Today I’m taking part in the monthly themed post chosen by my co-host Courtney:
“One of the best parts about traveling is finding somewhere new and unexpected. What’s a hidden gem that you have stumbled upon while exploring a new place?”
When reading Courtney’s theme I immediately thought about my day trip to New Mexico and the unexpected incredible event I encountered there.
During my family’s recent road trip we found ourselves driving right through Four Corners, a popular attraction connecting four US states. I posted a quick video Snapchat on my story and almost simultaneously received a text from one of my friends:
“Laur you guys are in NM??? Detour to ABQ and go to the Balloon Fiesta!!!!!! I would NOT miss it if you guys are that close!!”
“Balloon fiesta,” I thought, “well that sounds really fricken cool.” A few minutes and several Google searches later, I had become completely obsessed. I had to go see this. I mean, it was only a short 4-hour detour…..
What: The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual event hosting over 500 hot air balloons from all over the world. The festival takes place over a period of 9 days and consists of different special events and competitions, such as races and rodeos. The most popular events are called “mass ascensions,” where all participating balloons launch into the air at once, filling the sky with hundreds of balloons.
Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico
When: Every fall, in early October. (Autumn is the best flying time)
This festival is currently the largest hot air balloon convention in the world!
For reasons I still don’t fully understand, this festival usually takes place in two daily shifts, one at the wee hour of 6AM. Luckily for us, we arrived on a Monday, a day with only one session. You guessed it, the morning one.
All hotels, RV parks and camping sites around Albuquerque had been booked months in advance, so we ended up staying in Santa Fe, an hour away. I settled in for the night, giddy as a child on Christmas Eve, anxiously excited for what was to come the following morning.
Before I knew it it was 4AM and my iPhone alarm was blaring. Even though it was still the dead dark of night, it was time to hit the road.
It was a brisk, damp morning. The field was wet and muddy. I was tired and cranky and could hardly see 5 ft in front of me. Regrettably, I looked down at my white Converse. What an awesome choice. Needless to say, I started to second guess my dire need to see these colorful air filled tarps.
But then… the music started playing and it all began.
One by one the balloons inflated and illuminated, exposing their motifs to the awaiting crowd. They began to slowly pass by us, lifting into the air just above. Observers gawked, cheered and bid farewell to the colorful creations as they floated off into the shadowy sky.
The Dawn Patrol was out of sight before the sun rose, but quickly the field around us filled with similar balloons preparing for flight. Soon we were surrounded. Balloons of all shapes and sizes took off around us into the air. Hundreds of them, hovering overhead. It was truly an amazing sight.
Oh and if you follow me on Instagram, you know I had one hell of a breakfast burrito.
ABQ International Balloon Fiesta from Lauren on Location on Vimeo.