I had some doubts about whether I would write this post at all. Some things are just too incredible to capture in any other way except through actually experiencing them in person, and this trip was one of them. We have been trying to have a girl’s trip for a couple months now, but you can imagine getting five flight attendants together at the same time can prove to be quite the challenge. Finally… we managed to take the puzzle pieces of our schedules and mash them together into what resembled a two-day trip to Albuquerque. Albuquerque is home to an International Balloon Festival, which every year in October, brings balloons from all over the world to participate in nine days worth of events. This festival has been on my bucket list for I don’t know how long, so when we decided to try it for our annual girl’s trip I was ecstatic. Color has always made me weirdly happy. When I was student teaching in Scott County, I had an odd obsession with brand new boxes of crayons. I would often try to incorporate little art projects into most of my lessons because I have found that the kiddos don’t get to be creative enough. I watched in awe as they discovered the magic that happens when you open a brand new box of crayons and you are just hit with this amazing array of colors, and the endless possibility that each one of those crayons represents. That is what color does. It takes a boring, gray thing, and turns it into something beautiful.
By some miracle, we all made it to Albuquerque on the fourth of October. Traveling on the non-rev system is kind of similar to just throwing yourself into the wind and hoping you land in your city of choice. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes you spend the night in some random airport praying that you can find a vending machine. The airline gods were smiling down on us and we all made it. The three of us that were flying (Coco and Cassi were driving from Pheonix, AZ), Danielle, Abby, and I took an uber from the airport to our Airbnb. We pulled up and I am going to be honest, I think we were all a little concerned. It was pitch black, there was a ferocious sounding dog next door barking at us like he wanted to take our heads off one by one, and it was just altogether a little sketch. Regardless of its condition, it was ours for the next two nights so we put our big girl panties on and went in. This is a prime example of why you should never judge a book by its cover because it was a great little guest house. Inside, everything was clean and very welcoming, and it was only a five-minute Uber from the festival. At $35 for two nights (a piece), I would say that we literally hit the jackpot, and it ended up being like a two-night sleepover because all the beds were in the same room. If you are planning on a budget trip anytime soon, I would definitely recommend Airbnb, because you can find rooms for rent for a fraction of what you would pay at a hotel.
The morning of the festival arrived and the alarm went off at 4:00am. Also, a rooster was crowing. No Joke. He was just awake as can be at FOUR IN THE MORNING. You know who also was awake? Danielle. The very second the alarm went off she popped out of bed like a spring chicken. It was the strangest thing I have ever seen. The rest of us were still half snoozing and Danielle’s got her clothes on, the coffee brewing, and her makeup already on her face. Let me tell you one thing. If you have Danielle in your life. There is no reason to ever set your alarm. She will get you out of bed in no time. The ONLY REASON we were on time was because of Danielle. The rest of us probably would have woken up at noon.
We waddled down the road with about ten blankets and two sleeping bags. Everyone kept asking us where we were camping. Apparently, New Mexico locals aren’t phased by 40-degree weather at all. No Yall… We are not camping. Just hoping not to get hypothermia or freeze our little booties off. Okay… so we probably wouldn’t get hypothermia in 40-degree weather but still. It was freezing. And they all wished they had been as smart as us and brought sleeping bags… SO there. That’s my rant for the day.
The festival started off with what’s called the Dawn Patrol. It’s the first event of the day where they send up ten or so of the most experienced balloon pilots to test out the wind conditions. We were all cuddled up on a picnic table, with hot chocolate and green chile breakfast burritos (a New Mexico staple food) when they first started lighting up. It was still dark, so the only thing that you could see were the balloons lighting up in sync with each other, about to take off into the night sky. It kind of took my breath away, to be honest. It was like a promise of the amazing things to come.
One thing that I had never realized is that the Balloon Fiesta is very subjective to weather conditions. If it’s too windy, they will not send the balloons up for obvious reasons…. Like the balloon would seriously be blown to Timbuktu and back. So considering we only had two days to see them, we were very blessed with amazing weather. After the Dawn Patrol Pilots had successfully maneuvered their balloons up into the air, everything happened so quickly. The sun started to peep over the mountains behind us, and like a perfectly tuned orchestra, the first set of balloons was sent up, following the sunrise. It was magic. Every color imaginable, lifting into the New Mexico sky. That moment, with some of my closest friends, the kind of friends that will put cream cheese on your bagel when your hands are too cold (Everyone needs friends like that ;)), will not easily be forgotten.
Enjoy the photos, and you better start planning for next year’s balloon fiesta, because it is definitely bucket list worthy. Oh and by the way, Coco found our next girl’s trip on the drive back to Pheonix….
Yeah probably not.