Balloon Fiesta

Mike and I are just leaving Albuquerque and heading south.  We spent almost four days in Albuquerque during their huge hot air balloon fiesta and never saw a single balloon.  We did hear a few.  The mass ascension when hundreds of balloons all go aloft in waves takes place on Saturday and Sunday mornings which we weren’t there for.  When we arrived on Sunday night the local news was full of gorgeous sights of all the colourful balloons in the air and of the fireworks they hold on the weekend.  Of course we missed it all.  On Wednesday morning they do have another ascension by balloons from different nations weather permitting.  To see all this you have to be at the balloon park by about 5am in the morning.  You can image my thoughts on that.  I originally told Mike that he could go on his own if he wanted but at about 10pm on Tuesday night I did offer to get up early and go.  At that point in time Mike had had second thoughts and decided that we wouldn’t bother.  There was some rain and clouds predicted which could easily have cancelled the event.  I talked to one woman who said that she had to get up and go to the park three different mornings before she actually saw the event take place due to weather.  Not only that, they tell you at 5am to go to a mall and take a shuttle bus due to the volume of attendees that fill up the parking lots even before then.  They have a nice session on a few evenings where they turn on the fire for the balloons so that they are lit up but they don’t actually take off.  Even without seeing the balloons there was a definite buzz because of the fiesta around the entire city which was nice.  The only downside was that the rates for everything including campgrounds skyrocketed for the week.

We spent a day and a half with friends who came into town to meet us which was really nice.  They took us around the old historical portion of Albuquerque.  On Tuesday night we discussed whether we wanted to head north, northeast, south or southeast from Albuquerque.  I was for heading north towards Denver, Mike wanted south.  We are going south which is fine with me.  I had wanted to see Sante Fe which is about an hour north of Albuquerque.  Since we weren’t going to head north with the RV we decided to stay in the campground an extra day and drive north to Sante Fe and then we would also get to go up on the local cable car that we hadn’t been on yet.

The picture above is taken in the main tourist area of Sante Fe.  I thought Sante Fe was great and I was really wishing that we had come up in the RV and could therefore have spent a night there and had an extra day to tour around.  The historic area of Sante Fe is nearly all art galleries selling local artisans work and jewelry stores.  You can understand why I wanted to stay longer.  A bit of jewellry is the only thing that Mike and I have purchased so far on this entire trip.  Mike wasn’t anywhere near as keen on the town as I was, I wonder why?  Apparently Sante Fe and Los Angeles take turns in being the city selling the second most art work in the US.  New York is always at the top.  That is pretty impressive given the size of Sante Fe.  We did take an hour bus tour of Sante Fe which I enjoyed more than Mike did.  The streets we drove down were just lined with artwork and small galleries.  There were statues in the yards, wind art displayed outside, paintings and more.  We drove past a subdivision just outside of Sante Fe.  The houses were all earth tones in colour.  My first reaction was that it really inhibited the individuality of the homes.  A few minutes later when I noticed how the houses were scattered throughout the landscape and how hidden they were and how they blended in I decided that maybe it was the right decision after all.

When we left Sante Fe we came home on a smaller road and stopped and had coffee in the town of Madrid.  I must admit that it wasn’t anything like the Madrid that I was in last year.  We then went to the local cable car or tramway as they call it.  It took us from just over 6,000 feet to over 10,000 feet (over 3,000 m) at the top of Sandia peak.  It really was a peak and you could look way out to the west as the mountain fell off below you and then walk twenty feet and look out over the east.  You could also see over the south.  It was very interesting.  They say that you can see about 10% of New Mexico from the one peak.  In the winter the tramway brings skiers up to the top.  It was just getting to evening when we were there and all the lights of Albuquerque were coming on which was very nice.  The thinner air was noticeable at 10,000 feet as was the cold.

I am writing this as we are heading south.  I expect to get to a park called Elephants Butte which I am sure isn’t named after the local wildlife.  After that we might stay in a town called Truth or Consequences.  Here is what Wikipedia had to say about the town.  “Originally named Hot Springs, the city changed its name to Truth or Consequences, the title of a popular NBC Radio program. In 1950, Ralph Edwards, the host of the radio quiz show Truth or Consequences, announced that he would air the program from the first town that renamed itself after the show; Hot Springs won the honor. Edwards visited the town during the first weekend of May for the next 50 years. This event was called “Fiesta” and included a beauty contest, a parade, and a stage show. The city still celebrates Fiesta each year during the first weekend of May.”

We are basically heading towards El Paso, Texas on the Mexican border.  El Paso has a major festival on this weekend.  We will see if that adds to the enjoyment or just prevents us getting a campsite easily.  I haven’t mentioned to Mike that this fiesta is oriented around art as well.

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