Last year, we visited Albuquerque on our southwest roadtrip for our anniversary. Going on a balloon ride had always been in all caps on my bucket list, so why not do it in ABQ, which holds the International Balloon Fiesta, and is most famous city for hot air balloons?!
We went with Rainbow Ryders because they seemed to offer us the biggest bang for our buck! (Also, from photos I saw, it seemed like they had the most colorful balloons out of all the companies! Haha! I'm sure the other companies are just as colorful, but a girl's gotta be sure, right?)
We had to be there early in the morning, around 7:00 am in order to help them set up, have pictures taken, sign waivers, and so forth. It was cold at first, but warmed up later on.
That's our balloon! Our basket only held 3 people - us and the pilot. We loved learning about balloon piloting and hearing crazy ballooning stories from our pilot along the way.
Other balloons blowing up while we wait to board the basket! :)
The only photo we got of us on our entire ride. Sad, I know. Mark's eyes are even closed. I gotta get better about asking people to take photos of us!!
And, we're off! So fun!
Our group is right behind us.
Even though I rock climb, work on a ropes course, and like to find the highest spot in the city for a good photo, I AM afraid of heights. I am one of those weird ones that likes the feeling of being afraid. But there have been points in my life that I've become overwhelmed with a fear of falling so much that I forgot how to walk. Like that time when I realized I was WAY too close to the ledge at a precarious spot in the Grand Canyon. Or that time in Switzerland when I walked out on a man-made glass walk-way that jutted out into nothingness over the Alps.
But there was no point in this ride that I felt afraid. Not remotely.
The basket was high enough on my body that there was no way I could get out. It was actually very relaxing. One of the most relaxing things I have ever been a part of.
Something I loved about our hour-and-a-half-long ride was that the pilot took us up, then down, and then back up again.
We went down at the river, our basket skimming the water, and then we went back up again.
We even got to chase a couple of frightened ducks! Hehe.
Headed back up!!
This is my favorite photo of the day. We got super high, and I loved seeing our group up there with us. I also loved the landscape while we were that high.
We began our descent over a neighborhood. Dogs started barking at us like crazy! :)
We learned that pilots don't really have much control over where they land. Basically, the only thing you can do is to ride longer or shorter, and read the wind. But they never have a definite landing spot, and they radio their ground crew along the way so the ground crew can know where to pick them up at the end. When we got lower, we could even see the cars of the ground crew following us! :)
Our pilot told us a story about landing in the middle of a neighborhood intersection! In Albuquerque, you pretty much HAVE to be okay if a balloon lands in your backyard. ;) I was praying for us to land in a cool spot like an intersection! But we landed in a random field, just past these houses.
Touchdown and 'Merica.
I loved this a million times over. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but I'd love to do it over different landscapes, and different times of the year. I'd also love to go to the ABQ Balloon Fiesta.
ABQ was a perfect place to try this out for the first time. LOVE!