Oct 15, 2018

Friday, Oct. 12 ~ Day 7 of the Balloon Fest

Friday, we awoke to the sound of generators, which are allowed to run from 5AM to 10PM.  They really need a section for those of us who do not need to use a generator.  Sadly I realized that we did not need to rush and head out to the field.  It was time to say adios to the balloons.  As I looked out the window at 6:20AM, I saw the Dawn Patrol fly overhead.  So today was a fly day.  As we did our individual chores to prep the RV to hit the road, we kept sneaking a look up into the sky.  Some balloons were heading the wrong way towards the freeway, others were coming directly over the RV park at a low altitude and then some balloons were actually landing in the park!

I actually saw this para glider descend onto the field from the RV.  I took this one.

Colin took this shot plus those that follow until otherwise indicated.

He was on the roof of the RV.

So we were not at the field this morning but the balloons came to us.

A different perspective.

There is ” Fish ” a balloon from Brazil with a local crew whom I had been speaking with Thursday evening.  I had a heck of a time getting Colin off the roof.

The next five photo are by me. Colin was still on the roof when I went inside to start the RV engine. As I was sitting there this balloon flew over and the pilot waived at me.  I waived back but by the time I reached over for my camera he was moving on.  This shows how low he was.

So many balloons, so very close.

And closer yet.  These balloons are actually landing in the RV park.

What a sight to see the balloons land with their chase crews ripping though the RV Park.  It was a great way for us to say goodbye to the Balloon Fiesta.  From here we moved on to the next adventure.  All will be revealed in the next post.

***As you can see my format is slightly different.  No idea why it has changed but I am going with it for the time being.  I have no time to deal with this but what you see still works!  I have also lost all my emoji’s.

I have had some comments and emails regarding attending the Balloon Fiesta.  The best thing to do is to go onto the website and read all the details.  The RV info is here.  There are various types of RV sites ranging from $250.00 per nite to $40.00 per nite in the cheap seats where we were.  However there are free shuttles that run back and forth to the field for all of the events.  There are tank pump outs available as well as fresh water tank fills for $25.00 each.  If you want to stay in any of the sites with any type of hook up, tickets go on sale for 2019 this October 23rd at 9AM MDT.  Usually they are sold out within a day.  For the first time ever this year the entire South lot was sold out, approximately 2000 RV’s.  I got my tickets last November and when I tried this past August to add a few nights I was unable to.  Tickets to the events are $10.00 each, so if you go in the morning and again in the evening that is $20.00 per day.  However any Costco in Albuquerque sells tickets @ 4 for $27.00.  If you are an American you can order these tickets online thru Costco.  Fortunately I had a good friend who was able to do this for me, we got 16 tickets.  Tickets go on sale the end of September or you can just get them at the event itself.  If you have more specific questions please make a comment and then I can answer so others can see the Q & A.   Total cost to attend depends on how long you want to stay.  Please be aware that on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday there in only a morning event.  Fireworks are after each evening event.  In our case 3 of the 5 evening events were cancelled so we missed out.  If we were to go again, which we will but not for a few years, I think that we would still arrive a day early in order to get parked in better location and stay for the entire fiesta.

One more thing, there are many volunteer positions that you could apply for.  That means that for so many volunteer hours per week you get free parking and a really nice heavy jacket with balloons on the back.  Somewhere on the website is a link for volunteering.   There are many positions available  from parking RV’s to chalking parking lines to driving a golf cart shuttles, etc.  Perhaps Marie, Herb or Cheryl could send me the link or put it into the comment section.


Oct 14, 2018

Thursday, Oct. 11 ~ Day 6 of the Balloon Fest

Fortunately Thursday was not as cold as Wednesday had been but still nippy at 42F.  More people had arrived and the shuttles were full.  We ended up taking one coming into the park but between us and others doing the same we were quickly full and after a half loop of the RV park we were headed to the field.  Somehow I ended up chatting with the lady across the bus aisle from me.  It was a short 8 – 10 minute ride to the drop off area but we covered a number of subjects.  At one point she said that she knew a Canadian that went to Mexico and who wrote a blog.  I looked at her and said that my name was Contessa.  She fell back in her seat and screamed.  It was Cheryl Cox who writes the blog Desert Diva.  We have been reading each others blogs for several years as well as corresponding privately re various subjects including our pets and their various aliments.

What a surprise!  Sadly we did not have much time together as Cheryl is volunteering and had to check in.  She was supposed to come visit that afternoon but never made it.  You never know where or when you are going to meet a blog reader.

Dawn Patrol had just taken off as we arrived.  Today was the Special Shape Rodeo or the first day of special shape balloons.  Everyone was getting their balloon ready.

First time we saw this clown.  The other side of this balloon is a sad face with a frown and tears.

It was also Kids Day and not a good place to be if you don’t do well in crowds.

It was a spectacular day.  There were hundreds of balloons taking off all around us,  not just the special shapes.  Seven to twelve would go up at the same time and then another group would ascend.  So fun to be in the midst of it all.

“Snobird” on the left from Palmer, AK ( that is how they spell the name of the balloon ).  “Chic – I – Boom” from Crooks, SD on the right.

“The Little Bees”.  “Joey and Lilly” featuring “Joelly The Baby Bee “.  Joey and Lilly are 98,000 cu/ft and Joelly is 56,000 cu/ft.

Pirate Jack from Newport Beach, Ca.

The sun burst through the clouds adding color to the balloons.

That is “Great Eggspectations” flying over my head.  The flying goose is an Albuquerque balloon piloted by a medical doctor.

I asked and was told that there were only 568 balloons registered this year, the largest hot air balloon event in the world.  At one point in 2010 they had 1000 balloons at the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival.  They are now trying to keep it at 600 or under as there is not enough room for all the balloons on the field.  There is talk of expansion.  We saw hundreds upon hundreds of balloons fly off yet we did not see four of the new shapes for this year.  Perhaps they did not make it.  One was from Australia, two were from Brazil and the other from Florida.

What made Thursday morning extra special was how the balloons would ascend, fly in one direction, go higher and catch a different air current back.  It was a morning of perfect winds.  This is called the Albuquerque Box which keeps the balloons overhead.  Have a look at the 90 second video that shows how this Box works.

Meteorologist Jen Carfagno explains:

Albuquerque’s weather helped make it the Balloon Capital of the World. The Albuquerque Box wind pattern allows balloonists to easily make a round trip with a simple change in altitude.

Eventually some of the balloons landed back on the field.  We had a great morning enjoying the balloons and then walked from one end to the other, checking out the vendors and food booths.   We picked up a few souvenirs and had a snack before heading back to the RV.  For those keeping track, we should have check out by 11AM, instead we had a relaxed morning and only got back at 10:30AM.  On Tuesday we had been able to extend our stay for just one more night.  We had not seen the Twilight Twinkle Glow nor the Balloon Glow due to cancellations because of wind and tonight would be the perfect ending to our stay here.  The Special Shape Glowdeo would only be for the 78 special shaped balloons plus the regular round Canon balloon as they a sponsor of the balloon fiesta.  We spent the afternoon packing up for our Friday morning departure.

We were surprised when we got to the field that yet again nothing was happening.  Everything was on hold due to the yellow flag.  There was a breeze that wavered between 9 – 12 mph.  We were speaking with a balloon crew supervisor who explained all the details to us and even showed us how his wind indicator worked.  Because these balloons were special shapes, some very large, others top heavy and awkward the wind needed to be 5 mph or lower in order to have a static display and to do the glow.

At least the sunset was memorable.

So we hung out and spoke with a few balloonists until 8PM ( we had been there for just over two hours – waiting ).   Slowly a few vehicles with balloons and crews began to leave the field.  I noticed that the yellow flag was down but neither the green nor red flag replaced it.  By now it was full dark and the lady I was speaking with from the “Fish” balloon said that the glow would not likely happen due to the wind, plus they had to be back by 4:30AM Friday for Day 2 of the special shape balloons.  Everyone, balloonists as well as the crown, were disappointed.  We left and got back just before 8:30PM, in time to sit and watch the exceptional fireworks from the warmth of the RV along with a glass of vino.  Certainly not the way we expected to end our final evening in Albuquerque.


Oct 13, 2018

Wednesday, Oct. 10 ~ Day 5 of the Balloon Fest

It was a downright chilly morning Wednesday morning at 38F/3.3C 🙁   As we walked down the road, the wind bit into my forehead and I instantly recalled having a scarf wrapped around my forehead as a child.  We had to wait a bit for a shuttle but while not toasty warm we were not shivering.  Colin had finally switched to long pants from shorts and had added a light fleece between his shirt and jacket.

Not only was there no dawn patrol, no balloons were laid out.  Everything was at a standstill.

Things did not look good.  Apparently the cutting wind that we were feeling was even stronger higher up.  It was a waiting game.

We needed to warm up so we headed into a vendors booth.  This is the only balloon basket like this in the USA, brand new style.  Cost of $80,000.00 but what a way to travel.  Luxurious padded seats with seat belts, a tray table to hold your champagne and an excellent view due to the basket being lower on one side.

We chatted with the vendor who is also a balloon pilot.  Regular balloons start at $40,000.00.  I have no idea if the balloon envelope is included in that price.  Eventually he told us that he thought that the entire morning event was going to be cancelled because of the wind.  We thanked him for his time and moved back out into the bitter stiff breeze.  Should we go get a coffee and wait it out or should we head back to the RV.   Still no movement on the field nor a change in the yellow flag.  We started walking to the food area and at the same time turned to each other and said ‘let’s go home”.  We got back to the RV at 8:15AM.

About 8:25AM the green flag went up.   Dawn Patrol is at 6AM and it was cancelled as well as the Laser Show and the Krispy Kreme Morning Glow which we would have loved to see. A single balloon carrying the American flag went up as the National Anthem was played.  We watched that on TV.

About 8:25 we were surprised to see some balloons.

We were disappointed that we had left the field at  8AM but the morning session normally starts at 6AM plus we were cold.

At least we still got to see some balloons fly over.  It didn’t seem like a lot of balloons to us, perhaps 50.  The next day we found out that less than 75 had inflated and ascended.

Once again we had errands to run.  The three new lights that Colin is installing in the bedroom, all have different requirements in size of screws etc.  Typical RV construction, all due to different thicknesses of the three walls.  We also made a stop at Costco to pick up a few things including three cases of a lovely Sauvignon Blanc that I found out is being discontinued.  We are only able to get to one more Costco before we cross into Mexico and I did not want to take a chance on this one wine not being available.  Bit by bit I am amassing my wine supply for the winter on the Isla.

Every afternoon a water truck went up and down each row at least 2 to 3 times to keep the dust down.  We never noticed any dust whatsoever.

We spent the afternoon putting things away in the RV,  with Colin editing photos  and myself working on two blog posts.  Once Colin finished installing the new lights ( photos soon ) he got in some guitar time.  We were both ready to go to bed early as we knew that Thursday was going to be a very special day here at the balloonfest.

Sunset to the West.

But I preferred the reflection to the East.


Oct 12, 2018

Tuesday, Oct. 9 ~ Day 4 of the Balloon Fest

It was windy all night with rain showers as late as 4:30AM.  We were on the field by 7AM and there was that yellow flag yet again.  We are not getting the full Balloon Fiesta experience but we are hanging in there.  There were not too many people on the field Tuesday morning.  We walked up and down checking out various pilots that were laying out their balloons on the grass, some do put a tarp down first.  Everyone was waiting for the green flag that meant that this event is a go.  Once again no Dawn Patrol nor the Laser Light Show.  Day 4 and we have only seen this once on Day 1.   Finally the Rainbow Riders, all twelve of them took off.   They take riders up for a mere $500.00 US per flight per passenger and they cram as many as they can into their baskets.

Slowly others began to inflate their balloons.

Love this artsy shot Colin 🙂

Canadian balloon by Sundance Balloons out of Ontario.

One of this year’s new balloons.

Pigasus from Battle Creek, MI, new this year.

PXMART DOLL from Taitung City, Taiwan, new for 2018.

The penguin balloon is called Puddles and is from Breadstone – United Kingdom.

Zebra’s dressed in black and white are the officials who give each balloon the okay to launch.  They control the entire field.

The first ever Emoji balloon from Oswestry, Shropshire, Great Britain.

Owl is also a new balloon this season from Godalming, Surrey – Great Britain

Simbaloo on the left from Basingstoke, Hampshire – Great Britain.

Not many flew Tuesday as the wind was blowing in the wrong direction.  I25 is in this direction as well as many businesses and shopping areas, very little place to land a balloon.

Saxon Balloon from Sao Paul, Brazil.  Quite clever.

Freedom Flight Balloon V from St. Cloud, Minnesota.  It is 105,000 cu.ft.

They did not fly but fired up their burners over and over to the cheers of the crowd.

This balloon is dedicated to ‘Prisoners Of War, Missing in Action’.  Major US Conflicts Since 1941 – still missing:  WWII ~ 73,500 + ~ Korea 7,800 + ~ Vietnam 1,600 + ~ Cold War 100 + OIF-OEF 6?

When the pilot is flying she wears tennis shoes and all the other times she is in flip flops.

A new balloon this year, Cristo Redentor, Helio Neto.  From Sao Paulo, Brazil.  This was the first time this balloon has been inflated since the beginning  of this balloon fiesta.

After this we went to Trader Joe’s and a grocery store and the laundromat.  We got back at 3:20PM and at 4PM, had the happy hour I wrote about in the last post.  Each day is full of activity to the point of being worn out ( mostly because of the time spent posting ) but we are so blessed to be here.


Oct 11, 2018

Monday, Oct. 8 ~ Day 3 of the Balloon Fest

We had decided to stay home Monday and not head into the field.  We slept in until about 7:30AM.

It was a windy night and still at 7:30AM a yellow flag.  The balloons normally launch at 7AM.

Shortly after 8AM we looked out the window and we had balloons all around us.  The winds were bringing them towards us plus some balloons had launched away from the field and were heading towards the official field.  We later discovered that a few had landed in the grass area in the middle of the RV’s plus a few had landed among the RV’s ( one in your area Micheal ).

Even Airabelle was up. Her balloon weighs 910 lbs and she needs a lot of wind to fly and in the correct direction as well.  She needs a lot of space to land.

It was fascinating to watch them overhead.

Good call to say home as there were more balloons above us than at the launch field.

Monday was our day to do some local site seeing.  We headed out toward Hwy 14, where just before Tijeras ( which is the beginning of the scenic Turquoise Trail ) we were treated to some music along 1,300ft of Route 66.  Simply by obeying the speed limit, specifically placed rumble strips play “America the Beautiful”.  What fun!

So many neat little towns as well as a few detours long the Turquoise Trail.  I on the spur of the moment ( wrong decision ) wanted to drive up the Sandia Crest. The summit of Sandia Mountain is 10,678′ and you get there by driving 14 miles of very very twisty roads with hairpin turn after hairpin turn.  20MPH is standard.  It took just over 90 minutes out of our day ( return ) and all we saw at the top along with snow was a thick fog with no view at all.  Rather than wear out our brakes Colin had to keep downshifting with each turn.  Next time we will take the Sandia Peak Tramway to the top.  Sandy commented that she and Rex had done it and enjoyed a spectacular sunset at the top.  Timing is everything.

Beautiful views along the way and several neat little towns to visit.

The Sandia Crest drive gave Colin an appetite and so we stopped in Madrid for a late breakfast/early lunch.  We ate at the small cafe next to this very old home which is owner occupied.

Maggie’s Diner from the Wild Hogs movie set.

Some neat doors in Cerrillos.

Our first thought in reaching Santa Fe was how huge the city was but then it is the capitol of New Mexico.  The historic section of Santa Fe was more manageable but a chaos of vehicles and tourists.  Parking was a flat rate of $15.00 whether for an hour or all day.  This is the famous Loretto Chapel.

An amazing feat of construction.  This was taken by me as were all of the photos in this post.

Please take a moment to click here and read about this miraculous staircase, taken from the official website.  If you Google the Loretto Chapel there are many links discussing how impossible it was and still is to build such a staircase without a center support not to mention that it is a double spiral.  To this day architects and mathematicians have no idea how this could have been built.  It is impossible to replicate.  No one knows where this type of wood came from and how could a carpenter build such a piece of art with no tools.

This was our favorite stop in Santa Fe.  I am fascinated by this staircase.

The Palace of Governors.

We also checked out a few shops.  Loved these lights.

A beautiful piece of art but at $45,000.00USD, no gracias.

San Miguel Church, the oldest church structure in the USA.  The original adobe wall and alter were built by Tlaxcalan Indians from Mexico under the direction of Franciscan Padres, ca.1610.

Our last stop before heading back to Albuquerque was to visit the Oldest House.

Extremely tiny inside the two room home.

Another long day.  I have cut out a lot of photos in order to make this just one post.  New Mexico is a fascinating place and we have only touched a small corner.





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