Here we are...it's Saturday already! Where on earth did the week go?!
Obviously we have been busy.
We ended up volunteering on the chase crew for five straight days. If anyone decides to take a trip to Albuquerque to see the hot air balloon festival for yourself, do yourself a favor and volunteer at LEAST one day. Yes, you have to get up early, but is SO well worth it! If you have bad knees we would recommend thinking twice about riding in one as the landings jar you pretty good. Referring to the volunteers as "chase crews" is a perfect description; you really DO chase that sucker down once it takes off. At certain altitudes the wind switches directions so just about the time you know where the pilot is headed he starts going a different direction.And there you are on the surface streets trying to be a good driver, following all the traffic laws. It's gads of fun!!
Rick got his ride on Monday, when the pilot requested him to be his rider. Because the pilot was competing in a Black Jack card game we had to go to a different part of the city to launch. From the air the pilots had to try to hit large playing cards (4'x8') placed on the field by dropping a "flag" that was weighted at one end. Rick said it was amazing how the pilot could maneuver the balloon so well in all directions.
We took the tram up the Sandia Mountains. It is currently the longest tram ride in the world (2.7 miles). Albuquerque sits at 5,000 feet above sea level. The tram station is at 6,400 feet and the top is just over 10,300 feet. The mountains are very rugged, consisting of quartz, k-spar crystals, and limestone. The name "Sandia" means watermelon in spanish. At sunset(for just a few minutes) the mountains look pinkish-red - like watermelon. Once at the top we walked one of the many trails that took us to the Kiwanis Cabin. (a 3 mile hike) The cabin is made of stone and sits atop one of the peaks. It was built in the 1930s to provide skiiers and other adventurers a safe haven until help could arrive if they got into trouble while on the mountain.
Wednesday there was a free brunch for the pilots and crews held at the Sandia Indian Casino and Hotel. The food was excellent. Earlier in the week we had taken a drive to the casino for the $12.50 dinner buffet and spent a little time gaming before heading home. It is a beautiful facility.
Yesterday was the first day we did not volunteer so we took Anna with us to the Petroglyph National Monument and walked one of the trails (two and half miles). It was quite hot by eleven a.m. so we had to stop three or four times for Anna to sit in the shade and have some water. She's had to spend almost all day every day in the air-conditioned trailer as we cannot leave her outside unless we are with her and there isn't any place to let her off leash right here in the "park" (desert filled with RVs). Every couple of days we take her to a neighborhood that has a huge common area so she can run and chase her toys.
This year has been very successful for the balloon pilots and organizers as there has yet to be a morning that the balloons could not fly. There has only been one "glowdeo" or "evening glow" due to weather - which was last night. The balloons are already beautiful, but when they light up the insides after dark they look awesome. Last night was a glow for the special shapes so it was really fun to be on the field amongst the "creatures" and other shapes.
Tomorrow morning will be the farewell mass ascension, so we will get up early and get to the field to see them off and say goodbye to our pilot for the last time.