I was so excited when I realized that our travels would be bringing us through Albuquerque at the time of the hot air balloon fiesta that they have every year! I had seen pictures of and heard about this event, but it never occurred to me that we would actually be able to go! I saw that a group of RVing families were going to go and stay near each other in the balloon fiesta camping area, so we quickly signed up right before the deadline, and it was a stop that I was most excited about reaching on the trip! My family wasn’t quite as excited because they knew less of what to expect, but the minute they arrived on the Balloon Fiesta Field when the balloons were blowing up, their excitement matched mine!
It is kind of hilarious that this was our 2nd hot air balloon event in 2 months! The smaller on in Indiana we had happened on by chance, but having never been up close to a hot air balloon, to be surrounded by them twice in a short period of time was so amazing!
We pulled into the Balloon Fiesta Parking area, essentially a really big dirt parking lot with lots of other RVs, on the Wednesday before the Fiesta started. We had paid ahead the going rate of $35 a night to park in this parking lot where the other families would be. This was our first time boondocking (camping without water or electricity) for more than a night or two at a time. We would be here a total of 8 nights! We filled our water tank on the way in after registering, making sure to get every drop possible into our tank for those 9 days! We had also made sure to empty our dirty water tanks that morning before we got to the park (always fun). There were also other areas within the parking lot, or a little closer to the balloon grounds, where you could have utilities and a better view, but the price was almost double. We didn’t realize at this point just how amazing our view was going to be from row 23 in that dirt parking lot, but we were in for a treat!
We got set up and met some of the other families who had arrived before us that we didn’t know yet. More families would come in and out of the spots during the Fiesta, but it was nice to get to know some other families who were traveling too! Throughout the week, they had organized crafts, game nights, field trips, and other activities, which also helped us to hang out and get to know people a little better. Our trip to the Balloon Museum, across the street from where we were staying was a lot of fun!
The first day of the balloon fiesta was on a Saturday, and we all arose bright and early around 5am since the hot air balloons would be going up at 5:45! We were so surprised at how cold it got in Albuquerque at night time. It was in the low 40’s but sometimes felt even colder. We bundled up, and headed in the shuttle to Lucky for us, we had acquired access to the media tent, complete with food and coffee, and warmth. This also gave us a chance to enter a raffle each morning to possibly get to ride in a balloon!
We headed out onto the field and watched the morning glow and early takeoff. Then more, and more, and more hot air balloons started blowing up. We couldn’t believe that everyone was allowed to walk all over on the field while the balloons were taking off, but that added all the more fun to it (and perfect photo ops)! It truly was magical to watch so many hot air balloons take off and fill the sky all at once! It felt like something that everyone should get to see at least once! We were pretty sure we would be back again soon! Who would want to miss this once you saw how cool it was?!
I tried for a balloon ride the next morning and then David did 3 mornings after that, and the 3rd time was a charm for him! He got to go up in the Humpty Dumpty balloon, and the pilot of his balloon was lots of fun and very nice! After they landed, the pilot, and the chase crew did a first time flyers ceremony for David. What a memory this whole experience was for him, and I was so happy that he got to go for the ride! My time will come and I will get to ride in a balloon some day I am sure!
We got to spend a total of 6 early mornings out there at the balloon fiesta, and we usually came back to the RV area after the balloons took off if they were heading that way. It was so amazing to be on the field watching them take off, then head over on the shuttle, and watch them fly over our RV’s and land in the rows, and the field next to the parking area! The roof of our RV was the perfect spot to watch the balloons fly over one morning, and you could talk to the balloon pilots and almost touch some of the balloons if you wanted to!
Some of our other favorite experiences while in Albuquerque were the Petroglyphs National Monument, the Explora Museum, Old Town, Rebel Donuts, Blake’s Lotaburger, and our ultimate favorite meal there was at El Pinto (though we heard multiple times that Sadie’s was best we will have to try that one next time)! We also loved the atmosphere at this restaurant and how it felt like fall outside where they were roasting peppers! David’s family has been ordering green chiles from the Albuquerque area for a long time, so we went for it and ordered 20lbs of chiles. They roasted them right there for us, and put them into a bag. David sent some to his family and saved a good amount for himself. They were a little too hot for the rest of us, but he ate them on just about everything for awhile, and he was so sad when they were gone! We will definitely have to make a stop next time we pass through Albuquerque!
Albuquerque definitely holds a great memory for us, and will have a special place in our hearts!