This, third, post in the series about the 5 most fun things David and I have done is about balloons, specifically, hot air balloons! As a photographer, David has always been fascinated by hot air balloons. Many years ago, he convinced me to wake up in the middle of the night to attend a hot air balloon show near his hometown, Jacksonville. Getting up in the middle of the night is not something I enjoy, but David’s balloon photos are breathtakingly beautiful. In fact, for many years, poster sized photos David took of the hot air balloons at this festival graced the walls of one of our guest bedrooms. Decades passed, with David mentioning from time to time that he would really like to attend one of the “big” hot air balloon festivals, in order to take more photos of the beautiful, colorful, and whimsical balloons. I agreed to go with him to one of my favorite places, Albuquerque, New Mexico, to its world famous balloon festival. I will admit that, once again, I didn’t enjoy getting up in the middle of the night to attend this festival. In fact, I opted to sleep instead of going with David on the second day we were there. (Although I love to see David’s photos, hanging around while he takes them is, to me, dreadfully boring.) However, one of the “add ons” at this balloon festival was riding in the basket of a hot air balloon. Now, that’s what I call a ride! We soared high over the Rio Grande, on as beautiful a morning as I’ve ever seen. David enjoyed the vantage point of being at the same altitude to many other balloons and his photos from our hot air balloon ride are, of course, spectacular. I will happily ride in a hot air balloon again; count me in if there is a sunset ride!
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is considered the most photographed event in the world. Thousands of people attend and almost everyone has a camera. Or more than one camera like me – I think I had 3 most of the time. In the few seemingly short (sleep deprived) days we were there, I shot 4 or 5 thousand images! The event is well planned and organized. The field is huge – lots of walking involved. And, one must be careful as balloons are inflated not to get in the way or to trip on a rope. We saw a night “glow” and balloon launch. I saw a sunrise launch the next day. The last day of the trip we signed up for the ride. Many of our friends have ridden balloons one or more times. This was our first and, while I am sure there are better ride experiences, this was great fun. The rides which are available are mostly on large balloons whose gondolas hold 12 passengers, plus the pilot. Boarding the gondola is challenging as most of them required climbing into the basket. But, it was sure worth it as the balloon left the field and floated away. The view of the other balloons behind us that morning was breathtaking. Seeing the balloons rise and descend was amazing. Some balloons descended to touch the water in the Rio Grande; they made it look so easy, and made for some cool photos! Seeing wildlife, including a flock of turkeys, several raptors on the hunt and a coyote from above was particularly cool. The entire festival is a wonderful experience, and I look forward to another ride sometime in our future! Call me if you want details on the Albuquerque festival – knowing some insider tips for this one is a good thing.