Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Day 5

Wednesday morning brought rain showers and lots of clouds. The local news said the dawn patrol was cancelled and the mass ascension was on hold. Around 7:30 am the first balloon displaying the American flag went up. The rain had stopped and the sun was glowing under the clouds.

Kind of a cool perspective with the clouds. 

It seemed that due to the clouds, many of the balloons were having trouble getting high enough.

Several landed amongst the RVs. The University of Kansas Jayhawks balloon came in close for a great photo op. Oops, a little too close as it landed at the end of the row behind us. Across the street are powerlines. That's a bit too close for comfort.

I had not seen this guy before. He did not have a gondola basket. He was sitting in a sling type chair with the propane tank under the seat. That doesn't look very safe. He came in right behind us and landed next to the motorhome on the side of us. 

Another landing next to the RVs.

Today at the opening ceremonies they recognized the International balloons and pilots. I think this balloon is flying the flags of the countries represented. 

I did some research into the whole hot air balloon hobby. A pilot needs a special license to fly them. Used balloons cost between $7,000 and $15,000. A new custom balloon can be over $40,000. They use propane which adds to the cost. Not an inexpensive hobby for sure.

After seeing all of these balloons, I'm so impressed with the skill of these pilots. The weather and wind conditions are constantly changing. They managed to fly safe every day with only a few mishaps and no injuries. Kudos to them all!!!

After watching the balloons this morning, we hooked up and left the grounds. Lots of RVs were leaving today. I think a new crop is coming in for the second half of the fiesta.

 Tomorrow we should be home in Yuma!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Day 4

 Tuesday was day 4 of the fiesta. Once again I watched the dawn patrol balloons take off and then the mass ascension from outside of our fifth wheel. 

It's hard to capture the scope of all the balloons flying over. Here's a panoramic shot of our row in the south RV parking area. People are coming and going every day, so there were some empty spots next to us. Click on it to enlarge. All those little dots are balloons.

This is the New Mexico tourism association balloon.

The morning news had a great human interest story about the people flying in Smokey the Bear. Eight years ago they were supposed to be married in this balloon. Due to poor weather conditions, the balloon didn't fly that day, so they got married in the back of the vintage fire truck that travels with Smokey. Today they are celebrating their 8th anniversary with a ride in the balloon. So many stories at balloon fiesta.

I did not realize how fortunate it was to see so many of the special shape balloons on the first morning. Most of them have not flown since then. However, Yoda and Darth Vader have been up most days. Sometimes, its not so easy to get a front picture as the balloons turn and aren't always facing you as they fly over. Today I got a great shot of Yoda.

Darth Vader landed in the field behind the RVs. He looks quite skeletal as he is beginning to deflate. Yikes!!

Another new one I hadn't seen before.

Each morning, depending on wind conditions, the balloons take a different path. Most days they went straight south or a bit west. Yesterday some of them headed east which put them over the mountains. The sun was also just coming up so the mountains looked somewhat washed out. Still a cool thing to see.

More balloons with our fifth wheel and truck in the picture.

After watching the balloons, we went to the Balloon Museum. They had a very interesting display about the race to reach the north pole. Multiple attempts by land and sea had failed, so in 1897 a group of explorers attempted to go by hot air balloon. They actually made it, but had to land the balloon and ended up perishing as they tried to hike out.

This is a replica of the first hot air balloon to cross the English Channel and the first International flight on January 7, 1785. 

The Breitling Orbiter 3 piloted by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones launched from the Swiss Alpine village of Ch√Ęteau-d'Oex on March 1, 1999 was the first balloon to fly non-stop around the world. They landed in the Egyptian desert after being aloft 19 days, 21 hours, and 55 minutes on March 21, 1999, having traveled a distance of 25,361  mi. During the course of the flight, the balloon had climbed to altitudes of up to 38,507 ft, and achieved speeds up to 123 knots.

This was an interesting statistic. The average hot air balloon is 70-90,000 cubit feet in volume, which means 22 or more elephants would fit inside. Wow!!

Only one more day of balloons for us. We leave on Wednesday. The fiesta continues until Sunday. Thursday and Friday they do the evening glow with the special shape balloons. If I'd have known that, we would have booked extra days. 

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Day 3

You'd think by yesterday, day 3, there wouldn't be much more to share, but not true. Every day has been new and exciting!!

I watched the dawn patrol balloons take off from the comfort of our fifth wheel. The launch field is about a mile away, but you can see them take off real well from our campsite.

It was another perfect day for flying. Several of the balloons have the New Mexico symbol on them.

Once the sun rises over the mountain peaks, the balloons really glow, especially the brightly colored ones.

Although, this was the third day of watching, I still saw some new balloons.

Perfect entry for a pest control company!

There are six countries represented this year. Prior to Covid as many as twenty countries participated. This is the balloon from Mexico. I heard there are also balloons from Denmark, Germany, Spain and Great Britain.

I saw this balloon on Saturday and thought it was a dog. It's actually a very cute seal.

It's really hard to convey the scope of how many balloons are in the air at one time with pictures. Here is just an example of what it looks like. I shared a video on Facebook earlier that gives an idea of what it looks like as they come over. The big building in the background with the blue line around the top is a General Mills cereal factory. We've been told that if the wind is right, it can be an overwhelmingly sweet smell.

Quite a few balloons have landed in a field behind RVs just a few rows away from us. Yesterday morning I walked over to watch them. I must say, I didn't realize how hard they come down. There are chasers in the field to help pull on the ropes, but most of them still came down quite hard and dragged along the ground. Several had their baskets tip over upon landing as you can see in the second picture below. One guy actually shot out of the basket as it tipped over. I hope he was okay. One of the chasers told me that one basket hit barbed wire, and a lady got scraped up. 

On the Monday evening news, they reported that three balloons had hit power lines. Luckily, no injuries were reported. I'm glad I decided not to go up in one. My risk tolerance is not what it used to be :)

We continue to have a great time. Only one day to go before we leave. 

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, October 4, 2021

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Day 2

Yesterday morning we got up at 5 am to go to the launch field and view the dawn patrol, morning glow and mass ascension up close and personal. It was still very dark and quite chilly when we left, but we were able to take the free shuttle and dressed appropriately.

Each morning of the fiesta, several balloons lift off at 6 am to test the weather conditions. I overheard someone saying it is an honor to be chosen for this event, and only very experienced pilots are picked. There were 11 balloons in the dawn patrol yesterday. They inflated and then did a morning glow.

Then they took off. Each of them had a rope light hanging from the bottom of the basket. Once they give the okay, a green flag is raised at the launch field and all of the other balloons start inflating for the mass ascension.

After the dawn patrol, the next balloon up each morning displays an American flag while the National Anthem is played.

We were fortunate again to pick a great spot to watch the hundreds of balloons inflate and take off. I'm not sure if there is any order to it. It seemed everyone just started inflating and ascending. We did see a few near misses and bumping off of each other.

I did a panoramic shot. If you click on it, you can enlarge it. Look closely on the ground on the left and right, and you can see the balloon envelopes laying on the ground getting ready to be inflated. In the background, others are in the process, and some have just launched.

Darth Vader is chasing Yoda!!

I saw quite a few different balloons than the day before. With this many, it's easy to miss them. Also, I think each day is different depending on which crews are available.

A quilted balloon; how cool is that!!

On Saturday morning we saw Airabelle the cow fly over our campsite. Yesterday the crew had her all laid out on the ground and started inflating her. Then she started losing air and collapsed. Instead, they blew up a regular balloon with cow spots on it. I asked one of the crew members what happened. He explained because the cow is so huge, they can't fly her with winds over 11 mph because she acts like a huge sail and makes landing dangerous. You can see the cow balloon laid out on the ground under the round balloon they are inflating. 


The fiesta grounds have a few other entertainment options. There is an artisan tent with some beautiful arts and crafts to purchase. There is also a large chainsaw woodcarving area with demonstrations and items for sale. The first guy is making a hiking bear. I think the second guy is working on an owl.

We took the bus back to the campsite and were home by 9:30. The rest of the day was spent watching football and sorting and downloading pictures. Another outstanding day watching balloons!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!