Pretty Much The Coolest Thing About Albuquerque

From a tourist standpoint, Albuquerque doesn’t compete with the excitement of a large city like Chicago, New York, or San Francisco.  We don’t have amusement parks or professional sports or beaches.  We lack the historical appeal of Santa Fe and the quirkiness of Roswell and our ski valley isn’t the best when compared with the others in the state.

But, I can say this about my city: we put on a heck of a Balloon Fiesta.

For one week in October, we play host to the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the world (and also the most photographed event in the country), and Albuquerque turns into an international hot spot of early morning green chile seeking, hot air balloon loving dwellers.

We get up and get to the park by 5 am, find some breakfast burritos, FREEZE (mornings are cold here in October), and then watch as hundreds of hot air balloons inflate and take off against the backdrop of the New Mexico sunrise.

The Balloon Fiesta is an awesome experience and is a yearly tradition in which I gladly participate   Even in college I would come home from California for the occasion   This year Aaron and I went with my parents and sisters (who had both come home from school for the weekend) on Sunday morning for the “farewell” mass ascension.

Burritos: Just as important as the balloons!

Me and my dad ordering burritos.  The man looks VERY interested.

Eating the burrito

Dawn Patrol.  These first few balloons go up to make sure conditions are ok.

Aaron’s photo artistry


This guy is a local investigative reporter who brings down politicians and other scammers…this is a really scary balloon.

Bee Family!

Instagram Version!


Sometimes, Balloons and Snow Sabotage Our Morning Run

It seems that Albuquerque decided to skip right over fall and go straight into Winter on Friday night (though it has returned back to normal). 

Aaron and I woke up and got out the door on Saturday morning for our 4 mile jog, and we were quite surprised to see snowy mountains.  New Mexico has some nutty weather, but a snow storm on the second weekend of October is a little unusual.

If that wasn’t crazy enough… This weekend was the last for this year’s Balloon Fiesta.  Typically, the balloons follow a wind pattern called “the box” which takes them in a giant loop around the Balloon Fiesta park. 

It looks like the box wasn’t quite boxing it up on Saturday morning, because the balloons were all hovering right above our neighborhood (which isn’t really anywhere near the park)!  While this probably caused some problems for the balloonists, we were thrilled! Aaron grabbed the camera, and we started off our run/picture-taking extravaganza. 

View from our front yard!

As we were running and snapping pictures, we noticed the balloons were heading toward the golf course down the street, so we started chasing them.  What else could we do?

See? I'm chasing!

It looks like half the city had the same idea.  When we got to the golf course, there were hundreds of people there to watch the balloons land.  The golfers looked a little bit (actually a lot bit) annoyed.  Some continued to hit balls even though very excited little kids (and large balloons) were standing right there. 

I usually don’t put on make-up or do anything to make myself presentable before a morning run.  I kind of wish I had on Saturday.  Not only was Aaron going picture crazy, but a nice lady asked if we wanted our picture taken.  I apologized to her for looking so yucky.  We were drawing lots of attention because we were running and picture taking at the same time. 

We're so cute and put together!

We did get our 4 miles in, but it was a very distracted (and cold) run.  And of course completely beautiful. I made my peace with fall (pre-winter?) on Saturday morning.

Also, FYI, Giuseppe is running for cutest pet in the Pet-a-Palooza contest.  You can vote for him once per day until Friday for the first round HERE.  Giuseppe thanks you!

Balloons in the Sky


Tomorrow is the start of the second (and final) weekend of the 40th Balloon Fiesta.  I guess all good things must come to an end.

Despite perfect conditions last weekend, overall, the weather has been less than cooperative this year with unusual rain storms and high winds.  Today is the 2nd day in a row of event cancellations. 

Luckily, Aaron and I got out to the field last Sunday to experience firsthand the thrill of being surrounded by massive, vibrantly colorful hot air balloons (and sleepy people).  Last weekend had record-breaking crowds (and record-breaking balloon take-offs), so we were not the only Crazies up at the crack of dawn to look at balloons.

Pictures obviously speak so much louder than words.










My Unofficial Guide to the Albquerque Balloon Fiesta

Starting tomorrow, Albuquerque will be home to a weeklong celebration of breakfast burritos, hot chocolate, tourists, and BALLOONS! In other words, the 40th Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta kicks off this weekend!

The Balloon Fiesta  is something that I am excited to brag about on behalf of my hometown and I’ve hardly ever missed a year on the field. Even when I was in college way over in Northern California, I still found my way back home for it.

Circa 1986

With all those years of experience,  I’ve learned a few secrets along the way.  Of course, you can check out  the official website for some good information.  Here’s what they left out

1) Starbucks is not a vendor.  You’ll have to get it ahead of time (every year I have about 15 desperate people ask me where I got mine.  I have to break the news to them that I imported).  The closest one to the park is at Paseo del Norte and San Pedro, just east of I-25.  (See map below: X is Starbucks, A is Balloon Fiesta Park).

2) 4:30 am is a good time to start heading out to the park.  The big rush starts at about 5:00 am, so you’ll encounter less traffic.  Also, avoid taking the Alameda exit.  Tramway (the next exit North) moves faster. The nice police officers will redirect you back around toward the park.  You’ll also get a better parking spot if you head out early.

3) I’m always surprised to see people in shorts and t-shirts.  Albuquerque is pretty nippy at 5:00 am.  A jacket, a scarf, something to cover your ears, something to cover your hands, and closed-toed walking shoes are your best bet.  This week is set to be pretty warm, so dress in layers so you can take off all the winter clothes once the sun comes up.

4) The pottys are all Port-a style.  If you are like me and would rather do just about anything else than use a port-a-potty, I suggest drinking that Starbucks slowly. 

5) There are two lines for purchasing tickets.  The MUCH longer line is for people who are paying with credit card.  The MUCH shorter line is for people with exact change in cash.  Admission is $6 per adult over 12 (children under 12 are free).  Parking is an additional $10. CASH ONLY!

6) This is the most photographed event in the world.  Don’t forget your camera!

7) Come hungry.  You’ll have burritos, cinnamon rolls, and all sorts of goodies to choose from.  Our favorite burritos came from Pedro’s.

Enjoy! (And if you are visiting Albuquerque, WELCOME!)