Albuquerque Travel Blog› entry 160 of 167 › view all entries
5am! We're up and soon biking to the first official Fiesta Day down the street from RV parking. It's dark when we arrive by 5:40 am, so we made it in time for Dawn Patrol. We wander around to find our new ballooning friends from the "Independence" balloon on M-2. It's in a central field location and everyone was so kind when they saw us again today.
Since they "never turn down help" and we came wearing our new leather gloves, Gloria and Bob of the Independence let us help crew today! We signed some waivers and then Bob, the pilot, kindly included us in the 6:16 am Pilots' Briefing (and crew) at the back of the field. That was really exciting, and while we didn't understand all the weather and wind implications, we felt very privileged to attend.
The pilot meeting was interrupted by the gorgeous sight of Dawn Patrol: about 10 balloons lifting off in the dark, blinking their lights in synchronous blasts of a propane heater- spectacular! They just light up the night and provide wind data for the balloons who follow.
Then, filled with excitement, we all headed back from the Pilots' Briefing to field position to participate in the magnificent Mass Ascension, when 625 balloons were scheduled to lift off the enormous field, nearly at once. Spectators walk among the balloons and it is an awesome experience to look up and be surrounded by towering whimsical balloons!
We were thrilled to see our Lazy Daze Friends and current RV neighbors, Karen and Terry (from Round Rock, TX) at our balloon.
We had a long wait then of about 45 minutes while we waited for the field to clear and the sun over the nearby mountains to cause a wind shift. Then we followed Gloria's instructions to help inflate the balloon, although our work was minimal- I think they were being nice letting us participate. We'd decided in advance not to follow the balloon in the chase vehicle on this day.
So after our beautiful balloon was ready for takeoff and received clearance by a zebra (a field officer dressed in humorous zebra clothes), Bob and riders (who'd paid $350 each for the ride) had a victorious liftoff! It was a moment to behold!
Oh, while we were awaiting our balloon instructions, we heard the Star Spangled Banner over the speakers and saw a beautiful balloon take flight with our beautiful American flag.
Our friends, Charlie and Marti, from our Lazy Daze group had gone to field site B-3 to find her long-lost cousin Luke Cesnik from Minneapolis- Marti got to go up in his balloon! We admired a terrific video that Charlie took of the liftoff. What a lucky day! We were so excited for her!
Another bonus: Mike and Lisa Sylvester (the "RV Guy") managed to get to me on their waitlist and did a thorough comprehensive systems annual maintenance on Ciao Baby! They are so highly respected that all appointments were booked weeks in advance and I was thrilled they could fit us into the schedule. Most of our RV systems were fine with just a refrigerator seal replacement and a furnace flame service needed after I return home in a few weeks.
More new Lazy Daze friends arrived last night and today. We have such fun catching up with online friends from our Yahoo group and new ones. Friend Andy arrived, Karen crocheted a pretty hat for Lia in just a few hours, giving Jazy and Lia lessons in knitting and crocheting. Friend Charlie fixed all our bike issues, repairing Lia's bike tire THREE times! He gets a medal. My Charles put together a Schwann's order for group ice cream and is excited to distribute those tomorrow. We enjoyed a terrific potluck last night with delicious food and interesting company. So we keep busy having a terrific time!
A weather system is blowing through now. We got dust in our eyes and now some rain, but it doesn't dampen our spirits.