For Comparison’s Sake

Since the 2012 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta kicked off this weekend, I decided to take a meander down memory lane.

For my Albuquerque folks watching the balloons this year, I present photos from my family’s archives as evidence of what the balloon fiesta looked like in 1977:

Ah yes, I’ve mentioned before on this blog about my love for that blue on bottom white on top 1971 Chevy Blazer my family drove around as I was growing up. My goodness I loved that truck.

This photo just goes to show you that back in the day, the Balloon Fiesta was a big open field and spectators simply drove up and parked. And we helped. If you were standing idly, the balloonists would shout at you to help, even if you were a kid. We held and shook the envelope while that big burner whooshed hot air into the balloon as slowly it rose from the ground.

It’s a visceral event that still gets to me, even today.

I always loved this purple and white balloon and I believe when I went to the 2010 event I saw either this exact same balloon or one of it’s replicas. I love that this balloon is still up in the Albuquerque sky on a cold October morning.

And the basket and burner. Such the epitome of the event is the sight of firey flames shooting upward. That sound as the whoosh fills the air. That feeling as heat blows back. Watching the envelope shudder and move. The smell of fuel. Truly an assault on every one of the five senses.


I had planned to go to the Balloon Fiesta this year, and then, as you know, the best laid plans of mice and men and stressed out overworked girls in the Bay Area.

Oh yes, I also have this already scanned. Here is the 1976 balloon fiesta. For some reason I only have the one photo in my album. That’s me walking with my dad and older brother. My mom must have taken the photo. My dad loved the balloons and couldn’t resist helping every pilot who asked (or didn’t ask).

Ah Albuquerque, my hometown, how I wish I could be with you this week. As the Balloon Fiesta snarls traffic and causes everyone’s noses to point skyward, I’d love to have a breakfast burrito and a hot chocolate and cry a little and laugh a little and love every minute of it all.

My last Balloon Fiesta was 2010 and I gotta get The Good Man out there so he can understand too.

I follow Neil Patrick Harris, a good New Mexico native son, on Twitter and he’s been tweeting that he took his family to ABQ for the Balloon Fiesta. After the events on Sunday, they went and ate at El Pinto.

I’m so damn jealous I can hardly stand myself.

Anyhow. Off to Monday and a drab ol’ day at work with no ornaments in my sky.


Miss you, my Fair New Mexico.

Photos from the family archives are Copyright 1976 and 1977 Karen Fayeth and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this page. Be respectful with my memories, please.

The Weekend – In Visuals

My weekend, told in a few words with iPhone photos to illustrate.

On Friday, The Good Man and I did an early dash away from work and drove up to Napa.

We checked into our B&B and went outside to sit on their peaceful back patio to decompress after a crazy week. And to partake of the B&B’s delicious French press coffee.

Only, we weren’t alone.

This creature doesn’t belong to the B&B. No one is really sure where it came from. Creepy Stalker Chicken seemed to think we were going to feed her. She was especially targeted The Good Man who is used to being shaken down for kibble by The Feline. Apparently we were unable to escape hungry domesticated animals for the weekend.

Which kind of made us hungry. After a fantastic (non-poultry) dinner and a good night’s sleep, we headed out the next day to do what it is most people do while visiting Napa.

A lot.

Oh, and at one winery, we still weren’t alone.

Apparently Creepy Stalker Chickens were the weekend theme. This one was wearing chicken pants.

But no matter. There was still this…

And then more

And a WHOLE lot more

“Heeeeeey, schhhicken, scccchhhhicken, ssssssshicken…”

Then on Saturday night, we headed out to take in some live music at The Uptown Theater. An acoustic Roseanne Cash show (with Shawn Mullins as the opening act).

It was *awesome*.

We slept good that night. Had a kick butt breakfast.

Then sadly it was Sunday and time to head back home.

With a whoooole lotta wine in the trunk of the car.

It’s medicinal. Really.

All photos Copyright 2010 or 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this page. All taken with an iPhone 4s and the Camera+ up, except for the Golden Gate Bridge photo which was taken with the QuadCamera app.

What Are The Odds?

Over the course of the past six months, I have had occasion to be on twelve different airplanes.

To my utter surprise, eleven of those twelve plane rides have gone off without a hitch. No mechanical failures. Nothing more than slight delays. Only a bit of notable turbulence over the North Pacific and also over Iceland. But even that was quite tolerable.

Eleven safe, easy, trouble free hops.

And then there came ol’ number twelve.

It had to happen sometime, right?

My day started in the dark hours of a foggy Alabama morning. I rose before the sun, packed my bag and climbed into the rental car. It was time to go home.

I had worried about a lot of the day. I had to drive the 75 miles or so back into Atlanta with commute time traffic. Atlanta is one of the busiest airports in the world so I fretted over planes being on time. And then there is the morass of the security process. It had taken almost an hour to get through SFO security on the way out so who knew was ATL would be like.

Turns out all of that worry was for naught. The drive in was easy. Turning in the rental car a breeze. There was a bit of a line at security but even that was no problem.

My biggest issue was that I had allotted so much time that I was ridiculously early to the airport.

So I had some breakfast, eggs and sausage hold the grits please, and I idly shopped the stores. I sat around a while too and even that was fine.

That big ol’ jet plane arrived right on time and in due course I was called to step onboard.

My seat wasn’t the best situation, I was in that first row at the plane door which meant every person who walked by took a chunk of my long limbs with them. I’m rather fond of my knees so I found myself hugging them to me to protect their little caps from further contusions. This made me cranky.

Soon enough the flight attendant was locking that door and running through the safety briefing required for takeoff.

She said at one point, “in the event of an emergency, which totally won’t happen, there will be lights along the aisle way leading you to exits.”

I thought it a bold statement. I should have known right then…she was calling down the Baseball Gods.

You know the Baseball Gods, those mythical entities that require you don’t speak of a no-hitter while it is in progress. The fickle hands of fate that will school you if you utter things like “when we win the division…”

And the baseball gods that occasionally smite a plane of passengers when our lead flight attendant says things like “in the event of an emergency, which totally won’t happen…”

Because it happened.

We were buckled in and cleared for takeoff. We taxied down the runway and took our place in line. There was one plane ahead of us and we were next. As the plane rolled, a man in the row behind me shouted, “we need help here! Get someone, we need help!”

The man seated at the window of that row was having a rather severe seizure. To his great fortune, the man seated next to me is a neurologist and there was also an anesthesiologist on the plane. These two doctors hopped into action and assisted the man through the worst of it.

Out of respect for the gentleman who suffered the seizure, I’ll keep all the gory details to myself, but I’m not going to lie, it was scary as hell.

The pilot was called and we had to step out of line and return to the gates where a group of EMTs waited. These EMTs were top notch, and they got the man stable and they got him off the plane.

Then there was the aftermath. The paperwork. The clean up. The “what the hell do we do now?”

All of the airline staff kept saying to each other “I’m just so glad this happened on the ground and not in the air.”

Eventually the airline got it all sorted out and the lead flight attendant commanded us to sit and buckle in. It was time to go.

We taxied out again to the runway and the passengers were quiet and tense. We took off and the wheels went up and other than the lady at the window in my row having a broken tray table and the bathroom running out of toilet paper, there were no more mishaps on that flight.

The pilot must have put the spurs to it because the flight was only maybe an hour late getting to SFO, and that’s not bad. Probably helped that prior to the emergency, we were due for a really early arrival (the jet stream must have been taking a smoke break yesterday).

And so…eleven out of twelve is a 91.6% chance of a flawless flight, which are damn fine odds as far as I’m concerned. I’d place a Vegas bet on that in a heartbeat.

I think what’s actually more amazing to me is the eleven flights that went off without a hitch. I’ve always considered getting on a plane to be something of a crap shoot. A little Google search advises that the odds of winning in craps is about 50%. So yeah, 91.6% is a far better bet.

As of this moment, there are no more plane rides scheduled for the rest of the year. Knock on wood and touch a lucky rabbit’s foot and with all due deference to the Baseball Gods.

I think I’m ready to stay on the ground for a while.

Photo by Jesse Clark and used royalty free from stock.xchng

Every Once In A While

Every once in a while on a cliff overlooking Ocean Beach in San Francisco, the sky is blue instead of the usual gray because the sun is out.

It’s both not too hot and not too cold and there is no fog hanging out on the horizon, which means the wind is really not so bad.

And as I sit there next to The One Who Makes Me Happy, I think to myself…”San Francisco might just be the most beautiful place in the whole wide world.”

I’ve visited a few well known corners of this big planet over the past four months, and still, standing there looking over the Pacific Ocean makes my heart sing.

The light is so good that a photo off of an iPhone doesn’t need any touching up to properly convey just how blue the ocean actually is. It’s not being tossed and turned by an oncoming storm and the blue is mesmerzing.

That’s straight off the camera:

Click if you want to take a closer look

I had a nice getway with The Good Man and on our way home from Napa, we stopped off at Ocean Beach and I’m so glad we did.

Good to put my feet in the sand and hold The Good Man’s hand and just feel happy to be home.

Much needed.

Photo of Seal Rocks is Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app and not a single filter, adjustment or tweak was made.