Sunday, July 14, 2024

Root Beer Update!



Back in February I posted about root beer and my quest to try some new brands. I have purchased numerous different brands here in OKC and picked up six new brands on a recent trip to Kansas City. The store in Kansas City probably had about 50 or more brands! Here are some of my most recent taste tests. I have rated them on a scale of 1 to10. I tend to favor the sweeter variety. I have about ten more brands in the fridge awaiting a try. Have an awesome root beer summer!

 

1.      Rocky Mountain Root Beer  2/27/24     (5)

2.      Bull Dog Root Beer 2/29/24  (6)

3.      Red Arrow Root Beer 3/2/24  (7)

4.      Dang! That’s Good 3/19/24  (5)

5.      Sprecher 3/30/24  (7)

6.      Americana 4/5/24  (9)

7.      Dog N Suds 4/17/23  (7)

8.      Death Valley Root Beer  5/16/24  (8)

9.      Gene Autry Root Beer 5/28/24  (7)

10   Poppi   6/19/24   (-2)     Yes -2. I did not like this one past two sips!

11   Oak Creek Barrel Aged Root Beer 6/20/24   (8)

12   The Pop Shoppe 7/2/24  (7)




Monday, July 8, 2024

More Preparation

 


My son and I had a discussion last year about purchasing first aid kits for our vehicles. He bought a kit for his car. I never did, so I got online last week and bought two kits and the following is the reason why I got motivated to be more prepared. 

On a recent trip to Kansas City to visit the WW1 museum, I was reminded to be more prepared for emergencies. My son, my wife and I were driving up Interstate 135 when we came upon a vehicle accident just south of Newton, KS. We rolled up on this major accident within a minute or two of it happening. I could see a jackknifed big rig across the interstate and a badly damage car closer to us. I asked my son if he had his first aid kit and he said he did. He grabbed his kit and we headed to the damaged car to see if we could give assistance. 

One man had beat us to the car and was walking back toward us when I asked if anyone was in the car. He replied that he didn't see anyone in the front but did not check the back. I went up to the car and had to move the side airbags away to look in the back seat and back luggage area. Luckily, I found the car empty. Another woman walked by us carrying a towel and said there was a body in the road. We returned to our car and tried to calm down a little. I tell this story to emphasize preparation again. My son's kit was a first aid kit that included the basics but also has chest seals and a tourniquet. Had we come upon someone hurt, we would have had the tools to bandage a small wound or for something more serious until first responders arrived.

We later learned, through an internet search, that the driver was a 29 year old female. She had crossed the median and hit the big rig head on. The cause was unknown and she was not wearing a seat belt and had been thrown from her car. We were shocked at the loss and I wished the outcome would have been better, but I was glad we were prepared had we found a child or another person needing immediate first aid. I hope to never come upon a scene like this again, but if I do, I want to be prepared. 

I bought kits that included one tourniquet and chest seals. I had training on using both during my career. I recommend that you watch an instructional video online to learn how to quickly apply either of these life saving tools.

Similar prep can be done at home for a variety of things. I have a fire extinguisher in the garage. I have placed bottled water in our underground shelter in the garage. I'm sure there are more things that I can do for other situations that may arise. I do not have 6 months worth of food, water and ammunition stored up like a true prepper may have. But, I hopefully have a few basics to get me through whatever comes my way.

Do you have a first aid kit in your car for emergencies? How about a small took kit, jumper cables or other emergency items? If you have a kit, have you ever had to use it for a more serious situation? Do you have any other preparation ideas that I need to consider?

Stay safe out there!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Preparation




I just hit my 5 year mark of retirement! It has passed so quickly and I better get busy over the next years and live it up before the next 5 years zoom by.

Prior to retirement, preparation is the key. Many spend years preparing for retirement. I spent 33 years saving in to the government version of a 401K in preparation for retirement. Some people prepare by saving, some by investing in real estate or other investment and income producing products. Some people never prepare and just as my 5 years of retirement quickly passed by, their 30-40 years of working passes by with nothing saved for retirement. Reminds me of the grasshopper and ant fable where the ant works hard to prepare for the winter while the grasshopper did nothing. The grasshopper played around all summer and then had nothing to eat that winter. The news is full of stories about the number of people, at or close to retirement, with little to nothing in retirement savings.  Preparation is key to a good retirement and requires some sacrifice along the way. I was very fortunate to have the career that I had that included a pension plus any 401K savings. I certainly understand that saving is hard these days, even if you have a middle class income. For some, preparation for retirement is difficult if not impossible for a variety of reasons.

The grasshoppers of the world are a different story. The grasshopper is able to prepare but just fails to do it because it is more fun to live it up in the moment and not worry about tomorrow. Today's grasshoppers are buying more car and house than they can really afford. Today's grasshoppers are wearing expensive clothing and carrying around the latest gadgets. Today's grasshoppers are going to wake up in 30 years and then panic because they can't retire.

Retirement preparation is not all finance. We need to prepare in other ways. We have to prepare for the extra time on your hands and what our retirement days are going to look like. We have to prepare for possibly living on less. Even in retirement, there is preparation to be done. We need to monitor the savings and income to make sure it will last for another 30 plus years. We need to continue to prepare for the future with decisions of downsizing a house or moving into a retirement community. We need to prepare for aging in place by making our homes easier to live in as mobility and dexterity may become issues. I have read of recommendations of replacing door knobs with door levers to make it easier to open. Other recommendations are to have a walk in shower with no step, have brighter lighting and widening doors for wheelchair access if eventually needed.

Other retirement preparation will include wills and long term care insurance. I have a will that I completed online but I have yet to check on the insurance. 

What other preparations can you thing of that are needed leading up to retirement and during retirement? Have you explored long term care insurance yet? Have you made any improvement to your home for aging in place? At 58 years old, I don't think too much about these things, but I do need to begin preparing for the future.

Friday, April 19, 2024

A Pedicure

 


I've posted many times about trying new things. I have a new one to report thanks to a Christmas gift from my wife. She gets her nails done often and gets a pedicure every once in awhile. She felt that I would enjoy a pedicure and gifted me a gift card for one at the shop she frequents. 

Yesterday, she announced she was going to get her nails done and I bravely announced that I would join her and try this pedicure thing. I was hesitant as I entered the salon not knowing what this thing would involve. I always thought a pedicure was getting your toe nails trimmed and painted much like your fingernails. I also largely thought this practice was for the ladies of the world even though I have heard that men enjoy them.

I sat in the pedicure chair and the pedicurist, if that is a word, asked if I wanted the massage function turned on for the chair. I said "sure" and my first pedicure began. The massage chair was pretty nice and I became comfortable very quickly. Next was a soak in a hot footbath. I'm liking this more and more! Then came the nail trimming, the scrub, the wax and the hot stone massage. The pedicurist said "Happy feet make happy people". I couldn't agree more. I thoroughly enjoyed this pampering and will be back to enjoy this again in the near future.

For this post I looked up pedicure history. Pedicures have been around for thousands of years and was enjoyed by ancient Egyptians. In Babylonia, noblemen gave themselves pedicures using solid gold tools. Very nice! Early depictions of early manicures and pedicures are depicted on some pharaohs tombs. Pedicures didn't become popular in the United States until the 1990's. Wow, we are behind the times! Prior to that, most of the U.S. classified the pedicure as a medical procedure and had laws preventing them.

If you have never experienced a pedicure, I highly recommend you give it a try. It feels awesome to have "baby soft" feet as my pedicurist described them. I asked my wife several times if she wanted to feel my baby soft feet yesterday. She never took me up on the offer! Happy feet make happy people!

Have you enjoyed a pedicure? Do you agree that it is a pretty relaxing event?

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

First Visit to NYC!




My wife and I just got back from a cruise out of NYC and four days of sightseeing in the city. It was our first trip to NYC and we loved it! We did the normal sites and visited the Statue of Liberty and walked up to the crown. We saw the Wall St Bull, the Empire State Building, the NYC Library, the NY Stock Exchange, Central Park and many other sites. We did an evening harbor cruise and enjoyed the lights of the city at night. We saw two Broadway Shows, Wicked and the Book of Mormon. Enjoyed them both but was surprised at some of the vulgarity in the Book of Mormon but it was a funny show. We went to Top of the Rock and rode the beam for some fantastic views of the city. We visited the Morgan Library Museum which I dearly loved. We got up early on Monday morning and went to the Today Show plaza and got to do a "shout out" which was aired on TV!

We were amazed at the size of NYC while staying in the Times Square area. We have a few tall buildings in Oklahoma City but there are hundreds of skyscrapers in NYC. It is definitely the city that never sleeps. We were amazed at the number of people on the streets at 11pm. We got to experience the crowds on the sidewalk, the NYPD on the street corners or directing traffic, the honking, the street traffic and the huge amount of yellow taxis everywhere. 

We ate some of the best Italian food we have ever had in Little Italy. We had NY pizza a couple of times and ate at many other great places. We really enjoyed this first visit to NYC and recommend that everyone experience that huge city at least once in their life.

Have you visited New York City? Were you amazed at the size and busyness of the city? Have you been to a city even bigger somewhere else in the world? If so, how was your experience?
























Thursday, February 29, 2024

Happy Birthday!

 


Happy Birthday to all of you who have a birthday on leap day! You are the lucky ones who have 25% of the birthdays that the rest of us do. Here's to you 20 year old leap year babies who are actually 80 today! 

The fact that leap year babies can count their birthdays at a much slower rate than the rest of us makes me think of my many birthdays. I have numerous birthdays throughout the year and thus I may be approaching 100 birthdays or more here in my normally 58th year. 

Let me explain. I have downloaded many apps on my phone to get reward points from various establishments. I am a reward member at Chickfila, Red Lobster, Dunkin, Crumbl, Dominos, Regal, Qdoba, Freddy's, Cracker Barrel and McDonalds.  Most, if not all, of the apps ask for your birthday month and day so you can get a special reward for your birthday. I don't like giving out my actual birthday. So, I usually have a birthday in the month after I download the app so I can enjoy my birthday gift soon! 

This strategy gives me a variety of birthday presents throughout the year. I am a genius. I have managed to find a way to celebrate my birthday year round. But, if I have 10 extra birthdays a year, I am aging rather quickly. Now that I think about 10 extra a year, I'm probably closer to 200 at this point in my life.

My latest app addition was McDonalds last week. I am out of pocket on vacation most of March so I chose April 2 as my birthday. I can't wait to see what I get for my birthday!

Do any of you have leap year birthdays? If so, do you have one big blowout party every four years or do you celebrate every year even if it is on Feb 28th? Do any of you spread you app birthdays around and enjoy year round celebration like I do?

I still have a birthday reward from Red Lobster available until March 3rd. Chocolate cake with ice cream! Yum! And, Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Root Beer


I'm writing about a very important retirement topic this week. That topic is Root Beer! I've tried numerous different Root Beers over the years but recently have gotten on a kick to try even more root beer brands. I searched the internet today and found that the Root Beer Institute (who knew there was an Institute?) reports there are about 150 different brands of Root Beer. I think a new goal for me is to try and see how many of those 150 I can try over the next year or two.

Root Beer was originally made from the root bark of the sassafras tree as the primary flavor. In 1960 the FDA banned safrole, a key component of sassafras, because it was found to cause liver cancer in mice. Today's Root Beer is made with artificial flavors instead of sassafras. Root Beer was first sold in confectionary stores in the 1840's. Pharmacist Charles Elmer Hires developed the first commercially made "root tea" in 1875 and changed the name of the "non-alcoholic" tea to root beer to market it to coal miners. Barq's Root Beer began in 1898. A&W Root Beer began in California in 1919. 

We have a neat little store here in Oklahoma City that has a cooler with a wide variety of Root Beers and Sarsaparillas. I have been there twice and bought a 6 pack of different Root Beers. The photo above is of a few of the ones I have in my refrigerator. I tried the Dublin Texas last night and it was very good. I have seen and tried several Root Beers when we travel to different areas of the country, but I have not kept track of them and not sure what I have tried or not tried.

This week, I began keeping the bottle caps and will begin a list of those I have tried to see how many I can sample in the near future. I would not be sampling 150 Root Beers if it was still made from real sassafras (pre 1960) as my liver could not handle that much poison. Not that the pure cain sugar will be particularly beneficial to my health either!

Here is a list of the top 19 Root Beers according to tastingtable.com. An asterisk indicates that I have tried it.

  1. Sprecher
  2. Bulldog
  3. Hank's
  4. Saranac
  5. Boylan *
  6. Virgil's *
  7. Maine Root
  8. Hosmer
  9. Fitz's
  10. Dublin Texas *
  11. Sparky's
  12. Dang! That's Good
  13. Henry Weinhard's
  14. IBC *
  15. Sioux City *
  16. A&W *
  17. Dog n Suds
  18. Mug *
  19. Olde Rhode Island Molasses
So, I'm off to a slow start and have only covered 7 from this list. I'm sure very few of us have not at least had Mug, A&W and IBC as those can be found in most any grocery store. 

Is anyone else out there on a Root Beer kick? Have you tried a unique Root Beer that you just love? How many have you tried of the list above? Are there any Sarsaparilla drinkers out there? Any other similar goals you may have of sampling a wide variety of a certain product?

And remember to check the expiration date and don't try anything with a date older than 1960!

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Weird Hobbies


I posted back in 2022 about retirement hobbies and discussed several common hobbies and talked about my own hobby of metal detecting. Last night I ran across a guy that has the weirdest hobby I have ever heard about. I'll tell you about that encounter further down in the post.

This incident led me to search weird hobbies on the internet today. There are some very strange hobbies that people are pursuing and I guess the sky is the limit on how weird you can get with a hobby. Here are a few of those strange hobbies that popped up.

Toy voyaging. This unusual hobby includes sending your teddy bear or other toy to other places where a fellow hobbyist will host them and update you on your toy's adventure. This reminds me of the days when my two kids were in school and they sent a Flat Stanley to a distant relative. That relative would take Flat Stanley around their town and take photos and write about the places he visited. That was great fun for kids. But for grown adults? That sounds a little strange to me. 

News bombing. Apparently there are people who make a hobby of seeking out news reporters and try to photo bomb the on camera interview. The example that came up in my search showed the photo below of a guy in a costume doing his news bombing. Interesting! I've also heard that people do something similar with Google cars on the street doing the street view filming. People live for that moment where they can jump out on their yard or driveway when the Google cars comes by and then pose for a prank of some kind.


Collecting in-flight sick bags. This is one I don't understand at all. But, apparently there are people who collect these bags as a hobby. The bags I have seen are just plain and white. Maybe there are logos on some airline bags. That is just sick!

Collecting cups. This hobby involves collecting paper, plastic or styrofoam cups with logos from fast food places and other places. I would think this would take up a lot of room in your house. I guess it would be a fairly cheap hobby, especially if you just hung out by the trashcan or dumpster. Strange!


Sand and dirt collection. There are some who collect a small bottle of sand or dirt from places they have visited. I guess they want to permanently have a piece of their vacation. I understand this hobby a little more than others, but still a little different. This hobby leads me to the weirdest hobby I have ever heard of. Read on if you dare!


At a meeting last night for my own hobby of metal detecting I sat with a group of three other detecting enthusiasts. One of them, I'll call him John Smith, took out a small decorated notebook and began showing it to our table. He opened it up and another guy commented about how detailed his writing appeared. Some of us in this hobby, me included, keep a log of when and where we detected and what was found. I assumed John's logbook was just that. He proceeded to tell us it was information on each grave he had visited. Oh, okay I thought. Now I assumed he had visited graves of relatives and ancestors. My wife and I visited a few old grave yards a few years ago to see where some of our ancestors were buried. So, I thought nothing of John's activities.

Then John said he had Bonnie & Clyde, David Koresh and a few other famous people. I thought what do you mean you "have"? At the same time he said he had 242 vials of dirt that he collected and sifted from these grave sites. What!??? Then he showed me a photo of a box he made to hold the vials. The box was a wooden casket he had built with holes inside to house the vials. Each one was labeled with date and name of the grave occupant. I have never heard of anything like this in my life. 

When I searched the internet this morning, the only reference I could find of collecting grave dirt involved collecting it for witchcraft spells. There was no mention of this as being a hobby anywhere. This guy may be the only one in the world that does this. At least I hope it is or eventually these guys will collect so much dirt that these pour souls will have their bones exposed!

Have any of you heard of collecting grave dirt as a hobby? Have you heard of the other strange hobbies I listed above? Do you have a strange hobby or have you heard of other strange hobbies? I'm very interested in hearing what weird things people may do as a hobby.

Retirement is a perfect time to start new hobbies or pursue old hobbies. I encourage you all to participate in a hobby or invent your own weird hobby. Whatever you do, enjoy it to the max and don't worry about what other people, like myself, say about how weird your hobby is!

Now I'm wondering if John is a witch and cast spells with grave dirt. I think I'll find another table at next month's meeting!



Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Life Expectancy


I don't know if it's just me, but as I get older I think more about how much life I have left in me. I contemplate what I want to get done in the time that is left. Things to do. Things to see. People to enjoy being around. I find myself checking the life expectancy charts. Today I found that the U.S. life expectancy for a male (2023)  is 73.2 on one news site. I'm not sure I'm too happy about that. I'm currently 58 and 73.2 doesn't sound that far away.  

A check of the Social Security actuarial life table made me feel much better. That table shows that a 58 year old can expect to live, on average, another 21.95 years putting me at about 80. So, I'm going with those figures and just gained about 7 more years of life. 

I'm just playing around with all these figures. I know that anything can happen to us at any time. A speeding bus can hit me. A new disease can hit me. A heart attack can happen at any moment. But, it definitely gives me some hope by viewing the SSA tables at this point in my life. 

There are many more life expectancy calculators on the internet from different financial and insurance companies. Some ask a few questions about your life. Some ask for many more details. Some will ask for your age and gender while others ask that plus height, weight, blood pressure, drinking, smoking, etc. All estimates must be taken with a grain of salt since it all involves averages. If you average two men who died at 60 and 90 you get a life expectancy of 75. Which is a 15 year difference plus or minus and shows the vast difference in the actual life lived. I realize that the actuarial table are probably built on average of millions and millions and are pretty accurate for an average life span. But that is all it is, an average. And few of us are average. 

I guess we all should look at this in a different way. Rather than look at how long I'm expected to live, I should be looking at what kind of life I expect to live during the time I'm here. A whole different "life expectancy". 

As you get older do you ponder the life you have left very often? Have you ever searched the life expectancy tables? I don't mean for this post to be overly morbid. I just want to make sure we all fill our remaining years with the good stuff. Being around those we love and enjoy. Seeing and doing things we want to experience in this life. Finding our purpose. Leaving our legacy and great memories. 

I've got to work on my plan for those next 21.95 years I have left and hope to exceed those silly life expectancy tables and live to 150! May you all excel in life expectancy!

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Other Little Details


My last post was about noticing little details in a granite countertop and in other places as we go through life. This post will be about little details that we need to pay attention to in our retirement life.

My wife and I recently made a trip to Wichita Falls, TX and stumbled upon a sign for the World's Littlest Skyscraper. Of course we had to follow the arrow and see what this was. We grew up in North Texas, about 2 hours or so from Wichita Falls, and have been there numerous times but never heard of this Skyscraper. We pulled down an alley and saw a tiny little four story building with the sign attached to it. We took a photo and thought it was a cute little building.

Once I got home, I searched the internet for the World's Littlest Skyscraper and discovered a fascinating story behind it. A man by the name of McMahon promised to build a high rise building in the city. He collected $200,000 (Over $3 million in today's value) from investors and built the building in 1919. Investors sued him because they had believed the building was going to be 480 feet tall. McMahon won the court case because the actual blueprints were in inches, not feet. McMahon disappeared with the remaining funds. This swindle is a textbook case of one needing to read the fine print. I can imagine that everyone in the room believed that the building was going to be 480 feet tall instead of 480 inches tall. I can imagine looking at the blueprint and not paying attention to something as small as the notation after 480 being a ' for feet or " for inches. A very small thing that made a huge difference in the size of the building.  

This age old lesson can be applied by everyone in life and especially in retirement. We all need to pay attention to the small print and to the fine details that may be hidden. Pay attention to the rules of any subscription you may sign up for so you are not surprised when something changes. Recently, my car wash membership monthly payment went from $10 to $12. I asked the attendant about the increase last week. He said the $10 was an introductory fee and after six months it went to $12. This is a small detail that I didn't see or pay attention to. Not that it matters much in this case as I will still get more than my money's worth at $12. At least I didn't buy into a skyscraper!

Pay attention to the small details of all of your monthly bills. Recently, I looked over my phone bill and discovered a $17 a month charge for phone insurance. I did not sign up for this when I bought a new phone last month and had it quickly deleted. I'm sure the sales clerk just punched the button for that automatically and unless you notice it on your bill you could pay for months for something you didn't sign up for. Again, at least it wasn't a skyscraper.

Have you found any small print or little details that have added costs to something without your knowledge? What other examples can you think of in other areas of the retired life that we need to take a closer look at? Mind your inches and feet and save yourself some money!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Little Details



I've read numerous articles and books that suggest paying attention to little details in life to help me appreciate things around me. I have done this often and seen the tiny details of various plants, bugs, flowers, etc. outside. Most often I do not go through my day looking for those tiny details.

About a month ago I was sitting at our kitchen island on a barstool and enjoying a bowl of cereal. Our kitchen island and countertops have a white granite surface. For the first time I noticed, really noticed, the granite. My wife and I have lived in this home for four years and this is the first time that I really looked closely at the granite. I focused on what I was looking at and noticed the different colors and flecks of material within the granite. I noticed how cool the quartz looked within the granite. There were several spots of quartz that appeared to have depth due to the clarity of the quartz. As I looked closely, I was amazed at how interesting and beautiful the granite was. I thoroughly enjoyed the moment and felt like I was finally seeing the granite for the beauty it was. When my wife woke up, I had her come look at the granite with my newly found vision for details. She wasn't as enthused as I was and I am pretty sure she thought I was finally losing it a little!

Now that I have seen the details for the countertop, I notice the small details in it every time I'm in the kitchen. It truly gave me a new appreciation for something as simple as a countertop. As I type this post, I have noticed, more closely, the wood grain on my desk top. I now notice a few knots that I haven't noticed before. The visible tree rings are beautiful and shows the wet years and dry years in the spacing. On the negative side, I also notice the glass top needs cleaning!

If you haven't looked at something recently to inspect the small details, I highly recommend you give it a try. Here is your homework for this post. If you have granite countertop, go take a look and see if you are as amazed as I am about the details. If not granite, pick something else and really examine it like you never have before. Please report back in the comment section and I will give you a grade for the assignment!

Not only did I notice the details in the granite, it made me curious about granite. I began to search the internet for how granite is formed, how different colors were made, what are the small flecks and colors within the granite, etc. So, not only did I notice something in a new way, I also learned a little bit along the way. It is the little things in life that make daily living a wonderous thing. So, get out there and pay more attention to the small stuff of life!

Have you noticed any small details recently? Were you as happy as I was when really looking closely at something and rediscovering it all over again? 






Sunday, January 7, 2024

Unique Gifts

Christmas, Birthday and Father's Day are all gift receiving days for me. It seems like in this stage of life, I have about everything I need. When asked for gift ideas, it is very hard to come up with a wish list. 

This Christmas I received several unique gifts that I really enjoyed opening. I received a grill cleaning tool from my daughter that is very unique. She explained that the cleaning head was made of the same material firefighter clothing is made of and is supposed to last for years. You soak the end in water and use it to steam scrub your grill grates. I can't wait to give it a try! Another unique gift was from my wife. She gave me a two piece set of tube squeezers. They are simple little devices to put on the end of a tube of toothpaste or medicine and roll up the tube as you use it. Very cool! She also gifted me a set of silver dice that have dining options on each face of the dice. We often want to eat out but can't make up our mind where to go. Now, I can roll the dice and land on a decision of Mexican, Pasta, Subs, Chinese, Chicken, Pizza and many more. None of these gifts would have crossed my mind to add to a wish list, nor did I even know they existed as a gift option.

I gave a unique gift to my son. It was a pen made from bullet casings. It is a very nice and heavy pen and writes very good. I hinted that I might need one for Father's Day! My wife loves to chew on nugget type ice and always refills her drink cup at certain restaurants with ice to take home and munch on throughout the day. For Christmas, I got her a countertop nugget ice machine. She loves having a constant supply of her favorite nugget ice. I just need to get a set of noise cancelling headphones for the crunching!

Did you receive any unique gifts at Christmas or over the past year? Did you give any unique gifts? How many of you got the old standby of socks and underwear? I got those too!













Monday, January 1, 2024

ABQ Balloon Fiesta

 

 


During my recent three month blogging break my wife and I added a few trips for 2023. In October we went to Albuquerque and attended the International Balloon Fiesta. This event has been on my bucket list for several years and we finally made the trip out. During my career I had oversight of an office in Albuquerque and made a couple of visits during the Fiesta but never made it out to the actual event.

We attended two night sessions which included a Special Shapes Glow and a general glow. Both of those nights were spectacular. During the glow, the announcer would count down and the balloons would all light their flames for an incredible sight. During the glow they would also do several flickers in which the flames were turned on and off rapidly which made the balloons twinkle across the field. The Fiesta is unique in the fact that you can walk among the balloon field while balloons are being inflated and during the glow sessions. It was just an incredible experience! We stayed one night for a drone show and fireworks show. Both shows were very good.

We attended one morning session for a mass ascension. What a sight to behold! We were there early and saw the balloons being inflated and then ascending in mass. It was an absolutely incredible scene to walk among the balloons and gaze skyward as all the colorful balloons floated just above you and on into the sky! If you can tell from my writing, I was very excited about this event. Everyone needs to attend it at least once. I can only describe the night glow and mass ascension as "magical". I was in awe of the whole thing and liken it to a "grand canyon" moment when you first see the grand canyon from the edge and see how fantastic it is. 

A ride in a hot air balloon is also on my list. You can do one during the Fiesta but it is extremely expensive compared to booking a ride throughout the year. The expense is probably worth it during the Fiesta because once there, it appeared that some rides could be done during the mass ascension. That would be one great ride!

I will warn you of one thing...there are a lot of people at this event! But, it was well worth navigating through a crowd to see this. We chose the park and ride option and parked at a local mall and were shuttled in and out on school buses. It was definitely the way to go. I heard someone on our bus say they would never drive a car to it again because they waited in traffic for hours. The shuttle buses have a dedicated route that makes the bus ride an easy ride to the event. The buses were also interesting as the drivers had decorated the inside. One of ours was decorated with all things balloon related and the other was decorated for Halloween. 

We got a bonus during this trip that I didn't realize when I booked it. The full solar eclipse happened while we were there at the Fiesta! 

Any of you been to the Fiesta? If so, did you enjoy it as much as I did? Have any of you rode in a hot air balloon? This trip will be hard to beat and I highly recommend you put it on your list!

Happy New Year!