Petrified Forest …

There is the Arizona Petrified Forest and in New Mexico there was Petrified Gerre. There are some things in life that the ill advised keep repeating. The wise would concede, ‘if you are afraid of heights, don’t pursue lofty plains’. I should have recalled to fresh memory my visit to the viewing deck of the World Trade Centre, South Tower in the early 1990s. I think I crouched and crawled around the perimeter clinging to the handrail, hand over hand until I was safely back on terra firma. But, an Albuquerque Balloon Ride shares space with, when in Paris visit the Eiffel Tower, in Rome the Coliseum, in Lourdes, take the waters. And fear and phobia is a strange companion that travels dormant then suddenly engulfs you like a dark blanket, steals your reason and races down your legs like electricity.

The Balloon Ride by World Balloon began with a 6:30 a.m. arrival, 7 a.m. take off and 8:30 a.m. landing. Firstly viewed through a camera lens, it seemed benign. We drifted low catching the tops of Cottonwood trees, skirted the Rio Grande and then started to rise … and rise and rise and rise. Our “Chase Crew” guy, Matt, believed we went as high as 2,000′. My photos and videos are before and after. Nothing in between. The between was spent face down in the bottom of the basket, eye tightly shut and my hands gripping either side. This would have been a good time to catch me for a loan because I would have thankfully abandoned all reason and sense to negotiate a quick return. Dee, conversely, was in second heaven. This is sort of our interaction, verbal and mental, between Dee & I during the voyage from hell …

Dee – “Oh, gawd. This so wonderful. I can’t believe we are so high“.
My thoughts – ‘Does that woman ever shut up?’
Dee – “Dean. (the Pilot) How high are we?
My thoughts – ‘Is she friggen kidding me!!!’
Dee – “I can’t believe we are above another balloon. Awesome!
My thoughts – ‘Lah, lah, lah, laaaa. Lah, lah, lah, laaa’
Dee – “I can’t believe you can hear the dogs barking so high up here!
My thoughts – ‘Oh, there really IS going to be a dead woman buried out in the desert when we land’.

Safe to say that it was an adventure, a folly and something I will never do again. The after flight celebration Champagne Mimosa was gulped down in one go. The Balloon Flight Certificate acknowledging my “bravery” was a complete fraud. Good Earth never felt so good.

(See the HD videos and photos with this link).

After a brief stop to visit the only Albuquerque residents I know, Risa and Sam, to chat, to catch up, to advise and inform, to be advised and informed, we headed back to Rt. 40 West and on to Flagstaff, AZ. Again, endless desert nothingness but colors straight out of a mixing bowl. Swirls of Creams and yellows, now pinks and salmons, suddenly ochres and chocolates. Bliss to these two designers.

Entering Arizona felt exciting and uplifting. I welcomed Dee to Arizona, she welcomed me to my new home. So many miles, so many states, so many days. Was it only twelve days ago? My mind started the predictable line of thought. ‘Got to get my AZ driver’s license’. ‘Got to to get Tickie registered and order her new plates’.

A quick stop at the infamous Rt. 66, Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, AZ with wigwam shaped rooms, now a National Heritage designee, but still with Tee-Pee rooms available. The long and last stretch into Flagstaff was simply, fascinating, purple desert. As far as the eye could see complete with flat topped, naked mountains. That observation elicited a comment from Dee, left hand thumb stabbing backward, “Yeah, and it looked the same the last one hundred miles!!!” Flagstaff was a study in contrasts. Just as suddenly the dry desert air gave way to a crisp breeze, short and tall Pines and a town that looked like it was straight out of  the Adirondack, NY. Is this the same state?

A very long drive, 300+ miles, but we are perfectly positioned to enter Paige, AZ, and the Antelope Canyon and one item checked off on Dee’s ‘bucket list’.

Stats:- Miles covered – 3,172.   Highest Gas Price Paid – $3.49


About Gerre

I am a person in transition. Sold my NJ home and heading for my new place in AZ. My "do over" as my friend Dee calls it. Life is about transitions. This is my latest.
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2 Responses to Petrified Forest …

  1. Pat Dodson says:

    Gerre, From my perspective, the balloon ride was worth its weight in gold. I laughed out loud and saw you, prostrate in the basket, with my mind’s eye. Like something out of Trains,Planes and Automobiles. It is the price of being a “good sport”. When you are old and gray, you may forget 3/4 of the trip, but you will still be talking about this. I’m sooo glad you did it.

    • Fran Benco says:

      Dotty, (I will always call you that.) Thankyou so much for the Elvis postcards and emails. You always know what your Aunt Fran likes. Thanks too for doing the blog address again for me. I have been following your trip with Gerre. The balloon ride must have been wonderful!!! Gerre will recover in time, but he will never forget the ride. Keep in touch. Love Aunt Fran

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