Day 5 - October 4, 2002We arrive at the Trailmanor gathering in Albuquerque about noontime, set up and then set off for some quilt shops. No hiking today! The Trailmanor group includes some Colorado friends as well as people from the Midwest, Texas, California and the road (full-timers). We receive the schedule for the Balloon Fiesta and make an early night of it.
|Trailmanors at Albuquerque Central KOA|
Day 6 - October 5, 2002
Up at 4:30 to make coffee to take with us on the bus, which we board at 5 a.m. We arrive at the Balloon Park 45 minutes later, into the hospitality tent for muffins and more coffee and on to the field. It is still dark and the balloon crews were beginning to set up. About 14 balloons go up as the Dawn Patrol, to check conditions and they glow against the lightening sky.
|Photo courtesy of Dave Cramner|
|The Dawn Patrol|
|The activity on the field is amazing. We donít know where to look first, there is so much to take in. So we decide to focus on one or two balloons. They set up the gondola basket first, putting in the propane tanks. Then they tip it on its side and attach the balloon which is still in a bag. The balloon emerges from the bag as the crew runs with it away from the basket. Once on the ground, they spread the material out and begin to fill the balloon with a huge fan run by a generator. When the balloon is filled (this takes 20 minutes or more depending on the size and shape of the balloon), they fire up the propane and tip the basket upright. Now the balloon is ready and just waits for the signal for lift off. The pilot fires the propane periodically to keep the balloon inflated.|
|Launching the hot air Balloons|
|The Balloon Park is huge and is lined with row after row after row of hot air balloons. People in black and white striped shirts like referees at a football game go down the rows and very methodically send up the balloons, one after another. First one row, then the next, and the next and so on until the end of the field and then back to the beginning for a second wave. Oh, the colors, the sounds, the bustle of people. 750 balloons in the air together -- AWESOME!|
|The Mass Ascension|
|The rest of the day is ours to explore, so we visit some more quilt stores, a couple of wineries, and the Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Show. The evening is spent in the company of our fellow Trailmanorites at a delicious pot luck.|
|Colorado contigent: (l to r) Larry & Sharon Plomondon, Doug & Ellen, Joyce & Don Walpole (photo courtesy of Don & Joyce Walpole)||Trailmanor group potluck supper at Albuquerque Central KOA|