"" Writer's Wanderings: November 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Will Anyone Read This Post on Black Friday?

I don't often express my opinions strongly on this blog but this time I will. I hate Black Friday. I hate the name. I know, I know. It has to do with retailers being "in the black" instead of "in the red" but it just seems like an ominous name for the day after a nice holiday. I hate the commercialism it represents for the Christmas season. I hate the frenzy it creates.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. A nice day for most people. Time for family. A feast of bountiful food for many. Ah but Black Friday has crept into our day to give thanks. Gobble down the turkey kids! It's time to shop!

Would it really make a difference to retailers if they spread out their sales or adjusted their prices so that there wouldn't have to be just one day or one week for the absolute rock bottom sales? Come to find out, the sales aren't as good as they're advertised to be anyway.

Well I could go on about the commercialism of Christmas, tell stories of gift giving that doesn't have to come from a store, and don't get me started on all those trees that were lit up while the kids were out trick or treating. No, I'm ranting on and there is probably no one reading this. Everyone's gone shopping. Mine's done. If I want a good sale, I'll wait until after Christmas. Those sales don't hold the dire name of Black Friday.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Around the World

While in America today we celebrate our Thanksgiving Holiday, there are other places in the world with similar celebrations. The only other country I know of that celebrates a day called Thanksgiving is Canada which has chosen the second Monday of October for their holiday.

Other countries celebrate harvest festivals similar to Thanksgiving rejoicing over a bountiful harvest. Some are not celebrated in the fall and some are celebrated for a specific crop.

It is a reminder again that while there are so many differences in the peoples of the world, there is still a lot that we hold in common. I'm thankful for the differences that make our world so interesting and I'm grateful for those similarities that bind us together.

I know it's not thought of as a Thanksgiving quote but, "God bless us, everyone!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

World Cruise - What Happened To February 17?

We sat down the other day and went over our cruise itinerary again to decide on the smaller excursions we may want to take along the way. To help me visualize our trip, I took my wall calendar and began penciling in the ports and cruise days (days at sea). Everything was going along well until I got to February 17. There was no February 17 on our cruise itinerary!

Instead of February 17 there was a note that we cross the Dateline. Now we've done that lots of times before but never on a ship. It's a first!!

Every time we have crossed the Dateline it has been on an airplane and doesn't seem quite as jarring. Maybe it's because of the jet lag. Their will be no jet lag on this trip. That was one of the inviting details of this trip. We gain an hour through each time zone from Miami through the Canal and across the Pacific until we hit the dateline. Then we lose a day, February 17, but as we continue around the globe, we will gain those 24 hours back one hour at a time.

So I guess, in the end, we still have February 17. It's just that it is chopped up into twenty-four hour pieces and dispersed through the remaining seventy-five days of our trip. I'm  just glad my birthday isn't on the 17th of February!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Oh Those Flying Marathons!

Several years ago we made a trip to Australia and in order to save money on our airfare we ended up making the trip in three increments--a total of twenty-eight hours when you added flight times to layovers. The flight between Australia and California (probably LA) was at least thirteen hours and then there were two more flights to get home. I remember the last layover where we were at about a twenty-four hour mark and needed to stay awake  to be sure we'd make our flight home. Without taking a little time to refresh, I don't think we'd have survived it all. Here are some tips for those marathons.

Pack a carry on with a refresher kit. This is a little harder with all the TSA requirements now but not impossible. In your 311 bag, pack a sample size toothpaste and brush, a washcloth you don't mind throwing out (or pack an extra Ziploc to carry it when it's wet), a small bottle of your favorite spirited body wash (something with eucalyptus or a strong clean smell helps) and a small deodorant. Sometimes the airline provides a little kit but usually if you are flying economy, it won't happen. With your refresher kit, you can pop into an airport restroom and wash your face and brush your teeth and feel at least 80% better.

It helps to pack an extra shirt or top to change into as well especially if you've slept on a really long flight.

Some airports have lounges with showers available. You might want to check ahead for that possibility especially if you expect to land and have to immediately go to a business meeting or do some sightseeing before checking into your hotel. Very few hotel rooms are ready when you need them. Airport lounges often offer a day pass so that you can avail yourself of the showers.

Got a long layover? See if there is an airport hotel close by (often they are even attached to the airport). Sometimes they will offer a day rate for you to use a room for a few hours to nap and/or freshen up. If that's not available, they may let you shower in their spa area for a small fee.

If you arrive at your destination and try to check in early at your hotel, you will most likely find the room not ready. Again, there is the possibility that they will let you freshen up in their pool or spa area and most certainly will offer to keep your luggage for you until you can check into your room.

A flying marathon takes as much preparation as any other marathon but with a little planning you can survive and the payoff is usually a wonderful destination.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Who Do You Trust?

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of sharing the morning message with my church family. Of course with all our traveling, it took on a travel theme of sorts. I showed a few pictures of our trip to Bryce Canyon National Park where I was introduced to Hoodoos. Hoodoos are the stone structures in the canyon that stand stoically while God works his wonder of creation shaping and forming them into amazing structures through the medium of erosion.

Now Hoodoos don't commit consciously to trusting God to form them into new creatures but we do have that opportunity to commit to trusting God to create a new life in us. What keeps us from trusting Him is the question.

When we travel, we often take a plane. Do we know who is flying it? Not usually. Yet we trust that the person at the controls will get us safely to our destination.

Arriving at our destination, we usually need the services of a taxi. Do we know who is driving the taxi? We can see him/her but we really don't know much about that person and in some of the countries we have visited it has been difficult to even communicate with them. Yet again, we trust them to get us safely to our destination.

In both of those cases a lot of prayer often helps--at least to calm the fears we might have but there is one area of trust most people don't even give a second thought to unless of course you are driving on a different side of the road than you normally do. Every time you drive, you trust that the dividing line down the middle of the road will keep the oncoming traffic on the correct side of it. The line in most cases isn't much wider than 6-8 inches or up to 16" or so if there's a double line. Do you trust the double line more?

All of this is to say, we have little trouble trusting the pilot, the taxi driver, or the dividing line in the roadway but when it comes to trusting the living God who walks with us, who loves us, who wants to help us through life's challenges we. . .

What do we do?

Who do you trust?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Futile Fridays

It's not just wandering the world that makes me a writer wandering. I also do a lot of ruminating. Writers need that. It develops plot lines, characters, and quandaries for characters. It also leads to thinking more deeply about life and the journey--or not. Take the case of Friday.

Friday used to be a great day. It was something to look forward to each week. It signaled the end to a lot of chaos created by kids, school, work, schedules, etc. On Friday everything seemed to ease off and even though there might be some things planned for a weekend, it still meant some time of rest or at least a break from routine was coming.

The kids grew up, left home, and routines changed--a bit. There was still a hubby to get off to work and Friday was still a time to look forward to. The weekend meant a couple of mornings to sleep in and time to spend together. And then came retirement.

Don't get me wrong. I love that we are retired. I love that we have all of our days together now--well, mostly I love that. Sometimes I do miss a little "me time" and pushing my own grocery cart around the store. But retirement has made Friday just a day like any other. Actually, it is less attractive because many of those working people are out and about and making popular places a lot more crowded.

Gone are the days of the Friday movie date. Instead we enjoy Senior Mondays at the movies. We sleep in whenever we want to although we do keep to a routine somewhat. Like Bob's favorite saying," When you're retired you can't tell when you are on vacation," it's hard to differentiate between a weekday or a weekend.

So you see Friday is kind of futile except for football season when it signals a football Saturday and usually a football Sunday. Go Bucks! Go Browns! Maybe Friday's not so futile after all.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Books For The Road - Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

The early 1900s saw an influx of immigrants through Ellis Island and many settled in New York City. Sometime around that era, my own grandparents came through Ellis Island but they settled farther west in Ohio and they weren't from Ireland like the women found in Cindy Thomson's Ellis Island series. Annie's Stories is the second in the series and is quite a tale of a young woman's struggle to overcome her past in Ireland and make a new life in America.

Thomson paints her story with well-researched historical aspects that add flavor to the story line which centers on Annie who was rescued from a girl's reformatory in Ireland where she was unfairly confined and mistreated when her father died. and Stephen, a postman, who has also lost his family and struggles with his father's suicide. Annie's father was an Irish storyteller who had left to his daughter some written stories which she will learn were part of a secret side to her father. There is a bit of a mystery as well as romance and all beautifully set in NYC at the turn of the century.

While Grace's Pictures is the first in the series, there is no problem in reading Annie's Stories as a separate book. I've read most of Thomson's books and this is definitely the best, although I did enjoy her baseball book, Three Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story. 

Annie's Stories is a smooth read. A great book for the road.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So You Want To Take A Round The World Trip

It's always been on the bucket list to circumnavigate the globe. That is because we are avid cruisers. For some though the thought of several months on a cruise ship all at one time is overwhelming especially if you have a delicate stomach for sea voyages. I happened to run across an article that was quite interesting from Smarter Travel about things to think of as you plan a Round The World trip.

There are all sorts of ways to book your plane tickets. Airlines offer RTW tickets or you can book your own legs of the journey individually. The article suggests booking business class since in getting around the world you will most likely spend a total of around 50 hours on a plane. He didn't mention how much time in airports waiting for planes but he did say you should plan an extra day here and there for travel.

While searching through the article and later on a search engine, I found that there are several sites that cater to the RTW traveler. Be aware that some are geared to backpackers who live on a minimal budget while traveling. The RTW Calculator site was one. I thought it would be fun to calculate our World Cruise trip if we had done it by plane and car on our own and started entering the places we would go. I immediately got stuck because the first stops in the Caribbean islands aren't on their list. When I saw that Miami, Florida was calculated at a little over $30/night, I realized I was on a site for backpackers.

Another site, The World Travellers Club, gave sample itineraries you can book and estimated airfares. Using some of that information, I tried calculating how much our trip would cost if we were to go the air/land route. Keeping it an apples-to-apples comparison, I could only calculate travel, accommodations, and food and at that it would be an estimate. All of the other things like excursions and nightly entertainment I set aside. I also had to consider our comfort level for accommodations as well. We are definitely not hostel and backpacking travelers.

Our RTW cruise

When I got done, the air/land looked a little cheaper but it required a lot of work. Schlepping luggage from place to place and lots of reservations to keep in line unless we wanted to be daring and take our chances on accommodations and car rentals being available for us. Having to search out places to eat each night on a budget and wondering if the food quality was good. I'm wondering where we would have stayed in Madagascar? And certainly getting to Easter Island would probably have been a bit pricey. So in the end perhaps the air/land would not get us to all the places the cruise does.

On the other hand, the air/land would get us places we couldn't reach by ship. Do I see another RTW trip in the future?

Monday, November 17, 2014

World Cruise - Travel Clinic, Ouch!

There are two things that make me very anxious--snakes and hypodermic needles. Having twins was a good thing to start out with because then Bob had to come with me to the pediatric appointments and he could hold each one as they got their "puppy shots." I've gotten past that a bit but I still don't like getting shots so when we scheduled an appointment with a travel clinic in our area I was understandably nervous.

Before our appointment we needed to go online and fill in a form telling where in the world we were traveling. Are they serious? This is 108 days and let me count the countries. . .23! Knowing that Madagascar, the Amazon area, and parts of Africa (south, not west) are on our itinerary, I knew that we were in for some kind of preventative actions.

When we arrived and were seated with the nurse consultant, she handed us each a thick book listing all the countries and the things to watch out for in each. It felt like looking at all the disclaimers and side effects from every medicine you've ever seen advertised on TV all at once. I feared my arm was going to be a pin cushion!

This beautiful lady narrowed it down for us to the essentials and it didn't look quite so bad. I was current on my tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, pneumococcal, shingles, and influenza. Is it any wonder I hate shots? We would need some meds for preventing malaria (not the lariam we took once before that made us both loopy) and a booster to our original Hepatitis A that protects us for life. Then came the suggestion of a yellow fever shot and possibly typhoid. Yikes!

The bottom line, we will be on a cruise ship with little travel in the countries where yellow fever and typhoid are prevalent and that travel will be during the day avoiding the high activity time for insects and certainly not eating or drinking on land. The only hitch may be that one of the Caribbean islands we visit after we are in Brazil may require certification that we had been vaccinated prior to our visit to Brazil. The jury is still out on that one. We've heard conflicting stories and until we hear from the cruise line that it's necessary, we're going to pass. If we have to stay on the ship that day, so be it. One less shot sounds good to me.

Vaccinations were not the only thing discussed and we came home with the books that are full of information on what to be careful of in each country. It's mostly common sense stuff starting with "don't drink the water!" If you ever do this for travel, be aware that you will get more information than is necessary just so that they cover all the bases and possibilities. It could almost scare you out of going but remember that knowledge is power--power to travel safely.

By the way the clinic we visited was Passport Health. There are locations all over the USA.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Books For The Road - Always, Abby by Linda S. Glaz

Earlier this week I gave you a book suggestion for a long trip but there's always those short jaunts where you need a quicker read to get you from one place to another. Always, Abby by Linda Glaz fills that need. It's a nice read and a good story.

WWII soldier Will Judge brings home an orphan boy from Europe and by doing so, completely changes the direction his life was taking. It's a bit predictable as Will discovers his childhood friend, Abby, has grown into a beautiful young woman but then it is a romance. I won't say more.

The story takes place in the 1940s which made it very interesting for me in light of the novel I just finished writing. I love the sensitivity in the story line with the orphan, Henryk, or Hank as he becomes known.

If you like to immerse in a good romance while you travel and relax, this would be a good one to pick up or download. A sweet book for the road.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

World Cruise - Stocking Up

In 108 days how many razor blades will Bob need? How much deodorant will we use? Toothpaste? Contact lens solution? The list goes on. We have been stocking up on the things that we feel we just can't do without or don't wish to use from what is supplied by the cruise ship.

For example, yes, the ship provides shampoo and body lotion but for three and a half months. I think I want to use my own and be sure my hair will be manageable and my skin won't rebel like it once did on a cruise.

Of course their are lots more important things to stock up on and we have juggled our prescription orders to be sure we will take enough of our medications along. I doubt there's a pharmacy that can fill them in Madagascar.

The whole exercise has made us conscious of how much product we use and when you buy it all at once (we want to go with full bottles), the bill is stunning. Thank goodness for CVS coupons for 20% off we received when we got our flu shots.

Our cruise line, Crystal, provides a luggage service that will allow us to ship our suitcases a few weeks before the cruise so all of this stuff will not have to be schlepped on an airplane. I'm glad because already we are filling up a suitcase.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Books For The Road - Illusion by Frank Peretti

Admit it. If you've read This Present Darkness you can't look up at a ceiling fan in church and wonder if there's a long finger extending down from there and stirring up trouble. So when I started in on Illusion by Frank Peretti I half expected to meet those evil demons once again. I wasn't sure I was ready. Turns out I needn't have worried.

Illusion is the story of a couple who have been married forty years and built a successful career as magicians. After surviving a terrible car accident in which he is told his wife has died, Dane Collins tries to pick up his life again. His path crosses with a young girl who uncannily resembles his wife at that age. She is having an identity crisis as she has suddenly found herself propelled into 2010 when her last memories were of visiting a fair  in the 1970s. Dane takes her under his wing as he helps her perfect her magic which seems to have a strange element that is making her an instant success. This is all watched in the shadows by people who can explain all that is going on.

I don't want to be a spoiler but if you hate reading about the supernatural, demons to be exact, this will ease your mind--it's sci-fi. Once I relaxed and realized there were not going to be any demons stirring up trouble, I enjoyed the read. It's a long read but it was a very satisfying story. Don't miss the Afterword by Peretti. In it he talks about why he wrote the love story.

This is definitely a book for a long trip--like on the road trip that we did recently.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Best Of . . .

There are some nights it's hard for me to fall asleep and I try everything from counting up and down to a hundred in English and German to making up story lines for another novel. The other night I tried something different-listing the best ofs, biggests, etc., in our travels. Here's some of what I came up with.

The best cup of coffee -- Singapore McDonald's. Really! It was a cappuccino in a large ceramic cup with a beautiful design drawn in the milky froth. On the other hand, the most expensive cup of coffee was in Venice where we paid $15 USD because we didn't know a cover charge was included.

The best road trip -- While Ireland and the National Parks were wonderful I'd have to say New Zealand wins this one. (Even though, my friend, we had to fly to get on the road.)

The most romantic meal -- Our anniversary dinner on the Piazza Navona in Rome. We ate at one of the outdoor cafes and listened to wandering musicians. I can't remember what we ate but I remember the beautiful night and the lovely music.

The biggest thrill--I know. To many of you this is probably not so thrilling but it was a challenge for me. Climbing the Sydney Bridge.

The best view from a hotel room--This will probably sound crazy but on one visit to Las Vegas we were upgraded to a better room at Ceasar's and we had a window that went from floor to ceiling and could see down the Vegas Strip. It was a spectacular view at night. We don't usually book rooms with a view in order to save money.

The largest hotel bathroom--I would have to say the Marriott in Quito, Ecuador, wins here. While we have had several beautiful hotel rooms on precruises, the one Celebrity put us in for our Galapagos trip was amazing. A suite, it had a sitting room, a huge bedroom, and a bathroom that had a tub, a shower, two sinks and enough room for a dozen people.

The smallest bathroom--Gotta watch those old English bed and breakfasts. I can't remember which one it was, but I do remember a bathroom obviously tucked into what used to be a closet. You had to leave the door open while you brushed your teeth because you couldn't bend over the sink otherwise.

The most expensive meal--This is a tie in my mind between a meal we had in Venice where we were told the seafood dinner for two was the special of the day but weren't told the price and then the evening we went up in the Eiffel Tower for dinner. Ah, but the view was terrific and the food tasty.

Well, that's a bit of what I came up with before I finally fell asleep. What would your list look like?

Friday, November 07, 2014

Tips To Plan Your National Park Road Trip

Lots of people are doing it. Some in RVs. Some drive across country in their own cars. Others, like us, pick a starting point and rent a car. Whatever you chose, be sure to chose your time of year carefully. Too early or too late and you will run into cold, icy, and even snowy weather. When we were leaving Bryce Canyon on September 27, they were expecting snow for the next morning. The elevation is higher and the weather turns sooner. Of course if you like snow. . .

Middle of the summer is going to be a hot time in the desert areas like Arches. Of course as any traveler knows, the weather is unpredictable no matter where you go. We were lucky to squeeze our trip in mostly between weather fronts created by two hurricanes off the coast of Mexico that brought the flooding rains one day of our trip.

If you want to stay at a lodge in the parks, especially Zion, book early, early, early. Bob was planning our trip about six months in advance and couldn't get into the Zion lodge.

There are little "hotel towns" that have sprung up outside the entrances to the parks. Springdale outside of Zion and Bryce Canyon City just outside the park entrance (you can catch a shuttle into the park from there). Moab is just a little farther up the road from the Arches entrance and at the southern entrance to Grand Canyon just south of the Village is a town called Tusayan where there are several hotels about 20 minutes from the Village. All the towns have some national chain hotels and restaurants/fast food places if you want to save some money on lodging.

The dress at the parks is casual. Everyone is in jeans and shirts/jackets with backpacks with the exception of a few who probably arrive on buses and need to make a fashion statement wherever thay go. Those are the ones who won't be hiking the beautiful trails.

Stock up on bottled water or take a refillable bottle. Most of the parks have spring water at the visitor center or the restroom areas where you can fill up. Be sure it's marked spring water. Don't fill up from the faucet in the restroom.

Dress in layers. Always a good rule no matter where you are traveling. The mornings and evenings will be chilly. The clear skies while beautiful in the daytime, don't hold the heat when the sun's not shining.

Did I mention hydrate often? Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico are arid climates. You will need to drink lots of water. Use a little Vaseline to swab your nose if it gets too dry and if you tend to have dry skin anyway, be sure to take some moisturizer.

Sun screen and bug spray are good to have. We only needed the bug spray once but other times of the year I'm sure would it would be even more necessary.

Take a soft sided cooler to carry sandwiches, milk for cereal, juice, etc. Almost every place we stayed had a small refrigerator. And if they didn't, there was always an ice machine somewhere. I take a couple of gallon sized Ziploc bags for the ice.

Be safe! Stay on the trails. There are a lot of tempting overlooks that have no safety rails and it's hard to know what's supporting the rock from below--if anything. We held our breath often as the crazys ventured out to small precipices to pose for pictures. One even balanced on one foot in some kind of yoga pose. Amazingly, only about 12 people fall in the Grand Canyon a year and they only register a couple of deaths. Don't be one of them.

If you're not a big eater, you might consider splitting a meal in the lodge restaurants--especially Bryce. The plates were huge there. You can always order more or it will give you an excuse for desert as well. Sometimes there was a charge for that and other times, not. Ask.

That's all I can think of now. I'm putting Bob to work planning the next one. We'll do a more northern route, even possibly driving from Ohio and back. On the list: Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and of course a visit to the stone presidents.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The National Park Road Trip - One Last Day

The plan for the morning of October 5 was to sleep in a little (7:30 a.m.), catch a quick breakfast at the hotel, and go to the park that we'd passed the day before that was designated as one of the landing areas for the International Balloon Fiesta. As we listened to the local TV news while we dressed, we slowed our pace. They reported that the Mass Ascension of balloons would not take place because of the wind conditions.

Ah, there's nothing like having to regroup when you're tired. We perked after a little coffee and decided that we would go into Old Town Albuquerque and walk around a bit and then head to the Sandia Mountain Tramway for a ride to the top.

Old Town dates back to 1706 way before New Mexico became a state. We were a little early arriving. The shops weren't open and it seemed that a lot of the restaurants were closed as well--either we were way too early or they were closed for Sunday. The church bells were ringing at the San Filipe de Niri Church and we surmised that the cars parked along the streets were parishioners since not many people were walking the sidewalks with us.

As much as we had seen green chile advertised in food items at the Fiesta and in local restaurants, there were even more chiles here. But these chiles were red and were hanging everywhere in bunches. They lent a striking red accent to the adobe style buildings.

One proprietor just opening her shop saw me taking pictures and told me to wait while she got her sidewalk painting out that showed the flowers of New Mexico. She was happy for me to take the picture and then said we were welcome in the store she was just opening.

While I'm sure Old Town would have been lovely most any other time, our legs felt leaden and we were trudging along. It is a great place to  shop for some unique gifts and later in the day it would have been fun to sample some of the local dishes--provided you have your antacid, but we were tired. I think all the hiking and early morning rising had caught up to us. Dare I say at our age it doesn't take long?

After taking a look at another section of Route 66 that goes through Albuquerque, we stopped for another cup of coffee and started our drive out to Sandia Mountain. It was a pleasant drive and we got to see some very nice suburbs. When we made our way to the Tramway, a cable car that goes up to the top of Sandia for great views, we stopped at the entrance and asked how long the wait was. Two and a half hours! Thanks but no,thanks. We turned the car around and pulled off the side of the road a bit to reconnoiter as we say.

A jogger stopped to ask if we needed help. She was happy to give us some suggestions of trails in the area and even suggested a restaurant for us. Once she was on her way, we decided that we couldn't do another trail and would just drive around the mountain a bit.

We enjoyed fish tacos for lunch (no green chiles) and went back to Homewood Suites to pack for our trip home. It would be a long travel day tomorrow. Already Bob had received notice of airport delays in Chicago. Thankfully we both had good books to read. I plugged in my Nook. He plugged in his Kindle. We were ready to go home.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The National Park Road Trip - Evening Balloon Fiesta

Somewhat rested after a short nap and good college football game, we once again gathered our gear and headed for the International Balloon Fiesta. The Gondola Club was due to open at 5 p.m. and it was suggested we get there around 4:30. There was no traffic to speak of until shortly before the Park so we arrived even earlier and decided to walk the rest of Main Street that we had missed in the morning.

The sun was pretty warm. Don't believe anything you hear about a "dry heat." Heat is heat and the only part of dry heat is the part that makes your nasal cavities dry creating a stuffy feeling and often a slightly bloody nose. We'd been fighting that all along our Southwestern trip. I countered it somewhat with Vaseline swabbed in my nose but it only helped a little.

After a day and a half in Albuquerque we were getting the idea that these people really like their green chiles. Every food we saw had green chile worked into it--stew, sauce, in hamburgers, scrambled eggs. You name, they added green chile to it. Heartburn heaven.

It was getting on to five so we headed back to the Gondola Club and found a long line of people waiting to get in. Tables filled up fast but we found our morning table still available and joined two couples who had also made a National Park Road Trip--different parks though.

The evening after dinner was to be one of Twilight Twinkle Glow where balloons inflate and they glow but don't fly and the start of  America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race, a race to see who can stay up the longest and travel the farthest after their balloon is inflated with hydrogen.

While we finished our desert and coffee, we watched a couple of balloons trying to inflate near our view point. There was a slight breeze and inflation looked a bit dangerous as the balloons would sway in the breeze. In the end, for the Twilight Twinkle Glow only a handful of balloons inflated and twinkled a couple of times before it was called off completely.

So too was the start of the America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race. It was postponed until midnight or later when the wind would die down. (Later we learned that the balloons did not launch until early Tuesday morning.) The year before the winning balloonists had traveled all the way to Ontario, Canada. (The winning 2014 team made it to Findlay, Kentucky in 53 hours 27 minutes.) There are no rest stops along the way. 'Nuff said.

While the balloons couldn't do much for the evening show all was not lost and we enjoyed a wonderful fireworks display at the end of the evening before going back to our hotel. Exhausted, we fell into bed and I don't think either of us heard the noisy A/C kick on and off once our eyes closed.

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