Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Monday March 22nd

Monday morning was the start of the FMCA Rally. After walking to the tent for our free coffee and donuts and morning paper we both attended seminars all morning.  Then in the afternoon we did some more sightseeing. First we drove to Old Town Albuquerque.

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This is the center of Old Town. Founded in 1706 this is the old community built around a church and old buildings. It is now a historic area turned into shopping, dining, galleries and gift shops.

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This is San Felipe De Neri Church. Founded in 1817 it is the oldest church in Albuquerque. It is located in the square of Old Town.

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The inside of the church.

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The streets are lined with shopping areas.

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More of the old buildings that were turned into shopping and dining places.

Sandia Peak Tramway

Sunday afternoon was beautiful with sunny 65 degree weather. We decided it was a good day for doing the tram ride up the mountains. Sandia Peak Tramway is the world’s longest passenger tramway. It was manufactured by Bell Engineering of Switzerland and constructed between 1964-1966 at a cost of 2 million dollars.

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The total horizontal length is 2.7 miles and total vertical rise is 3,819 feet. At the start of the ride the elevation is 6,559 feet and when you arrive at the top the elevation is 10,378 feet. What a wonderful, beautiful ride that lasts about 14 minutes at a speed of  13.6 miles per hour.

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There are two towers like this one that the cables are attached to and the car rides on. The open span between the 2nd tower and the top is one mile, making it one of the longest spans in the world.

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This is the 600 HP DC electric motor and the wheels that make this tram run.

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This is how it looks as the tram leaves the platform and begins it’s ascent.

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As it goes up the view is amazing overlooking Albuquerque.

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The view as you pass over the 1st tower. The tram sways as it goes over the tower and at 7,010 feet it is a little scary.

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After passing over the 2nd tower the terrain changes from desert floor, over rocky canyons and lush forest, to the top. The distance of the ride provides a total of an 11,000 square mile view.

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And then you finally see the platform at the top. This includes 2 restaurants, a gift shop, and a ski area. Many skiers take the tram to the top but on the other side of the mountain is a ski area with many lifts.

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And when you get off---the view is unbelievable!

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The ski lift area on the other side of Sandia Peak.

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The temperature was a little different at the top but the sun was very warm.Sandia Tramway 143

After about an hour of taking pictures and watching the skiers we got back on another tram for our trip back down the mountain.

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We past another tram car on the way to the top as we were going down.

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And then we arrived safely at the bottom.

Sunday March 21st

Since the FMCA Rally didn’t start till Monday we had Sunday to ourselves. We planned church than some sightseeing but our plans were changed. There was a mobile service doing chassis lubes so Harry took them up on the service. That was during the church time. Then we went to the International Balloon Museum---free from 9:00 to 1:00 on a Sunday. 

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Very interesting—I learned that the hot air balloon was invented in 1783 in Paris, France.  The first passengers were a duck, a sheep, and a rooster. It was successful and proved that the balloon could carry weight and that mammals could breath at altitude.

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Were is the pilot?

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Here is a balloon as it would look before it is inflated. The basket is on its side till the air is in the balloon and then as it rises it rights the basket.  

I learned a lot but not sure if I really want to go up in one. By the look on Harry’s face, and knowing that he doesn't like heights, I don’t think he will go up either.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Turquoise Trail—Monday Afternoon

We left Old Town and headed for Tijeras, the starting point of the Turquoise Trail. This historic trail links Albuquerque with Santé Fe. It takes you through old mining towns, historic places, and scenic areas. First we drove to Sandia Crest. This is the other side of Sandia Peak and includes the ski area. The ski lifts were closed but we drove to the top and enjoyed the views.  

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This rocky area looked so fake but it was real. We started to see snow as we went up.

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Lots more snow as we got further up.

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The view at the top.

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It was beautiful up here.                                                     

We drove down and continued on the Turquoise Trail. One of the towns we came to was Madrid. This very old town became famous when the movie “Wild Hogs” was filmed here.

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It doesn't look like much but it was crowded with tourists.

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Maggie’s Diner---built just for the movie.

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Door to the diner advertising “Wild Hogs”.

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I could really picture this as the setting where the “Wild Hogs” were riding into town on their motorcycles.

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The rest of the drive was very scenic at places but we didn’t make stops due to time limits—we started pretty late in the afternoon and wanted to get back before dark. It had been a long day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 20th, Saturday

We arrived in Albuquerque for the FMCA Rally and what a site.  So many RVs coming to one place at the same time and parking them in an organized manner—what a task!

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Here is our camper in our spot.

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Overlooking campers parked with electric.

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We are in the 2nd row and had a very good spot for walking to the tent for morning coffee and evening entertainment.

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This is a view from the field looking up toward the Sandia Mountains. There is still some snow on the peaks. It was a very pretty scene.

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This is the rear of the Balloon Museum as seen from the field where the balloons launch.

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We walked around the Rally site, got our welcome bag and got familiar with what was to come over the next 5 days. Later, Harry took me to Sweet Tomatoes for a birthday dinner.

Getting to Albuquerque

March 19th early morning we left Verde Valley for the FMCA Rally in Albuquerque New Mexico. The weather in Verde Valley was sunny and warm 70 degrees. It was a beautiful drive north through Flagstaff then East. As we went higher in elevation we started to see snow. FMCA Rally 004

We also past Mt. Humphrey—the tallest mountain in Arizona.

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As we again descended in elevation the temperature rose to about 50 degrees. The terrain started to change to flat:

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To rocky:

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To odd shapes and colors:

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And then we crossed the border into New Mexico.

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Another 2 hours and we arrived at our  campground for the night.

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The weather had turned colder again and it got windy. Soon after we set up the sky turned dark and it started to snow and sleet. We were glad we were parked for the night.

Saturday morning it was very cold and cloudy. We only had about 80 miles to drive the rest of the way to Albuquerque. About half way into our drive it started to snow.      

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After about 10 minutes it was snowing so hard it started to lay on the roads. We pasted about 6 or seven cars and trucks that had slid off the road. We just took our time and prayed.      

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Another 15 minutes (it seemed a lot longer) the snow slowed till it finally stopped. The rest of the drive was cloudy but uneventful till we finally arrived at the rally site.

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