October 5, 2009

New Mexico Sketch Tour 09

Day 4 | 10.4.09 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Up at 5:00am for a run to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We are scheduled to crew in a RainbowRyders balloon on Tues, so today we are heading to the Fiesta to scout out how to get to the Fiesta Park and to locate our balloon guides, and to enjoy the Fiesta from the ground.

We head down I-25 South to Albuquerque at 75mph (gotta love the speed limits in NM), first light illuminating the landscape, and reach the park with ease and giddy excitement. We enter the park just as the dawn breaks over the Fiesta crowd and balloon crews readying their rigs, and the first Dawn Patrol balloon ascends to scout out the flying conditions and relay the "green" light for the main event the early morning Mass Ascension when all of the balloons flying that day ready their balloon for flight and ascend in a ballet pageant of color, teamwork, and thrills.

The pageantry and excitement of the Fiesta defies expectations, words, and pictures....there are no adults at this event only children and bigger children...all united with a sense of wonder and thrill as these gentle giants emerge, grow, swell to be free of their bonds, finally to soar with gentle grace and roaring spirit into the crystal clear crisp morning air...thrilling the flight crews and ground bound alike as each ascension is met with cheers and applause as hearts fill and overflow with the childlike joy of success and wonderment.

mass ascension dawn flight

We meandered through this early morning field of dreams laughing and catching the spirit of balloon flight...giddy excitement building in anticipation of our turn to join the ascension with only wicker and air beneath our feet and the roaring flame of the billowing gentle giant above carrying us aloft.

Each pilot gauges conditions and is soley responsible for the decision to launch or not. While most of the balloons ascend to the thrill of all, for some, wisdom and experience prevail in the moment and the inflated balloon is grounded, and "goes down" expertly tended and stored by the crew with a knowing grin, that the magic and whimsy of balloon flight will ascend another day.

After conferring with the pilot about his decision to ground his balloon the pilot confides that he just didn't feel it in the conditions and dad owns a gem of pilot wisdom.... "I'd rather be down here wishing I were up there, then up there wishing I were down here!"

After the Mass Ascension we wandered the Fiesta grounds enjoying roasted corn, scoring event memorabilia , and radiating with the after glow of what we had witnessed. I lucked out and had the opportunity to meet Meg Leonard the artist who created the official fiesta event poster. I purchased the poster...a gorgeous fine art serigraph print on heavy rag paper, unsigned, and had a chance to chat with Meg as she signed my print.

After our morning of balloon wonderment we headed to the Old Town section Albuquerque. Avoiding tourist traps we unearthed a dining gem, La Placita Dining Rooms.

photo by: milton shaevel; aka "pops"

photo by: "pops"

photo by: "pops"

photo by: "pops"

photo by: "pops"

photo by: "pops"

We continued our explorations meandering through Old Town galleries and sidestreets, under gorgeous crystal clear 68 degree Autum sunshine. Glorious. We began angling back to Santa Fe by venturing to the Sandia Peak Tramway with the intention of riding to the top of this mountain range. The lines were over an hour long so we decided to hit the tram adventure after our Fiesta balloon ride on Tuesday.

We headed out of Albuquerque for the day, via the ever amazing Turquoise Trail route and rode into the sunset to base camp still radiating with the joy of the day.

Stay Tuned for video clips to follow....

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