Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Albuquerque: Hot Air Balloon Fest

3:30am on Saturday came mighty early...

We got up, got ready, and had some breakfast before setting off in the pitch black of night to walk to the Hot Air Balloon Fest -- about 2 miles away.

And this is why we walked:

Non-stop traffic backed up as far as you could see in either direction...barely crawling along.  Guarantee we beat all of those cars in to the place.

It was MUCH bigger and busier than I anticipated.  It was like a zoo inside...and it was 5am!

It took us forever to find the right tent and get checked in.  Barely made it in time, actually.

But then we had about 30 minutes to kill.  So we shopped. 

Alpaca sweater from Peru?  I'll take one!

While we were waiting for our balloon pilot to come get us, the first few balloons started going up in to the darkness!

(First balloons of the 2014 Hot Air Balloon Fest!)

It was already light out by the time we got everyone in our group together and out to our balloon.

The pilot said he needed two volunteers to hold the balloon open while these ginormous fans filled it up with air.  

I about tackled him to get to help, haha.  Love being in on the action!

Wearing my new alpaca sweater...with llamas on it!!)

It actually got harder than it looked.  The more inflated it got, the harder it was to hold the top up and back!

Once it got inflated enough, the pilot told me to let go and back up.  

Instaed, I leaned in for a quick picture...and he about took my head off with the flames!

No joke.  Definitely should have listened the first time he told me to back up.

Those flames are serious business.  For real.  The top of my head still hurt the next day!

Going up!  Video HERE.
Everyone got loaded up - 12 people total, three per section in the basket.

And in a matter of minutes we were off the ground and floating away with all the other balloons!

The view was pretty absurd.  I mean that's a ridiculous amount of people and balloons down there!

We were up in the air for about 45 minutes.  It was cool, but prety sure my mom was a little disapointed.  I think she thought it was going to be more exciting - and it's really just pretty chill.

Balloon ride selfies!

After one failed landing attempt (he tried to go down and realized we were going to be on a highway), we eventually made it to a big grassy area. 

The landing was smooth (much smoother than the one I had in Africa).

And in no time at all, they had that entire giant balloon rolled up in to a bag!!  So crazy!

That was it.  $900 for an hour of fun, haha.  

Worth it?      It was fun, but I'm not so sure...

As SOON as we got back from the hot air balloon ride, we hopped right in the car and took off for Taos, New Mexico.

I've always wanted to go there and since we were so close, I convinced my mom to go on a little road trip.

After a little excitement for the day of getting pulled over in Espanola (no ticket again!!) we made it to Taos around lunch time.

The whole town was packed, so rather than eat with all the rush, we drove outside of town to see the Pueblos first.

We were both so disappointed, haha.  I don't know what we were expecting I guess, but more than what was there!

We walked all around, stopped in some stores, and bought a souvenir.

I mean, it had my name on the bottom of it.  I had to have it!

(Bought a dreamcatcher thing for my Christmas tree ornament)
It was pretty small, so didn't take us too long to see most of the place.

(Pretty shocking to me that people still live there!)

We were actually laughing as we left.  I mean, we spent like 2.5 hours in the car to see this place.  And we spent less than 30 minutes there!

We had to get our money (or time) out of this trip, so we decided to hit up the local Wool Festival!

I was starving by that point, and lucky for us the festival had food vendors!

Veggie burgers and pulled pork for lunch!

The wool fest was a bit of a bust, too.  I mean, you can only look at so many different kinds and colors of wool...when you don't know how to use any of it!

We spent some time wandering around the cute little town square area and went in tons of shops, but came out empty handed!

So back on the road we went.  Going the speed limit this time.  Not sure I could talk myself out of two tickets in one day.

We made it back to Albuquerque just in time to walk to the little church a few blocks away.

I was so exhausted from the 3am wake up call that I didn't even want dinner.  After driving around awhile trying to find someplace that might have the K-State game on tv (with no success) I eventually grabbed some yogurt at the grocery store and crawled in bed...

...only to be woken up by the fireworks going on at the fest!

Fireworks are second in my book only to sunsets/sunrises, so I had to throw my clothes back on and get outside!  We could see most of them from the backyard, but not good / close enough for any pictures.

Either way, it was a pretty good ending to a pretty cool day.

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