By Mark Bergmann
Balloons, balloons and then more balloons. It seemed the balloons might blot out the sun in Albuquerque. In addition to the traditional round balloons, there were hundreds of special shapes. My favorites were the Darth Vader and Yoda balloons.
You can pay to watch from the launch field, which is worth the price of admission because you can get so close to the action. Watching the traffic controllers (dressed like referees) give the okay to launch was something not to miss. All morning long new balloons kept taking off. I actually lost track of how many were airborne.
Anywhere in Albuquerque is good for viewing but we were fortunate to have a ring side seat in the RV park. The target drop was right in front of us. Many balloonists slowly approach the ground target, judging wind speed and direction. A Smokey the Bear balloonist tossed the bean bag closest to the target the day we watched. One note about camping – make sure to bring in enough water and any time you leave the grounds try to use the public rest rooms. Sewer trucks drive around the RV park and will take your dirty water for $25. Now that is what I call, “pay to go.”
Getting up early to watch the Dawn Patrol was beautiful. You can watch four balloons go up to check out the wind conditions in the still dark sky. When the balloonist fires up, the entire balloon glows like a Chinese lantern. When the all clear is given, balloon after balloon rises out of the valley and drifts away.
I am sure glad this balloon festival was on Saimi’s bucket list.