Saturday, October 4, 2014

Balloons, Balloons and More Balloons


Sometimes you just happen to be in the right place at the right time…sometimes it is by design, sometimes it is by serendipity.  Today, it was more serendipity than design, although it was a tweak in our original design that put us where we were.


What goes up, must come down.  The balloons took off from Balloon Fiesta Park here in Albuquerque, and where they come down depends upon the wind, the skill of the pilot, with a bit of serendipity mixed in.  Being in Albuquerque this weekend was not in our original cards….once it was, it was way too late to get a “good” RV spot near the park, so we picked staying out of town some 45 miles at a great, secluded park with everything we need at $10 per night.  Which means if we wanted to see the balloons, we would have to find a place which would allow us to see them…and a plan was designed based on the forecast of the wind.   Last night, winds were predicted to be 3-5 mph, from the northwest….so I looked for and found what I thought would be a perfect place to view them, at a Walmart about 4 miles away from Fiesta Park, to the southeast. 


I figured with liftoff being at 7 am, if we left Cochiti Lake between 6 and 6:15, we would be driving along I-25 north around 7:00 as the balloons were being filled getting ready for liftoff.  I also had heard on the morning news that the wind had shifted to due south….that changes things just a bit.  The line getting off the Interstate was long, as was the line after getting off the freeway….but ours was a different plan, we just drove right by it.  As you can see, it is just starting to get light.  As we drove by, we could see some of the balloons filling up…and then our plans change just a little bit.


We had not been to Cracker Barrel for five months.  After Walmart we had planned to go to Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  As we see it right along I-25…my mind spins, this is due south, with a western view, and it looked like people had already parked in their lot facing west.  “Marcia, we are going to Cracker Barrel for breakfast first, Walmart is out.”


We go in, get our coffee, order, and through a window I barely see the first balloons.  Went outside and got this shot way to the northwest of Cracker Barrel, the first group has launched.

2b    2c

I take the dogs on a walk to the southwest corner of the parking lot, and get this set of pictures.  Top left is facing southwest, top right is facing west, bottom is facing northwest.  The sky is full of balloons.  We get into the car and leave the ADA parking spot and go over to this southwest portion of the parking lot which has three open parking places.  “What a great spot,” I think…little did I know…


This colorful guy here is right in front of us…


And as it passes over the freeway it is getting lower, headed right for the empty lot right next to, yes, you guessed it, the Cracker Barrel!


Perfect landing…but no crew around.


Quickly people run over, drive up, and offer a hand.


Finally the chase crew arrives, and very quickly they had this balloon down…..but my attention is to the skies…

4a     4c
4d     4e
4g     4b
4h     4f

As you can see, the balloons come in all sorts of shape and sizes.  I think Bubba was hoping that the “fire hydrant” was going to come and land in the Cracker Barrel parking lot, but had other ideas and landed on the other side of a building across the freeway.


This “Fiji” balloon is also a sponsor of the “Wounded Warrior Project”.


Yes “DAD”, that is a “Pepsi Balloon” in right side of this picture above…..


Sometimes there are so many of them that they cast shadows on others.


This guy here snuck in behind us and also landed in the empty lot next to Cracker Barrel.  Altogether six or seven balloons landed right next door to us….just to the south of Cracker Barrel….while we sat there in the southwest corner of their parking lot.   Yes, being at the right place at the right time….it was a serendipitous morning.


One of the blogs I follow I Nancy’s “Kissack Adventures”.  Nancy is also in Albuquerque and is part of the Balloons Crews who help the ballooners take offs and retrievals.  CLICK HERE to see her up-close and personal blog about this morning (and her wonderful, professional like pictures.)


Another blogger friend of our named Karen was in Albuquerque 21 years ago….also helping in a Balloon Crew.  Things did not go so well for Karen that day, and changed her life forever.  CLICK HERE to read her firsthand account of that day, and read through her travel blog and see how here life has been changed, but her dreams to travel for her and her husband Tony have not been diminished.  She also has developed a collection of maps which are such a valuable asset to the states and provinces which they have traveled to over the years.  What to see, do, places to stay, places to visit… a Librarian I told Karen  that it is as professional of a collection that I have ever seen.  

We hope and pray that this year the festival will not claim any more victims.


  1. You really were in the right place at the right time! Look for a balloon with a sliver of a moon and a cluster of stars. That's our friend's balloon.

    Thanks for the link to my blog! I clicked on Nancy's link and read about her crewing experience. Wow, pretty unbelievable that the woman that she was helping came without any crew!

    1. I appreciate that Karen. I think we are "Ballooned out", and I looked through the 200+ pictures we took and could not spot the balloon you mentioned. Hope you are enjoying your time in Pitt....nice to be back, even better to be able to leave

  2. I must admit that I've truly enjoyed all the pics you've posted over the past few days. I'm glad to know that you've been enjoying your time, together! Blessings, Lynn p.s. The balloons are really cute!

    1. Lynn, we have seen so much this past month....while driving the San Juan Skyway we were surrounded by so much, mountain here, valley there, trees in full colors, and the song "How Great is Our God" started playing on the radio....I told Marcia "Isn't this song so fitting right now?" It was beyond amazing.

  3. What good planning and luck! I've been a couple of times and the traffic is horrendous. I'm going to Cracker Barrel next time. ;-)

    1. The best thing about Cracker Barrel is that it comes with a good breakfast! We were in Sacramento area or four months, and there are no Cracker Barrels in California. We saw one in Utah, but did not stop there, this one came in REAL handy.

  4. Hi Dave ... thanks for the Blog note!! I didn't know you guys were even around here!! Glad you got to see the balloons ... they are just too much fun. Many of the pilots can't afford to bring crew, so they come alone, knowing that the "crew corral" will have volunteers waiting to help out. Many have previous experience, but many do not ... making the pilots job a little harder! I've crewed four days in a row, sometimes more than once a day and the pilots are getting their act together right nicely!!!

    1. Thanks for the input Nancy. One of these times we will get to meet you when you are not so busy.


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