtown. As we were getting into the truck here comes a car that stops and a lady comes out saying "Chappy, Chappy is that you?" Turns out to be someone we have "chatted" with on Workampers News discussion forum with the handle "hisgirl". Her name is Monica and she was visiting relatives in Santa Fe the same time we were seeing our daughters there. We missed each other by one day from meeting there. So we invited Monica to join us for dinner and she did. So we had a table full of seven.

We munched on burgers and sandwiches and it was pretty good. Lannings is one of only a few independent restaurants available and it is frequented by locals. We had a good time "introducing" ourselves and telling our story of becoming fulltimers. Monica works the same shift we do and the Albers work days on the "donut" shift - Monday, Tuesday, off Wednesday and work Thursday and Friday, thus it is called the "donut" shift.

Today we took off for Joplin to return the XM radio boombox we bought last week. It was nice to just get out of Coffeyville for the day. After returning it we stopped and ate at Ryan's Buffet and I savored their pulled pork and fried chicken.....they do them very well.

Now it is just lazing around, napping and enjoying a sunny day. Got a call from Larry and Claudia King who work for amazon last year. They are on their way in from Joplin and called to see if there were any spots opened here in Heritage....sadly there isn't, so they will have to go to Walter Johnson. Spots are getting hard to find now.

Jim walked the dogs and heard one of the amazon folks say that he was told last night that Stowers were going to go to mandatory five day weeks - hopefully it will only be ten hour days. The week after that we are suppose to go to eleven hour shifts in In-Bound.....they will have some problems if they impose mandatory 55 hour weeks.....I can't do it, I know! Overtime money would be good but-t-t-t-t....the body can only do so much at my age. I'll let you know.

Remember, you are loved.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Amazon First Week Done

We survived the first week of work at!!!!!!!!!!! And the aches and pains aren't too bad, thank you very much. For me it is my lower back and for Jim it is his legs. My being short makes me have to lift a box and slide it into my work station off the receiving line. So I guess I am lifting with my lower back. You can't really use your leg muscles as I am leaning forward to grad the box.

I need to look up lower back exercises on the internet to help strengthen them and also to warm them up and stretch them out before I work. Any body have any suggestions?

Yesterday we went to Walmart to buy a bigger lunch box, Doane's pills and some roll on Bengay stuff. Also bought a clear plastic cosmetic style bag to use to carry box knife, work gloves, small Purell and lip balm. Anything on the floor has to be in a see through type bag or purse for theft prevention.

Yesterday was "Slug Day", our first day off of three. You don't do much, just be a "slug" and move slowly and recover from the hard four day week. Then today is "Back to Human Day" where you are feeling pretty good and do the laundry and grocery shop and run errands. Then tomorrow is designated "Tourist and Travel Day" where we will travel to Tulsa or Bartlesville, OK or venture to Joplin, MO as they are all within 75 miles from here.

Tomorrow we will go to Joplin to return the docking console we bought for the XM radio last week. We found out it was the XM radio itself that was bad and our boombox was fine, so replacing the radio made everything work OK.

Now we are dealing with getting our DISH satellite tv to work. After three hours of working with a independent technician and numerous calls to DISH technical support and hours of frustration we made an appointment with an authorized technician to come out next Monday and finally get us hooked up. We have been able to get CBS on the antenna in the bedroom tv but that is all. With working nights we are missing a lot of our favorite shows - like Dancing with the Stars, but that is the choice we made. But I would like to be able to watch tv in the living room, while lounging in the recliner instead of sitting up in bed to watch tv.

I need to go do laundry today and then tonight we will be having dinner with "yet unmet" friends at Hog Heaven. Jeanne and Jack Albers are friends of Rick and Terry Travers and all have lots at Saguro RV Park in Benson, AZ. When Rick found out the Albers were also coming to work at here in Coffeyville, Kansas, he emailed us. So Jeanne and I have emailed each other a few times and are going to finally meet for dinner tonight....that will be fun as the Albers first lived on a sail boat for many years and traveled and now are fulltime rvers. They will have many interesting tales to share.

That's the best part of this fulltiming lifestyle - meeting all these interesting people! Yes, seeing all the different places and sights is wonderful and exciting, but it's the PEOPLE you meet along the way that makes it all worthwhile. We are such a diverse group of nomads who band together like one gypsy family meeting and caring for another gypsy family you meet along the road. We have sometime been to the same places and seen the same sights, but mostly we hear about new places and things to do and see from fellow rvers. We have much in common besides being fulltime rvers - we are knitters, grandparents, NASA car fans, restaurant eater outers, snowbirds or move every two weeks, some workamp, some don't need to. There are many levels in which we connect and find common ground. You get to KNOW people in this lifestyle. There is no such thing as living next to someone for a period of time and not meeting them or knowing them like in a stick and brick house. You know your neighbors when you live this lifestyle.

Well, off my soapbox and onto laundry. Remember, you are loved!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Stow School

Yesterday at work we had "Stow School", which was a direct result from the comments made by workampers at the end of last year - "we need training" we said. So they set up a complete simulation of the stowing operation with labeled bins, numbered carts, scanners that would go into a training mode and a written script that was read as we followed the instructions - step by step. IT WAS GREAT!!!

Jim and Lesle had been thrown into Stowing at the end of last season and they floundered around and in some cases very frustrated. But we all took the school last night and it was very accurate and informative. Some of the scanner tools have been changed and much easier to use.

Our shift that was designated for In-Bound are all Stowing for the first two weeks or so as that is what is needed right now. After that Bill, Jim and I will be trained for primarily Receiving and Lesle will do both.

This year amazon ambassadors (trainers-helpers-problem solvers) will stay with us for the first two weeks and answer questions as they arise before they send us off on our own. That is very good because we will all feel much more secure in knowing what we are doing.

Last night was our last short shift of five hours - hardening they call it. We chose to start our ten hour days tonight. We stayed up till midnight last night and unfortunately I woke up at 4:30 am and so I'll basically be up 24 hours before I go to bed tomorrow morning after getting off work at 3:30 am.

Come Nov 8th we will be working 11 hour shifts - so that's 44 hours a week. So figure this out with me: get up and take 1/2 hour to shower and get dressed, one hour to prepare and eat dinner at 3 pm, leave to work 1/2 hour early, work eleven hours, 1/2 to clock out and drive home, suppose to stay up an hour before going to bed when you work nights, sleep eight hours....ah, ah, ah, half hour plus an hour, plus.......that adds up to 24 hours and leaves us a hour and a half to enjoy your day before you go back to work! Oh, bother!!!

Our choice, our decision, good money and it's only for eight weeks! I guess we can do it.

Remember, you are loved.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dearing, Kansas

We joined Dave, Marie, Bill and Lesle at King's Table in Dearing for lunch yesterday. King's Table is operated by a church and they make homemade breads for their sandwiches, make wonderful deep dish homemade pies and have a full expresso bar.

The walls are enhanced with beautiful painted murals of Jesus playing soccer with a bunch of children, etc. They have a small stage where they have live music bands on weekends and a patio for wonderful outdoor eating. We frequented King's Table a few times last year and will go there more often this year I think.
After lunch we drove down a side street to one house where they have a good sense of humor. On the side of the house they have recreated an old 1930s gas station.
Isn't it nifty!!! It's right there in the middle of a residential area.

The house itself is very interesting also. They have this spiral chimney; see it has a twist in it; and then it looks like a stain glass piece below - right in the fireplace area.

Pretty nice looking.

Well, that it is for today. Remember, you are loved.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Got Our Work Schedule

We got our work schedule tonight. We'll be working In-bound, Shift 6, Sunday through Wednesday 5 pm to 3:30 am - exactly what we asked for!!! Returning workampers pretty much got what they asked for in our group. Bill and Lesle have the same exact schedule as we do, which is nice as we can carpool together and have the same days off to do things together.

So-o-o-o we have to start to work tomorrow night. That means we have to stay up as late as possible tonight and then take a nap tomorrow afternoon for a little while. The first couple of days we will only have to work half shifts to "harden" ourselves and then go to full shifts. We can tell them when we are ready to go to full shifts so we'll probably do that right away. We are only here for 8 weeks and need to maximize our revenue as much as possible.

We did get our XM satellite radio back to working. Found out the Belkin boombox has a faulty connector and will burn out the Roady XT receiver. The comments on different discussion forums talked about the exact problem we were having - receiver shows the display but no sound from the boombox. We tried to make our old Roady work in the new boombox we bought at Best Buy on Wednesday and although we got it to work in the store wen we bought it, we couldn't get it to work here in the rig. So we went to Walmart and bought a new receiver and used the same boombox and now all is well. I can listen to my 40s music again - happy day! Now we have to bring back the $160 boombox we bought.

When we go back to Joplin we'll stop in Baxter Springs and eat at one of the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives recommended restaurants, Cafe on the Route; that's Route 66, folks. I remember that episode so that will be fun.

Well, the ribs are about ready to come off the grill and the satellite tv guy is still trying to get out DISH working - it's been three days of trial and error, poor guy, so I guess I'll say goodnight for now.

Remember you are loved!!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

NuWa RV Plant - Chanute, Kansas

Yes, we went to Chanute, Kansas, Wednesday to check out the Hitchhiker manufacturing plant and were part of the tour guided by the owner, Mike Mitchell. He was very interesting and sure knew his stuff; answer all our questions very honestly...we were impressed.

And yes, we fell in love with the Hitchhiker LS 32.5 FKSBG. The living room area is very open and with the two opposing slides measures 14 feet across from the window of the dinette to the back of the recliners on the other side. I couldn't find a way to copy the photo but here is the website address to look at it. It is a beauty!

The kitchen is on the side

With a pantry next to the entertainment/desk area

We will look for a 2008 or 2009 model, preferably used to get it into our price range. Maybe Arizona will have something in January.

It was only a 60 mile drive North to Chanute and easy. It started to rain on the way home and continued all night and into this morning. Everything is saturated as they have had a lot of rain already the last two months.

We had a pleasant surprise around 2 pm when Marie and Dave Dengate came by to visit us. We met the Dengates the summer of 2008 at the Colorado Boomerang in Buena Vista and traveled with them for about a month. They volunteer at the Great Sand Dunes National Park outside of Alamosa and so we saw them again this year when they came and camped in Big Meadows for a couple of days. We told them about and so they signed up and have been here in Coffeyville, Kansas, since mid-September. They haven't been very fond of the weather here in Kansas - too rainy and dreary - but will stick it out till the end. We may join them for Christmas in Queens Valley, Arizona, if we can't get back to Alamosa in time or because of the weather.

After a little visit the Dengates invited us and Bill and Lesle to come to their house for happy hour. Boy did Marie put out a spread of snacks! We all enjoyed ourselves and learned about the changes at this year.

Today is another rainy, dreary day - another Ho Hum day of knitting, washed clothes in town, napping and watching local tv - No Jim has not been able to connect the satellite; I've called the DISH guy to come to it....Jim is very frustrated about it, but it's been five days and the local channels are pretty *&^%$#@*.

Remember, you are loved.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ho Hum Day

Today was pretty much a ho hum day. We stayed around the rig mostly. We did go to the Wonder Bread Thrift Store where we got great buys on hamburger buns, English muffins and raisin bread. Jim chugged out early this morning to get donuts....we crave donuts and haven't had any since last donut shops in South Fork this summer.

Bill and Lesle had us over for spaghetti dinner tonight using great sauce we bought at Trader Joe's in Albuquerque. We stayed and watched a little tv and then came home. We are trying to stay up later every night to get ourselves acclimated to being up all night and sleeping during the day. It is hard to stay up though.

Tomorrow we are going to Chanute to visit the NuWa plant and check out all the different Hitchhiker models....we like that brand.

Remember, you are loved.

Express Employment Professionals

We had our hiring appointment yesterday at Express Pro in Independence, Kansas. This was the sign that greeted us when we arrived. Nice to see!
It didn't take long to do the little "picking capability" test - you are given a list of book and music titles and then they had photos of the items on the wall and you had to answer questions about them, like what edition is xxx book or who is the author of xxxx, or what format is xxx music. Being an old library worker I did pretty good....but I don't want to be a "picker" they walk 10 to 20 MILES per daily shift!!!! That's way too much for me. Last year I barely made the 5-7 miles I walk each night as a "stower" - putting items in bins.

Lesle and I subscribed to different local newspapers, drove around town to see what was new, opened, or closed. For those of you who worked here last year, like most small towns there wasn't much changed; pretty much the same. There is a new restaurant on the main drag called Phelps Hog Heaven.....barbeque, of course. Sunday we ate at The Stockade buffet which was pretty good - great salad bar.

There is a new super Walmart being built at the junction of Hwys 166 and 169 on the way to The building is finished and they are working on completing the inside now. Suppose to be opened after the first of the year.

We lazed around the rest of the evening. Jim spent hours trying to get the Dish satellite to bring in both 110 and 119 satellites to no avail. He got 110 set so we can watch the three main networks, but 119 eludes him. One of the workampers told me that most of the folks are having problems setting up their satellites this year......wonder why? Guess we'll have to call for a technician to come help us out.

No plans for today - do some more scouting around, go to the library, etc. We do want to drive to Chanute to tour the NuWa plant - they make Hitchhiker rvs - we want to look at all the different models.

Remember - you are loved!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Arrived in Coffeyville, Kansas

Well we made it OK on our drive from Hollister/Branson to Coffeyville, Kansas. Gratefully, it was another uneventful day - no mishaps or mechanical problems - those kind of day are great. The rolling hills of the Ozarks are really spectacular and although the trees were past their "peak" of colors they were still very colorful.

The only problem we are having is that our XM radio is not working. We use a boombox to use our XM and all of a sudden it stopped putting out sound. The XM is playing and you can see the channel you are on and it changes titles of music as it happens....we just can't HEAR anything.

We'll have to take a trip back to Joplin and bring it to a Best Buy and see if we can figure out what's wrong. I cleaned the connection posts with alcohol and reseated the unit but still no sound. I'm bummed because I really enjoy listening to 40s music and Seriously Sinatra!

Here are two more photos of the fall colored trees as we drove through some small town outside of Joplin.

It was cold and damp, humid when we arrived. That morning it had been 32 degrees and there was frost on the truck windows. Going to be an early and hard winter I fear.

Today we go to Independence to do all the paperwork for our job at amazon. We should start next week, so that gives us the rest of this week to check things out and get ready. I bought some Easy Spirit Anti-Gravity shoes in Branson. They were recommended by my friend Carolyn because they have a really large sole, weigh next to nothing, and are very comfortable. Next we'll get some Dr. Scholl's Back Ache inserts and bring out the heavy soled socks to cushion our steps.

We asked to both be put in Receiving so we'll see if we get what we want and requested. Hopefully being returning employees we can have a little pull.

Remember, you are loved!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Clanton's Cafe

The photo above is early morning at the balloon fiesta. It's "Main Street" at the balloon park where they sell all the breakfast burritos and Tom Thumb donuts. I liked the moon peaking over the mountain.
We traveled from Norman towards Branson/Hollister, Missouri, to stay at the Escapees RV Park for a couple of days of relaxation before going to work at in Coffeyville, Kansas.

Thursday as we drove to Vinita and saw the "former" largest McDonald's in America. It was a large arch over the highway but inside I understand there is a regular size McDonald's and the rest of the building is other shops and stores. The current largest McDonald's is in Orlando and is built to look like a large bag of fries.

Some people who fulltime, have "themes" for their see national parks, to see all NASCAR race tracks, or historical homes. Bill, Leslie, Jim and I travel to see as many restaurants as possible that have been visited by Guy Fieri in his "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" Foodnetwork tv show. We've been to quite a few of them from Florida to Arizona. So in Vinita there is Clanton's Cafe and Guy was there for their Chicken Fried Steak and their Calf Fries.

Two of us shared a luncheon portion of Chicken Fried Steak and an appetizer of Calf Fries. They are "An Oklahoma delicacy, known as the 'cattleman's hors d'oeuvre,' served fried, boiled, battered, grilled, and seasoned." Both were very good. We got one of the owners to sign a take-out menu as a souvenir. We actually got Lesle and Bill to try the Calf Fries...and they ate quite a few of them :) These were cut smaller and were much more tender than Rocky Mounain Oysters, which Jim and I really like a lot.

We were getting tired and decided not to try to go all the way to Branson and another customer at Clanton's told us to stay at Downstream Casino at Exit 1 in Missouri. So we did just that. Downstream Casino had a separate rv area with electricity and water and you can stay for three days FOR FREE.

After a restful night we drove on to Branson/Hollister and are staying at the Escapee rv park for two days to rest up a bit. Then we go to Coffeyville on Sunday where we start working at amazon the week of Oct 25. Don't know what shift we will have but know it will be nights. We managed to get reservations at a FHU commercial rv park in town, so no more being woke up by the "honey wagon" three days a week.

I'm not a big fan of Branson but Lesle REALLY wanted to see it, so we came. We went to an Easy Spirit store and bought Anti-Gravity shoes to wear at Then we took a tour of downtown Branson. I'll have to ask her tomorrow what she thought of it. We saw that Rib Crib was having a "two meat all-you-can-eat dinner for $10.99", so no need to ask me twice-----ribs and pulled pork it was!

Tomorrow we just rest!!!! I want to sit and knit our daughter Beth's Christmas gift. We all finished our summer jobs, attended the Colorado Chapter Rally, drove immediately to Albuquerque and "worked" every day crewing for a balloonist, then drove six plus hours everyday for four days......we need a rest!!!

Remember, you are loved!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Norman, Oklahoma

We had a grand time in Amarillo, Texas, visiting Rudene and Wales who were our camphosts at Big Meadows this summer. We met them for dinner at Cattle Call and had a great barbeque dinner. We shared with them the map of how Big Meadows will be redesigned. Hopefully they will be able to come back to work with us in years to come.

We normally stop in Oklahoma City to visit some campers who stay with us at Big Meadows for about two months. However, they were all going to be out of town this time when we were coming through. So Wednesday we drove through heavy, laborious fog all day on our way to Norman, Oklahoma. The drive was hard and tired us all out. We came to visit other campers who spent some time with us again in Big Meadows this last summer. We made quick friends with Susie and Dave. Susie and I have a lot in common and she was interested in learning everything about fulltiming. I gave her a book on fulltime rving and she devoured it! We shared a few meals this summer and loads of laughs....they are fun people to be around. So we parked at the Riverwind Casino in Norman and Susie and Dave came by and guided us to BJs, a pizza extravaganza. Great pizza and microbrewery. After dinner Jim and I went back to Susie and Dave's and I helped Susie work on her blog settings.
So here we are today, Thursday, driving up towards Vinita, OK, to eat lunch at at Clanton's Cafe recommended by Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (DDD), foodnetwork tv show that we follow. Clanton's is known for their chicken fried steak - which is a favorite of Jim's and Bill's. I'll let you know later how it was. Vinita is also known for having the largest McDonald's and the largest crossword puzzle....we'll see!
This is pretty neat!!! Jim's driving and I'm sitting here typing along on our blog. We have an "I Go" adapter to plug in the computer to the cigarette lighter and with our Verizon Air Card, I can be on the internet as we drive along.
Hope you like the color changes to the blog. Remember, you are loved!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Amarillo, Texas

We had a good run to Amarillo, Texas, making it in six hours. Staying at the Oasis RV Park. They are having a "Stimulus Rate Package" with rates of $20 a night for Class A, $17 for fifth-wheels and $15 for Class B and vans. We got the Passport America rate of $16.50. We heard about this place on the Boomers BB and it is very, very nice. All concrete slabs, wifi and cable. They even serve dinner and a breakfast as you are about five miles west of town.

We are going to dinner with our Big Meadows camphosts from this summer, Rudene and Wales. We care going to the Cattle Call Barbeque Restaurant. From the reviews on line it should be good vittles!

Had to put in this photo of what the guy next to us at the balloon fiesta put out in front of his rig to fake out every one. Isn't that funny? The wood pole sits in sand in the can. He had the "electrical cord" going between the tires....makes everyone think he had "full hookups" while everyone else was boondocking. Hysterical!!! Looks like something our handy friend Joe could make up....matches his sense of humor also.

Well, we are off to dinner.....tomorrow we aim towards Oklahoma City/Norman area.

Remember you are loved.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Go Up in a Balloon!!!!!!!!

After working as a crew member on Stan Wereshuk's Canadian balloon "Northern Lights" I finally was asked to jump into the basket and go up for a ride. Jim kept the camera so all the flying shots I took with my phone and then sent to them to our email address and put them into Picasa Web Albums. I am so happy I finally figured out how to upload photos to Picasa Web Albums and how to embedd them into the blog.

Here is a slideshow of the Special Shape balloons. Most of these are huge!!! Take a look.

We moved from the fiesta grounds down the road to Enchanted Trails RV Park so we could dump and also just to rest up. Tomorrow we travel to Amarillo, TX.

Remember you are loved!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dinner with the Kids

Yesterday morning we awoke to RAIN...glorious, wonderful rain...which meant the balloons wouldn't fly, they would cancel the activities and we could sleep IN!!!! I didn't get out of bed till 8 am.

We lazed around, ate breakfast but then at noon we headed out to the zoo for another party. The zoo hosts a big hamburger feed and gives you free tickets to the zoo, botanical gardens and the aquarium. There sure were a lot of people!!! Jim and I didn't walk around looking at the animals, but I did have to take photos of my beloved flamingos, you know.

We bid goodbye to Bill and Lesle and Jim and I picked up the dogs and headed to Santa Fe to have dinner with the girls and grands. Beth is going to move next door to her sister, Christine so I stopped and bought her a new set of sheets as a housewarming gift. We picked up some hamburger patties and buns and arrived at Christine's just ahead of our grandson Maxx and his very expecting girlfriend, April. She is due Nov. 29th. Can you believe that little "bump" is only 6 weeks shy of delivering? Remember, the yellow knitted sweater, cap and booties I made for them? Well, April was delighted and Maxx cried. He said he was so touched that I would spend so much time knitting an outfit for his little girl. Isn't that a nice thing to say. Maxx has certainly changed from being a pure thug to being a very, very nice and considerate person. He helped his mom to serve refreshments, offered to light the bbq grill, even escorted April to the restroom and waited for her outside to help ease her back into her chair. He said when he was out on his own at 17 he figured he was the only one making his life miserable and there wasn't anybody else to blame or rebel against. He said life is a whole lot easier when you are just nice to people....they are nice back. Profound, huh?

Next big thing happened with Beth's boyfriend, James, asking Jim for Beth's hand in marriage. Jim said James hymned and stammered for a good two minutes with "Sir, there is something I need to talk to you about. Sir, ah, well Sir, I mean, well Sir." You can see it was a very serious talk of what will happen to James if he doesn't take care of Beth and make her happy....let alone the things that will happen to James' anatomy if he hurt Beth in any way :) Next Beth had to go out and receive Jim's blessings and hear the good news, as Jim wiped the tears of joy from his eyes. Happy, happy day.

Add to this that we were celebrating our granddaughter, Alyssa's, birthday and it made for a very full day. Here she is blowing out the candles on her birthday cheesecake.

We so enjoyed being with our family again, told old stories of "remember when you........." and laughed till our sides hurt. After a few hours we all left as Beth had to go to work-she works nights in a battered women's shelter-and Jim and I need to get back and to bed because 4:30 AM comes very early in the morning.

Remember, you are loved!

P.S. I told Jim when I die and they are trying to find photos of me for the memory board they will have to put up photos like this and say "Bobbie was behind the camera on this one, and this one and she really attended this function, but she was behind the camera on this one too."!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bill's First Ride-Flight of the Nations

Bill got his first balloon ride yesterday!!!

Bill, Leslie, Jim and I are crewing for Stan Wereshuk on "Northern Lights" from Canada. Stan works for Air Canada and has been flying balloons for 35 years - - - he is very good!

Yesterday was another Texas Hold 'Em run so we left the launch field after pilots briefing and drove to a neighborhood nearby to launch. This area were full of beautiful custom made homes and there was one vacant lot. The owner mows down the weeds every year at this time for balloonists could use it to launch....and launch they did. There were 5-6 of us inflating envelopes one right after the other.
All the neighbors came out to watch as they said they had had one balloon a year use the field, but never 5 or 6 use it. It was getting late in the morning so everyone was inflating at the same time trying to get up quick.

Stan and Bill actually "scored" pretty good on the Texas Hold 'Em, landing their targets on a Jack and a Nine, scooting two feet off the ground.

The field behind the rv rigs were we are parked is affectionately called "crash and burn field" or Smash City because you come in fast and land hard. Whoever is around runs after your basket to hold you down while you deflate the envelope.

Our friend, Marty Cassidy, didn't join a chase crew but he sure got a work out running after balloons as they landed near the rigs. Here he actually got to help Bill and Stan land.

Everywhere you drive in town in the early morning you can see balloons all around...easy for drivers to get distracted.

After we bagged Stan's balloon we all went back to the fiesta grounds to party. One of the other crews invited us over and we had champagne and posole for breakfast at 9 am. But oh, was it good.

While we ate here comes a cute custom made vehicle that replicates a balloon basket in the back for a bunch of folks to ride in.

This is the biggest balloon event in the world with upwards of 700 to 800 balloons registered some years. This year there are 550 or so. Many foreign nations are represented here from 18 nations like Poland, Croatia, Brazil, South America, France, Latvia, Germany, etc. So last night Stan gave us all free tickets to the "Flight of Nations" dinner at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort ---- very exclusive place. Got this shot from their website. Here is a shot I DID take on the way out there - came out pretty good I think.

You walked in this hotel and there were signs leading you to "transportation to the Flight of Nations dinner". You walked through the place, down to a patio and there are buses waiting to take you to dinner...which turned out to be in a huge, huge white tent back in the property. Oh, my, we were impressed. They had American Indian Aztec dancers performing. This dinner was for all the teams from foreign nations so us USA folks were in the minority. As each nation's table was introduced they all rose and shouted and raised their arms....great fun!

We had a wonderful dinner dinner of cold perfectly cook salmon, chicken with a great sauce and a pork loin in a red chile sauce that was unbelievable! Dessert was a great flan with fresh fruit. There was a open bar with beer, wine and margaritas. They served Barefoot brand Cabernet sauvignon that I really liked. Gonna have to get some of that for special occasions. The band was "Undiscovered" and they played 70s music...real good, but real loud!!! Stan and Lesle "cut a pretty good rug" on the floor.

We got home about 9:30 pm and were dead tired. All those photos that everyone thinks are night shots....oh, no, my friends they are EARLY MORNING shots. Balloons only fly in the early morning when the winds are calm. We are getting up at 4:30 AM and on the field by 5:45 or 6:15. Yes, all those shots of early burns to warm the inside air of the balloons are taken before the sun rises....usually of the Dawn Patrol that goes up to test the way the winds are blowing. So we take naps after the morning champagne breakfast so we are ready to go again in the evening.

Remember you are loved!

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Day of Balloon Fiesta

Firstly, Jim and I are OK!!!! You will probably see on the national news photos of a man falling out of a balloon at the Balloon Fiesta. Yes, he was one of the 30 rigs and part of the Escapees Boomer group. He fractured his pelvis and a vertebrae and will be in the hospital for 2-3 weeks, but he will be OK. Jim was flying in a balloon at the same time, but I knew who he was crewing with and when I saw the balloon make such a hard landing, I knew it wasn't Jim. OK, so on with the story of the day.

Can you believe that banner shot??? Yes, it is pretty unbelievable and indescribable, too. I'm going to quote our Escapee friend, Marty Cassidy, in his blog posting because I couldn't write it any better.

I was up at 4:30 to walk over to the launch field for the morning's activities. The forecast was for perfect weather (winds) and it's a monstrous crowd that shows up for the show. Dawn Patrol, about 12 balloons, launches at 6:45, just before the sun breaks the horizon. Their ostensible function is to show the others what happens as they go up and down in the air.

Since it's still somewhat dark, the show is pretty as their gas jets go on and off. Note to people unfamiliar with balloons: they can only go up and down under pilot control. To go a direction the pilot must find air moving that way. It's surprising that a height difference of even a few dozen feet can change the direction.

At 7:00 the rest of the field starts launching about 30 at a time. That's a dramatic sight.Most seemed to be heading towards my RV, so I headed back. Besides, it's cold out there and I wanted to get warm. Sure enough, balloons were a few feet above my head all over the place, and many landing in the field. A lot crashing, too. I'm sure one is going to hit an RV before the week is over.It seems to be the rule that, with just a few exceptions, balloons can land anyplace they want, including streets and parking lots, which happens. Actually, they can land anywhere, but the hassle they get when landing on the Air Force Base offers incentive to go elsewhere.

Once enough crew shows up, it's a pretty quick process to pick it all up and pack it in the back of a pickup truck. Crew jumps in the back of the truck and rides back to the launch field. The city doesn't seem to have any laws regarding number of people in a pickup bed.

By noon everything's done and traffic is back to normal, so despite the chaos the city seems adapted to the event and handles it well. Tonight, about now, the balloons are inflating to get ready for the Glow. They stay tethered to the ground but fire their jets as the sun goes down. I'll pass on that tonight, but pick it up later in the week. The forecast for tomorrow is rather dismal for ballooning, so I'll bet all events will be cancelled.

These are some of the unique shapes of balloons we saw on the first day. That Creamland cow is HUGE. The Witch landed right behind the Boomer rvs. Here are some additional photos I took.

There was even a wedding that took place on the field; here is the happy couple. Lots of champaign flowed!!! Typically after the balloons take off and the chase truck finds them and packs up the envelope, everyone comes back to the launch field and parties for most of the afternoon. Champaign is served every day with and without orange juice and usually brats and chips.
Sunday it was too windy for most of the balloons to fly and was today; but about 100 balloons did inflate and go up; it was a very stiff breeze and the trips were pretty short.
Remember, you are loved.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Balloon Fiesta-School Day

I am so, so happy we decided to come into the fiesta two days early. We had an quick drive in and check in was fast and waiting. However, the next day (Friday) there were long lines and longer waits; and we were scheduled to come in until Saturday!

So Friday the Fiesta schedules a day for balloons to go to local schools and inflate their balloons and take off from school grounds. It's a chance for kids and their parents who can't afford to go into the balloon park ($6 a person) to see a balloon up close and understand what it takes to inflate them. The veterans of the event encouraged us rookies to participate and learn how things work. Jim and I had a chance to help two balloons inflate and helped pack up two on the media of a highway, no less.

It was the maiden voyage for one of the balloons - pretty special. The scenes from the inside when the builder and owner walked around inside was awesome.

Then there was the burn to heat the air which brings the "envelope" upright.

Then you are "standing up" all pretty and tall.

Isn't it a pretty balloon!!! It belongs to Daniel Liberti, the youngest son of Mike and T Liberti. Their oldest son, Chris, also has a balloon, so it is a threesome family and they all like to balloon together...really special family.

Lesle got to go on a ride with Mike, the father, in his balloon "Morning Star"

I also got a short ride, but after I got in we only traveled about 200 feet and the wind shifted and the pilot said "that's all the flying for today" and we descended and deflated on the road.

Jim and I learned a lot this day about the whole balloon operation and how and why you do certain things. It is hard work and we had to take a nap in the afternoon, but it was fun and definitely a strike out on our "bucket list"

Remember, you are loved!