Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

There are 9 days to attend the morning launch of balloons during Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It’s always a gamble to outguess the weather on a particular day and be there when conditions allow the balloons to get airborne. This year’s fiesta week has been the best weather we have experienced so far in our times of attending.

We were there Saturday for the mass ascension on opening day and then again today for Special Shapes Rodeo. Although the balloons were able to launch on Saturday, the effect of hundreds of balloons overhead wasn’t evident like it was today. Balloonists enjoy Albuquerque’s weather because of a “box” effect where the wind takes the balloon up in one direction and then at a certain level the wind will catch it and blow it back in the opposite direction. Saturday it was just a straight wind and the balloons quickly passed into the distance. Today many of them went up in one direction and then we saw them float back towards us again, even sometimes landing back on the field again an hour or two after they had launched.

I’ve always enjoyed seeing the balloons, but didn’t think too much about riding in one. This year my imagination has been captured and next year I’m planning on being up there in the air in one of those awesome, huffing, colorful, floating airships.

Some of the photos I took.

Lee has a better camera and his special shapes are closeups.

Aspen Vista

Besides being a special occasion, an annual event like a birthday or anniversary is a good time to reflect on all that has happened in our lives in the previous 12 months. I was doing that kind of reflection today as we hiked in the Santa Fe National Forest through an area known for its spectacular fall colors. It was exactly one year ago when we did the very same hike. One could say that we are stuck in a rut doing the same old things. But nothing could be further from the truth. Such beauty is fresh each time you see it. Changes that happen in our lives can be troubling but when you think of them as a change of seasons its comforting to know that the cycle of nature continues and sunny days will return.

Speaking of the return of sunny days, it was interesting to compare the hike today with the one a year ago. The mountain slopes last year were totally shrouded in mist and fog when we started the hike. On the way up the trail we could only see the aspen trees next to the trail; none were visible in the distance. At the viewpoint at the top we thought we weren’t going to see anything, but then suddenly the clouds rolled away and we were astounded at the golden vista in front of us.

Today was clear and sunny from the start of the hike. The aspens this year weren’t quite at the peak of color on some of the slopes. Especially from the viewpoint at the top we noticed more green mixed in with the gold. But this time we could see a lot further out over the surrounding desert.

Since the aspens were brighter last year I couldn’t resist including some of the photos from then. The rest of the pictures here were actually taken one year ago. The first one is the fog at the top before the clouds lifted. Then some of the views from the top and from the way back down when we could see what was hidden on the way up.