Albuquerque, New Mexico – International Balloon Fiesta || 35°11’56.2″ N 106°34’43.6″ W
This weekend I took my first college road trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the International Balloon Fiesta. I only found out about the Balloon Fiesta last year when I joined Troy Camp, an organization at USC, because we plan an annual trip down to Albuquerque, but since then it has been towards the top of my college bucket list (and made it onto my real bucket list). Me and four of my other gal pals drove 15 hours (and lost an hour in the time change that we did not know existed until right before we passed the Arizona / New Mexico border) through the night and arrived just in time for the “mass ascension” of balloons at the Balloon Fiesta.
The Fiesta itself exceeded all of my expectations. After being greeted by three very enthusiastic parking lot volunteers, we knew it was going to be a good day; their dancing and smiles were just what we needed after our drive through the night. There must have been thousands of people on the huge field, which has its own address on Balloon Fiesta parkway, by the way. For a good hour or two balloons were constantly taking off into the sky. It was one of those “is this really happening” / “am I really here” / “is there really this many balloons in the sky” / “did I really just drive through the night to look at balloons” kind of moments. If you ever get the chance, go to the Balloon Fiesta. It’s one of those once in a lifetime things and it just takes your breath away. It also made for pretty great pictures, if I do say so myself. My Polaroid was in high demand Saturday morning.
I spent the rest of the day exploring Old Town Albuquerque, a quaint little town with a famous church, incredible food, and street vendors. With my recent decision to start wearing baseball hats on the regular, I absolutely caved when I saw a denim baseball hat in a tourist shop; it says Albuquerque, New Mexico and has hot air balloons embroidered all around the front and sides. It’s ridiculous, and is the second denim hat I have acquired in the past three weeks, but it has such memories attached to it already. I also got (Kathryn, close your eyes) balloon fiesta socks for my sister to add to her sock collection and a balloon patch to add to my collection.
It was a crazy trip, to say the least, with lots of gas stops on Route 66 in the middle of the night (all of which sold crazy shirts like this) and frantic google maps searches for breakfast food on Sunday morning, but it was an experience I won’t forget. Who else can say they drove through the night to see hundreds of hot air balloons in the sky, saw Orion’s Belt as bright as could be through the right side backseat passenger car window, and took a pit stop at the Grand Canyon all in one weekend? Not many people, that’s for sure. Adventure is out there.