The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is probably my favorite event here in New Mexico. For two weeks each October, hot air balloons fill the sky with amazing color. Each morning they have a laser light show and balloon glow, followed by the mass ascension. In the evening, there are laser light shows and other fun events, like the Special Shapes Glowdeo. We have not attended an evening event, mostly because the morning mass ascension is so spectacular.
This year we were invited to be a part of the Chase Crew for Smokey the Bear! Monday morning we got up at o-dark-thirty and made our way to Albuquerque. The weather was not as cooperative as we would have liked it to be, so the balloons did not get going as early as they did last year when we attended. There are so many balloons that each one has a window for inflating and launch. If you cannot make your window, you make way for the next balloon. Well, as it turned out, it was too windy for Smokey, so we did not get to help set him up or chase him, but we had a really good time anyway.
Once the sun began to come up, there were balloons inflating every where we looked. After a cold morning, it warmed up nicely and balloons began to fill the sky. Any disappointment about not being able to help with Smokey quickly disappeared. I took about a million pictures as we ooh-ed and aah-ed our way around the balloon field. I am not normally a morning person, but this event is definitely worth getting up at 2am for!
Waiting for the winds to calm so we could help inflate Smokey the Bear. Dawn Patrol is getting ready in the background.
The twins sharing a moment
Chase vehicles for Smokey the Bear. The firetruck was really fun (and super cold!) to ride in!
It wasn’t quite the hot air balloon, but they were able to inflate a smaller Smokey out by the Balloon Museum.
I arrived home from vacation the day before the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta started, so rather than coming straight home, my family met me in Albuquerque, where we spent the night. We wanted to make sure we were at the park in time for the morning balloon glow. So at 3am we climbed out of bed and made our way over to Balloon Fiesta Park. I had gone to the Fiesta back when I was in grade school, but I do not remember it. I do, however, think that it had some lasting effect on me, though, because I have loved hot air balloons for as long as I can remember. So this was our chance, not only for me to refresh my memory, but to also share it with my family for the very first time.
And it was amazing! Absolutely. Amazing.
PS – No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to stop taking pictures of balloons when you are surrounded by them!
On a beautiful Saturday, we took a drive to Albuquerque. It was National Park Week, so we figured a new park was in order. We opted to take the scenic route versus the freeway, and it was definitely worth it!
The spring greens were so vibrant and the red rock was just amazing.
Near the little town of Jemez Springs is Soda Dam. Here, mineral deposits have built up, creating a natural dam blocking the Jemez River. An underground hot spring has been flowing here for centuries.
It was a fun place to stop and explore on our way to Albuquerque.
Albuquerque has Petroglyph National Monument right in its backyard. In the visitor’s center, we watched an award winning film on the forming of the escarpment and the history of the petroglyphs, then we were ready to hit the trail.
There are a few trails to choose from, but we decided on the Piedras Marcadas Canyon hike. It was beyond amazing.
After a fun day of exploring, we had some New Mexican food at Sadie’s, then headed for home. We opted for the scenic route again, even though it was beginning to get dark. All that red rock was even more spectacular in the setting sun.
I am not sure what next weekend holds, but I do know that wherever we go, whichever direction we head, we will find something truly amazing in our path…