My husband and I just returned from a two week vacation in the southwest – New Mexico to be more specific. Our trip wouldn’t have been nearly as pleasant without all the nice people we met along the way.
First of all, there was our tour guide, Christopher Gibson, who I believe lives in Albuquerque. Some might call him a “Balloon Spotter,” if there is such a thing (like a “Train Spotter.”). Saying that, pretty much everyone who lives in Albuquerque is a balloon spotter at one time or another just by virtue of living there. Christopher was a very knowledgeable tour guide and Road Scholar is lucky to have him.
Our driver, Fidel, was wonderful as well, not just because he complimented me on my pronunciation of “Feliz Cumpleanos,” but because he was a great driver and he’s a kind person. We saw him again in the Taos area and he made some recommendations (some we followed, others we didn’t) and was quite friendly. I was almost surprised that he remembered my husband and me, but then we were the two youngest on his bus, so we probably stood out a bit. Fidel, I only wish we could have gotten you to drive us to the Friday Special Shapes Night-Glo, but alas, we had our closing evening banquet to attend and you probably enjoyed the night off.
Then there were all the wonderful people in our group.
To name a few…Jamie and Gina (Chilcoat) who are practically our neighbors in Cincinnati – thanks for your wonderful photo of the Yoda balloon. Betty Gray, you were so sweet and I hope you enjoyed your (75th) birthday. I think you’re right that it will certainly be one of your more memorable ones. I only hope I celebrate with that much joy thirty years from now. BJ (Guffee), we really enjoyed talking to you at our last breakfast. I only wish we had had more time to get to know you. I will try to heed your advice not to rush into retirement too soon. I hope our paths cross again someday. Judy (McDaniel), you were like our group rebel, sometimes strolling in at the last minute looking casual, but sophisticated. I think we all wanted to be like you, or at least I did. Your sister told me the story of how you married your high school sweetheart, Dan, who is not only a very nice man, but a talented artist as well (at least from the glimpse of the painting he was working on at the Petroglyphs). I hope you have a long and happy marriage. Marcia and Marc (Nishino), I admire your mother/son relationship. Marc, I think you were the closest in age to us, so for that, I am grateful. Also glad to introduce you both to the wonderful world of Art-o-Mat machines. I hope you find some in southern California so you can help support a few starving artists. There are many others we met whose faces I can’t yet match to the names, but just know I enjoyed meeting all of you and wouldn’t hesitate to travel with you again.
Gordon Brown – you were the talkative artist we met at the art show in Santa Fe. I always find it a bit awkward looking around and admiring others’ artwork when we both know I can’t (or sometimes won’t) afford to purchase much of it. Hence, I usually don’t get too chatty with the artists, but you were very warm and welcoming. As a result, even though I don’t usually buy photographs by other artists (preferring to frame my own), I felt compelled to take home something to remind me of the wonderful conversation we had on that warm autumn day in October. Your colorful photo of a basket of eggs filled the order. I look forward to viewing your website once you have that up and running.
Then there’s the Fergies (Howard and Cheri) whom we met at the Black Mesa Winery in Taos. You’re fellow Golden Retriever lovers and world travelers like ourselves (except that we’re still constrained by work and you’re both retired). I admire your spirit for the open road and keeping a blog to document your adventures. I will be sure to follow along. Hurry up and update it for October. I am anxious to see where else you visited in New Mexico. BTW, we purchased a bottle of the Black Beauty Dessert Wine. When we got home and unpacked our luggage, (I wrapped dirty socks around the bottle to keep it safe), I discovered the TSA had opened my luggage and tucked the notice that they had done so, around the wine bottle having to thumb through several layers of socks without disturbing the pile of clothes on top of it. I kind of admire their stealth way of searching without disturbing. Wish I could look for stuff in my luggage without having to literally unpack it all sometimes.
Ken Eske, Casey, and Korey (of Eske’s Paradise Balloons) – much thanks for your expertise in getting us up into the air safely and without incident. We’re especially grateful since that was our last chance to go up in New Mexico because of our impending flight the next day. You made it fun and I think we all enjoyed feeling like a part of the team by helping out. All butts on board seemed to rally the troops. Also, much thanks for the lovely Champagne brunch afterwards. I ate enough to last me most of the day (which it had to since we skipped lunch to visit the Pueblo). I won’t hesitate to recommend your company to others, but will remind them to allow extra days in case of bad weather.
Flower Basket – if someone had told me I would be chatting with a Native American about television, let alone “The Muppet Show,” I would have told them they had altitude sickness and needed to sit down and have a drink of water. You are a very talented artist and I think you were the only one who engaged us in, aside from a casual ‘Hello’ and ‘Let me know if you need help with anything.’ Maybe you were as curious about my husband’s background (being British) as we were about yours. All I know is I could have stood there and talked to you all day, but we had to get home and watch all the recorded episodes of “The Muppet Show,” you so strongly urged us to enjoy. I only wish I had had more cash so I could have bought one of your lovely pots, but at least we have the ornament to enjoy. I also now know what that double headed vase of mine signifies (wedding vase – bride drinks from one side and the groom from the other).
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Sandra, the American Eagle employee who worked magic with her computer to get us on stand-by on a back-up flight in case we missed our connection in Chicago (we did). We were also lucky that the Murphys, whoever they are, missed their connection (or were held up in some other way) so we could have their seats and get back to Columbus by 11:30pm Sunday night. Yes, that’s quite late, but not as late as we could have been if we hadn’t been allowed on the earlier flight. Not all airport employees would have tried that hard, so kudos to shining stars like Sandra who sometimes go the extra mile, all in a day’s work.