We started our visit to the fiesta by attending the evening session on a Saturday night. In order to get to the fiesta park we purchased tickets online that included a bus ride into the park from a nearby mall. Our evening included a chance to explore the 78 acre park, listen to some live country music, grab a bite to eat and enjoy a few events. The main events we were able to enjoy included the Twilight Twinkle Glow when at twilight; the burners of dozens of tethered balloons were ignited, illuminating the night with colorfully glowing balloons. Following that we sat back and watched the Laser Light and Afterglow Fireworks shows.
The next morning we headed out early and caught a 4:30am bus back to the fiesta. The events we watched on this day included a Dawn Patrol Show that displayed eight balloons taking off in a celestial predawn dance, illuminating the sky in brilliant colors. Following the Dawn Patrol Show the real activity began as close to six hundred enormous hot air balloons prepared to ascend as the sun began to rise over the mountains behind us. Over the next hour and a half we witnessed the mass ascension of balloons of every shape and color imaginable. The beauty of it all was incredible. On any given day during the festival, up to 100,000 spectators may be on the launch field. There we were provided the rare opportunity to observe the inflation and take off procedures. It was fascinating to be so close.
On our next day, Bruce, Sue, Claudia and I headed in a completely different direction. We started off by taking a drive out to old Rt. 66 to visit a section called the Musical Highway. On this quarter-mile stretch of the highway, the rumble strips have been engineered to sound like the song “America the Beautiful”. You have to be going exactly the speed limit of 45 miles per hour in order to hear the vibrations in action and it does actually work. I know, because we did it three times. Only on route 66!!
Next, the four of us headed over to the New Mexico State Fairgrounds to attend the Chinese Lantern Festival being held there. The festival featured over thirty larger-than-life illuminated displays crafted by Chinese artisans. In addition it featured performances by dancers and acrobats. The festival also included Chinese handicraft on display as well as some Chinese food to enjoy.
On our final full day in Albuquerque we ended up having to take Stella to the vet. She had a couple of hot spots on her paw that needed treatment and it couldn’t wait till Texas. For the rest of the trip back to Edinburg she had to keep her paw bandaged and/or had to wear her cone.
That night, Bruce, Sue, Claudia and I enjoyed a final farewell night out for dinner and drinks to celebrate our ten weeks together and to wish each other safe travels. We had such a great time with them but as we began our return to Edinburg, they began their trip east for the holidays. We knew we’d be meeting up again at Sandpipers in December.
With only five nights left on the road before returning to Sandpiper, we began our trip south to Lubbock, Texas where we spent our first two nights. I wish I could say our trip from Albuquerque was uneventful but as we were heading out on the interstate we witnessed a very scary event. With the glare from the sun shining right on us, I thought I saw a blown truck tire right in front of us until Claudia yelled “it’s moving”. It turned out a motorcycle went down right in front of us and the guy was lying in our lane! It was a good thing we were going slow enough to stop in time. We stopped about 15 feet away from him. I’m not sure he was aware enough to know I was closing in on him. He was definitely going into shock as we watched a person place the 911 call and people began to stop and help him. He was lying in the second lane of a four lane highway during rush hour traffic and his motorcycle was about 200 feet further down the highway in a ditch smoking, with very little left of it. We have no idea how he ended up that way but we’re thinking a car either hit him or cut him off. We stayed there to block traffic until police arrived. He was hurt pretty bad, but we’re hopeful he made it. I told the cop I was glad it was me behind him. Being a large motor coach towing a car I had to go slower to allow for all the nuts who were cutting in and out of traffic right in front of me. This made it easier for me to stop in time. Once the scene was secure, the police stopped traffic to let us get past the accident and be on our way.
We started our only full day in Lubbock with a visit to the center honoring Lubbock’s favorite son, Buddy Holly. There we were able to see some great memorabilia and learn more about his life and the influence he had on the rock ‘n’ roll scene. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed to be taken inside the center but we enjoyed the visit. Our next stop took us to the American Wind Power Center, a museum of windmills and their use for power in Texas. Unfortunately the museum was hosting a function that night so many of the exhibits were unavailable for viewing. Regardless, we were able to see many of the different types of windmills that have been used over the decades. Our final stop of the day was to the Silent Wings Museum, a museum dedicated to the lives of the World War II glider pilots. The museum is located on the site of a World War II Army Air Field where glider pilots were trained between 1942 and 1945 and houses a restored WWII glider as well as many other historical artifacts related to these pilots and their actions.
On the following morning we headed off to our final campground before arriving back at Sandpipers in Edinburg. At this point we were definitely looking forward to getting home but we were still determined to take our time and enjoy our last few days on the road.
When we first arrived in Fredericksburg we were hesitant to commit to our planned three night stay. This was due to the fact that the hot spot on Stella’s paw was looking worse since our vet visit rather than better. After cleaning and redressing it a couple of times however, it appeared that her hot spots were getting better so we were less worried about infection. Unfortunately she was still in discomfort, especially with the bandage and/or cone on all the time. With that worry behind us, we made the decision to stay the full three nights and just keep a close eye on her paw.
We started our first day in Fredericksburg with a brief stroll through the quaint little town. It was a Sunday and after noticing that many of the gift shops were closed on Sundays we decided to take a drive down the road to Luckenbach instead. Luckenbach, Texas (population: 5!) became "famous" when Waylon and Willie sang about it back in the 70's. It’s considered part of Fredericksburg, but is about as far away in attitude from Fredericksburg as you can get. Luckenbach isn’t so much a town as it is a gathering place. It maintains a ghost-town feel with its small population and strong western atmosphere. One of its two main buildings houses the remnants of a post office, a working saloon, and a general store. The other main building is nothing more than an outdoor stage which is known as a popular venue for country music. While we were there we strolled around, enjoyed the atmosphere, had some lunch and heard a little country music.
On our second full and final day in Fredericksburg we returned downtown early for breakfast at the Old German Bakery. It’s obvious from the look and feel of Fredericksburg that this place has a strong German heritage. It was founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. The town is notable as the home of Texas German, a dialect spoken by the first generations of German settlers who initially refused to learn English. Following breakfast we returned to the campground so that Claudia could drop me off. This allowed her to return downtown for some browsing without me having to wait on a bench somewhere. She sure does love to browse the shops. I spent my time catching up on some computer and web site work. When Claudia returned we sat outside and enjoyed our final happy hour of this road trip together. It was a beautiful day and the best way to end this year’s journey.
On Tuesday, 10/17 we arrived at Sandpipers, officially ending our 2017 road trip. Our first few days were busy, and we had a few minor problems, but nothing that stopped us from relaxing and enjoying our time back home. The refrigerator in the mobile home wouldn’t start up. For the very first time ever the car wouldn’t start after being towed all day. And then, when I reconnected the battery cables on the golf cart, that wouldn’t start either. The good news is we were able to get everything transferred from the motor home to the mobile on our first day. We were able to get the car started back up after a brief charge and it’s still starting fine and the refrigerator finally did start up on its own and is now working great. The only remaining problem was the golf cart and that was picked up by a golf cart repair service. In the meantime we have a cart that was loaned to us for as long as we need it. And oh yeah, our satellite TV was reconnected and I now have the NFL Ticket back up and ready for some football! Go Pats!!
So life is very good right now. In a few months we’ll start getting that itch again to return to the road and we’ll begin making plans for next year. In the meantime, it’s back to spending time with our fellow Sandpeeps and enjoying some tennis, water volleyball, playing with the band, Zumba, etc. Yes, life is very good right now.