I made it to Arizona! So far it’s been great!
By now I feel pretty well settled in the cabin. I needed a couple of days to just recuperate from my long road trip. Tired of being cooped up in my car, I wanted to be out in nature. I investigated the area around the cabin, taking walks and lots of photos. It’s so pretty here!
I’m so glad to finally be here, and I’m enjoying the beauty of this area immensely. However, there were a few highlights from my road trip too.
The first chance I had to do some exploring was in Alabama. That day’s drive was only about 7 hours, so I there was enough daylight left for me to check out Pinnacle Mountain State Park. I got there just in time for sunset; a spectacular sight from the scenic overlook.
The park was open an hour after sunset, so I took a quick hike down the trail from the overlook, and was delighted to find a “fairly corral” that someone had made with moss, sticks and pine cones.
Isn’t it the cutest?
I stopped at a rest stop in Texas, near Amarillo. It was perched on the edge of the Palo Duro Canyon which is the second largest canyon in the US. For the first time, I really had the feeling that the environment and vegetation was remarkably different from the east coast.
I had a great time throughout my road trip, but the real jewel of my experience was my stop in New Mexico. I stayed the night in Moriarty, NM and woke up at 3am to drive a half an hour over to Albuquerque to go to the International Balloon Fiesta. Ever since I first heard about this festival when I was little, I’ve wanted to go see it, but I never gave much thought to actually going. By pure accident I stumbled upon an article that mentioned the festival and the fact that it was happening around the time I was planning to drive out to Arizona! I adjusted my schedule, leaving a day early in order to get out there in time to attend the very last session, early Sunday morning.
I was lucky–after a week of iffy weather and some days with high wind, I went to the festival, and the weather was perfect for the launch. Clear skies and very little wind. I arrived at 5am, and waited around until they launched the first balloons in the Dawn Patrol. The first dozen or so balloons launch while it’s still dark. They illuminate the balloons intermittently, and it’s a beautiful sight to see!
Isn’t it cool how they glow?
As the sun rose and the day grew brighter, the rest of the balloons began to take off for the mass ascension. At the peak there were about 600 balloons in the air! Incredible!
The Albuquerque balloon festival is unique in that you can walk around the field as the balloons are taking off. It was awesome to be able to get close to the baskets and watch how the crew began the inflation process, until finally they were ready for lift off.
I was completely giddy the entire time I was there. It was literally a dream come true.
The next day, I did some grocery shopping in Santa Fe, and eventually got on the road to head over to Alpine. Because of the late start, I knew I would arrive in the dark. I was a little nervous about it, but I found the cabin easily. It felt so good to finally not sleep in a hotel!
I’ve been settling in since. I took a quick trip over to Springerville to pick up a few supplies I’d forgotten while near Albuquerque. On the way back, I swung by the White Mountain Wildlife Area. I took a “quick” 1 mile hike, which took me up to the top of the mountain to a point that overlooks the valley. More prettiness!
I actually didn’t realize that the trail would go up so high, but with some huffing and puffing (the altitude is 8,000+ feet, which I’m not quite used to yet!) I made it to the top, and it was so worth it.
More adventures await, and I’ve actually been writing in more detail and sharing lots of photos on a new tumblr I set up for my SW adventure: http://swdirection.tumblr.com/
I hope you’ll check it out, but I will also be posting more general updates here every now and then.