Sunday, November 28, 2010

Even more balloons!

I've been told by someone that my New Mexico posts have been too far between and drawn out. I do agree! Our weekends have recently been packed in with something else other than blogging, that of which will be revealed shortly. And no, for the last time, I'm NOT pregnant! Sheesh!!

The next day, still full from an excellent dinner the night before, we rolled out of bed; Blake to the shower and me to lay there and ponder early morning thoughts, which mostly consisted of how am I going to eat breakfast if I'm still digesting dinner? Once again, we were on the road with a bit of time to spare, and arrived at our VIP parking for the Gondola Club. If you go to the Balloon Fiesta you should spend more and do the Gondola Club, especially if you're only going to do this once in your lifetime! We did, and it was worth every penny! A golf cart was ready and waiting for us in the parking lot, and they shuttled us to the front gate of the Club. After checking in, we could pick seats, which we found towards the front of the club area for the best pics. The air was crisp this morning; the tables covered in ice and the grass in frost. Kay & Robert, a couple our parents' age from Phoenix, invited us to share their table.

We looked out across the field to the north, and noticed that the crews had begun inflating their balloons much earlier than they had yesterday; it's morning-glow time!!

(Not really sure what the deal is with the reflections just above the balloons... no; they're not UFOs. My apologies!!)

Up, up and away!

This morning the weather was cool and calm; just the kind of morning any balloon pilot would dream of. Wave after wave of balloons lifted off, and more crews and trucks still poured in to the field. Every step of the ballooning process was under way: arrive, unpack, inflate, take off.

Our field location was the best!! The wind pushed the balloons right over our heads, making for some killer shots:

Every now and then I look back to the south to get a "group shot":

Here's my second favorite balloon of the day:

And my favorite:

It's the one in the middle with the swirlies on it; the crew wore matching tie-dyed t-shirts!

As the saying goes, "time flies when you're having fun", and sure enough, for the most part, they were done. Some crews got to the field way late and the weather was too warm to fly. They tried to get their balloons up but they just fizzled. I would have loved to see the Sushi Chef take off! We packed up our stuff, flagged down a golf cart and directed our driver to the vending shops across the field. From there we walked through a tent full of vendors boasting anything & everything balloon-related: Christmas ornaments, sweatshirts, framed photographs, jewelry, etc. and even things not balloon-related, like Christmas ornaments, sweatshirts, framed photographs and jewelry. We walked the entire length of the field, looking for souvenirs and possibly Christmas gifts. Lots of places were selling hats, sweaters, blankets and other cold-weather goods. I was tempted, but I refrained. Unfortunately. We returned to the Club on foot and by the time we arrived we were exhausted and sweaty and thirsty. Our driver took us back to the car where we made phone calls to family and sat around, deciding what to do with ourselves for the rest of the afternoon. We drove around Albuquerque for a bit before deciding to head up to Sandia Peak, the highest "mountain" in the region. I put it in quotes because I laugh: 10,000 feet ain't a mountain!! Great views of the city, though:

Looking to the south, at Albuquerque

Now looking out east, on the other side of the peak

Driving around the city and up to the peak and back down again took about 4 hours; just long enough to make it back to the Balloon Field for the second part of our day. By this time the wind picked up, just enough to make us nervous about the balloon glow scheduled for that night.

We made it in to the Club again, meeting up with Kay & Robert again. Our catered dinner was delicious: Green Chile Scalloped Potatoes, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup, rolls, salads, our choice of meat, and a scrumptious dessert table. I helped myself to a slice of the Double Chocolate Cake. With the additional open bar and live band, Blake & I were set for the night, regardless of the meteorological outcome. :-)

Sure enough, few crews showed up for the evening session; the wind had increased even more and this was the unfortunate result:

Just a handful of balloons had decided to make an appearance. I appreciated their desire to not let a crowd down, but I got bored quickly, so I went to capture the incredibly red sunset.

After an hour of minimal balloon-lighting, the organizers decided to switch to the fireworks. And since fireworks don't generally show up on cameras very well, I'll only share one with you.

Overall, the display was lovely; the canisters were set up pretty close to us so it was more fun to watch the fireworks go off, rather than look in the sky.

By the end of the night, we were cold and windblown; when the fireworks ended we hightailed it to our cars. I missed the curb to a sidewalk, my ankle turned, and I went down. Hard. And in slow motion. Crap- the camera! Was the first thing I thought of, as I was carrying the camera and its bag. I laid there on the ground for a few seconds, wondering what happened! I didn't move until I saw a volunteer running toward me and Blake asking if I was okay. Nothing was broken or damaged; the heel of my hand was a bit raw and my knee got scuffed up. I still have a red mark there today. It made memories, if nothing else!

Like the night before, we crashed when we returned to our hotel and slept quite soundly until late the next morning.

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