Yes, we are in a balloon
20 feet below the canyon rim, 10 feet from the wall. That boy can fly!
We have been behind in blogging…the relaxation of the vacation has caught up to us and now we are completely and utterly ruined by laziness. Too much spa, too much wine, and definitely too much guacamole and green chiles have beat us into submission, demanding frequent siestas. Many deep sighs have melted us into the New Mexico landscape so completely that we may never be able to be productive or move again.
We have had a few exciting moments though. The other morning we awoke at 4:00 AM to get ready for a Hot Air Balloon ride through some breathtaking canyons north of Santa Fe. Who know balloons flew modified contour in the canyons, but look at the pictures. Our fearless balloon captain, Johnny, picked us up and drove us to the balloon launching site just as the sun was beginning to rise. A quick description of Johnny…he has a quality about him, a quality which is hard to describe or pin down. He is part cowboy, part sideshow, part Marlboro, part Martha, part brokeback, part mountain. He is part Sam Elliot, part Johnny Castle as he too would never put Baby in the corner…he took great care with
It's a balloon...it's cool.
me, the lone female in the balloon. The best Balloon Captain we could wish for, and if one of the burners had gone out (who know there were two), surely he was full of enough hot air to keep us afloat. Johnny made his first balloon when he was 19, and has been flying ever since, about 40 years…his talents have taken him to over 30,000 feet in the air and to Egypt with National Geographic. Truly a renaissance man and a natural born entertainer, we love Johnny so. As pilots, Eli and Johnny got along well, each trading uninflated “war” stories so true and harrowing that Erin had to have a smoke….after the ride. And Johnny let Eli fly his balloon….men and their balloons.
At the launch site we watched as his crew swiftly set up the balloon. It was incredible to watch. His crew consisted of a man who was a Texas cowboy, actor, artist, and a Buddhist monk…who just happens to know how to pre-flight a balloon on the side. The rest of his crew was just as colorful and as the winds quickly shifted, we were forced to literally dive into the balloon before it
A rare picture of Chuck Norris smiling.
floated off. In the balloon basket with us was “Rick” who was Johnny’s friend and future balloon crew member. He claimed he lead buffalo hunts in the winter in the Dakotas, but clearly if you look at his picture posted below he was lying. He was really Chuck Norris. At one point Chuck had to roundhouse kick a bear that attacked the balloon. If we had not reacted with awe and wonder, Chuck would have roundhouse kicked us back to the ground without a thought.
So the balloon ride was breathtaking…so calm and peaceful. I was scared before, but I highly recommend it…we saw huge jackrabbits from the air and the mountains were stunning. Eli and I both got to fly the balloon and Eli has only 9 more flight hours to go to be a certified balloon pilot which he says he is going to do someday. We got along with the balloon crew so well that they have asked us to work an event on Sunday morning…so as of tomorrow morning, we are no longer wayward travelers, we are paid balloon technicians! We are honored and excited…even if it does mean we have to get up at
...Dive in the basket before she lifts off Scotty
3:00 in the morning after celebrating Cinco de Mayo tonight, but we will prevail, and Eli will drive!
Sadly, we left Santa Fe yesterday and Eli believes he has packed the car even better than before. He swears there is infinitely more space, that Cletus is now riding much more safely, and that the tires will wear more evenly. I am just glad that since, according to him, I cannot pack the dishwasher in an efficient and orderly manner, he forbids me to pack my own clothes or the car. In my defense, my generation (many years behind Eli) grew up on the Cascade detergent commercials where you could pile grease laden pots and pans one atop of the other in the dishwasher and through the magic of Cascade, everything came out squeaky clean with no scrubbing or rinsing or organizing. Since I saw it on TV it must be true. No matter what, I am forbidden to do dishes or pack, or do any chore that necessitates spatial orientation or organization…so alas, I guess it is my cross to bear.
So the car is packed and we are now about 80 miles away in the ski town
of Taos, New Mexico where it is currently snowing on us and 55 degrees and sunny and beautiful…So we will be filling in our blog, out of chronological order, and we miss and love everyone and wish you all a HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!!
Lastly, here is an Irish prayer that Johnny toasted our flight with:
The Balloonist Prayer
The wind has welcomed you with softness.
The sun has blessed you with his warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well that God
has joined you in your laughter and set you
gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth!
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