John and Sandy's RV Adventure Journal

March 2007 Journal

March         31  Today we got ready to leave.  We cleaned the inside of the cow and got things packed up.  We headed out at 430pm to Saguaro NP for sundown by the full moon.  We got back around 8pm.
30 
Today was our last Ballooning Crew Day.  The balloon got off with no problems.  The wind was blowing south-southeast.  We chased the balloon and it went different directions at different altitudes.  Finally Pat was landing.  It ended up we had to go over a fence and into someone’s backyard.  Later in the afternoon we went for a hike at Saguaro NP.  John did the Hugh’s Norris Trail.  It was along the ridge.  I did around 2 miles and John did about 5 miles.          28  We went decided to go hiking at Sabino Canyon.  We started our hike about 4pm and hiked until around 6pm.  We saw some small critters, rabbits, kangaroo squirrels, lots of birds.  We stopped at BJ’s Brewery for dinner.
        27   We got up for ballooning this morning.  It wasn’t to cool and there was a slight wind.  However, the upper winds were strong.  We got to the launch site and there were 6 passengers.  We unpacked the basket and envelope.  Then it was decided we weren’t flying.  The winds were just to strong.  So we packed everything back up and came back to the cow.  John cleaned the outside of the cow.  It got very windy today.          26   Today we went for a nice 5 mile hike along the Roadrunner Trail in Saguaro NP.  When we got back we went to the pool for a while, then had a nice dinner and relaxed.         25   This morning is another ballooning day.  We arrived at the launch site around 6am.  There was only one balloon going and 4 passengers.  There was very little wind, so the launch was easy.  Pat actually landed about 50 feet from where we launched.  The landing was perfect.  After the balloon and basket was packed up, we had coffee, champagne and snacks with the passengers.  We were back at the campground by around 9am.  The rest of the day was easy.  A little shopping, a little sun and relaxing.
24   
This morning we relaxed and worked on reserving  a campground for May near Zion NP in Utah.  We headed out about 11am over to Saguaro NP.  Were hoping the desert will be in bloom after all the rain we’ve had the last two days.  John wanted to go over the top, so I dropped him off at the Esparnasa Trail.  I hiked in for about .7 miles and then returned to the truck.  We kept in touch with walkie talkies.  I stopped at the visitors center to pick up another map and then went around the mountain to the Gould Mine Trail.             John was on his way down and we met up at the intersection of the trails.  We continued on the Kings Canyon Trail.  We stopped at Mam-go rest area for a snack of granola bars and apple.  Then we continued on down the trail.  I ended up hiking about 4 miles today and John did about 6 miles.             On the way back to the campground we stopped for a late lunch at Benny’s Café.  We came back and worked on photos.  Then at 7pm the campground was hosting an End of Season Party with music and snacks.         23    It’s overcast and going to rain again.  I had a slight case of stomach flu so we just took it easy.  We researched campgrounds in Utah for the upcoming summer season.            22    Today we are having some much needed rain.  We headed out to go hiking but when we got to the park the storms were just coming in.  So instead of hiking we sat in the truck and watched a Thunder and Lighting storm over the desert.  Then we came back to the camp and researched campgrounds in Vegas and ended up changing our reservation for April.         21    Today we got up and worked on the computers.  John also washed the truck.  Then we headed out to the Sox/Giants game at Tucson Electric Park.  The Sox’s were behind 8-3 in the 8th.  They got 1 run, then loaded the bases and got a grand slam to tie it.  In the bottom of the 9th they put it away.  Sox Win!!         20   We did take about a 2 mile walk along the bike trail.  We saw roadrunners, jackrabbits, ducks and a variety of birds.  Then we went to the pool.         18        Today we got Patti and Jeff up early and headed out for ballooning.  It was the last day of the St Patty’s Day Balloon Fest.  We got to the launch site and it was a little windy more than it’s been.  We were crewing again for Doug and Patti.  Our Patti was in charge of photos this morning and Jeff helped out with the balloons.  There were about 30 balloons again but 10 did not go up due to the winds.
We had some trouble the first time we went to inflate,  but then we were able to get it inflated.  We chased it for quite a while and when he was landing it was fast.  We had to run through the field and try to stop it.  The basket with passengers and pilot was drug for about 100 feet before we able to stop it on it’s side.  The ground was very soft so we had to empty the basket and carry everything to the road.        When we got back, Rick was still it a fenced field.  So John went with Patti and Doug and some others to help get him out.  The band was playing and breakfast of eggs, potatoes and tortillas was being served up.  We stayed until around noon.  The RV’s are moving out and soon it will be just a field with footprints in the sand again.  Then we came back went to the pool , relaxed and had some cocktails.
        17      We got to the launch site at 6am this morning.  Now, it was loaded with RV’s, trucks and about 300 people.  We went with Patti and Doug over to the farmers and got a balloon ready.  The launch went fine.  There were about 30 balloons launched today including a Cactus and the Witch.  We chased to meet the balloon and packed it up and everything went very smooth.  When we got back, there was a balloon stuck in a fenced field.  So 10 of us had to go out and get it.  That was a job.  We had to go over 2 bob wire fences and carry everything back to the road which was a couple blocks.  The balloon (called the envelope) weighs about 300 pounds.  The basket weighs about 200 pounds once the propane tanks and burners are removed.
While we were retrieving the balloon there was a band setting up and the regulars had made all sorts of food and drinks with a St. Patty’s Day theme.  Prizes were going to be awarded for the best tailgate, best drink, best Irish costume, closest to X marks the spot.  This reminded us of a Jimmy Buffett Concert Tailgate Party.  Only this went on for 4 days.  There was another newbie induction ceremony.  Also all the pilots participated in a butt dart contest.  We thought we were nuts, now we know were not the only ones.  The band played until about 1pm.
Then we came back, went to the pool and relaxed for a while.  The temperature today is 103 at 230pm.  Patti and Jeff are coming down tonight.  We where going to go to the Founders Day Fest, but it ended at 6pm.  So we walked down to the pizza joint and had a sandwich and then went to the Tumbleweed for a few cocktails.  We all walked back and went to bed.         16    Today we got up again to crew.  We knew there were going to be about 10 balloons again.  We crewed with Patti and Doug.  They invited us to fly.  The basket they had holds 6 passengers and the pilot.  Our pilot today was Rick.  We had John and I, Patti (Doug’s wife), Lisa (Rick’s wife), and Marcia.  Ed her husband stayed behind.  We had a great time.  There was a crop duster that was flying below us.  We tried to hit the target X with a marker.  We did pretty good.  After we landed and packed up we went back to the launch site and there was Champagne and all sorts of snacks.
We were told we had to go through the newbie’s crew induction.  We were now officially Balloonitics.  There were about 10 crew that had their first flight today.  We were told we had to line up and get on our knees with a glass of Champagne on the ground in front of us.  We were given an explanation of the history of how ballooning got started and how the tradition of having Champagne after a flight got started.  Then the Balloonists Prayer was recited: The Balloonist Prayer is:

The winds have welcomed you with softness.  The sun has blessed you with it’s warm hands.     You have flown so high and so well that God has joined you in your laughter and set you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

After the prayer we had to drink our Champagne without touching the glass.  So we had to bend over and pick it up with our teeth.  When we sat up to drink it, our pilot Rick was right there spraying us with a bottle of Champagne.  We were drenched.

We stayed around for a few hours and as it got warmer we got sticker and sticker.  When we left, we came back, took a shower, went to the pool and relaxed for a couple hours.  We headed back there around 430pm.  The band was going to play from 5-9pm.  They were serving up a St. Patty’s Day meal of Corned Beef and Cabbage.  A small city was starting to form.  We can’t party to long because we have to get up early and start again.

        15   We got up to crew.  This was the start of Bobbie and Pats St. Patty’s Day Party.  This party runs 4 days with live bands every day starting tomorrow.  March 17th is Pats birthday and Pat and Bobbies Anniversary.  They were planning on about 10 balloons today.  We couldn’t imagine how you could do 10 when it seemed so involved for 1.  Bobbie and Pat crewed us out to Doug and Patti from Albuquerque.  Normally Doug and Patti did it all work just the two of them.  We were still learning but they showed us a lot.  There was a group of people from Minnesota from a bank chain that had won an incentive program.  There was about 80 people and 60 of them flew.        14     Today we had to set our alarm clock for the first time since we started our adventure.  We  volunteered as crew for a balloon company.  Quite a few people from the campground do this and they got us started.  We left at 545am and followed Al and Barb.  Luckily we followed them because we would not have found it.  The area is a large field in the middle of nowhere with a ribbon on a tree by the road to tell you where to turn in.      The actual ride is about 1 hour long.  We helped unpack and set up the balloon.  Then after they took off, we had to chase them to wherever they ended up landing.  Then we had to help the balloon down.  Once down, we had to pack it up.  When we got to the landing site, there was Champagne and snacks for the passengers and crew.  We got back to the campground about 830am.     We relaxed for a while and then went to the pool.  The campground had a pizza party at 5pm.  Then Dave at the campground is into astronomy,  he got his high powered telescope out and we were able to see Venus and also Saturn with the rings and 2 moons.        13  We stayed around the campsite until about 3pm when we went over to Saguaro NP for hiking.  We hiked along the Cactus Wren Trail which took us past Signal Hill.  This is where the petrogliths are.  We had a nice hike but we got back right after sunset.           10       We left the cow early and picked up Jim and Diane and headed for Sabino Canyon.  We took the tram up to the turn around #4.  We hiked up the road for 2 miles to the end of the road.  Then we hiked back down.  Instead of taking the tram, we decided to hike down.  We’re glad we did because we saw a Gila Monster crossing the road.  A few other hikers also saw it and were amazed.  They had hike for years and never saw one in the wild.  We ended up hiking about 6  miles.  Afterwards we came back to the cow and had a cookout.         9  We headed to the Tucson Botanical Gardens which was very nice.  Then we went over to the 4th Street area where we had lunch at O’Malley’s.  Then we strolled down the street and checked out the area.  We went back to Jim and Diane’s hotel and sat by the pool for a while.  Then we took a drive to Saguaro Natl. Park and hiked the Valley View Trail for sunset.          8  Today we golfed at Crooked Tree Golf Course in Marana.  We teed off at 920am and finished around 230pm.  While golfing we saw a flock of Gambles Quails.  Also we saw a variety of other ducks, quails, coots and birds.  We had some drinks at the golf bar and then went back to Jim and Diane’s pool and hot tub.         7  We went over to the Natl. Park with Jim and Diane and hiked the Esperansa Trail.  Diane and I did about 3 miles and Jim and John did about 4 miles.  Then we went back to the hotel and picked up Diane’s brother.  We went to Benny’s Café for lunch and then to the Desert Museum.  We got to the museum around 2pm and stayed until closing at 5pm.  We saw Cactus Wrens, Verios, Flicker Woodpecker with Babies in a Saguaro, Javelinas, Gambels Quails, Bighorn Sheep, Bobcats, and Ocelots.       We went back to the hotel and had some cocktails.  Then we went to meet Diane’s nephew and wife, Grant and Jessica for Mexican Dinner.          6  John worked on the perfect salsa for him and Jim.  John and I took a drive to Saguaro Natl. Park and purchased the annual park pass.  We did a 3 mile hike along the Wild Dog Trail and the Valley View Trail.  On the Valley View we went up to the overlook.  Afterwards we came back to the campground and went to the pool.  We then met Jim and Diane at their hotel for cocktails and went to the Texas Roadhouse for dinner.        4  We got up early and had coffee and bloody mary’s.  We all went to the pool for a while and then Jim and Diane met Diane’s  brother and wife for lunch and we took a cab to the Cubs/Sox Game.  Unfortunately the Cubbies lost.  It was still a great day.  Hohokam Park is surrounded by mountains and is a small park.  Afterwards the 6 of us took a cab home and then went out to the pool.  We went to Outback for dinner.
Today we headed up to Patti and Jeff’s in Phoenix.  Patti, John and I went to Hooters for lunch.  After lunch we went back to the pool.  Jeff got home and Jim and Diane arrived from Chicago.  We had some cocktails and then later we all went out to a Mexican restaurant and then to a bar.       2  We are surrounded by mountains hear.  The sun rises and sets over mountain ranges.  Today we are going to the Chamber of Commerce.  We have started doing this as soon as we arrive.  This way we get local and state maps, general info, phone books, things to do and calendar of events.  After the Chamber we drove to Saguaro Nat’l Forest.  We purchased a bird book and talked to the rangers.          1     Today we got up early and we were on the road by 8am.  It was a sunny day and low winds.  The trip went perfect.  We crossed over the continental divide in New Mexico.  We were at 4586 elevation.      We got to Valley of the Sun RV Resort in Marana AZ and was told there were no sites and we would have to set up next to the office for a few days.  We advised them that was unacceptable.  They found a site, but advised us it would be tight for our slide out.  It took us a while but we finally got our cow positioned so we can open all slides.      We had dinner then went up to the grocery store and stopped at the Tumbleweed Lounge next door to the grocery store.  We had a cocktail and then went back to the cow.