Santa Fe is lovely - so they say...

Trip Start Sep 16, 2011
Trip End Nov 20, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Saturday, October 8, 2011

We awake at 6am, and then think better of it.   We try again around 8am, and it feels more civilized.

We head down to breakfast and we are firstly, taken aback at the receptionist remembering my name, and secondly, that seems to love saying it.  There are loads of people at breakfast and she's shouting 'How are you going Bree?’, ‘You look tired Bree’, and ‘I made you a waffle Bree’.  No one else is getting this VIP treatment.  I feel a bit self conscious.

Over breakfast we watch coverage of Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta which is going on downtown Albuquerque.  Which explains a few things which have confused us, like:  why the hotel is heaving, why there were signs in the square saying ‘welcome balloon enthusiasts’, why there was  so much balloon themed stuff, and why everyone kept saying to us ‘are you here for the balloons?’ .  We just thought everyone really liked balloons, which we get, because balloons are cool.

Turns out this is the 40th annual Balloon Fiesta and it’s the world’s premier ballooning event.  It is 9 days long and hundreds of hot air balloonists (and their great big balloons) come from all over the world and descend on Albuquerque.  Apparently weather conditions are idyllic for ballooning and the New Mexicans are crazy for it.

So we toyed with the idea of going with the ‘Mass Ascension’ of balloons at 7am – but sleep was the winner.  And we thought we are heading north, and so are the balloons, so we can photograph them en route.

So we jump in the car and head to Santa Fe – not a balloon in sight, they have been and gone for the morning.  It is difficult to even be mildly disappointed when the view is so beautiful, balloons or no balloons.

There is less fog today and we are surprised to notice that mountain we were up yesterday is extensively covered with ice, and in parts, snow!  It’s no wonder we were cold yesterday; it is literally freezing up there!

The landscape heading into Santa Fe is out of this world.  We did not know what to expect but it was like nothing we have see in the USA so far.  The housing was very traditional, that flat roofed terracotta colour, traditional style, and the landscape looks prehistoric. The colours of the earth and sky are almost unbelievable - the brilliant reds and the sharpest most brilliant blues.  And the back drop to this magnificent scene are snow capped mountains, so close; they are literally on the doorstep.  We are overwhelmed.  It is with terrific enthusiasm we arrive in Santa Fe, until....

The car suddenly starts making a really loud noise like metal scraping on the ground.  We do not know anything about cars, but know this is not good. So the car limps to the curb and Noah heads off to call for Roadside assistance whilst I wait in the car with a surprisingly patient Elwood.  He is gone a while, whilst there is a debate about what Hertz yard we should go to,  how we should get there, and which truck should get there.  Noah is helped greatly by a lovely girl named Roberta in a jewellery shop called Tribal Reflection

Eventually we arrange for a big truck to come and get all 3 of us and the broken car.  Instead of saying they are going to be a couple of hours, we get a series of ‘We’ll be there in 20 minutes’.  So we wait by the car, we do not see Santa Fe, and just have a quick jaunt for fabulous sandwiches (Although I had to sell a kidney to pay for them) and I impulsively dash off a buy a guide book on California on word that there is a good travel book shop nearby.  I need to start thinking about the Californian leg of our adventure.  My Mum has a book but is so busy planning her outfits and taste testing Californian Wines she has not had the time to read the guide book.  (Don’t deny it Mum, you know it’s true.)  I briefly day dream about working in a travel bookshop then I’m back at breakdown central.

The truck arrives, thanks to some further directions from Roberta and her friend, and we are almost on the road.  The bloke is friendly and gets the car on the back of the flat bed truck in a heartbeat.  He mentions he is taking us to hertz in Albuquerque but we ask if we can go to Santa Fe instead (we’d only just go there!).  He makes some calls, it’s fine, and we go to Hertz in Santa Fe, in a great big truck towing a little hire car.  Elwood makes his usual banter with the driver, ‘Have you seen Madagascar?  There is a lion in it named Alex.’  The driver is brilliant and chats enthusiastically with Elwood about kids films.

We get to Hertz at Santa Fe airport and unload the car whilst I go in to discover they do not have a car with sat nav.  Well we cannot function without sat nav – it is as simple as that.  But apparently there is a car with sat nav in Albuquerque.  So the car is repacked, and the truck driver shows Elwood how to use the controls on the truck to get the car back on the flat bed.  Regardless of  the circumstances, it worth the hassle for this one little  moment.  Elwood grows several inches in height just through pride and I feel so proud when I see Elwood look over to the driver and give him a thumbs up.

So we’re back in the truck, heading for Albuquerque.  Only thing is, the driver has a job to help someone change a tyre en route.  Bit odd, but fine.  Only other thing is, we have to find them first and the (other) stranded people do not know where they are.  So we drive around the interstate outside Santa Fe looking for them.  The driver is trying to call them and we are having no luck.  Then eagle eyed Noah sees the car way off in the distance - I don’t know how this is possible.  (Noah attributes it to the super glue he had to put on this glasses this morning !?) The driver is thrilled and randomly declares Noah should get a job with NASA.

So, we go to these people.  The truck driver changes their tyre and we wait in the truck on the side of the interstate for half an hour, and then we are back in business on our way to Albuquerque.

Despite the circumstances, all 3 of us struggle to contain our excitement at being in a big truck in New Mexico.  It is pretty cool.  Noah takes photos, and enjoys being a passenger, and we soak up the scenery from quite a different perspective.

We get to the Hertz yard and the ‘broken car’ has to be dropped off at a slightly different yard to wear the ‘new car’ is.  So someone comes and gets us in another car.  We sort out a new car and faff for ages with a car seat for Elwood and then we are on our way.  This is now 5 hours after our fiasco started.  We are exhausted (from what, I don’t know?).

So we go to McDonalds and gets drinks and the world gets better.  We have another 2 stops en route:  firstly, to get Elwood some dinner and secondly to get booze, and then we are at our hotel.

Elwood is wonderful.  He is good natured but shattered.  He does not want to swim and just wants to play cars with Noah (Ironically, one of them is a tow truck!).  So we all take it easy and Woody falls asleep clutching his toy cars.

Noah and I show a bag of corn chips what for, and generally move in slow motion after a strangely tiring day.  Noah is working his CV for NASA.

So we drove to Santa Fe, didn’t see a thing, and now we are back on Route 66 heading west for more beautiful desert.

We do not have it in us to feel in the slightest bit annoyed about today.  (Which is normal for Noah but it completely takes me by surprise.)  Of course, the up shot of all of this is that we have a new car, and that terrible smell and the errant sausage is no longer our problem.  Ha!

Our budget took a bit of a hit today, $30 over budget, but all things considered, we thinks that's okay.

Not the day we had in mind, but it still feels like good day. 

Good night lovelies.
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