Up, up, and away… the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Upon conclusion of the Colorado Trail in Durango, we rented a car and drove on south to Albuquerque (cheaper than Greyhound!) to spend a week visiting with M’s sister Lauren.  She generously offered us a home to stay in, and a car to drive, upon our arrival.  Our stay also, happily, coincided with Albuquerque’s annual International Balloon Fiesta.  Sweet as.

 

We’d had tentative plans to go check out the fiesta with C’s friends Luke and Beth, but plans fell through, and we ended up going on our own on Wednesday morning for the Flight of the Nations mass ascension. 

The day begins with the Dawn Patrol flights–the first balloons of the day taking off at 5:45am, lighting up the still-dark sky like little colorful lightbulbs.  As day breaks, the immense field becomes an ever changing scene of balloons in various stages of preparing for take off.  Rows and rows of balloons are laid out, filled up, and take off.  It is just incredible.  Aside from the standard rainbow-colored balloons, there are also the ‘special shape’ balloons: the castle, a couple of pigs, an enormous cow, Darth Vader, space aliens, buffalos, the Wells Fargo stagecoach (this year’s major sponsor), and heaps more.  Just when you leave a row of balloons to move to the next, you look behind you and a new crop of balloons have popped up.  SO MUCH FUN!!

As a bonus to this great funitude, food and souvenir stalls abound, and an entertainment stage showcases local performers.  M, who had longed for a smoked turkey leg ever since he first saw one at the California State Fair, enjoyed his very first turkey leg at, oh, 8:30am.  C enjoyed one of the many New Mexican breakfast burritos purporting to be the ‘best’: scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, and green chili…mmm…

Another highlight of the Balloon Fiesta is the evening balloon glow, followed by awesome fireworks.  During the ‘glodeo,’ the balloons are anchored, but filled, and they all light up as dark falls–quite a sight.  We decided to check this out on Friday night accompanied by Lauren and Chris, but arrived a bit late, and were disappointed to have missed the glow.  We did catch the fireworks, which were great, though a bit shorter than the scheduled one-hour display.  We consoled ourselves with more turkey legs, roasted corn, half-price green chili burgers, lemonade, snowcones, and, yes, a funnel cake.  Though not exactly what we’d hoped for, it was all in all, a splendid evening.  (It was only upon leaving the fiesta grounds that we learned that we hadn’t missed the glow at all–it was cancelled due to the evening’s winds.  We’ll go back to see it another time…)

Tremendous thanks go to our lovely Albuquerque tour guides, hosts, and family/friends Lauren, Chris, Frannie, and Maribeth.  While we don’t have photos of everything we did while we were there, we had the best time eating (junk food, awesome Mexican and New Mexican, many hearty breakfasts, and other non-trail foods), hiking (yes, really), playing Putt Putt, and just hanging out.

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~ by ... on 19 October 2008.

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