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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Welcome to Raleigh, NC

I was heading to Raleigh for work, which is a typical theme for my travel. I was pretty excited since this was my first trip ever to the state of North Carolina – let’s just say I checked another state off my bucketlist!

It’s very green and reminds me of the Ozarks except there are a lot more pine trees than can I find in the Ozarks. We have mostly hard woods. Traffic is atrocious depending on the time of day so just be prepared but in comparison to LA it’s nothin’. Why is it bad? Raleigh is part of the triangle which is made of of Durham and Chappel Hill as well. Lots of people moving between three of them heading to and from work. We of course land right at the best time to catch rush hour! Google maps and I chatted many times about her total lack of knowledge of traffic flow. Pretty sure the bitch lied a couple of times. That’s what me and my other road dog thought anyway and we’re sticking to it.

Since I was there for a competition and work took up lots of my time I’m going to sum it up rather than go day by day. You really don’t need to see the inside of the convention center for the days I was there – this is a travel blog not a convention center blog. I do have some fantastic foodie delights to share and I’m pretty exicted about those so lets get this party started.

We had a team building activity the required everyone to load up on a bus with a Tobacco Trail Tour Guide. The day I was with him he was amusing but I heard reports back that he turned into an ass on another. Maybe that’s part of his comedy routine – going to suggest he change that part quickly. Bless his pea pickin’ heart. 

We arrived at Deep River Sporting Clay’s to do some skeet shooting. We were in hog heaven. I did terrible because I don’t normally  shoot moving objects. Snakes tend to be coiled up waiting which is perfect. Sorry for the snake lovers but I’m shooting it.

I had some foodie finds that I recommend highly:

The Cowfish – it’s a fusion of Japanese and American. So good! We took time out to go celebrate my birthday at this place! I would definitely come back. Loved the sushi!!! The atmosphere is festive and unique so it’s a fun place day or night!

The Second Empire – it’s amazing. In an old home near the convention center. It is beautiful inside and out. The food is exceptional. My first course was pork belly and scallops – AMAZING! Entre was lamb chops with a casserole. My first time ever to eat lamb chops and they didn’t disappoint. Medium rare is the way to go. I also taste tested my neighbors duck confiet…it was my favorite. It melted in your mouth. It would’ve been rude to take his dish and eat my own…really. I had the Empire Chocolate Souffle for dessert and it was another first for me. It was so pretty I didn’t want to eat it but I did!

The Angus Barn – delicious steak! There are a few unique things about this place. You must check out the bathroom it’s amazing. It’s the best looking barn I’ve ever seen in a bathroom setting. They also have a beautiful wine cellar that you can get a tour of as well. Remember no touching – only look!

Fun times with some great folks!

Circa 1888 – A great little bar that used to be a depot for the railroad. Beautifully refurbished with a patio area outside and a billard tables that will keep you hanging out for hours inside.

Mostly food because I was so busy working, but food and drink should be considered nectar of the gods!

-G.