October 2-3, 2010, Part 2 – Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Magical is the only way to describe our days here.   Imagine before dawn, filling the balloon with air by a huge fan while the balloon is on the ground. The pilot the starts the propane burners.  As the balloon fills with hot air, it lifts off the ground and stands up!   The crew and pilot are busy watching the envelope (the balloon itself), the rope lines, the basket, the burners, the people all around and then holding unto the basket until it is okay to launch.  When the whistle blows, the burners light, the crew slowly takes their hands off and up, up and away.    As the balloon rises, the only thing you see is when the burner lights, the balloon interior lights the pre-dawn sky.  WOW!  And that is called “Dawn Patrol”.

As dawn breaks, one balloon goes up with the American Flag – everything stops while the Star-Spangled Banner is sung (gives me goose bumps every time).  Then Mass Ascension starts. Rows upon rows of balloons start to fill up and lift off – there are no words to describe the sounds, the vibrant colors, and seeing the sun rise over the mountain and start to shine on the balloons in the air and those still on the ground.

The balloons are of all sizes, shapes, colors.  And the special shapes, oh my.   As they rise above a row, you can start to see a head or eyes or a hat and you just can’t wait to see the rest of it in the air.  And every time you turn around, there are even more…..

So exciting!!!

As the balloons head out, the crew is busy packing up and heading out, keeping their balloon in sight so they are nearby when it lands.  For those in the balloon, they are the eyes of the pilot – keeping watch for other balloons and hazards.  They are also like us on the ground – staring at wonder and amazement at the sights.

This will always be one of our top memories…


I have been slow in updating because I have been on sensory overload.  I am also trying sometime new with the pictures and hopefully it will be okay.  If you get the email and the link does not work, go to the website – there are three ways to see the pictures.   On 10/2, Andy and I took almost 800 pictures (thank God for digital) and about 400 on 10/3.  Just trying to pick out a few has been hard so that is why I am doing something different to be able to show more.  Let me know how you like them (or not).

So what else have we been up to…well…

We have been getting up at 4 AM to be on the field to see the sights.  On Saturday, we were at our assigned place to meet our pilot but he did not show, so we headed over to help the Liberti family.  Mike did not launch because he was part of the second wave and the winds started to pick up but he did inflate the balloon.

Here is the crew:

10-02-10 C Mass Ascension 761

After breaking down and packing up, Andy and I headed to the vendor area where we had a pork chop on a stick for lunch – how about this:

10-02-10 C Mass Ascension 767

And it was good too!!

Saturday evening was to be the Balloon Glow but it was cancelled due to the winds.  The fireworks did go off, however, we were going back to the motor home by then – lots of wind and lightning.  Plus another early day on Sunday.

Sunday was Dawn Patrol and Mass Ascension.  Awesome and even more awesome!!

Since our pilot had not arrived, Andy helped out with Mike’s crew and I helped out with the LadyBug Crew (yes, that is a special shape – check the pictures.)  It was real exciting to help inflate, see the liftoff and then go chase.  Our pilot set it down in the middle of a cul-de-sac which was really nice for us.

This is the LadyBug:

10-03-10 A Mass Ascension 287-b

How thrilling!!!

Sunday evening we were back at the park to see the evening glow and fireworks.

10-03-10 B Evening Glow 015

10-03-10 B Evening Glow 008 

The glow was cut short because of the wind and storm.  The fireworks did go but we were on our way home dodging the rain – :-)))).   Oh well, maybe later this week..

Our afternoons have been spent resting – getting up at 4 AM is quite tiring on us retired folk – :-))).   Andy did take a class today on making a balloon out of an aluminum can – pictures to come later – really nice.  And thanks Bob for the class.

We have also been having great Happy Hours – hearing everyone’s daily experiences and getting to know each other better.  What a wonderful time!

Stay tuned for more and hopefully I will get the blog caught up…..

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