Last week I was in New Mexico for the International Tour Management Institute’s (ITMI) 2013 Symposium and Reunion. The first day we were treated to an all-day “Meet Albuquerque” tour.
After a quick look at Old Town, we motored on out to the foothills of the Sandia Mountains for a ride on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, billed as the world’s longest free-span cable tramway. There is no word in that last phrase that gave me any comfort. I don’t like heights and at the top of my list of fears is any kind of aerial cable car.
On a trip to Italy several years ago, we took the aerial tram from Lake Maggiore. I could not look at the lake as we climbed into the sky. My friends were adamant that I should look at the gorgeous view below. So I took the mirror out of my purse, and with my back turned to the view, I held the mirror in front of me so I could see the reflection. That worked!
The photo at the top of this post was my first view of the Sandia Peak tramway lines as we arrived at the parking lot. It didn’t look so bad without seeing how tiny the car looked at that height.
View from lower level of the tram depot. This was a beautiful view and was it really necessary to take the cable car up to the top of the mountain?
I walked up the stairs to the waiting area and made the mistake of wandering outside and looking at the cable car swinging its way up the mountain. At the first pylon the tram seemed to stop for quite a while. I instantly imagined they were in trouble and without even feeling sorry for the occupants of the car, I was relieved that the tram would be closing for the rest of the day.
No such luck. The tram dipped and swayed and was on its way again. Do you see the teeny weeny little cable car way up there approaching the first pylon?
I went back inside the building and awaited my fate.
On this trip I wanted to take some photos on the way up. One of the ladies in my party who was as nervous as I was made the decision at the last minute to stay with her feet firmly planted on the ground. I was sooooo tempted to stay with her but I knew I had to be a big girl and do this. My only hope was that when the cable snapped and we plummeted to the ground I would die quickly of heart failure on the way down before we hit bottom.
The car came into the boarding area and without thinking of the consequences I made a beeline for the front window. We had not moved an inch and both my hands were already gripping the bar tightly. As the tram moved slowly away from the safety of solid ground I realized my mistake. Just a few feet up I was feeling nauseous and panicky. And I knew I had to endure 2.7 miles and 20 minutes of this.
I took the lens cap off my camera and placed it between my eyeballs and the glass. Looking through the camera lens made me feel a lot better. As soon as I put the camera down I felt sick again. So that was how I was able to deal with the view. I looked through the camera lens then I looked down at my feet… I could not handle looking out the window without the camera.
Looking back at the depot those tour buses were starting to look awfully small.
About halfway up raindrops were falling on the windows.
Then the view disappeared. We were in cloud cover. I was actually happy because although I had wanted to get a photo from the highest point, with no view to look at my fear of heights completely dissipated.
I was fine looking out the window at the cable lines disappearing into nothingness. At that point I could have probably climbed out of the car and danced on the roof… as long as I couldn’t see how high up we were I had no fear of it!
We were really rushed for time on our Albuquerque adventure so at the top we had to turn around and descend on the same tram car. But I did get a couple of pictures of the white stuff just to prove I had made it all the way to the peak at 10,679 ft (3,255 m).
When I zoomed in on the railings I was thrilled to get this detail.
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