2012Hot2Cold travel blog

slept in and the balloons were already up and over us at...

and this one is going down already

across the field behind us

it's a calm, clear morning and there are a lot of balloons...

the jester floats low over the RV's

this is a pretty one

and they just keep coming!

this one is called 'Sushi"

the jester is still afloat


beauty everywhere you look


Darth Vader checking us out


you gotta love this shot

Happy better give it some fire or he's going to crash

the panda

a big basketball too fat to get through the hoop

I've seen a few of these in my day!

here comes the little fireman!

a lot of them are flying low this morning

but nobody seems too concerned - yet

Smoky drifts lower

but the skipper is still just enjoying the ride


this guy is down for the day

he's a beautiful balloon - even if he is about to crash

skipper's giving it some fire - but not enough

Hmm - this is getting serious

he's coming in at about 5-8 mph and HE'S SCARING THE RABBITS!


Hey - we could use some help over here!

help is on the way

this guy would rather take a picture, but he's trying to help...

there is no shortage of volunteers here

and for a while it looked like they might get it stable

but it was not enough

and the 'envelope' started to deflate

putting the poor little guy face down in the dust


but he's sure to fly another day

lots of volunteers helping out

and one gets a hug from the skipper

now comes the big job

getting the air out of the bag

a fond farewell to the little fireman and we're off to Sky...

heading west on I-40 back toward Gallup

the famous Unser racing family has lived here for years

I-40 west of Albuquerque

turning off on the road to Sky City which sits atop a...

our Acoma guide for a tour of the mesa

telling us about the construction of the church

this a big crowd to be walking around through their home village

in the following pictures I concentrated on the architecture

below my shots there are a lot of people - tourists milling...

but I try to keep them out of the pictures

the ancestors didn't have cars, of course

part of the church - the adobe is mud mixed with water...

a water spout for the 6 inches of rain they get every...

but they have good views of the valley below

the ancestors dug these ponds to catch rainwater

the ancestors lived in the upper floors and used the lower floors...

a typical street

that is the church in the distance - built on unspeakable cruelty

fitting that it now shares the street with a line of porta-potties

the cemetery is to the left of the church - the mounds...

if we weren't here this would be a peaceful place

one of the many artists selling her beautifully decorated work

an adobe brick oven

fired by wood

what native village would be complete without Mr. Raven

a lot of the homes still use ladders like this one


but many also have more modern stairways

here you can see the brickwork that underlies the adobe facing

a lovely place to sit and catch the breezes

differing textures of the buildings

this is an old time window - using a sheet of mica...

the mica up close - it is a common element in these...

looking down toward the Visitor Center - and two old style privies

the Visitor Center

liked this sculpture

a last look over the valley and then back to Albuquerque

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(MP4 - 5.92 MB)

From our Campsite

(MP4 - 2.00 MB)

Fireman coming

(MP4 - 2.66 MB)

Fireman Crashlands

The balloon activity today was a competition of some kind, and we figured we would see it OK from our campground. There are a number of ways the balloons compete for prizes and recognition, and often the pilots don’t know what they are going to be doing until they get there. Sometimes they fly out a given distance and then try to return and land as close to where they took off as possible. Other times they try to snag things off of 30 foot poles - things like envelopes with cash prizes or the keys to a new car. Sometimes they have to drop beanbags and the winner is the one who get’s their bag the closest to the target on the ground.

A lot of times the targets are in the vacant lot behind our campground, and by staying home we get the best vantage point anyway. Today a lot of balloons seemed to be heading for our campground, and a couple even had to land in our vacant lot, but as far as the competition goes it was never clear what it was all about. In the end it didn’t matter because we all had fun anyway, and one of the balloons that crashed in our field was the funny fireman balloon we saw tethered yesterday. He is a little heavy and wasn’t able to get enough lift to stay up. As he came down he scared the hell out of the resident jackrabbits, and we got to see a somewhat unplanned landing and how they recover and then take the balloon down without damaging it.

At 10:00 o’clock we boarded busses and headed out for Sky City, a Pueblo an hour’s drive west of Albuquerque. It has the distinction of being the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America. There are 19 Pueblo tribes in New Mexico, and unlike tribes in other parts of the country the Federal Government has never forced the Puebloans to move from their native lands - yet! Is this because the Federal Government hasn’t found anything it wants on tribal lands - yet? Probably so - and if they do they will undoubtedly find a way to make the native people move. To our shame - it’s what we do!

Sky City is occupied by the Acoma people and it sits atop a mesa 370 feet above the desert floor. The history of the Pueblo and it’s people dates back to as early as 1100 AD. There are over 300 adobe and sandstone structures on the mesa, and homes in the Acoma Pueblo are always owned by the females. There are some families who live on the mesa year around, but most live elsewhere and return for ceremonial occasions, and sometimes to just return to their roots for a period of time. Acoma potters make distinctive vessels that are thin walled and beautifully decorated.

Also on the mesa stands San Esteban del Rey Mission, constructed between 1629 and 1640, built at the insistence of the Spanish conquerors, construction of the 21,000 square foot adobe mission cost the lives of many of the Indians. Another travesty that no amount of religious double talk can justify. To the Acoma people’s credit, they treat the church with a respect it probably does not deserve, but it is the burial place of many of their ancestors. Photography is understandably not allowed in the church or in the cemetery, where the native people buried there all have European names.

We took a guided tour that was interesting but uncomfortable, because it is not a pleasant experience to walk around past people’s homes with a group of camera toting gawkers. Everywhere we went there were artists and craftspeople selling their work, and it was hard to walk past them and not buy the things they were selling. While they never seemed nor acted resentful, in their place I know I would be. The most interesting feature was the architecture, and the best experience was eating fry bread with honey!

The children were beautiful and it was hard not to photograph them, but somehow it did not seem appropriate. The interest and respect for their culture that drew us to the Acoma Pueblo, made it also hard to be tourists there and to enjoy it. This paradox does not seem to bother a lot of folks, but I’m glad it still can bother us.

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