Assuming the weather doesn’t get strange and that certain balloons make it back from China, the Inter – national Balloon Fiesta will start on Saturday with a very early Dawn Patrol. Balloons will lift off after a little ceremony and an invocation. Thousands of people will pour into the city. In fact, finding a hotel without a reservation is so tough that often times people will stay as far away as Grants or even Gallup in order to have a room.

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The box. There is a reason that the Inter – national Balloon Fiesta is held in October. There is a wind pattern that occurs under stable conditions in the fall season when there are no strong weather systems in the valley. Air flows down the mountains and into the valley, moving south as the air heats up in the morning This is known as the Albuquerque Box. The box tends to fall apart by late morning and reassembles in late afternoon. We had a particularly stormy Fiesta last year. The box was really never able to form on most days. In fact, on the few days when the balloons could fly the box broke down allowing the balloons to fly eat and south causing a little bit of happy chaos in the streets of the city.


A reflection in a rain puddle seems to say all you need to know about last years Inter – national Balloon Fiesta. Of the ten event days, eight were suspended due to weather related issues. That doesn’t mean those days were all rained out. But, it does mean the strong windows came creating an unmanageable situation for balloon pilots. This years fiesta is already fraught with drama. I wrote about the open grilling issue a few days ago. Now comes word that the Chinese are holding some ten oddly shaped balloons hostage in China. These odd shaped balloons are very popular. They were shipped to Mongolia for a first annual balloon round up there. They were supposed to be returned by expensive air freight according to the contract. But, the Chinese sponsors decided to make some money and wanted to ship them by boat which would have taken five weeks. But, somehow they never got around to it. The balloons are still in China. The fiesta begins on Friday. One of our country’s better negotiators has been called in. Luckily, he is also the New Mexico State governor, Bill Richardson. More to come.


The image is from Tres Piedras, which is about 30 miles west of Taos where state highways 64 and 285 meet. I think I photograph this same scene every couple of years. It never changes. But, the light does. The weather does. And, the seasons do. This image is old enough that it is a scan from film. It was a logging and ranching town. It has seen much better times.


Fall arrived last week. Soon the leaves will be changing colors from verdant green to yellow, gold and orange. The leaves will fall. Winter will soon arrive.

Depending on where in New Mexico you live, winter can be a time of golden, warm light and pristine snow or it can just mean a lot of dry air. Unfortunately, Albuquerque falls into the later category. Yes, the city gets snow… sometimes. But, you have to head north for really pretty snow and light.
This is just a bare tree in early morning light, somewhere just north of Santa Fe.


Next up in Albuq – uerque is the Inter – national Balloon Fiesta. If you’ve never attended, you owe it to yourself to spend a week in and around the city to attend the Fiesta. The sight of so many balloons is amazing. It usually makes me smile. I like balloons. I don’t like clowns. They scare me.

So, what fight?
Apparently, the powers that be have banned open grilling this year. Grilling is as much a part of the Fiesta as the balloons themselves. The crews spend the day between the first dawn launches and the evening activities hanging out and burn food on their grills. For the crews, it’s a big deal. Protests have been lodged from as far away as Italy and The United Kingdom. Stay tuned.
Oh yeah. I painted this image.


this stuff. Like yesterday’s post, this image was also made in Virginia City. In many ways, it speaks to the relentless of nature. Even though somebody thought that they could give the building a more modern look by plastering over the original brick exterior; the cold of winter and the heat of summer in addition to the strong Washoes — winds that could, as Mark Twain tells it, could cause a corrugated piece of roofing to fly like a kite — brought it back to its original form. I’m not sure what caught my eye. I just sort of like stuff like this, so I made the picture. Besides, if you look at it closely, it looks like an oddly shaped Gulf of Mexico with the heal of Florida descending on the center-right. Or not.


I found this faded sign on a bar room wall in Virginia City, Nevada. The building housed all kinds of businesses in its past. It was a general store, a hardware store, a cat house and now a tourist-oriented bar and casino.

A bit about Virginia City. The Cartwrights used to go to Virginia City for supplies on the very old television show, Bonanza. Mark Twain got a foothold as a reporter here. Adolph Sutro built a tunnel for draining water all the way to what was then a tiny town called Dayton, six miles away. Dayton stayed tiny until a housing boom turned it into a bedroom community for Carson City. Sutro was better known for his work in San Francisco. In fact, he became mayor there in the late 1800s. San Fransisco always had ties to Virginia City because of the silver, but in the 1965 before they became famous, The Greatful Dead when they were known as The Charlatans holed up there and played their music at The Red Dog Saloon.
I’ve been going to Virginia City since I was about 12 years old. I’ve watched it contract and now expand down into the valley where the old silver mines of The Comstock Load were located.


This image is an example of something that I’ve been photo – graphing for a long time. It’s generally part of a broader shoot. Simply put, it’s leftovers from a past time. Sometimes it’s a sign such as this one – BEER — sometimes it’s a remnant of a building. Sometimes it’s a sign that has been painted over, but the new painting has begun to fade over time — perhaps because of lack of quality in the new paint, or the slap dash manner in which the paint was applied, and is revealed again. In art this is called pentimento, a term that means the artists repents and paints over a painting or a portion of the painting, hiding his original intent. It is done intentionally. I doubt the signs and left overs that I photograph are intentionally fading to to reveal the painter’s original intent.