Balloons Over Albuquerque
October 2002
Page 10


On the morning of our last day, Kay, Nora, Tom and I were all down on the field early as usual. Today would be the day of the shapes. We had seen the launching and flight of shaped balloons at virtually all of the events up to this point. However, on this day all of the shaped balloons would be flying during one event.

Tom and I had signed on to be part of the Incognito crew, but Jerry informed us that he would not be allowed to launch from the field; it was reserved for the shaped balloons. So we were cut loose to enjoy the day as shaped balloons came to life around us.

All around us, the shapes appeared to be coming to life

Even though we had seen most of the shapes at one time or another, it was fun to see them all on the field at the same time. At first many shapes looked as if they were rising from a sleep. They were lying horizontal as they were cold inflated. Soon the rushing sound of propane burners could be heard all around.

People look very small up next to these large bags of hot air

Even though we had been to several of these events, it still was very impressive to be in the middle of the action as the shapes began rising. It wasn't very long before there where balloons standing up all around us. Many of the shaped balloons were advertising products and many balloons, when inflated, were shaped like the products being advertised.

Kay and Maury among the hot air balloon action — Photo by Nora

The shapes varied from the smaller piggy banks to a whiskey bottle and telephone booth. Other shapes were the head of "Smokey the Bear," a bald eagle, a pirate, elephants, a duck, a car, a rabbit and many more. The larger balloons were in the shape of a stage coach and a milk cow. The milk cow was the very largest balloon we saw. We were told about the special problems of landing the cow.

Our group watches a very large Smokey the Bear

It seems that the crew of the milk cow really like to set it down on a gassy field if possible. Then if not, they would like to be able to stretch tarps out on the landing field. This is done to protect the legs as they drag across the ground before the balloon can be stopped.

Sometimes a person never knows where a balloon will go

We were back in camp earlier than previous mornings. We found that Kevin and Tina chose to stay in camp. Balloons were everywhere in the sky. We pulled out chairs so we could watch the show as it unfolded all around us. The landing field would have a few balloons come down. Many more balloons landed all around the RV camping area.

It appears as if most shapes are already in the air

Again we were right in the center of a lot of the action. It has been a fantastic experience. All in our group felt that it was difficult to put our first experience at a Hot Air Balloon Fiesta into words. It was agreed that people just must experience it for themselves.

I had an opportunity to drive outside the balloon fiesta grounds and look back at a scene of a sky full of balloons. Again, I saw another amazing sight from a new perspective. My camera was not able to capture the view I was seeing; the lens could not capture a wide enough angle. I was impressed with how far across the sky the total group of balloons spread.

That is one really big Jack-o-lantern and how about that octopus

When I returned to camp, I had a barbecued turkey leg waiting for me to eat before getting on the road. Tom had bought a barbecued turkey leg while I was gone and picked one up for me. It was a very pleasant surprise to come home and have lunch ready.

When it was time to get underway for home, Kevin and Tina took off toward Santa Fe with Tom and Nora to continue their trip through New Mexico. Not long after they left, Kay and I were out on the freeway heading for home. It seemed strange to be leaving the group. I would like to have continued down the road with the caravan, but we needed to get back home to return to our jobs. Soon I was traveling along a very familiar route heading west.


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