Here are the rest of them…
The city of Albuquerque hosts a hot air balloon festival every year in October. Balloonists from all over the world bring their equipment and set off from a field every morning for a full week. The best part: you can walk around among them right on the field as they prepare and lift off.
There’s something both ridiculous and amazing about watching six hundred pilots simultaneously fill up their contraptions and take to the sky in droves.
Most of the pilots launch right at dawn, but there is a small set that go up earlier to test the winds and make sure it’s safe enough for everyone else. I woke up at 4am to get to the field on time to photograph them as they set up and launched. I even bought a new lens specifically for the occasion, a Canon 10-22mm ultrawide, and used the tripod Annie gave me before I left. Be sure to click on each of the crops to view the full images. I’ll post the daylight images later, but for now enjoy the early bird set.
Let’s see, what’s happened this week of note?
I have internet. Finally. Problems with the way the cable was originally run meant that the tech wasn’t even able to pull the raw cable out of wherever it was stapled to the inside of the wall. (Normally, when houses are built by intelligent species, about a foot of coax cable is looped inside the junction box We destroyed the junction box and a good chunk of drywall trying to get enough slack to splice in a connector. Why the hell didn’t they just put the connector in when they built the house? Not my problem, though, since it’s still under warranty and someone will fix it.
I bought a table from a church thrift store in the war zone (which the locals were more than happy to help me move into my garage) and a nice office chair to go with it. My computer is finally put together, and the whole setup is chucked next to the wall closest to the cable jack. It works. Don’t knock it.
Went on a hike today, on the La Luz Trail. Google it. I’ll wait.
So yeah, the trailhead starts at 7000 feet (2150 m). From there, it goes up. And up. And up. Six miles later it’s at 10,000 feet, and then clings to a cliff face for another two miles before stopping at the top of the world’s longest tramway. It’s one of the tougher hikes in the area, and originally our group of four had planned on a shorter hike. But for some reason we went on this hellraiser instead. I think they call it “La Luz” because it’s like the light you supposedly see at the end of a tunnel right before you die from exhaustion. But the views from up top are certainly beautiful.
My camera is still in storage, so no photos for you yet. Give it a few more weeks.
Second day on the job. Still no computer access, so I’m resorting to coffee shops to update. Going back to Winning was out of the question, since they kicked everyone out promptly at 10pm… right after I had posted that I found somewhere to use the net. The stingy bastards even shut down the wireless point five minutes before closing.
Right now I’m sitting in Satellite Coffee by the university. Not as bad as I’d originally thought. Before that I parked on a nearby street and asked the owner of a small bookshop whether they checked the meters after 6. She replied that no, they didn’t, and on a whim I went inside. “The Book Case,” as it’s called, is one of those beautifully, chaotically cramped used bookstores which is impossible to navigate while carrying a backpack or other bag, which I suppose is one way to cut down on incidental theft. I think the name may be based on “basket case” or “nut case”. It’s fantastic.
Then went to a cute little place called “Frontier Restaurant.” Apparently a staple of local college students, it serves anything from green chile burritos to cheeseburgers cafeteria style.
Still looking for furniture for my new place. I did get a very nice bed set at a consignment store; the seller told me it was “mission style.” I told her I wasn’t interested in the Kama Sutra, but that I’d buy the furniture anyway. There were some other interesting pieces at some other shops, but most are quite a bit more expensive than I’d expected. Even a basic sofa and loveseat set is over a thousand bucks. Looks like I’ll be blowing my first few paychecks on getting this place furnished. But I did find an artisan carpenter who makes some fantastic handcrafted wood furniture. The guy really knows what he’s doing, and some of his stuff is actually cheaper than the mass-produced crap in all the stores. Problem is that it takes him several weeks to make things. There are a few things in his warehouse, but since they’re made to order I’d have to buy an existing style of table or chair if I want anything now.
I’m finally getting my coffee fix and my internet fix after having arrived at my new place on Saturday afternoon. Starbucks failed when they closed at 8pm. Then en route to Borders I get there just as their cafe is shutting down at 9. The place I’m in, Winning Cafe, isn’t even usually open past 5 during the summer, but since there’s live music they’re open. Right now I hear drums, a keyboard, a guitar, a trumpet, a bassoon, and chanting. Perhaps I should put the word music in quotation marks. It’s more like atmospheric rock jazz instrumental native alien fusion. Must be from Roswell.
Seeing as how Comcast still sucks quite hard, they won’t even be around to think about looking at whether or not I can even GET cable at my place until the end of this week. I’ll likely be incommunicado for at least two weeks. Almost everything is still in plastic totes stacked in my living room. I bought a bed/endtable/dresser set, which should arrive tomorrow so that I don’t have to sleep on the mattresses on the floor. But I have no other furniture. No couch, no table, no chairs. No computer desk. No real office at work. No clue what I’m doing yet. But at least I have found a good cup of coffee.
These were all taken last Friday, which was the last day of the butterfly exhibit at the local botanical gardens.
If you can identify any of these species, please do so. Unfortunately, there are about 175,000 known species of butterflies and moths, so if you have a field guide you might be looking for a while.
Someone had set their blue jacket down, and this guy landed on it. Because the upper part of its wings are bright blue, these butterflies are attracted to bright blue objects (it’s a mating adaptation). I first thought this was a Ulysses, but the underside wing markings don’t match. Update: This is a Morpho peleides. Thanks Heather!
Quite a few of the butterflies had tattered wings, showing just how fragile they really are. I was told this is a Postman butterfly, named because in the wild it travels the same route between flowers every day.
Probably Heliconius erato but might be Heliconius melpomene