Hot Air

Trip Start Jul 03, 2009
Trip End Aug 16, 2009

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Waking up this morning felt like an accomplishment, particularly since just prior to hitting the hay, Maribeth noted that the Hotel Blue "was the kind of place that people die in, if they were in a movie. You know, from doing drugs.  But we won't die." Comforting words to fall asleep to.

At least morning came fast. Dean—our hot air balloon pilot and chauffeur—picked us up at 5:30 to take us on a flight over the city. Joe even helped inflate the balloon, as he could easily use his debate and MBA skills to direct a great mass of hot air. We hopped in our wicker basket (really) along with our companions—a family of three, Dean, and two “balloon summer interns.” Our passengers were the fascinating sort of folks that really only seem interesting to New Yorkers: two former military, all salt of the earth.

The ride itself was beautiful, save for the occasional loss of hair from the burners. We sailed over, and dipped briefly into, the Rio Grande, and then west over the stretch of McMansions crowding the land. The Sandia (Watermelon) Mountains thrust out of the plain to the east. The sun was direct and hot even at this early hour. We put down in a patch of desert scrubland, and our basket scraped and bounced across the ground, digging shallow divots in the earth. Afterwards, we were treated to mimosas and jalapeno bagels with homemade jalapeņo-strawberry jelly cream cheese (…yum!) in a local park.

Next on the agenda was the National Atomic Museum, an oddly assembled mix of atomic paraphernalia, historical artifacts, and science exhibits (among them, Nazi china made by Rosenthal, several pop-art posters of Albert Einstein, a tin of bomb shelter survival crackers, several actual airplanes (none of which carried atomic weapons), and an exhibit on renewable energy. The best part was the giant periodic table which reminded both of us of our the start of our courtship during Junior-year Chemistry.

On to the Sandia Peak tram, a 15-minute vertiginous trip rising 3000 feet to the top of the Sandia Mountains. After spending 10 minutes at the peak, Maribeth decided we’d had enough outdoor hiking for the day. Rather, it was time for a massive plate of food. Fortunately, in America, these are somewhat easy to come by. We ate at a local favorite—Sadie’s—and the portion sizes left us astounded. Joe’s cheesy, beefy, beany potato platter was, in the words of Maribeth, “up to my chin.” Time to get our bloated bellies out of town.
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