Friday, November 1, 2013


Anyone who's ever spent time in the Albuquerque area in October knows that this is balloon season. There is something about the air currents in the valley this time of year that makes for especially great hot air ballooning, so people come from all over the world to enjoy it. Our first taste of the fun was actually towards the end of September. I was on my way home from the General Relief Society meeting broadcast, and as I drove over an overpass I saw a hot air balloon lighting up in the night sky just a few blocks down the road. I flew home as fast as I could and grabbed my boys, and we went to go check it out. It turns out there were three or four of them there as part of a festival that was going on that day. I don't know if they'd been flying earlier in the day, but by this time they were just inflated to look pretty in the dark. We got to walk right up to them and talk to the pilots/crews. It was really fun, I'd never been that close to one before. 

 Our next bit of balloon fun was when Kett and Cam came up for a visit during the Balloon Fiesta.
The day Kett and Cam were there, we were too lazy to get up in time to be there for the morning ascension (we'd have to wake up about 4am), but we did make it to town in time to watch them fly for a few minutes before they started coming down all around town.
Erik got a hold of the camera, sorry about the smudges in the pic. This was the view as we came up the freeway into town.
When they run out of fuel, they have five minutes before they deflate, so as they run low they start coming down all over the place...
...including right in the middle of the road. The balloon crew and helpful bystanders had this guy out of the road in about one minute.

We had stopped just to sit and watch the balloons, but when we realized they'd be landing just down the road we had to get a closer look. Especially since this is the same balloon we got to see just down the street from our house a few weeks before. 
 The Balloon Fiesta is the largest ballooning event in the world, the most photographed event in the world, and the largest annual international event held in the USA. As kids we always begged mom and dad to take us to the fiesta, but it never happened, they weren't willing to fight the traffic and the crowds. We'd see balloons any time we were in ABQ (and sometimes they'd even come over to our side of the mountain and we'd see them closer to home), but we never actually went to the balloon park. Ethan and I decided we wanted to give it a try this year, so we looked at the event schedule and decided that if we were only going to go once, we wanted to make the most of it, so we chose to go to the Special Shapes Glowdeo. The special shape balloons are every kid's favorite, and the balloons are so beautiful all lit up at night. Plus, there was going to be a fireworks show afterword so there was really no contest. It had to be this night!
It took us 45 minutes of fighting traffic to get into the parking lot at the balloon park. Maybe mom and dad were right about the traffic being bad, but this was still going to be awesome, right?!
Headed from the parking lot to the main entrance.
Looking out at the swarms of people on the balloon field. Maybe mom and dad knew what they were talking about when they said it would be too crowded...

We got there about an hour before sunset, so we spent some time wandering looking at the different vendor's offerings. Our favorite area was where they'd been having chainsaw carving competitions. There were some really neat pieces of art there. 
Ethan and I were both as excited as little kids. We'd both dreamed of this for as long as we could remember!
 Unfortunately, baby decided she was hungry (and I mean HUNGRY) right as the sun was going down and the first balloons started inflating. So I left the boys sitting on a bale of straw watching the balloons inflate while I ran real quick to get a bite of dinner for us all. Unfortunately, so did everyone else in the park. This was the food line.
 I ended up spending nearly 45 minutes standing around waiting for food, about 30 minutes of that time was prime balloon viewing time. Because we only have one phone, Ethan and Erik were not allowed to leave the spot I'd left them at, so they weren't getting to see any more of the balloons than I was. It was killing me to see all the balloons just right over there, but I'd already paid for my food and I wasn't about to just walk away and leave it (although, if I'd known how long they'd take getting it, I'd have just walked away and been hungry).
 Finally, our food was ready, so I rushed to find the boys and see balloons. It was SO neat to be walking around looking at the balloons up close. Some of them were ones I remember seeing as a kid, many of them were new. They were so much bigger than I'd ever realized, and looked so neat glowing in the dark!
Sorry, the balloon pictures aren't that great, but night pictures are hard enough, then throw in a bunch of glowing moving objects and it's nearly impossible! This is a guy with a jet pack and a spider man piggy bank.
Erik's favorite, the "moo"
It turns out that the balloons only stay inflated for about an hour, so the fun was over WAY before we were ready for it to end, especially since I'd spent half that time waiting around for mediocre food.
The fireworks show was SPECTACULAR! Erik wasn't so sure about it, but Ethan and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It may have been the best firework show I've ever seen. It was really nice to snuggle up on the grass of the balloon field as a family and watch the show.
It took us 45 minutes just to get out of the parking lot, and then we still had to fight our way onto the freeway and get ourselves home.
So mom and dad may have been right. It was VERY crowded there, and we spent 1.5 hours in traffic for 1 hour of balloon viewing (with half of that fighting the crowds for food instead of enjoying the balloons). BUT, it was also really neat to see it all up close and to be right in the middle of the action. While it probably wasn't worth the price and the hassle, we still really enjoyed our evening there and made some fun memories.

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