Before we cross the border south, we made plans for a quick “local” road trip. This was to put some miles on the car, field test the tent and a bunch of other things. Along the way, we wanted to check out the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Oh, boy! What a fiesta!

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Riding in a Hot Air Balloon

Our day started early in the morning; 4:00 AM to be exact. We secured passage upon one of these flying contraptions and we were in a rush to get there. However, we didn’t anticipate the amount of people and traffic that would be in our way. We ended up having to ditch the car (my cousin was nice enough to drive us to the fiesta) and walk/run the rest of the way. We used balloon company called Rainbow Ryders and they were a class act. They called us to make sure we were still coming and made sure we found our way to them once we entered the field. The pilot was great and the crew helped make the whole experience memorable.

Here we are! We made it on time and we are now standing in the gondola (the big basket on the bottom). The flames blast into the balloon and up we go. The ascent was faster than I expected but what was even more surreal was how quiet everything was. Other than the occasional flamethrower going off a few feet above our heads, it was incredibly peaceful. The ride lasted about 40 minutes and we soared over fields, houses and great landscapes that were being lit aflame by the sunrise.

After touchdown, we celebrated with a sweet “mimosa social” and the pilot gave a brief history of ballooning and how it’s evolved to where it is today.

Riding in the balloon was incredible, however little did we know that the day had just started.

We left the fiesta to grab some food. Festival food prices (and the food in general) was what you would expect and a $12.00 taco didn’t tickle my fancy. We ate at a sweet local cafe, The Farmacy. My fancy was tickled and we headed back to the Fiesta for the “Twilight Twinkle Glow” (great name).

Twilight Twinkle Glow

To kick off the night, we watched the start of a hot air balloon race. There were about 6 teams and, from what I gathered, they will be spending the next 3-4 days up in the air to see who can last the longest or go the furthest. I wasn’t clear on the deets. Their balloons are filled with a lighter-than-air gas and they can’t put more into them. They have sand bags attached that they can release to gain altitude. Once they are either out of sand bags or positive buoyancy (or realize what that bucket in the corner is for), they come down to earth again.

After they all launched into the clouds, the surrounding field started going crazy! Balloons, balloons and more hot air balloons started to inflate. At one point, I was surrounded by so many balloons I couldn’t see the sky. It was like walking through a maze of color and flames. Then we started to notice great balloon patterns and shapes. Zebras, storks, penguins, spiders, etc. The feeling was surreal. Larger than life shapes and colors all illuminating and glowing. They started synchronizing their efforts and the ENTIRE field was lit up. All flame throwers shooting up at once. The heat and light being emitted was enough to make the sun jealous. Riding the balloon was cool, but this was the highlight for me. 100% for sure. 11/10.

Everyone should goto the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. I had a great time so it only makes sense that you would to, right?

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