The reason for this entire trip is to go to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. It has been a “bucket list” item for a long time. Almost a year ago I booked a trip with Road Scholar to go for 6 nights beginning Sunday, October 6 and ending Saturday, October 12. I especially like Road Scholar because they focus on learning through travel. In addition to spending 2 days at Balloon Fiesta Park we will:
- get a lecture on the history of Albuquerque: from Pueblo inhabitants, to Spanish explorers to American soldiers and settlers
- get a walking tour of Old Town Albuquerque
- get a lecture from a balloonist on the history and science of ballooning
- take a full day trip to Santa Fe including including visits to Santa Fe Plaza, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and Museum of International Folk Art, group dinner at a Mexican/New Mexican restaurant in Santa Fe
- On Wednesday I will be riding in a hot-air balloon, weather permitting (I have to leave the hotel at 4 am)
- trip to Coronado Historic Site (covers history and culture of the Pueblo people)
- catered dinner at the Balloon Museum
- evening balloon glow (balloons inflate without launching) and fireworks show
- field trip and dinner at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (covers the 19 operating pueblos in New Mexico)
Because I am staying in Grants, New Mexico, an hour from Albuquerque, I am getting Albuquerque TV stations. The first day of the Fiesta was today (Saturday) so I got up when the broadcast started at 5 am. The media hypes this the same way the Columbus TV stations hype Red-White and Boom or the State Fair. I have learned about the best way to get there (ride your bike), get through security (carry only a few items and put them in a clear, plastic bag), the weather for the week (morning temps. in the 50’s and afternoon temps. in the mid 70’s with slight risk of rain), food available (breakfast burritos are the highlight, funnel cakes, fried everything), things to look for (funny hats, pins, lighted necklaces) and things to do after the launch (chainsaw carving, art festival along the Rio Grande).
I also heard that a young couple moving across the country with everything they owned in their van had stopped for the night at an Albuquerque hotel. The van was stolen but found quickly in another part of the city, completely empty. The story said the police were concerned this was going to be a continuing problem and are installing monitoring cameras in certain hotel/motel parking lots. Not exactly what I want to hear as I take my van, with everything I need for the next five weeks, to leave at a hotel lot. YIKES!
I also got to see the first launch, but it didn’t go off without a hitch. There was supposed to be a mass ascension at 7 am but after the first few balloons took off about 7:30 a fog moved in and kept the rest of the balloons on the ground, inflated and waiting for the all clear “green flag” order. When the show went off the air the vast majority of the balloons were still on the ground. I did get to see enough to get excited about driving into Albuquerque tomorrow and meeting the group. Tonight I have to pack my suitcase for the next 6 days. Up until now I’ve just taken what I would need for a couple days out of my van.
Here are a few of the screen shots: