Last year Jessica and I hopped into the car to head down to Albuquerque, NM for our friend Stephanie's wedding. So this year we decided to hop into the car and drive down for a visit since she and her little family live down there now. Plus we had the added benefit of spending some time at the Albuquerue Balloon Fiesta. We were down on the same weekend last year, but Stefanie's wedding and some bad weather really thwarted any chances of seeing the balloons; this year the forecast looked much better!
Stephanie's dad pilots the Remax ballon, so we had some special access on the field, and even better, when one of the planned passengers bailed on Friday morning, a spot opened up and Stephanie offered up the seat to me. Kakow! I was pretty psyched, and started focusing on keeping my fear of heights in check. Jessica became part of our chase-crew in the van, and I was off...
It didn't take too long for me to adjust to the heights, and the way the basket moves around a bit. For some reason, flying is always way better than hanging on a rock face, or looking over the edge of a railing, when it comes to my acrophobia. And good thing, since there was plenty to look at. We were trying to get to the field, so we could throw a beanbag at the targets. The shear number of balloons in such a small space was amazing!
When it was time for a landing, we ended up coming down, outside of the United States of America... on Indian lands. I wish I would have taken notice of who's land it was... they had one hell of a casino just over the hill. No, really. Flying was fun, but it was also cool because we got to help inflate and then recover, deflate and pack up the balloon afterwards. Always cool to see how things work, and not something you get to do when you're just a typical passenger.
The Balloon-World is pretty fun; get up while it's dark, go fly, land, and regroup back at the field for some partying and celebrating another safe flight. By the time you've flown, had some food and drink, and are ready for a nap, it's only about 11.30. We relaxed during the day, and were back at the field that evening for the "Glow" where all the balloons inflate on the field, and then light up their burners at once, making all the balloons glow in the darkness. It was crazy, once again, how many people and balloons were there!
I really like the Space Shuttle balloon, even though this was the closest it came to flying that weekend.
And each night wrapped up with fireworks - we've gotten to see lots this year after missing most of the shows last year!
The next morning we were up early again, and it was back to the field for the Mass Ascension. ALL the balloons were on the field and taking off in waves. You could walk around and see balloons packed side by side, and be right there while they took off. It was like an hour of hundreds of balloons over-head all at once.
You've gotta love the Darth Vader Balloon - they even had their crew dressed in full Stormtrooper outfits.
Though I was mostly obsessed with the Creamland Dairy Cow Balloon. I'm not even a "boob-man", but those udders were huge...
I'm just glad it didn't leave any like-sized cow-patties;
I mostly can't believe that it didn't take out tons of people when it finally lifted off;
That thing was really, really huge!
That night we were back for more glowing, and more fireworks. The morning glow-flights were a sight to see as well; (I stole this photo from the site, since I didn't capture any good ones)
And our last night there, we went for the glow, but the wind picked up so the balloons had serious issues staying inflated and standing up. So what do you do in that case? Well, everyone still just uses the burners all at once, just without the balloons. And really, who doesn't love crazy-big flames!?
Jessica and I were a bit sick that weekend, and we were running all about with the balloons, but spent all that time also hanging with Stephanie, Craig, Addie and Lil' John. So a good visit all around and we made it back home safe without too much hassle, and of course with a stop in Colorado Springs at Dunkin' Donuts.