Back in October, Michael, Sean, Ash and I took a roadtrip to Albuquerque, New Mexico in order to attend the International Hot Air Balloon Festival! It was, without a doubt, one of the best roadtrips I’ve ever been on. We left Phoenix around 3PM on Friday and began the long drive to Albuquerque, where we would be staying with Ragan, a friend of Ash’s. We arrived after midnight, and after hanging out with Ragan for a while, crashed, both because we were exhausted, and needed to be up early the next morning to head to the festival.
On Saturday, we woke up before 6, got ready and left in search of breakfast; we settled on Dunkin’ Donuts and then drove to the festival. We were not prepared for how bad the traffic would be, and were stuck trying to get off of the freeway for over an hour. When it came time to park, the car two ahead of us in line got the last parking spot, so we ended up watching the balloons from a banked hill on the side of the freeway. It was wonderful to watch, but I wished we had been closer. After the balloons had mostly all launched, we headed to downtown Albuquerque and got lunch at a coffee shop, then browsed some shops. The boys all bought matching chambray shirts, and all looked dashing as a result. After shopping, we went back to Ragan’s… some of us napped, and others stayed up; I was in the napping party. That night we headed over to hang out with Miguel, a friend of Michael’s who we had, by complete chance, run into when we went to the coffee shop earlier that day. We had a lot of fun at Miguel’s that night, drank some wine, and enjoyed the plentiful good company. Ragan joined us, and after a while we headed out to get a drink nearby.
On Sunday morning, Sean and I got up at about 5:30, and went to the festival. Luckily, we had an early enough start that neither traffic nor parking were a problem. Leaving that early in the morning also meant that it was freezing outside, which neither of us was dressed for. The whole event was incredible; before dawn, a collection of about seven balloons inflated and periodically lit their flames without taking flight. They were called the Morning Patrol, and on all other mornings of the festival they had flown, but the conditions on Sunday morning were too windy, so they stayed grounded. Once dawn broke, and the sun rose, the balloons started taking off in droves; this was the “Mass Ascension,” the main event! Over the course of a couple of hours, hundreds of balloons took off. It was magnificent and fascinating; Sean and I both enjoyed the event immensely. After leaving we went back to Ragan’s and woke the boys up. We then met Ragan for AMAZING Mexican food and then she took us through the forest to a spot where we could see the Rio Grande. After playing in the river for a while, we decided it was time to begin the drive back to Phoenix. On our way, we drove through some of the Painted Desert, and then stopped at Two Guns, a ghost town outside of Flagstaff that Ash knew about. The Painted Desert was gorgeous, and Two Guns was incredible… a perfect mix of curious and creepy.
By the time we arrived back in Phoenix, it was quite late, but well worth it. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves from this point on.