Monthly Archives: October 2014

20141025 – Taos Balloon Festival & Mountains


Saturday – hot and sunny.


Always a parade. Any excuse. Just love it.

Always a parade. Any excuse. Just love it.

Drive up to Taos for a 2 day road trip to see the balloon festival and visit the mountains up there. Ski resorts but alas no snow yet.

Take the supposedly low road to Taos. My it’s pretty, as we drive alongside the Rio Grande with the trees all flaunting their Autumn Gold foliage.

As always there’s a parade. This time it’s a balloon festival parade. A tad basic but everyone enjoys it and the kids get buckets full of sweets.

Have a wander around the Taos Plaza and a coffee. A pretty town but dirt poor looking.

Out for dinner to a good Mexican restaurant. Good food, hot and spicy.

Taos plaza.

Taos plaza.

Then we’re off to the Balloomenshow. Where all the balloons are parked and lit up by there propane burners. Do a range of different lighting effects from all on, to twinkles to waves. Pictures tell the story.

Usual hotel chain looks like the local doss house, so we decided to move up market a tad and stay at a Hamilton Inn. Spare no expense, it’s only frittering away the kids inheritance.

Early evening Balloomenshow.

Early evening Balloomenshow.

We’re watching TV in bed, yes crap American TV with their 58th repeat of “Keeping Up Appearances”, when all of a sudden the headboard starts shaking, like a dog passing hammer handles. My god it’s an earthquake! But no the grounds not shaking, nor are the walls or anything else in the room, just the headboard. Hang on sounds of “enjoyment” from next door. The headboards in this desert gin place somehow linked, like photon entanglement me thinks.

Never mind first thing in the morning I’ll have a word with our neighbours. Should be easy enough to identify her, she’ll no doubt have bruises and splinters on top of her head and probably be walking bow legged.

In future no doubt we’ll get noise cancelling headphones handed out on arrival and have to whisper in the room for fear of being overheard.


Sunday – warm and sunny.


Balloomenshow in Taos.

Balloomenshow in Taos.

Up at the crack of sparrows, 06:30, for an early breakfast and then off to the mass ascension. Not a religious festival thank Chione, but 30 – 50 balloons ascending heavenwards. A lot of people there and a lot of inactivity from the balloon crews. Turns out the winds in the wrong direction and they can’t fly from there as they’ll go straight into the mountains. Is there a plan B, I ask well some of them may drive South and set off from various locations and some may stay here and just inflate their gallons. Chaos. No plan B. Apparently it’s up to the individual crews. It’s 3P’s if you ask me – Piss Poor Planning. You can’t control the weather but you would have thought they would have a plan B ascension site and rules of entry were such that if you can’t take off from Plan A site then you go to plan B site. But no it’s just chaos.

DSC06739Manage to find 5 balloons in one area taking off. Very disappointing.

Then we’re off to Taos Pueblo. A World Heritage site of Pueblo Indian houses dating back over a 1,000 years. Interesting guided tour and then wander around. By the very nature of the place it’s dirt poor. Dust everywhere. Only about 3 families live in the Pueblo itself, with no electricity just propane for heat and light. Can you imagine that Wendy no East Enders. Worse still no Internet. I wonder why youngsters are drifting away?

It’s a typical American Indian place; scrawny dogs a wandering everywhere; plenty of rubbish tips; the American equivalent of a gypsy encampment. The one difference from past reservations is that this place is on some lovely land rather than scrub desert that no even a rattlesnake would want to live in.

A late lunch back in the Taos Plaza and then get the delight of exploring all the shops we missed yesterday.

Best of some bad planning. Where's the other 28?

Best of some bad planning. Where’s the other 28?

Subway for dinner, how good is that, along with a bottle of Pinot Noir and 3 Homelands on TV in a row. Now we’re ahead of the UK. Anyone want to know what happens, email me.


Monday – warm and sunny.


Taos Pueblo. Certainly not high on anyones desirable properties list and no entries in "Home & Garden".

Taos Pueblo. Certainly not high on anyones desirable properties list and no entries in “Home & Garden”.

Leave hotel to do the Enchanted Circle drive, supposedly a scenic highway, or as Wendy called it the boring circle. Yes a couple of nice bits through the mountains, but we’re a bit over faced with mountains these days, so are not easily impressed. Most of it through scrub land. Have a side trip up to Taos ski area. No way I could give that a miss. Well it may be one of the few resorts in Western USA that I’ve not skied but I certainly won’t be suffering 3 airports to come to it.

Then take another scenic highway, “The High Road to Taos” back down to Sante Fe. Now this is more like it. Both Low and High roads are impressive.

Ultimate in 10th century self clean ovens.

Ultimate in 10th century self clean ovens.

Stop at a Starbucks by way of a change. Get my free shots after having to prove to all and sundry, including the so called manager, that gold members are entitled to free shots. Just goes to show how dilatory they are. My UK Starbuck app gives me free shots or free syrups. That’s what it says so thats what I thrust under their noses. In the USA a gold member gets free coffee top ups. I get the best of both Worlds, when I want extra shots or syrup I show the UK app to them, if I want extra coffee then I just ask for a top up as a gold member. Worldwide Company with parochial think, serves the greedy gnomes in their marketing department right.

Get back around 18:00 after 8 hours driving.

More Taos Pueblo - North side. Is this where the wealthy live?

More Taos Pueblo – North side. Is this where the wealthy live?

Another day, another school shooting. 5 shot this time, including the shooter. When will they ever learn. Flying Spaghetti Monster bless the 2nd. Flying Spaghetti Monster bless the NRA. it’s just bat shit crazy.


Tuesday – hot and sunny.


Lazy start to the day then a 15 mile bike ride down Tramway to a Starbucks and back. While Wendy gets her weekly supermarket fix.

Wendy in Taos at the end of our second shopping minder.

Wendy in Taos at the end of our second shopping minder.

After lunch we’re off down to Lids to buy Kurt a baseball cap he wants – kids. What a crap Company. Not got it, but you can order it will take up to 14 working days – they could make to order in outer Mongolia quicker than that. Or for ONLY an extra $5 we can have it express shipped, only 5 working days – do they still use mule trains for shipping in this country. I can feel an Amazon moment coming on with a swift exit left, Wendy’s a tad more patient.

Charming little creature spotted by Wendy. Would make a good meal toasted.

Charming little creature spotted by Wendy. Would make a good meal toasted.

Then browse around the Apple store and view the new iPad Air 2. So thin and light and fast.

Finally end up at Wholefoods for some nice salads and foods for tea. Very disappointing, this place really seems to vary day by day as to choice.

This is about as close as I'll ever come to skiing here.

This is about as close as I’ll ever come to skiing here.


Wednesday – hot and sunny in ABQ but up on Sandia Crest, 10,500 feet it’s just 48F.


Wendy at the top of Sandia Peak.

Wendy at the top of Sandia Peak.

Very lazy and frustrating morning as I sort out iPad / iPhone upgrades to iOS8, add VPN’s and upgrade Macbook to Yosemite. By the end of the morning I need a new keyboard as the keys to my password are worn down to the metal and I’m desperately in need of some alcohol. Apple seem to be catching the Microsoft virus with too many upgrade / password / technical steps.

After lunch we drive up to Sandia Crest for a Short stroll up Sandia Crest to Sandia Peak and tramway station. Coffee at High Finance

Sandia Peak tramway. Being tight we drove up and walked across Sandia Crest.

Sandia Peak tramway. Being tight we drove up and walked across Sandia Crest.

restaurant and then back. Awesomely frightening views over Albuquerque and New Mexico from 10,500 feet. I break out in a cold sweat just looking over the edge. Altitude really gets to you and makes even a short stroll quite an aerobic workout. Well worth the effort though.

Apple such an environmentally conscientious company doesn't worry too much about this eyesore on a mountain top. Sadly, nor does this nerd.

Apple such an environmentally conscientious company doesn’t worry too much about this eyesore on a mountain top. Sadly, nor does this nerd.

Call in for some gas (petrol), think it’s cheaper than some of the bottled waters, at under $3 a gallon. Anyway go to pump tyres up to placate yellow tyre warning light, how neat is that. $1 to pump your tyres. It says there’s a gauge on the end of the airline. They lie. No gauge. Apparently here in the land of plenty you have to provide your own. Care to guess why? Well it’s certainly not in an attempt at good customer service. No, my theory is they’re frightened of being sued.

At times you do get the feeling you’re in a 3rd World country.

20141020 – Albuquerque


Monday – hot and sunny.


Afternoon tea on the balcony.

Afternoon tea on the balcony.

Well our body clocks seem to be shifting now as we don’t wake up until around 07:00.

Serious rain forecast for this afternoon so it’s a local bike ride for me this morning. Sadly get a puncture as tyre seems to develop an hernia and spills its guts out, so have a long walk back.

In the afternoon, much to Wendy’s delight we go to the “national Museum of Nuclear Science and History”. A collection of harbingers of death and destruction outside with planes and missiles, all capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Inside there’s artefacts to do with all things nuclear, from the Los Alamos Project; dropping the bomb on Japan; Nuclear reactors; nuclear medicine. Then there’s a limited array of scientific exhibits. Not that impressive really and one of the least imaginative science museums we’ve visited. Took Wendy about 15 minute to go round, I managed an hour. I think she was as bored as a nit on a bald head.

Fat Man atomic bomb replica used on Japan.

Fat Man atomic bomb replica used on Japan.

Meanwhile the storms really kicked in. As they say “It’s a luvly shade o’ black o’er t’mother-in-laws” and the heavens open up. Bizarre but most locals like the rain it quite rare. Come and live in Belthorn for a few months that would soon cure them.

Pass Costco on the way back so who can resist a visit, it would be a sin not to. Not got our cards but they’re very obliging and issue us a temporary pass.

Back home for afternoon tea and some work. Manage to get in a couple of hours consulting and SQL’ing in Glasgow, ain’t technology marvellous.

Oh I forgot to mention the highlight of our 9 hour flight. Joy. We’re sat in front of 6 Afro Caribbean women who must have won a UK gob factor competition, and probably heading for the Miss Gobby World contest. Loud, I’m surprised the pilot didn’t come and complain; normal head phones were a waste; I doubt even noise cancellors would drown them out. Incessant. 8 hours of non stop mindless drivel. More rattle than a treacle tin full o marbles. I’m sure the 6 of them didn’t even have a combined IQ that tops a 100. On landing they all burst out clapping and then thanked the Lord for delivering them safely.

Now thats what I call a toothpick and it can deliver an atomic bomb too.

Now thats what I call a toothpick and it can deliver an atomic bomb too.

Meanwhile some more highlights from the late George Carlin:

Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.

Let me get a sip of water here…you figure this stuff is safe to drink? Actually, I don’t care, I drink it anyway. You know why? Because I’m an American and I expect a little cancer in my food and water. I’m a loyal American and I’m not happy unless I let government and industry poison me a little bit every day.

Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.

Religion is nothing but mind control. Religion is just trying to control your mind, control your thoughts, so they’re gonna tell you some things you shouldn’t say because they’re…sins. And besides telling you things you shouldn’t say, religion is gonna suggest some things that you ought to be saying; “Here’s something you ought to say first thing when you wake up in the morning; here’s something you ought to say just before you go to sleep at night; here’s something we always say on the third Wednesday in April after the first full moon in spring at 4 o’clock when the bells ring.” Religion is always suggesting things you ought to be saying.

Ready for a stroll in bear country.  Dam me, so I can't feed them some Black Forest gateaux!

Ready for a stroll in bear country. Dam me, so I can’t feed them some Black Forest gateaux!

One thing I’d always been led to believe, don’t know where from, was that America warned the Japanese government to surrender before dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. Apparently that’s not quite the case according to one of the exhibits in the museum. Prior to dropping the bomb an Interim committee was set up and one of it’s recommendations was not to give warning.

It would seem that the Potsdam agreement did warn of “the inevitable and complete destruction…….”, but no mention was made of a new atomic bomb weapon. There’s also some controversy about whether leaflets were dropped warning the civilian population, but these may have been after the first bomb on Hiroshima.

Not quite as Lilly white and humane as it has been portrayed.


Tuesday – hot and sunny.


Stroll in the hill behind our home exchange.

Stroll in the hill behind our home exchange.

Trip down to Up Town. Lovely high class shopping area. What a surpass the first place we come across is an Apple Store, what a coincidence. Followed by a Starbucks. Then sadly it’s across the road to a big shopping Mall – I abandon hope. Time to be heading home me thinks.

A retail therapy day. With some consultancy work late afternoon.

More from George:

I have certain rules I live by. My first rule: I don’t believe anything the government tells me. […] I look at war a little bit differently. To me, war is a lot of prick-waving! OK? Simple thing. That’s all it is. War is a whole lot of men standing out on a field waving their pricks at one another. Men are insecure about the size of their dicks, and so they have to kill one another over the idea. That’s what all that asshole jock bullshit is all about. That’s what all that adolescent, macho, male posturing and strutting in bars and locker rooms is all about. It’s called “dick fear!” Men are terrified that their pricks are inadequate and so they have to compete with one another, to feel better about themselves, and since war is the ultimate competition, basically, men are killing each other in order to improve their self-esteem! You don’t have to be a historian or a political scientist to see the bigger-dick foreign policy at work. It sounds like this: “What, they have bigger dicks? Bomb them!” And of course, the bombs and the rockets and the bullets are all shaped like dicks. It’s a subconscious need to project the penis into other people’s affairs. It’s called “fucking with people!”

Local hills.

Local hills.

If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.

What is it with all these big stores. Not a sign anywhere. I wonder why? A more cynical person might think the Mandarins in the Marketing department have done it on purpose to force you to explore the store.


Wednesday – hot and sunny.


Possibility of rain so we decide to go down to Downtown. Have a drive around. Not inspiring. Guess we won’t be going back again.

Wow. At last.

Wow. At last.

On the way back Wendy remembers that there’s Wholefood stores – must think I’m made of money. It just so happens to be around the corner from her memory moment. Wow, they’re using Apple Pay. How neat is that. I’m orgasmic. Mind you at Wholefoods you need something like Apple Pay or a wheel barrow full of dollars. After years of waiting, NFC payment finally comes to fruition on the iPhone along with the security of finger print recognition. Awesome. Goodbye cash. Goodbye 14 different credit cards. Goodbye cheques and the long queues they invoke.

After a lazy lunch we go for a stroll around the hills behind our home. It’s bear country. Thankfully there’s a sign warning us and telling us not to feed them. Thank Chione for that, I’m sure if I hadn’t read that I’d have been trying to hand feed one with some Black Forest Gateaux. It does make you worry about Americans bureaucracy view on the average intelligence of Americans!

Adopt a dog store in the main shopping mall. Neat.

Adopt a dog store in the main shopping mall. Neat.

Book cars and hotels for Taos and Big Bend. What is it with American call centres. When you read something out for them and pause for confirmation, they just remain silent. 1234, pause, silence for ten minutes. No feedback.

Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?


Thursday – hot and sunny.


Today it's Mountain Lion country. No warning on feeding so I suppose it's ok.

Today it’s Mountain Lion country. No warning on feeding so I suppose it’s ok.

Yesterday was bear country, today we’re at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Reserve. An 80 mile drive South. Yes, it’s birdwatching and in Mountain Lion country. One spotted yesterday but we had no such luck today. Mind you we were rewarded with sittings of a Bald Eagle, several Northern Harriers, Sandhill cranes and Black Phoebe. But alas no road runner. Gawking through binoculars at unidentified flying objects is definitely an age thing.

A lovely wildlife area. Free entry with our annual National Park pass. A long way but worth it.

That's a Bald Eagle. Perhaps it's a plastic one.

That’s a Bald Eagle. Perhaps it’s a plastic one.

Call in at the small town of Socorro for a coffee and a shifty around. Well someone said it was a poor area. The majority of the main town seems to be taken up with court house and justice system.

On the way back we call in Wholefoods for our tea. They do some awesome foods. I have a made to measure burrito, just like Subway for Burritos. Awesome with double helping of Halepenos. And it just so happens I’ve managed to set myself up on Apple Pay so can pay for it all with my iPhone.

You’ll no doubt be pleased to know that Wendy’s trip to the Nuclear Museum wasn’t a complete waste of time and money. No today she revealed that Brazil nuts and Red Bricks have a high level of radioactivity – now that’s really useful.

Definition of Politically Incorrect:

Saying whatever you god-damn wanna say, and expressing your opinions, and not giving a shit if a spineless minority deems it “offensive.

Pissing people off by telling the truth

Saying what you mean, and meaning what you say.

Just caught his lunch and off to scoff it.

Just caught his lunch and off to scoff it.

Has anyone noticed the power of “you” when uttered from the female mouth. Every time there’s some issue. Wendy’s retort always seems to include the accusitorial word “you”, with ah but “you said”, “you did”, “you….”. It always seems to come down to me.


Friday – hot and sunny.


Set off for a bike ride down Tramway to the Sandia Tramway station and back.

Amazing isn’t it there’s an awesome cycle path, really lovely yet you still get cyclists on the main road.

Well that 22 mile ride has blown the cobwebs out. Calories burnt = 3 bottles of wine or 18 bottles of beer. It’s going to be a good night.

Menage a trois. Couldn't quite capture them in a row.

Menage a trois. Couldn’t quite capture them in a row.

After lunch we have a stroll, in the sunshine, down to the local supermarket and back. No pavement, so you have to walk down the road, definitely un-American. Mind you everyone waves as they pass in their cars. Probably either feel sorry for us as poor typos or are about to phone the police to report some vagrants. No one walks here. A good hours walk with a stop off for a Starbucks at Wendy’s insistence.

Very majestic.

Very majestic.

Just love George Carlin and came across this somewhat dated Youtube.

What is it with tattoos. Flowers, pictures, animals and especially naked ladies I can understand. But these silly wenches who have a chapter from a book tattooed on them I fail to comprehend. Are they so bad at sex that they need to provide their partners with something to read to a relive the boredom.
Socorro court house.

Socorro court house.

One of the many benefits of our home exchange is that we have on call private security guards in case of a problem. Just call and they come running all tooled up. Hmmm.., tooled up minimum wage security guards sounds like a NRA nightmare scenario from Dante’s Inferno. But on the plus side they are trained in first aid, so if they accidentally shoot you there’s a slim chance they can resuscitate you.