Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!

Well this was something that we will never forget.  

We just happened to have planned to come through Albuquerque, NM during their yearly Balloon Fiesta.  We connected with some of Aaron's extended family who live out there and they wanted to host a house concert.  They told us that our timing was perfect as there was this festival going on.  I had actually not heard of it before but it certainly sounded wonderful!  We arrived in the city on the last weekend of the festival and played a wonderful show with them on friday.  My plan had been for us to spend time at the fiesta the following day but due to wind, the balloons didn't go up that Saturday.  For us that was just as well- we were pretty tired after the show the night before and I don't think we would have made it out that early anyway (official activites start as early as 5:45am with "mass ascension", or all the balloons taking off, at 7am).  Nevertheless we had a lovely day exploring Albuquerque that Saturday.  We first headed down to "Old Town" and within moments of parking and paying for our spot in an incredibly antiquated machine (literally just slots for shoving folded up dollar bills into), we were enjoying the sounds of a lively and authentic mariachi band.  I'm still not sure what it was exactly about that moment- the music, the joy they conveyed or just something in the atmosphere, but as I stood there, tears came to my eyes.  Sometimes its the simplest moments that touch you for reasons you can't even quite put your finger on.  I could've stayed in that spot all day.  

We did move on however and walk around, eat some New Mexican food, peruse the tourist shops and treat ourselves to ice cream.  

The next morning we were rested and ready to head on to Colorado so we got up early and headed in the direction of the festival, hoping for a balloon sighting before we left town.  It was the very last day of the week-long fiesta.  Parked on a street close to the main park, we began to see them pop up into the morning sky.  A few at first and then within minutes they filled the sky.  We were giddy and running all about taking photos and videos and sharing the joy of such a magical moment with our daughter Magnolia

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A couple hours passed as we stared at the sky, until many of them began to descend- several right in our parking lot!  Their expertly trained teamed flocked immediately to the landing site and began their process of packing up.  Aaron and Magnolia ran over and offered help which was welcomed, and I filmed them (of course- somebody's gotta man the camera!) roll and tie up a giant deflated penguin.  

After watching a few more land, with still a few more soaring, we began to pack up the Pilgrim-mobile and hit the road North to Colorado.  On our way out, we stopped at New Mexico Pinon Coffee Company to try a local specialty- Pinon Coffee, which is made from the nuts of the state tree, the Pinon (or Pinyon) Pine.  Furthermore the house specialty- the Biscochito Latte, was delicious.  

Watch this week's webisode to see this glorious balloon display in action!  As well as additional New Mexico sights and shenanigans.