This past weekend was something special. Some of the family went out on the road to take a trip together. My daughter, son-in-law and their two girls joined my wife and I on a trip to visit family in Corrales, NM. Road trips are special in many ways. They get all of you in a very closed in space with nothing but time on your hands. Since this was the first family road trip in a very long time, it brought back memories. We talked about all of the past road trips memories. We laughed (mostly at my expense) about the happenings on those trips. It was pretty cool.
We decided that we would head over during the night. We had to wait for everyone to get off of work… Since we were traveling with two very small children, they could sleep most of the trip. Driving for around 7 hours in the dark is definitely interesting. The most exciting part of that trip was when an elk decided to cross the road. Definitely woke up everyone in the car. We arrived in plenty of time (around 4:30am) to get to the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival! Parked and met up with family inside the event.
The views of watching those hot air balloons getting ready to launch is pretty cool. For most of us, it was our second time. We did have a few first timers… There were over 500 hot air balloons that morning that launched in the mass ascension. The pictures in this post come from our family cameras. Not professionally done, but we like them. Watching my grand daughter’s face when we were in the middle of the field with all of the balloons getting to ascend was pretty special. She was pointing out all of the balloons and commenting on the ones that she liked. Made the trip well worth it.
Or fun times were just beginning. We spent the rest of our trip catching up with the my brother-in-law and his family. Of course, we had to watch NFL football. We were staying with one of the biggest Pittsburgh Steelers families and watched the game in the man cave. We all got to watch the interaction with the cousins… It is funny to watch how they get along for only really being with each other a few times a year. The running around, laughter, sharing and just talking to each other was pretty cool. When in New Mexico, you have to eat green chile… I definitely did! Love the Hatch green chiles.
Our last day came up pretty quickly, not before we got a knock on the door from a hot air balloon pilot asking to launch his balloon in the yard next door. Was very cool to have your own private viewing. The pilot was trying to drop his key on the target to win a car… Shortly after that we set out for the drive back. The drive back seemed longer than the drive out.. Maybe it was the rain that we drove in and out of all the way home. Overall, the trip was awesome. Getting to spend time with family is very important to me. Spending time with the grand kids is something very special and I would not trade those times for nothing…
Image via Wikipedia
This past week, was spring break for my wife from school. She gets 2 weeks off to get ready for the reminder of the school year. Those 2 weeks have been a blessing over the years, we have used them as a way to get out and travel some. Since I am now on a limited retired budget, we did not have any big plans or any trip way out there. So, we did a nice little trip to Las Vegas and then drove over to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Not too far from Arizona, but out and about, just the same.
Las Vegas was way of celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. We usually like to give Las Vegas a couple days during the year. See what has changed and if any of the construction that we saw the last time get finished. Usually we add a show to the mix, but not this time. I surprised my wife with reservations out to dinner on our anniversary. We ate at Alize! We had an awesome time. From the moment that we were greeted downstairs until we left – the staff welcomed us with happy anniversary. The view from the 56th floor of the Palm’s was awesome. When the food came, we were not disappointed. 30th wedding anniversaries do not come around often (maybe less now than ever) and we did it up nice!
After coming home for a day, we set out to drive to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet up with family that lives there. Driving across country for some people a welcome task. For me, I am not so sure about sitting in a car for 8 hours or so, when you can get there within 45 minutes by plane. The drive there took us through Payson, Arizona. We had not driven that route before and it was nice to get a look at spring time in northern Arizona. Our time spent in Albuquerque was to catch up with family! We did that and enjoyed a nice soccer game while there (Myles way to go)! Heading home we went another route down through Tonto National Forest and Globe, Arizona. All in all, we got to see much of the countryside between Arizona and New Mexico. There is not a lot to see, but some of the views are just outstanding.
We got accomplished what we set out to do… Enjoy ourselves, celebrate and have special time with family. Mission accomplished!
Volunteering is a special activity for me. Since I am not working at the moment - I have a bit more time to volunteer. I was lucky enough to volunteer on my wife’s fourth grade class trip to Tonto National Monument. In the past, this all day event was hard for me to attend. Having to work and all. I wish I would have made time for it all along. This is one very special trip. I had a small group of four students that I was responsible for. Making sure that they did not get lost, learn something, followed the school rules and probably most important is having fun on the trip.
From my vantage point, here is what I got out of the day:
- Those students in the fourth grade at Haley Elementary are a pretty special bunch. We had to start out the day ahead of the rest of the school day starting. Loaded up the bus’ and drove 2 hours. For me riding on a bus full of students before 8am – I had thoughts that were overall scary. Well, I am here to say, it was a very well behaved group! The trip was actually a complete opposite of my expectations.
- There was work that needed to be done. Each student had a booklet that helped them to learn much about the desert and the Salado indians. As we walked around on the paths, there were questions that the students needed to answer. My job, was to help if needed. After the first couple of questions, my group was rolling along.
- Hiking up to the Cliff Dwellings was an adventure for all. It was some good exercise for me, I think my group of students they had little difficulty making it up the slope. We talked about what we saw, what it may have been like living back then and just about the jumping cactus. Those jumping cactus got more attention then truly necessary. Fear of the cactus.. Which probably is a good thing.
- Once at the dwelling, the ranger explain everything they needed to know about the rules around the dwelling and the history. He pointed out that the lake that we see today, was actually just a little river back when the Salado indians used the dwelling. So, think about hiking up and down for water. The students had time to fill out their booklets doing measurements in the dwelling and trying to figure out how many could sleep in each room. Some moments were spent drawing what they saw from up at the dwelling (art time).
- We walked back down, insuring that we answered all of the questions that we needed to get. Next up was lunch.. We all sat together and talked about what we saw and then I listened to them just talk about anything and everything fourth graders talk about.
- There was more work to be done. Reflection time on their overall day in the form of writing an essay. Almost like me know, writing my blog post. Lastly, we watched a video on Tonto and then loaded back up for the trip back to the school. Bus ride like the ride up was all good!
I have to say, I truly enjoyed this trip. I will make sure that I plan on this one – every year that I can. Tonto National Monument is definitely a sight to see. Going up there with some young minds – made it that much more special. My group was awesome! They followed the rules without me having to do anything. They did their work! The said, “this is their best field trip, ever!” I think they had fun… I know, I had fun!
Last year was the first year that my wife and I made a trip during her fall break session. We had a blast – if you had not read it before – here it is. For this years trip, we decided to go where the weather was a bit warmer – Miami with a short cruise in the Bahamas. Main purpose is using the time to step back and relax, read and reflect.
We started off with a couple of days in the South Beach area of Miami. Nice way to start off – on the beach! South Beach is an experience in and of itself. For me the people watcher, I had a ball. We did take some time to wonder around the shopping experience of South Beach. It was a Sunday and the streets were packed with shoppers, vendors and the locals. We had a mission on this trip to stop and enjoy lunch at Van Dyke Cafe. The food did not disappoint! After some more shopping and taking in the sites – back to the beach for the sunset! Watching the sun go down over the ocean is probably one of the best views in the world.
Monday rolled up pretty quick and we were off to the next leg of the adventure, four day cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas. We have found that cruising is definitely a lot of fun – done it more than 10 times. Nothing like unpacking once, not worrying about where and when the next meal is and just enjoying time relaxing. The itenary for this short cruise was Key West, Fl; Nassau, Bahama’s and Cococay, Bahamas. Last week’s weather scare of a hurricane in the area did not stop us from having a good time. We did encounter some rain in Key West and Nassau but not enough to stop us Arizona folks from having fun! Cococay is a private island that Royal Caribbean leases. It is set up for all of the usual island fun – relaxing in the sun, swimming with nature in the ocean, water sports a plenty and a great BBQ. The weather was sunny and we had a blast.
I was able to finish Linchpins by Seth Godin, which I will publish my book review on shortly. I was able to get plenty of relaxation time and think about my next chapter in my life coming up soon. For those that don’t remember or don’t know – I am retiring on 1/3/2011. I will be moving onto whatever is out there for me…
It is amazing, no matter where you are and what you are doing – stuff has to come to an end. Well, this trip is really close to finishing up. We packed up our clothes (laundry now) and out gifts for families and friends. Each item we packed, brought back some memories of our time in each city. Morning broke and we had to finally leave the cruise ship and off to the train to London. Everything went extremely well – all the way into London. We took a cab to the hotel (again, lessons learned and applied). Room was not ready, so we dropped off the bags and went out to get show tickets for our last evening in London. The weather was hot again (well, warm and humid)! Our air conditioner experience in the hotel and theater – were less than cool. Either way, we were going to have fun!
Once back to the hotel, we started to gear up for our trip back home. Back to family and friends.. We had a very early morning wake up call as our flight was out at mid morning. Which was late leaving.. Late landing in North Carolina.. Good thing was the flight to Phoenix was late leaving North Carolina. We landed only 30 minutes late total! All good.. We were greeted at the gate by all of our family (daughter, son, son-in-law, son’s girlfriend and of course, grand daughter!). That was a great surprise for us… We really were tired, but see them – put prep in my step.
We finally made it to our house, our dogs and our beds… Trip done.. Loved it. Now to get back into the swing of things.