A recent chain of events (a record-breaking polar vortex which led to a four-day school cancellation which led to a reorganization of the photo cupboard) brought to light a long-forgotten photo album of our first Southwest road trip.  Turns out the husband and I (but mostly the husband – you’ll see his massive camera in several photos in this series) took more and better photos back then than we did on a similar road trip last summer, and I thought I would share some of them with you in a series entitled “A Photo Journey.”  I hope you enjoy them, and even more, I hope they inspire you to travel.

We had spent the night before our hot air balloon ride in one of those tiny, rustic KOA cabins, having lost the tent-set-up battle in Gale Force Wind vs. The Travel Architect & The Husband.  It wasn’t a matter of us wimping out.  Two mere humans and a flimsy little nylon shelter were simply no match for the relentless typhoon of dust-filled air that had us screaming to be heard.  If I had a video of the struggle, I’m pretty sure it would have won an Oscar® for Best Comedic Short, if such a category existed.  Which it doesn’t.  But it should.

Image result for koa kabin albuquerque
Source: koa.com

Anyway, it was probably a good thing we didn’t have a tent to dismantle the following morning.  We had to be up at 4:45 (this was back in the days when I didn’t regularly get up at this time) to be at the balloon ride launch site at 6:15, by which time Overnight Temperature Inversion had shown Gale Force Wind who was boss by transforming it into Barely There Breeze.

The husband promptly answered the call for set-up volunteers.

Albuquerque (2)

The balloon itself weighed 600 lbs.

I can’t remember how much it cost us to go on the ride, but I do know that the balloon cost $80,000.  Think how much travel you could do for that kind of money!

Albuquerque (7)

Mmmm.  I love bright colors.

Albuquerque (9)

Which, incidentally, is why I can’t abide black and white movies.

Albuquerque (8)

There were ten passengers in the basket, along with the pilot.

Albuquerque (10)

We were several feet off the ground before I realized we had taken off.  I wish planes take-offs were this serene.

Albuquerque (11)
Perhaps balloon owners solicit sponsorships to offset the cost of the balloon.  Maybe I can get The Travel Architect plastered on the side of one.

The balloon rose to nearly 5,000 feet.  It was very quiet, except for the periodic blast of gas into the balloon.

Albuquerque (13)

We went over some trees…

Albuquerque (12)

Then the pilot descended to the Rio Grande, touching the base of our basket to the water before rising again.  Appreciative oohs and aahs were uttered.

Albuquerque (15)
The Rio Grande

In all, we spent about an hour in the air…

Albuquerque (14)

… and went 6 ½ miles.

Albuquerque (16)
Those are the Sandia Mountains in the distance
Albuquerque (17)
The obligatory We Were Here photo.  Hey, at least it’s not a selfie.

Just before landing, the husband answered yet another call for volunteers.  He jumped out of the basket, which was a few feet off the ground, and helped several other people muscle it to a stop.  I would like to see Hot Air Balloon Basket go head to head with Gale Force Wind.  That would be quite a match.  My money’s on the basket.

Albuquerque (18)

Then we all chipped in with our body weight to deflate the balloon.  If I had know this was going to happen, I’d have eaten several additional calorie-dense sopapillas the day before.

Albuquerque (19)

Another spectacular way to get lofty, expansive views in Albuquerque is to take the tram up Sandia Peak, on the eastern edge of the city.

Albuquerque Tram to Sandia Peak
A bit blurry, but you get the idea.

I would have liked to have hiked to the top, but we were short on time.

Albuquerque from Sandia Peak

And I’m not really one for hiking in the dark.

One of the great things about New Mexico – besides the scenery and the cuisine and the culture and the history and the adobe architecture – is the ability to see storms way off in the distance.

On a final note, we were there in August, but every October there is a huge multi-day hot air balloon festival.  I just looked at the website, and suddenly I have another thing to add to our Dust-Farm-Pail List.

Posts in the A Photo Journey series:


33 thoughts

  1. As many times as I’ve been in Albuquerque I’ve never taken a tram to the top of Sandia. Maybe I’ll have to go again. Jane C. Says the balloon festival is a madhouse. You might want to reconsider. My only balloon ride experience has been right here. There was very little breeze and thus a lackluster ride. I still have the bottle of champagne they presented us at the end of the ride.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great photography of a wonderful adventure. Hot air ballooning is very underrated. It is people in harmony with the air and the wind. It is also the second best way to see a beautiful landscape- exceeded only by the view from a mountain peak. Thanks for the continued stories.

    (This comment is ad supported- “drink Horstweisel Dunkelschwein and the Frauleins will swoon”).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “periodic blasts of gas” according to me scarier words than those are hard to come by. You see, once a year in July the town where I live hosts the “European balloon festival” and I live right next to the field where they take of from. Meaning the during the week the festival lasts I’m treated to a very loud wake up call daily. By now 3 years later I’ve more or less gotten used to it but when I first moved here I had no idea what was happening, I just woke up at 6 am terrified by the loud noise thinking there was a dragon on the loose or smtg! Sure, If I overcome my lazyness and go out on the terrace the sky looks really pretty with all the hot air balloons but ultimately those “periodic blasts of gas” still make me think of dragons and scare me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see where that would be a mixed blessing. I have heard that those deafening gas blasts really freak the animals out if you choose to do a safari in a hot air balloon. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but from your anecdote, I would bet it’s true. Might be a neat blog post though??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never heard of it but I’m sure its true. it has to be. Also, I’ve kind of been missing inspiration for posts but you are right, my dragons turning out to be hot air balloons might make a good post…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What a great article! I loved it! Everything was very well stated. Nice job. First, your upcoming trip across Asia sounds spectacular. I can’t wait to read all about it. Second, that picture of you standing on the Great Wall is superb. Where are all the crowds? You must have been at one of the less crowded spots. Are you willing to reveal where that was?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you! I really enjoyed doing that interview, glad you liked it.
        As for the Great Wall how much are you willing to pay me for my secrets? After all, that section is so far of the beaten path the only other people we met there where 4 or 5 Chinese tourists. Absolutely no foreigners! i.e revealing where it was won’t come cheap. 😉

        p.s. that photo was taken at the “overhanging great wall” in Gansu province. There’s an amazing fort nearby too,”Jiayuguan pass”, totally worth a visit if you ever make it to China.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is amazing!!! What a great adventure that must have been. We went hot air ballooning near Canyonlands in Southern Utah and I will never forget the peaceful feeling of just floating across the countryside. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds great, too. My most memorable experience from the Canyonlands is ending a long day of (Outward Bound) hiking by accidentally sitting on a cactus, and spending the next hour picking spikes out of my pants. Your experience sounds nicer.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s