Two events in the last week have had me staring at the sky with a silly grin on my face and camera held in my hands. This is what has been going on in the area recently.
Last Sunday we awoke at 4:30 am in order to go with our friends Bill and Clair, out to White Sands National Monument to view the 21st annual Hot Air Balloon Invitational. I have been to several of these types of events, in Greenfield, MA, Binghamton, NY and most recently here in Dona Ana County as discussed here. These have been relatively small events with somewhere between 20 and 30 balloonists present. Well the White Sands event is a bit bigger, with almost 50 balloons scheduled to be there. Another significant difference is the fact that White Sands offers an environment unlike any other. Mrsfabp always comments as we drive into the park that she feels like she is in another, alien world. She also says they need an ocean on the other side of the dunes but this is a different story for another time. If you would like to read a bit more about this wonderful place, go here for details.
We arrived at White Sands just as it was about to start and we were able to park in the launch basin. I have never been quite that close to the action. We were so close that during the testing burns of the balloonists pre launch, you could feel the warmth on the flame on this wonderfully clear, crisp morning. I shot about 100 pictures and put up some of the best here.
You may also have noticed I changed my Facebook profile picture as well as the masthead on this blog with photos from that day.
So, as if this was not enough excitement in the air, and somewhat related to the balloons (White Sands/NASA Testing Facility), the Endeavor Space Shuttle was being moved to its new permanent home in California and as part of its “farewell tour”, was going to land in El Paso and then do a flyover of White Sands, the testing facility and Las Cruces. As you can imagine, this generated quite a bit of excitement here. And, this created a dilemma for me. Some of my best friends were going to a local park to view it and some of my photographer friends were going to shoot it. So I had a choice to make – go with friends or go with photographers. I hate choices like this. I finally decided after flip flopping more than Mitt Romney, that I needed to take pictures and watch others in action doing the same. My friends will be there at Nellie’s on Saturday and through out the year but this flyover happens once and I needed the lessons. I am glad I made this decision as my friends reported they were too far away to get a good view and I was able to snap a few myself.
After a great GCCB* at Day’ in the downtown area, I went home to review what I had taken. As I sat there our neighbor rang our bell and when I answered, she asked if I had seen the Space Shuttle that day. I started to tell her about where we went, when she said “It flew right over your house. I took some pictures. Maybe your friends and family would like to see them.” So here it is.
I traveled 30 miles, worried about not going with my friends and then the damn thing flew right over my house. Sometimes you just can’t win. But it has been a great week for sky gazing anyway!
(*GCCB = Green Chile Cheese Burger, the official state sandwich!)