Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A lotta hot air

Growing up in Los Alamos, the Albuquerque (hot air) Balloon Fiesta was an annual family event. I recall getting up o dark early and making the drive sleeping behind the back row of seats in our VW bus. It was just one of those things you did every year, and probably grumped about it at the time to boot. Until you move away and go to college, that is.

We last attended the fiesta about 10 years ago, with my then new co-worker Brian. A few months ago Brian suggested we go down again this year to introduce Andrea, his wife to it. He really didn't have to twist our arms very hard.

We left Friday morning in time to make it to the "Glowdeo" they held Friday night. Event events have been added to the fiesta -- another opportunity to rake in ticket sales, after all, but this is when they have groups of balloons inflate and glow after dark. They don't fly, but this is a spectacular way to view them. Friday night was to be specifically the 'special shapes' glow, including balloons like this one:

(most of the pics in this issue are clickable - to see higher resolution versions. These pictures are worth those extra pixels!)

So that sounded like a lot of fun! We left Boulder at an easy 9:30 am to make it to Albuquerque by 6 pm when the gates opened. Only, we got there by 5. Oh well - there were a lot of vendors and craft tents at which we could amuse ourselves for awhile.

but the line is LONG to take a picture in the gondola!
but we've got NOTHING TO DO for the next 2 hours....

Sunset at last!
There is a reason the mountain edging Albuquerque is named the 'Watermelon' mountain

Unfortunately we noticed that it was a bit breezy when we arrived:

Indeed, it was still this windy after full dark decended, and hot air balloons and wind just don't mix. So we were really disappointed to finally admit that the night glow was not going to take place. The launch field is enormous - we were trying to estimate the size in football fields, and we couldn't really discriminate between 600 or 800 yards, so we left it at that. We were not within hearing distance of any PA system they might have had going, so we never got the official word, but the respectable fireworks display was over and people were walking towards the exit, so we had to finally give in ourselves.

Getting home to my parent's place, we inquired as to exactly when we were planning on heading back to the fiesta in the morning. 4:45??!!! Holy crap - we had to scurry off to bed!

Weren't we just here?

At some point we joked we should have just camped out down there. We actually had quite the crew on Saturday morning - 17 folks were in our entourage this morning. Seems our little trip down to the fiesta with free lodging at my parents house evolved into another extended family event! It was fantastic to have company on this very early outing.

The great news was that the flags around the launching field were completely dead, so we looked forward to a successful launch. The first group of balloons to launch are known as the dawn patrol. There were 13 this morning I think. They traditionally fill and launch before dawn - giving us a small taste of a night glow environment. This morning, though, because the gentle wind was blowing in a direction that provided very few landing spots should they need to land before dawn -- they held the patrol on the ground for 20 minutes before launching. During this time they did some coordinated burns.

In fact, they were announcing that they would bring their balloons down and then re-inflate later to go up with the mass ascention, but then all of a sudden the Intel balloon was off! The rest followed directly.

Very soon after this it was light enough for the mass part, of the mass ascention, to begin inflating... But this post is already getting very long -- Check back in the next post for this part of the story.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great pictures! It's almost like being there. Wait. No it isn't ;-) Maybe some day I'll get there. ~Lydia

10/16/07, 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures, Monica! One of my ambitions is to take a balloon ride one of these days. We have a balloon race curing the Kentucky Derby Festival, including a balloon glow the night before. It's beautiful but not nearly as many balloons as in Albuquerque. I'd love to see that in person, but man, I hate getting up that early in the morning! Thanks for sharing these.

- Lydia in Kentucky

10/16/07, 7:01 PM  
Blogger Dean said...

Those balloons with back lighting were so pretty.
17 family members? That's a frickin' re union!
Must be nice to have everybody together.

10/23/07, 7:38 AM  

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