The pilots had weather to contend with during fiesta, but they did manage to ascend on the last Saturday and Sunday mornings for us. Yes, I did say just for us!
Here's how you "do" Balloon Fiesta, as explained by our friends. You wake up early and turn on the local news to see if the balloons are launching. If launch is a go, you put on your clothes (no breakfast, showers, make-up, etc), get in your car and chase the balloons, in which ever direction the wind blows them. Chasing:
STOP! We see balloons! Our friends T & V checking their pictures.
We've gotta move, the balloons are drifting. T & V at our second stop. Balloons behind us and balloons in front of us.
Third location of the day. Action shot of T helping a balloon land safely.
Here's a great shot of the inside of this balloon as the pilot was firing the gas to keep it inflated and upright.
The Husband says "I want to do that!" Here's an action shot of T and The Husband walking away from the balloon they just helped land. Look at that grin on The Husband's face!
Time to move again. Fourth location. The Husband, T & V waiting for balloons to land. We were in the field across the street from T & V's neighborhood.
Here's a shot of the balloons in the sky. See that flag balloon?
It ended up on the street 1/2 block from T & V's house. They live in a gated community, so T had to run across the parking lot to open the gate to give the chase crew access. Chase crews get clearance just like emergency crews. I never realized how important it is that people are on the ground when a balloon lands to stablize it so it does not tip over. Here are crew members running to assist.
Of course, once it landed and the pilot kept firing the gas to keep the balloon inflated and upright, the neighbors all came out of their houses. Yes, it is okay to wear your pajamas, as long as you bring your camera!
The chase crew encouraged the neighbors to help them deflate and pack away the balloon. They started by showing us how to spread out the tarp the balloon is laid upon. The Husband and V are helping.
The tarp is ready and I am awaiting instructions.
We didn't get a picture, but there is a line from the top of the balloon to the basket that they use to pull the balloon down onto the tarp. Here's a pic of the balloon ready to be deflated. That's one of the chase crew talking to T.
We didn't get a picture of how the balloon is deflated, but we do have this photo of me and The Husband holding the deflated balloon waiting to shove our part into the storage bag. Look at our grins!
After we finished shoving our part into the storage bag, we snapped this shot of everyone else in line. See, the tarp is still laid out.
The deflating of the balloon is much like what needs to be done when the tarp is folded up, because the air has to be pushed out of it. The woman on her hands and knees is doing that. There's The Husband again right in the middle of the action!
Once the balloon and tarp are deflated and folded into their storage bags, one of the last important steps is that everyone has to sit on the bags to get the very last bit of air out of them!
And the bags are then loaded into the truck and the balloon pilot thanks everyone.
Afterwards, you must get breakfast. After all, it's still early and you've been been chasing balloons since 7am!
Let me just say, this was a FANTASTIC experience. Our friends, T & V, did a great job of showing us the exciting Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. We were thrilled to be able to actively participate and had so much fun.
Thanks, guys! We'll be back next year. (har de har har)