Friday, October 10, 2014

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

This is quite a show! We attended the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta this morning and had a great time. We woke up at 4 am (!) and drove to the park so as to arrive before the traffic got too bad. The balloons go up very early to take advantage of calm winds in the morning.

At 5:45 am the first six balloons went up as part of the "Dawn Patrol." These balloons test the wind conditions and determine whether or not the rest of the field can fly. The weather was cloudy but the winds were calm. It's beautiful to see the balloons light up the sky before dawn.

Dawn Patrol at the Balloon Fiesta

Check out that Wicked gas jet!
 The dawn patrol reported back... and the yellow flag was lowered and a green flag raised in its place. This was the go signal, and the first of more than 500 balloons started to ignite their jets! 

The sky was soon filled with balloons. They let you right on the launch field and you can wander amongst all of the balloons as they inflate. It's pretty cool to get that close up. 

It got to the point where you didn't know where to look - we were surrounded by balloons! 

Then at about 7:30 things really got interesting when the special shapes started launching. Balloons of every imaginable shape and size were being inflated. It made for some really cool effects. 

Darth Vader and Yoda

Love that cow balloon!

Butterflies and Sharks and Bees and Gators

It was a great experience. By about 8 am most of the 500+ balloons were in the air. We lingered a bit and then departed while the rest of the crowd headed for the vendor booths. We drove to Frontier restaurant (a famous diner in Albuquerque) for a fantastic breakfast burrito. 

As we drove home we saw dozens of balloons still in the air, and a few were trying to land in parking lots and other open spaces (they typically fly for about 1-2 hours). Apparently a few hard landings occur each year and we saw on TV later that one balloon almost got stuck in a tree. 

We plan to go again tomorrow for the Night Glow Show. I'll post a few more pictures then. This is definitely a bucket-list event - worth attending. It happens every October but plan well in advance if you decide to go because the hotels and RV parks book up fast. 

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