Fly me to the moon, well fly me to the Balloon. We went to Balloon Fiesta yesterday and even after forty years, it remains the greatest thing about Albuquerque, even better than Breaking Bad. It is to Albuquerque what the Indianapolis 500 is to Indianapolis at a lot slower pace. I even wrote Balloon Fiesta into a scene in a novel, but the fiesta is often an excuse NOT to write and not to get early to work. That's a good thing too.
You can experience Balloon Fiesta from everywhere in Albuquerque. I live downtown, but I found a nice empty spot where you can get a good view of the mass ascension, A balloon or two has landed there. We've had a balloon fly over our heads as we get out for work.
Getting to the park is a pain. Traffic is horrible, although my mom claims that she arrived at 7:30 and missed the traffic whatsoever. The Breakfast Burritos and the coffee taste better there than anywhere in the world.
Arriving at Balloon Fiesta park in time for dawn patrol feels like going to a state fair on the moon. It is pitch black and there are these white structures that could be lunar shelters. Everyone is bundled up like homeless astronauts. Weird shapes and fire are forming in the fields. If you keep an eye on the Sandia Crest, right before dawn, there's a moment where the crest glows as if a rocket has been launched just behind it. When you hear the first flames go off as the balloons ignite, it does feel like a rocket is revving its engines before going on a drag race to Risa 4.
The balloons might be flying a few miles at most, but when they rise up, they literally could be flying to the moon . . . just a little bit slower of course, and with a lot more style . . .
For a few short minutes, it is fun to run around and take pictures of the special shapes. It's like a comic con come to life. I am one of the most jaded people in the world, but I still got a rush from the spider pig balloon and had ten pics taken of the Darth Vader head.
And then all of a sudden it is over. The last balloon has flown up, up and away. You are no longer on a state fair on the moon, once the sun rises you are in a fairgrounds that could be anywhere. Iowa perhaps? We left as there was a chain saw carving competition. The coffee doesn't taste that great and there's a line to use the facilities. Where did we park again?
Time to fly back. home . . .