Monday, February 11, 2008

Aeronaut extraordinaire!

I arrived home last night after a whirlwind of a day that somehow involve stop-offs in four major cities.


And spent today lazing about in bed, as sick as a proverbial dog (as a sidenote, does that saying make any sense to anyone? Since when are dogs any more ill than any other animal?).

Apparently I caught some form of Albuquerque super bug, which has imparted upon me such wonders as a throat that feels on the verge of swelling shut, the voice of an 80-year old Bingo addict with a 6-pack a day habit, a cough that sounds like both my lung and my spleen are on the verge of emerging from my mouth, a temples that feel like they have degenerated into the strength of eggshells, threatening to explode with every cough, and alternating hot and cold flashes. As such, on a day where I should have been playing frantic life catch-up, I spend nearly an hour reflecting on the ceiling and peeling paint off my radiator, as it was the only thing I could concentrate on. And made it through a whopping five pages of reading before giving up.
I also reflected on how ironic it is that it is more permissible to miss appointments for a conference than illness in this weird microcosm they call grad school. It is more stressful to think about having to cancel such meetings than actually being brutally ill, and, as such, I spent a good chunk of the day ruminating on how on earth I could afford to be absent this week after a scheduled absence much of last week. Argh.

However, on the bright side, I do have sky-high tales!! 

Though the rest of the conference was still equally hectic, with promises to my body of naps being quickly forgotten, I did manage both my excursion in a hot! air! balloon! and a quick visit to Old Town, rife with tacky tourist traps and fantastic architecture. To tell the truth, though, even just the car ride to the balloon departure site helped, because it meant escaping from the glass walls of downtown and seeing a little more of the reality of how the city operated.

After an exceedingly frustrating night of trying to coordinate dinner and drinks plans with 10 people in a city clearly ill-equipped to deal with an influx of thousands of conference-goers, I awoke bright and early at 6am for my pick-up. The five of us, plus the crew, made our way out to a random residential strip mall parking lot, where they begin setting up the balloon. Turns out that there is no formalized launch site-- instead, they take off in an appropriate empty space determined by weather factors.

Early morning sunshine.

R. helps them set up...



Almost ready...
And voila!

And we're off!
Extinct volcanoes.




Nearing touch-down...
It turns out that there is also no designated spot to land as well, as it depends on the wind and such. We ended up landing in a cul-de-sac, after nearly skimming the top of a roof.

It was pretty incredible to help roll up that enormous balloon and find that the entire thing fit in about a 4 x 4 x 4 foot bag.

Even more incredible was the smoothness of the whole flight, and how it wasn't the slightest bit intimidating to be soaring so far off the ground in nothing but a closely packed basket-- though you are certainly reminded of the precariousness of it all when the basket hits the asphalt with a resounding and jolting thump, only to bounce again.

It is also the ultimate in voyeurism to be floating above a city at 8am, peering into backyards, and making up stories about the people unassumingly going about their lives below us, with only the echoes of dogs barking giving us any sort of narrative.

Once we landed and squished down our balloon, we were taken to a local park, where we drank mimosas mixed with Donald Duck brand orange juice, and were given certificates declaring our official entrance into the club of aeronauts.


Later on that day, R. and I skipped out of a symposia session to visit Old Town, where we were greeted by copious amounts of red pepper decorations, open terraces, flat-topped mostly pseudo-adobe buildings, vendors educating us about the need for religious faith and rich husbands, a non-dirty definition for fetish, and one of the fiercest blue skies I've ever seen.





There are more tales of missing taxis, gritting teeth, and Wonder Bread sandwiches, but I need to try and force my brain to read at least another 4 pages of my textbook tonight. Le sigh.

38 comments:

ttcmb said...

Feel better soon! Chicken broth, lots of fluids, and rest. I hate planes because they always seem to make people sick. All the germs in a closed air system.

Good luck working out your meetings. It sucks that school makes it so stressful for you when you are sick. Not what you need.

thestoryofagirl said...

Sooo glad you're back.

1.) When did peppers become acceptable decorations? Really?

2.) That 'flight' sounds amazing.

3.) Ahh,...you caught the ol' Albuquerque illness. This is why I don't visit New Mexico.
Actually, I have no idea what I'm talking about, it just sounded funny in my exhausted brain.

I hope you feel better. Take care of yourself! Worry later!!

r.xo said...

Wow, excellent balloon-ride pics! Must put that on my list of things to do :) Hope you feel better soon -- I know the stress of having to cancel appointments for illness. It's crazy, isn't it!? Bah, grad school ;)

willbraden said...

boy, Albuquerque ain't exactly pretty from the air, is it...sort of looks like a giant tumbleweed.

Sorry you got sick! Drink green tea!

Surfergrrl said...

wow! how fun! sorry to hear you're sick though...feel better!

LisaChelle said...

the photo's are amazing...
feel better: 2 bottles of nyquil, a kiss on the forehead and 3 choclate chip cookies.

distractedspunk said...

Welcome home, sweets!

Balloon flights sound fun. Being sick does not. Though I do love your bingo grandma description and bet your voice is sexy as hell!

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

I feel your HW pain...i'm outline notes for tomorrow...I have an exam, but plan on studying most of the day in class.

I'm jealous you got a balloon ride! I've always wanted one...I've gone up once in one, but never traveled around. It is on my list of things to do.

Ant said...

Sweet! Sounds like some experience, with nothing but the wind and the birds for company...

I see what you mean about lack of sensory explosion though - very brown and desert-like. Though this has it's own unique appeal - the proper wild west...

Hope you feel better soon. As you say, who's got time to be ill?

lspoon said...

Wow! It looks like you had such an amazing time! I love your photo lookinh up into the balloon. :) I can't wait to hear more.

sequined said...

Oh God I'm so afraid of heights. That looks both beautiful and HORRIBLE. But the pictures are good; I can pretend I was there. I love the ones with the shadow, especially.

Jess said...

I love those photos! The shadow of the balloon is particularly striking.

Feel better soon!

EF said...

I am so hoping the red pepper decor craze sweeps the rest of America this year! I think Martha Stewart will be showcasing them as bookends and throw pillows. Now if they could only cure sick dogs!

Great pics!

t.b.f.love. said...

I am so envious of your hot air balloon flight! It looks amazing. It's definitely on my Life List. I hope you feel better soon =(

the frog princess said...

Awww.... feel better!!

Also I *love* the balloon shadow photos, particularly the first one!

Princess Extraordinaire said...

I am sorry you've been so sick :( I am happy to hear, however, that you had an absolutely wonderful time on your hot air balloon ride -the pictures a fabulous and breathtaking!

NamesAreHardToPick said...

I used to see balloons like all the time in NM, but never was on one. Those are some awesome pictures you got there.

I was sick too, hope you feel well soon.

Miriam D said...

Hope you feel better!! I can't believe you went up in the balloon!! I am TERRIFIED of heights, and if I was up there with you, I'd be clinging on to you for dear life.

Moxie said...

Dude, I love Albuquerque. I went there on a spur of the moment trip with the man to check out Acoma Sky City, about an hour west. If you get out there again, go check it--traditional Indian village on top of a 400 ft. mesa. Beautiful.

A Margarita said...

Pretty, pretty pictures! Feel better soon. I think everyone has that Virus of Death bug.

La said...

Lovely, lovely photos. I do, however, think we all passed some sort of internet bug to each other. We're all sick! Feel better soon!

Ashley said...

i hope you feel better.

also, my concern for hot-air ballooning stems a lot from the fact that it really is nothing more than a glorified picnic basket - but your pictures are incredible and have made me a little less fearful.

modelbehavior said...

Hot air balloon!!!

What fun!

I would've been terrified and puked over the side.

Glad you managed to take pictures.

Deutlich said...

awww, that looks like it was amazing!

and I'm sorry you're feeling so under the weather. I think I actually have the same thing you do.. off to the doctor I go!

Blah.

Yoda said...

Your conference trip makes me long for one. Right. now.

Glad you had fun on your trip! I loved my conf. trips during grad school, but I always ended up feeling bad 'coz my GF wasn't in any of them. I'd change that if I could go back in time.

mcgee said...

awesome awesome photos!!! sounds like a great time!

feel better soon...it seems like the whole blogosphere has been struck down within the last few weeks.

lawyerish said...

I know the meaning of the "sick as a dog" saying but you probably don't want to know it. Trust me.

Larissa said...

Looks like a wonderful adventure!

chasinglibby said...

i used to 'ration' my textbook readings too! awesome.

also? the hot-air balloon ride looked like theee most fun ever!

Maxie said...

Hope you feel better...

that hot air balloon ride looks amazing. I've always wanted to go up in one.

Clueless Cat said...

Hope you get better soon! So many bloggers are ill lately!

Hot air ballooning look so fun! Will definitely have to do it one day...

Barrie said...

LOVE the pics!!

Hope you're feeling better soon. (I did enjoy the descriptions of your sickness, though. :) )

Beth said...

You make a hot air balloon ride seem quite doable and fun (even for someone as chicken as I am).
Sorry to hear you caught that bug - don't let the guilts make you rush back to work. Baby yourself.
Take care.

Sheila said...

I hope you feel better soon!

The photos are awesome! I find the thought of a balloon ride both terifying and exciting. Maybe one day I will have the courage to give it a try.

*In my big-sister vioce* For now, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids (non-alchoholic) and don't let school stress you out too much!

captain corky said...

I think you may feel worse than I do. But I hope we both feel better, and soon!

DG said...

That looks AMAZING!!! I was in a hot air balloon when I was younger and just loved it! Feel better :)

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

Just thought I'd offer that it was probably the plane trip down that aided in catching a "bug." Happens to Mr.4444 often; all of those sick people in an enclosed place, sneezing, coughing, and just breathing. Yuck.

Hope you're feeling better...

Z said...

I, too, caught that bug - though I suffered during my conference and am starting to get better now... Love the pics - I'll have some of my own from neighboring Santa Fe posted soon! ;)