Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 

There are no words to describe how amazing and beautiful this event is to folks. Words do it NO justice! I have a gazillion photos that I will be sharing…OK maybe not that many but it will be close.

This year I’m getting to the Fiesta on a Wednesday. It actually started Saturday, October 1st and will go through Sunday, October 9th. Last year I was here from the First Saturday till Tuesday. So I’m just picking up where I left off the previous year.

I’m completely hooked on ballooning. I crew for some amazing folks that just happen to be Aggies as well. If you don’t know what that is then let me tell you, we all graduated from Texas A&M University located in Bryan/College Station, TX…the best place in the world.

Today was the Mass Ascension from the field. There were so many balloons to look at and I even spotted some new ones I didn’t see last year. As crew my job was to pickup my pilot wherever he should land. He made it pretty darn easy on us by landing back on the field!

Day 2 for me – for the rest it’s Thursday:
Wasn’t sure there would even be a competition flight for awhile and when they could fly the window was open for an hour. We busted that balloon out and got it inflated in no time. I was holding the crown line…I’ve done this more than once but today as I was running back my pants were a little too loose and I about lost them. So it came down to letting go of the line or showing some ass….I let go of the line – really this is a family show. Lol In the process of of running and pants grabbing my phone took a nose dive out of my pocket. Fortunately one of the bystanders of my near strip tease brought it too me since we were holding the basket in place until liftoff.

Pilot took off with some cheers from his crew for good luck. We then packed up any items and moved on down the road for a better position to go and retrieve him at a later time. Retrieve we did….in a drainage ditch (fortunately dry at this time) on the reservation. There is always paperwork involved, an escort to him, and normally 4 wheel drive will be needed when getting our pilot off the reservation. Today was no different than the last time. It’s an experience for sure.

Later in the day we all met up to attend the balloon glow and fireworks display. Beautiful! Check out the videos for a small taste of my evening.

Day 3 – also known as Friday!
Another race day so we were chasing. The weather hasn’t been cooperative for getting to the objectives on a consistent basis. We didn’t have a wild and crazy chase. It was basically staying in the same general area and him coming back around to where we were at. He finally touched down in an athletic field which was perfect for the crew. We had a mother and daughter that had been following him for quite some time so they were excited to see him land. I got some pics of him flying over one of the streets we were waiting on.

Day 4 – Saturday
It’s a cold and breezy morning that turned into a no fly day. We sat on the field for a bit which are the early morning pics below. Cheered on my Aggies against Tennessee in the afternoon and did some retail therapy.

Day 5 – Sunday fun day! Also the last day of the Fiesta
Overcast with a little fog but we had the green flag. I was excited because I was flying today. As we were airing up the envelop flight got suspended. We sat on hold for 20 minutes or so then we were green again. I LOVE FLYING!!!! There is a video I took during my flight. Once we were done and packed up it was on the road for home. It was an uneventful 12.5 hour drive other than seeing some beautiful skies and interesting views from the road.

The second video we are trying to dip the basket into the Rio Grande River but opt not to since it was so shallow. Loading a basket covered in mud wouldn’t be any fun!

Views on the way home:

Let’s talk food…OMG there are so many going on my list.

Eli’s Place – everything is great. They only sure blue corn pancakes during the Fiesta and they are delicious. I actually ordered the Huevos Rancheros with Christmas on top – that’s a mix of red and green chilies. Like I said everything is fantastic! Truly a hole-in-the-wall place.

Hannah & Nate’s – it’s in Corrales and the parking is terrible but the food more than makes up for it. I had the Beef & Bleu sandwich. The beef was sliced nice and thin and cooked super tender. Piled with mushrooms and topped with blue cheese on toasted bread. Yummy!

Turtle Mountain Brewery – the calzones are so big it took over my plate! I had the Manzano. It was good but on my to do list will be visiting Boxing Bear Brewery. Turtle was serving their hard cider so you know it has to be pretty darn good.

The Range – in Bernalillo. This place is iconic! Looks little from the outside but it’s huge and has a full bar. Everything was delicious! Try the deep fried chilies…it’s an appetizer. A meal in itself! I had the chili relleno which is encrusted with blue cornmeal. Holy cow amazing! I opted for the green chili sauce instead of the red and it was on the spicy side. So this is a tip for you – ask if the red or green is spicier because it depends on the place!!

Frontier Restaurant – near the university. Parking is a pain but the food is worth it! I got it to go because I was running on fumes from a long day of work and then driving to Albuquerque, but the place is known for its unique atmosphere and individuals. So if you have time sit down and eat. I got the Frontier burrito – it’s MASSIVE!! I was about to pay and was overwhelmed by the temptation of a huge cinnamon rolls in my line of sight. You know it that thing went for a car ride too!

Sadie’s – off 4th Street. The margaritas are fantastic! Once we were seated they brought out chips and salsa. Hot, hot burn the house down hot! I definitely guzzled down some water. I had the small enchiladas (beef and Carne avocada), which are still big, with the green sauce. A couple of folks at my table got the small nachos that looked real similar to a mountain. They took to go boxes! We followed all that up with some delicious sopapillas! Hot and delicious with some honey…the perfect dessert.

Weck’s – in Rio Rancho. It was packed. We had a wait because we had a big group. I had French toast with bacon. It was delicious! The toast was topped with powdered sugar and then add syrup. Yummy stuff! I got a little help with my breakfast. ☺ No complaints on any dish at the table and we all had breakfast but one. I also had the coffee special of chocolate and macadamia. Delicious combo!

I didn’t get a chance to eat at the Flying Star this trip but their food is fantastic! The NM Beenie is one of my faves and their desserts are out of this world. Coffee isn’t bad either!

Highly recommend experiencing the AIBF at least once in your lifetime. It’s spectacular and words really do it NO justice!

-G.

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