Saturday, October 07, 2006

Baloon launch day

The Albuquerque Baloon Fiesta went as imagined for our little family group. The grandaughters three, seemed to enjoy the entire time. It seemingIy does not take much to keep them happy at the 8 to 10 year old stage. they are content to improvise the time to suit themselves. A game of 'throw the tennis ball', lasted for over an hour, well past dark. The original ball got lost when one of the girls threw it high into the night air. The next MH over, 'lady' gave them a replacement from her collection of 50 for her dog. When they tried to return it, she kindly told them to keep it.
The pizza was from 'Dions' (my wifes favorite) along with a large salad to share. The very impressive fireworks display started a little later than scheduled. The 'Sandia Mountain Luminaria display was different in it was a series of lights that covered the entire mountain ridge. They were about a half mile apart, all along the crest. After that interesting delay the main fireworks show began and we watched in awe...In other words we all said 'AWE'... The place we were parked was a perfect view of both the fireworks and Luminarias. The heavy sounding, explosive, Grand Finale with all of it's high launched, complex, flashing patterns, indicated the glorious finish.. Afterwards we retired into the Motor Home, where we set up our beds, crawled into them, and watched the evening film. The DVD was 'RV'(of course) starring Robin Williams. The hilarious DVD lasted until 12:00 pm, after which the three girls all fell sound asleep.
The next thing My wife and I recall, was the sound of a Hellicopter endlessly circling the Fiesta site. Thinking it was time to arise, I checked the clock...4:30 am. What did that accomplish anyway, other than to annoy the sleeping masses. That never happened before. Somone has got the wrong sense of how to make people want to come back next year. I will mention this to the proper channels and of course they will respond with utmost apology....Right...The breakfast was 'cinnamon rolls', juice and milk. I had coffee which the girls do not appreciate...Yet. After a brief walk, we rode the shuttle to the launch site. The walk around the area is nice due to the new grass.
The mass accension took place with fewer than 500 baloons as far as I could tell. The weather had been predicted to be bad. Didn't happen...Was very acceptable weather for the morning. A small breeze for most hardy pilots. While walking around the inflating baloons, the girls were given baloon trading cards by each team. This kept them busy running from team to team. The huge orange 'Turtle' with sneakers and big floppy shoe laces was impressive to watch. They did not lift off. Only if, not a bit of breeze, would they go up. It is 'One HUGE turtle'.
As the 'US Marine Corp Bulldog' ('Chesty' in memory of Chesty Puller) was being inflated, a crowd gathered aroud it untill there were several hundred onlookers. As it lifted off, a great cheer arose from the crowd. We rarely saw that happen with other baloons. As usual the 'Media' totally missed that display of overwhelming Patriotism. I felt a sense of immense pride for our great nation, Now that is the real United States of America. The TV coverage could have been of those types of events showing the baloons inflating, the four individual feet of the huge turtle, each being inflated seperately with a gasoline powered fan, the crews struggling with the control lines, lifting the very big piece of protective ground cloth to dry it in the breeze before folding it, and many other scenes around the beautiful grassy field. Instead the cameras were focused on the comentators sitting at their desk and showing their faces while they described some of their recolectons. I don't care about their faces as much as they obviosly do, show me the ACTION! The Camping World tent had a following of people all needing something for their Campers and Motorhomes. They did the same dollar business as the main store on friday alone. They ran inventory from the main store to keep supplied, and stock asked for items, as the people ordered them. The other various vending booths strecthed for a mile it seemed. There was of course, a 'Honey Wagon' (YUM-YUM) to take away the waste tanks load, as needed by the camping units. Electrical and water hookups were supplied to those who desired them. The campers are numbering more and more each year. The field is immense so no problem accomodating them. The City of Albuquerque built a water system extending to the Rio Grande river, that supplies the water to keep the massive launch field green with lush grass. Years ago that was not the case. We walked around baloons in the dirt with big 'Jack Rabbits' running around in all of the action. The thousand baloons overshadowed each other, bumping into one another as they inflated and lifted off. Mass 'chaos' was exciting to everyone of course. The organizers deemed it neccesary to instill order. ....Boring...but orderly and consisting of all sorts of competition in every aspect of flying a baloon.
The first International Baloon club group assembled in Albuquerque NM around 1970 or so. Sid Cutter, a local aerofanatic, was given one by his wife as a gift. I recall watching as the thing floated over the fairground, with 'Sid' waving, drawing awe from us earthlings. The total number of the things was in the 'less than a dozen' catagory. The Coronado event was watched by hundreds. Each year it grew untill it is, 'The Happening' each year in Albuquerque, and attended by many thousands of travelers and vacationers as a 'Destination'. Back then it was normal to see them land all over the city, in backyards, on rooftops, dogs barking, kids yelling and chasing the baloons as they descended before going into 'Restricted Airspace' over the 'Kirtland' Airforce Base. The site moved several times until it found a permanent home with modern facilities, and a museum with gathering halls for public use year around. It shows what initiative, creativity, and public support can do, when a fun attraction is enjoyed by all. Make it a family 'Destination', enjoy our great nation, The United States of America. Thousands seem to like it. Ya'll Come Back Now...


Blogger blogengeezer said...

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7:28 PM  

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