Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a magnificent display of hot air balloons that takes place during the first week of October. This year it ran from Oct 1st to Oct 9th. This is something that I’ve always wanted to see and was greatly disappointed when we went over our schedule and realized we would be missing it only by a few days. Somehow, though, we got ahead of ourselves and about 3 weeks ago we realized that if we stayed on track we would be able to catch the last weekend of the fiesta. So we’ve been pushing to make it here and we did and I’m totally pumped about it. On most days during the fiesta, there are 2 events per day- a morning session and an evening session. So this morning we were up and at em at 4:00am to make sure we beat the crowd for the Dawn Patrol, which is scheduled for 5:45am. We were way too early, it was freezing cold out, and the dawn patrol wasn’t that impressive. It was just 3 balloons that went up to test out the weather conditions for the morning flight. They did look beautiful lit up in the dark morning, pre-sun sky though. We were waiting in anticipation for the mass ascension, which is when hundreds of hot air balloons inflate in the field and then float off into the sky. I guess the weather conditions were iffy, and they were questioning whether or not they were gonna cancel the event due to the wind conditions. That left us waiting quite a long time, in the freezing cold. I was freakin freezing, and even though I had my hiking boots on I was wearing these light summer socks and my toes were turning into icicles. Good thing I have my knight in shining armor with me at all times.. He went and found me a pair of thick socks decorated hot air balloons and saved my feet and the day. Finally, they made the call and decided the weather conditions were safe for ballooning, and so began the mass ascension. And let me tell you… it was WELL worth getting up at 4am and waiting 3 hours in the cold. Hundreds of balloons began inflating on the ground and, in no particular order with no apparent organization, they lifted off and floated into the morning sky in a sort of free-for-all style. So many vibrant colors and patterns, the balloons were absolutely beautiful. And mixed in with the classic balloon shape were some “special shapes” balloons- bumble bees, spider pig, a butterfly, a cow, a corona bottle, just to name a few. And the best part of all of this- there are basically no rules whatsoever for the spectators. There are no barricades or ropes blocking off the ballooning area. You’re completely free to walk all around the field, right up to the balloons as they’re blowing up and getting ready to take off. Crowds of people just roaming free in a sea of hot air balloons.. and then you look up above you and see them floating all around in every direction. It’s absolutely amazing.
After the ascension, we filled ourselves up with fair junk food. A turkey leg and “ribbon fries”, which are basically fresh fried potato chips that are delicious. With a full belly we headed back to the van for a solid 3 hours of sleep. Soooo good.
The evening event of the balloon fiesta is called “the afterglow”. At dusk, all the ballooners, hundreds of them, set up in the field and blow up their balloons, constantly igniting the HUGE flame that keeps these puppies afloat. Once the sun goes down, the balloons glow when the flame is ignited. Huge, vibrant balloons glowing in a giant field. The view is nothing short of spectacular. First we immersed ourselves in the field, surrounding ourselves with the giant glowing balloons. It was really romantic. Then, we raced up to the cliff near the parking lot to get a view of the entire field from afar. It was pretty rad, because they coordinate every 10 min or so, so that all the balloons light up at once. I’m so ecstatic that we made it to the balloon festival, it was really an amazing experience.
In closing, I’d just like to say.. Ricky and I have been living in a van together for 48 days now, spending every second of every day together. I love him more than ever and I’m having the time of my life. I love you my Richie!!!