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Did you know that New Mexico is home to one of the largest (or maybe the largest, I can’t remember) hot air balloon gatherings in the world?!?!

True story.

It’s called Balloon Fiesta. You could read all the details here or I could just give you my recap. 🙂

This little family of two and a half (baby on the way!) left for Albuquerque on Saturday morning. You know you live in small town America when the 2+ hour drive to a big city seems easy. Which it does. Just a hop, skip, and jump over to traffic lights and hundreds of Starbucks. I already feel claustrophobic there. Too many people. Not enough cattle ranches. Anyways that’s not the point. We headed over to ABQ in the morning and piddled around for a bit. Ate lunch. Shopped at Lowes. Shopped at Kohl’s. I think my lover was a bit, um, overwhelmed, when half the dressing room at Kohl’s starting slacks-shopping for him. Who says city-slickers aren’t friendly?

So if you’re packing up the family and heading to the Balloon Fiesta I highly suggest Park-N-Ride. It simplifies life. Basically you pay to park at a location far (15-20 minutes) away from the event and they run buses to and from the park. We were so happy with our experience. No traffic, minimal crowds, and easy access to the interstate. Plus, if you were homeschooled you get the experience of riding on a school bus for only the second time in your life. Good stuff.

Sometimes going to things like this with my penny-pinching fits-jokes-about-tightwad-Jews-better-than-most-Jews husband can be anti-climactic. He does this thing where he slowly wilts until released from the clutches of over-priced everything. It’s very dramatic. But he wanted to see the balloons more than I did, so he was on his best behavior. In fact, he was having such a good time he splurged on a bag of those ever-delicious-and-oh-so-tempting candied almonds. Which got eaten in about 2.2 seconds. But not before I snapped this photo:

john with his almondsI don’t know why I find it so funny, but I just love the way he is clutching those candied almonds to his chest. Like at any moment they might be snatched away from him.

Well this is getting long and wordy, and if you’re anything like me you’re just here for the pictures. I promise they are coming. Maybe this long post full of text is me sub-consciously making you wait for the balloons like we had to wait for the balloons. You see, the hot air balloons can only inflate if the weather conditions are perfect. Perfect conditions mean no wind. No wind is an oxymoron in New Mexico. We waited an hour past when the balloons were originally supposed to inflate. In fact, we were just about to leave when we saw this:

Unfolding BalloonY’all, we instantaneously turned into 5-year-olds. The kind that clap at nothing and squeal and do little half-jumps. It was a balloon. A real-life, filling with air, big yellow balloon. In a word, WOAH!

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It’s up!! It’s up!!

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The Fiesta Balloon.

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Another balloon goes up! After each balloon became fully inflated the group gathered around watching applauded.

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So excited to see yet another balloon inflate!

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So. Many. Balloons. I almost couldn’t handle it by this point.

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Because of their long history of safety, Balloon Fiesta is one of the few hot air balloon gatherings where people are allowed to approach the balloons while they are inflated. I was afraid to go too close, but there were some balloons who had people standing right up against the basket. It truly makes the experience all the more exciting.

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Several times the emcee of the evening would count down and then call out “all burn.” Every balloon in the park would then light up. Lover thinks this may have been one of the coolest things we’ve done. He may be right.

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And since I’m baking a bun in my oven, here’s the gratuitous bump shot:

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All baby-ness aside, just look at the view in the background. Balloons or no balloons how could you not love New Mexico?

 

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