Balloon Fiesta – Albuquerque, NM

October 1-15, 2012
Here we are at our next home away from home – Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, NM:

Gated community with armed guard

It is chilly here, but not cold enough to turn on the furnace full time.  John turns it on first thing in the morning to take the chill off the trailer.  We have had a lot of wind.  One night we even had to pull in the end slide since it was rocking around so much.  Unfortunately there is a sandy field at the end of the RV camp and every time the wind comes up it blows the sand.  I have had to keep everything dusted….although the trailer is fairly tight.  The only time we had trouble was when the window at the end was open a tiny crack and before we discovered it, fine sand got onto the back of the couch and the window blind.

We have met up with a group of people that are part of an organization called SMART (Special Military Active-Retired Travel Club). There are chapters nationwide. Many of them put together ‘caravans’ and go places together. This current group has 20 rigs that met here in Albuquerque. Most of them are from the Maryland and Pennsylvania area. There is even a couple with this group that lives in Layton, UT.  They drove down to join the group. Come to find out, he and John worked together for years. The couple RV part time and will be going full time next year.

The group has a “wagon master” that puts everything together; travel schedule, places to see, restaurants to eat at, etc. They set a price and when you join them everything is included. They are all so friendly and everyone has the military in common. We have found there are other groups we could join that do the same thing and are not necessarily military affiliated. Some of them arrived in town early and stayed here at Kirkland AFB. After a few days they all moved over to the balloon festival RV camping area. The balloon park area turns into a little city during the festival. You cannot even imagine how many RV rigs there are at the park area….they are camped everywhere. Half, if not most of them, are dry camping….no electricity, water and sewer.  When we drove through the camp, we could see that they had set up temporary electricity lines on most of the rows.  If you needed water or dumping services, they have a truck that would go around and service people.

Balloon Fiesta
As more than 500 balloons rise into the blue sky over Albuquerque, it’s clear why this is said to be the word’s most photographed event.  The world’s largest, hot air ballooning festival draws over 800,000 attendees and balloonists from around the world.
Festivities include mass ascensions from Balloon Fiesta Park, accuracy contests and even illuminated “balloon glows” at night.
The Balloon Fiesta is on the north end of town and we are staying at the south end.  We didn’t see any balloons from our camp spot here on base and had to travel to the balloon park.
It’s hard not to go crazy taking pictures of all the balloons….it is so awesome:



In the evening they have an event they call night magic glow and then fireworks.

Places we visited while in Albuquerque:
Old Town
This community was founded in 1706.  Old Town follows the traditional Spanish pattern of a central plaza and church surrounded by homes and businesses.  Many of the historic homes are still standing and some have been renovated into today’s shops, galleries and restaurants.  There are hidden patios, winding brick paths, gardens and balconies.

!!!  LOL

Turquoise Trail
We drove up theTurquoise Trail to the Sandia Crest.  This is the highest point on the trail.  The summit has an elevation of 10,678.  The view was beautiful.

On the way up we stopped off at the Tinkertown Museum. TripAdvisor names Tinkertown as one of the top ten small museums in the USA. To read about it click on the link.  The pictures I took don’t do it justice.

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History
The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History was established in 1969 as an intriguing place to learn the story of the Atomic Age, from early research of nuclear development through today’s peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Visitors can explore how nuclear science continues to influence our world. The museum strives to present, through permanent and changing exhibits and displays, the diverse applications of nuclear energy in the past, present and future along with the stories of the field’s pioneers.
Brief History
The creation of the Museum in 1969 was the result of a six-year effort to establish a museum to tell the story of the base and the development of nuclear weapons. The Museum was located on Kirkland Air Force Base. In 1973, the museum name was changed to National Atomic Museum to reflect the growing national and international audience and the fact that it was the only public museum that preserved the history of the nuclear industry. The Museum closed its doors at the Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico on September 11, 2001, due to heightened security measures at the Base. The National Atomic Museum was in its rented Old Town location from May 11, 2002 to February 7, 2009; the Museum re-opened in its current location in southeast Albuquerque in April 2009, when it was renamed The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History.
The Museum’s mission is “to serve as America’s resource for nuclear history and science. The Museum presents exhibits and quality educational programs that convey the diversity of individuals and events that shape the historical and technical context of the nuclear age.”
Very interesting.  You need more than one afternoon to take it all in.

The Balloon Fiesta ends tomorrow.  Yesterday all the events were cancelled because of wind.  That’s the second time it’s been cancelled for wind.  If you ever plan to attend, plan to stay the whole week or more than a couple days.  You never know if bad weather would cause a day or two or th whole thing to be be cancelled.

Well that was a lot of fun and well worth going to see.  We are leaving in the morning for Flagstaff, AZ for two nights and then on to Las Vegas.

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