2012 Review: PART 6 – Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2012

We eventually had the destination of the 2012 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta on our agenda. What we didn’t plan for was the flu bug to invade my body and make me feel so tired, sore, and overall, yucky!  Oh well, time to feel all sick and all just would have to wait.  I pushed through the malaise and set out each morning we attended at the ripe hour of 4am to drive to the shuttle site, board the bus, and arrive, in the pitch dark, to the site of the event.  It was my first time attending and it was quite amazing and left all of us in awe of the beauty and passion of the event.  Never have I seen that many hot air balloons!  So many colors, so many shapes, so many people!  Incredible experience!  Brought me back to our first hot air balloon flight, several years back in Lake Tahoe area, when I literally thought that I would fall out of the balloon as it swayed in the air.  Of course, it was nothing like that, and I could only describe the experience as one of the most peaceful and surreal experiences I have ever had.  If you’ve never done that, and you seek adventure, it’s not too late to add it to your “to do” list for 2013.

Welcome to the 2012 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!
Welcome to the 2012 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!

_DSC9372

So many colors ....
So many colors ….
So many people ....
So many people ….
So many shapes ....
So many shapes ….
It's a crowded place for the balloons too!
It’s a crowded place for the balloons too!
Dawn Patrol participant
Dawn Patrol participant
A view from below
A view from below
So many hot air balloons .... over 600 in all.  The largest hot air balloon event in the world!
So many hot air balloons …. over 600 in all. The largest hot air balloon event in the world!
So fascinating!
Stay tuned for the final blog on the 2012 Review:  Part 7

2012 Review: PART 5 – Family Reunion – Yellowstone, Tetons, & Zion NP

Barely unpacked from AK, I had a family reunion to get to out west.  See, we decided to gather up the gang – Kelli & Mitchell, my mom & her husband Murray, and us – to spend some time together out in the great outdoors, appreciating each other’s company, as well as the company of lots of wildlife and beautiful surroundings.  Tom & Kelli took a road trip out west, stopping along the way to get their mountain biking fix, and met us in Salt Lake City.  After a brief stop in SLC, we ventured out to Yellowstone NP & Great Teton NP.  To my surprise, we were a bit late for the explosion of fall colors that we had enjoyed 2 years ago – same time, same place.  Oh well, didn’t matter because the trip more than made up for the lack of fall colors by the abundance of wildlife.  Bears, moose, bison, wolves, coyotes, pronghorn, and elk were plentiful!  The weather was crispy cool, OK maybe even cold at times, but this Florida girl enjoyed it immensely.  Tom & I would get up really early every morning and shoot, while the family took in a bit more sleep.

Family reunion

Family reunion

Bison battling it out for superiority

Bison battling it out for superiority

Bull elk readying for the rut

Bull elk readying for the rut

After spending several days trying to track down the elk in the very early mornings, there’s a few things that I can remember as if it were just a moment ago ….

1.  The sound of the elk when they bugle.  If you haven’t heard that amazing sound, you need to google elk and listen to their call.  It’s one of the most amazing sounds that you will ever hear.  For literally miles and miles you can hear the echo within the vast wilderness of the landscape.  So soothing ….

2.  Another sound ….. see we ran across many sightings of coyotes – hunting in the fields, running to and fro ….. but on 2 occasions, we saw them run back to what I figured out afterwards must have been their den, most likely with a meal, and you could hear the yips of their young.  I’m not talking a yip or 2, I’m talking about 1-3 minutes of continuous calling out.  That is another sound that if you’ve never heard it, you should.  I wanted to tape it on my video in my camera, but I was paralyzed by the beauty of their sound.  Big time smiles after hearing that one!

Three generations

Three generations

Moulton Barn, Grand Tetons NP

Moulton Barn, Grand Tetons NP

Enjoying the view from Signal Mountain, Grand Teton NP

Enjoying the view from Signal Mountain, Grand Teton NP

Yellowstone NP, WY

Yellowstone NP, WY

Several days were also spent in and around Park City also, as Mitchell joined us for an extended weekend or so.  Then off towards AZ and NM we went – taking a few detours along the way – some intended, some not.  What a beautiful country we live in!  One of our unintended detours involved St. George (we won’t go into that one), but things happen for a reason and the detour turned into a visit to Zion NP – so incredibly beautiful and a treat from the summertime visit we did several years ago – much less crowded.

Looking up at the tall stand of aspens kissed by autumn

Looking up at the tall stand of aspens kissed by autumn

Paria, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, UT

Paria, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

While the beauty of the southwest was difficult to leave, we had a more definite destination.

Stay tuned for 2012 Review:  Part 6