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Wednesday March 23rd: Blizzards & Balloons

• CATEGORIES: Features, Museums • TAGS: This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

<– Day 14 – Tuesday March 22nd: Wind & Range  | Beginning | Day 16 & 17 – March 24-25th: Homeward Bound –>


Lost as usual.

Today’s goal was to drive from Albuquerque to Pueblo, Colorado (See yesterday’s post here). Mother Nature had a different idea.


Today we drove from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Cortez, Colorado

We awoke on Wendesday morning to learn that Mother Nature had decided to spoil the Coloradoans early spring by sending a wintery blizzard through the Denver area. Winds accompanied the snow (it remained very windy in Albquequerque as well), causing a snow plow to tip over at the Denver airport. We didn’t have to read much of the news to decide that we were ready to save Colorado for another day. So, we altered our plan to drive up the eastern slope of the Rockies in favor of driving the short route home through Utah.

However, another issue appeared when we made that decision; it seemed that we only had a narrow window through which we could get over Oregon’s Blue Mountains (on I-84) between storms. This meant we couldn’t mess around too much on the way home. We had to get going. But, first we wanted to stop by The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History’s gift shop (Ann wanted some bomb shaped shot glasses) and then visit the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, aka the Albuquerque Balloon Museum, before heading for Cortez, Colorado.

We visited the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History during our trip last year. They had some cool gifts, including a set of shot glasses and wanted to buy. When we walked into the gift shop, look what we found! 1956 CJ-5 (serial number 10006) purchased by the federal government, complete with a data plate. One of the more interesting mods was the RPM gauge on the grille and a custom bump on the hood. When I saw those mods I got very curious about what was under the hood, so I pulled the “I run a large vintage jeep website” card. Of course, they had no clue who I was, but they let me open the hood anyway. It was all stock, except for the mice droppings; someone hadn’t cleaned under the hood in a while. I concluded the gauge and hood were likely not original to the jeep, hence they were painted black.

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We left the gift store and drove over to the balloon museum, a place suggested by Benita and Scott, both balloon officanados. It’s beautifully designed building. Inside, we found a number of smartly designed exhibits. We had fun learning about the early years of ballooning. At $4/per person it’s worth a visit.

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After leaving the museum, we spent the next few hours driving almost directly into a constant, powerful wind. It was non-stop until we reached Shiprock, New Mexico. There, we turned north and the winds seemed to subside somwwhat. Here’s some scenery from that remote area.

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Tomorrow we rise early for a drive to Salt Lake City, where we plan to take the kids out to dinner.

<– Day 14 – Tuesday March 22nd: Wind & Range  | Beginning | Day 16 & 17 – March 24-25th: Homeward Bound –>


7 Comments on “Wednesday March 23rd: Blizzards & Balloons

  1. GK

    Dave, Sorry to miss you passing through Pueblo and Colorado Springs. More spring snow today. Looks like the balloon museum commissioned Madame Tussaud to craft a wax figure of someone who looks like you!

  2. Gordon West

    I just missed you at the Nuclear Science Museum. I was there last week to do a presentation for a biochar research project with Sandia Labs. That would have been weird to run into you there!

  3. Rick

    Looks like you are having a good trip. The CJ-5 was more likely a fire truck. It is missing the pump which was a 500 GPM Barton. The front tac was used by the pump operator. They had a curved front bumper also. If you notice the holes on the left front fender – that is where the light/ siren was mounted. The bump in the hood had something to do with a modification with the carb to control engine speed or pump pressure – not to sure on that. It appears the rear bumper is also part of the fire equipment. The CJ-3 page shows a example of a CJ-5 fire truck Have a safe trip.

  4. Benita

    Dave and Ann, glad you guys enjoyed the Balloon Museum. We had a great time visiting with you! Come back anytime. Hope Ann found some goodies she could eat at Whole Foods (?)

  5. David Eilers Post author

    Gordon: That would have been weird, but fun!
    Rick: That never occurred to me. I’ll have to investigate it further.
    Benita: Yes, some cheese, smoked octopus, and smoked salmon. That was our dinner at Cortez. We look forward to returning soon!

  6. David Eilers Post author

    Guy: Glad we changed plans. I-70 sounds like it may have been a slow slog as well out of Denver (when it wasn’t closed that is). I expect we will be back through there after the book is finished.

  7. Mom

    Enjoyed your trip, as usual. You always make your trips interesting and educational as well. Glad you made it home safely!

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