One of the unique, exciting activities that we look forward to here in Albuquerque is the 9-day annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. There are activities day and night during the fiesta, and we couldn’t possibly attend all of them. But my favorite is to be on the launch field in the morning as the hundreds of balloons begin inflating and start the process of launching, while first light is just beginning to break over the Sandia Mountains.
Weather conditions aren’t always favorable and we have experienced the disappointment of seeing them inflate, but then not launch because of high winds in the upper air. This year, though, I was not disappointed. Both days that I was on the field, the weather was perfect and the 500+ balloons drifted upwards and filled the skies above.
Thursday when I was there it was a Special Shapes Rodeo, which is an opportunity to see some quite imaginative shapes and unbelievably large balloons.
Yesterday I wanted to go for a hike in the nearby Manzano Mountains to an area that has some red maple trees. This is the time of the year when we begin to see fall colors in the mountains. Most of our colors are yellows and golds from aspen and cottonwoods. To be able to see the red maples is a special treat. But Mother Nature, in the form of a rainy day, was not cooperative. We wouldn’t have minded hiking in a bit of rain, but when we saw the muddy conditions of the dirt road that leads to the trailhead, we realized it was not a good idea to try and drive our car further up the road.
But, like the Rolling Stones sang:
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need
We backed out of the dirt road, got on the highway again, and continued home a different way. Lee had always wanted to see Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument and it would be on our way with this alternate route back to Albuquerque. We stopped at the Visitor Center in Mountainair and watched an informative film about the 3 different pueblo ruin sites in the Salinas Valley. We then drove on to the site at Abo and walked through the ruins there. The sun peeked through the clouds for a short bit and we enjoyed our lunch at the picnic area.
The next four pictures were taken on a hike last week in the Sandias to view the changing colors. The aspens were beautiful at Del Agua Overlook and along the Survey Trail.
As another example of not getting what you want, I was disappointed Saturday morning when I couldn’t go to the opening day festivities of the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. But then this morning I was sitting in my recliner enjoying a cup of tea when a hot air balloon swept into view, preparing to land in the field behind our apartment. I jumped up and went out on the balcony where I had a prime viewing spot to watch four more balloons land in the field.
Watching the balloons land is fun, but it’s nothing compared to the thrill of being out on the field when they launch, especially for the Special Shapes on Thursday or the Mass Ascensions on Saturday and Sunday. Those are what I really need to see and the week isn’t over yet so I’m hoping I’ll get what I want before it is.
When pigs and cows fly in Albuquerque it can only mean that it is time for the annual International Balloon Fiesta week.
Our timing this morning was much better than opening weekend last Sunday morning when we showed up all excited to see the Mass Ascension of the balloons. Opening day was last Saturday and we read in the paper about how well everything turned out for the first day. But we couldn’t get there until Sunday morning and on that day the high altitude winds prevented the balloons from launching. We saw a lot of them get inflated but none of them were lifting off and eventually we got the word that the launch had been canceled.
When a Balloon Fiesta event is canceled, the tickets can be used for another event. So at 6:00am this morning, even though the skies were overcast, we made the trip once again down to Balloon Fiesta park. It’s the winds, not the overcast conditions, that prevent the launches so it was all systems go. We had a wonderful time running all over the field to try to get up close and personal with everything that was going on. It wasn’t a Special Shapes Rodeo like I attended last year, but some of the same special shaped balloons that I remembered launched along with the others.
One of my favorites is the Creamland Dairy cow balloon because it is just so huge. It’s hard to grasp the immensity from a few photos but here is a link to some of the sights we saw today. Can’t wait until Balloon Fiesta again next year.