Before we left the Enchanted Trails RV Park, Donna had a delivery from a company that specializes in pet products. She ordered a special cat bed that mounts in a window. The bed uses four suction cups for mounting – two at the bed level and two more for support straps.
I assembled it and we mounted it on the living room slide out window Thursday morning. Ozark didn’t seem very interested at first. Then we had to put her in her crate while we relocated to the Balloon Fiesta RV dry camping area. While we made the 20-mile drive, Donna had black beans cooking in the slow cooker. She plugs in the slow cooker hot plate and puts it in the sink. The slow cooker runs off the inverter and cooks while we drive.
When we checked in, I told the person manning the office my name and said we were pre-registered with the Escapees Boomer Group. They looked up my information and had a guy escort us to the Escapees area. From there, another guy with the Escapees named Jim directed us to an area where we unloaded the Spyder and dropped the trailer. Then he escorted us to our site.
Outside our windshield is a large open field. Last year, the balloon I crew for landed here on one of the flights. I’m hoping we do so again. I needed to get the Traeger wood pellet fired grill from the trailer. Unfortunately, the area where we dropped the trailer is about 300 yards from our site. Jim said he would see if he could find someone with a truck to help us out. A fellow Escapee, Ken, volunteered to help us. We loaded the Traeger, chairs, table and a few odds and ends in his pick-up truck and he drove it to our site. Nice!
I needed the Traeger to cook two racks of babyback ribs for the potluck dinner at Brad and Jessica Rice’s house. I know I go over this every time I make babyback ribs, but I’ll repeat my method. I prepared the ribs Wednesday evening so I could get a head start on grilling after we set up our rig. First I removed the thin membrane from the bone side of the ribs. This isn’t too hard – I start in the center and separate the membrane from the ribs with a table knife. You don’t want a sharp knife – it will cut through the membrane. You just want to peel a little of the membrane from the ribs. Then I use a paper towel to grip the membrane and slowly pull it off the ribs.
With the membrane removed, I’m ready for dry rub. This time I used a 3:2 ratio of Pappy’s Choice Seasoning and Lambert’s Sweet Rub O’Mine. It takes a few tablespoons per rack. I wrapped the ribs in cling wrap and put them in the refrigerator.
On Thursday afternoon, I preheated the Traeger with the setting on 300 degrees. This gave me a pit temperature of about 280 degrees. I put the ribs on the grill, bone side down and closed the lid. I let them cook for two and half hours before I opened the lid. Then I wrapped them in heavy-duty aluminum foil, put them back on the Traeger and dropped the setting to 250 degrees.
Fifteen minutes later, I took them out of the Traeger, stacked the two racks and wrapped them in a bath towel to keep them warm. This is different from the way I cooked them in the past. The results turned out to be superior. The dry rub was just about perfect, the ribs were moist and the meat fell off the bone. We loaded the Spyder with the ribs, slow cooker with the beans plus two containers of restaurant-style Mexican rice that Donna prepared the night before.
We headed out to the Rice’s house around 4:30pm. The traffic on Alameda was unbelievable. It took us 45 minutes to find their house which was about 10 miles away. We had a feast there for the Heart’s A’Fire crew, families and friends. It was a fun party. Just as everyone was filling their plates, a thunderstorm blew in. We weren’t expecting that. Donna and I rode the Spyder home around 8pm and it was still sprinkling and the roads were really wet. Visibility was poor, but at least the traffic was light.
When we came home, we found that Ozark the cat likes her new window bed.
I watched a lackluster Thursday Night Football game and hit the sack around 10:30pm. I had my alarm set for 5am – that’ll be the drill for the next 10 days.
After a poor night’s sleep, I was up at 5am. I’m sure our neighbors were thrilled to hear our generator fire up at that hour. But that’s how it goes at Balloon Fiesta time. Generator hours are 5am to 10pm. Many of us have to be up early to crew.
Friday’s flight isn’t really part of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It’s an extracurricular event called Albuquerque Aloft. Pilots sign up to lift off from local public schools to raise awareness among young people. I rode back to the Rice’s house – at this hour it took me little over 15 minutes to get there. We pulled out of their driveway before 6:30am and went to Maggie Cordova Elementary School for our flight.
Brad lifted off around 7:30am with Lisa, wife of crew member Aaron on board. They had about an hour of flight time before we chased them down at an abandoned golf course northeast of their starting point.
We had things packed up fairly quickly and I was back home by 10:30am and ready for a nap. This evening, we have another potluck dinner with the Escapees Boomer Group. Tomorrow will be a long day. I’ll roll out of bed at 5am to meet the crew at the Balloon Fiesta Park. We’re assigned to launch site H7. After the morning flight and tailgate party, I’m sure a nap will be in order. Then we will set up again for the evening glow.