As I volunteer and crew for pilots before Fiesta begins on October 3rd, I will add interesting stories and photos to the end of this story.
I arrived in Albuquerque on September 1st, and since then I have been keeping very busy working at the Balloon Fiesta office and also crewing for a balloon pilot on the weekends. At the office, I have been doing various tasks while working under the direction of the Event Coordinator and the man in charge of pilot registration and all of the activities that involves. I have been learning many new things such as how to laminate name badges, engrave name tags, use a different binding machine that I am familiar with, learning to use a machine that folds and staples booklets, and how to count numerous tickets, badges, buttons, pins, etc. into groups for the various committees, and many other tasks. No day has been boring, there is always something to do.
This year volunteers are asked to watch four videos and take the quiz at the end of each video. The Event Coordinator asked if I would watch the fourth video and prepare the quiz questions. That was a fun project. I watched the video several times in order to come up with the questions that would capture the main points of the video which is basically information that the volunteers need to know in order to help the visitors navigate the Fiesta events and the location of various places on the balloon field.
While working in the Balloon Fiesta office, I took pictures of some of the Balloon Fiesta Posters from almost the beginning of Fiesta. They are all very interesting to look at, especially the special shape balloons that have been here over the years. I can’t imagine crewing for some of these interesting balloon shapes. One of the staff members has a poster on the wall in her office that I really liked. It looked 3D even though it’s not. It’s a poster of a map of the US and each state is shown with part of the state license plate.
I have been meeting lots of people I have not met before and I’m making new friends. One of them is Michelle who I have been helping make name badges for the volunteers. One morning when we were working together she said she was reading stories on my website and she saw that we have something in common other than the usual things like doing various bead and craft projects. It turns out that her daughter and son are junior firefighters at the Bradford NY Volunteer Fire Department, it’s one of the departments that I have donated money for them to buy fire hose and other items, also, her ex husband is a volunteer firefighter for that department. What a small world it is.
This past Sunday when the balloons were inflating for the Quad A event, I met very interesting young men from Brazil. Digo and his brother have a factory which makes balloons, including special shape balloons, many of which I have admired over the past four years that I have been coming here. These are a few of the special shape balloons they created that have been flying during Balloon Fiesta.
One of the things I am inspired by and in total amazement of is the absolutely breathtaking sunsets that happen every few days. Some are sunsets like I see at other places, but some nights it’s just beyond my imagination how awesome God is that God can create the colors and designs in some of the sunsets. One night it started out with yellow, then turned to various oranges, and by the time the sun set the sky was a bright red. Another night the sky was various colors of pinks, purples, yellows, and I could see rain pouring down in the distance. The large mountain here is Sandia which means watermelon in spanish. It’s very appropriate. When the sun is shining on the mountain it turns from a brown color to a reddish pink color, sort of like a watermelon color.
This past weekend, I crewed for a balloon called Rising Star which has stars on the balloon envelope, and there is a smiling face at the top of the balloon. There were many other balloons launching and inflating that morning. The mounted patrol officers brought their horses this morning so that the horses could get used to the balloons and the sound of the propane burners so they wouldn’t be upset or spooked during the Balloon Fiesta. After the balloon were packed and everyone left the field, a friend took me to the grocery store and we also stopped at the Balloon Museum. Since I saw it last year, I looked for the new exhibits. One was Two Eagles where two men, an American pilot named Troy Bradley, and a Russian pilot Leonid Tiukhtyaev, flew a balloon across the Pacific Ocean. I was telling my pilot friend Scott, who I crew for during Fiesta, about seeing this exhibit and he told me he helped the guys unload the gondola when they returned. It seems he is good friends with Troy and he also helped him when he made the trip across the Atlantic Ocean.
Thankfully, I am parked in one of the RV parks that has electricity which is much better than dry camping, and it will be great as the weather continues to get cooler. Right now it’s getting down into the low 60’s at night and in the 80’s during the daytime. Phil and Ann the rv repair people arrived this past Saturday and yesterday afternoon when I finished working at the office, Phil came to my camper to work on my back steps and he was able to get them working again. It seems the switch I bought as a replacement was the right kind, but it also seems that my old switch was still good. We have no idea why the steps all of a sudden stopped working. Now, I have a step stool that I really don’t need now that the steps work again, but I will keep it so I can use it to clean my front windows so I can clean them without standing on the front bumper which is not a safe thing to do.
Last Saturday the Balloon Fiesta offered a free CPR/First Aid course to the volunteers, and since I have not had that training in about 12 years, I took the class. It was a great refresher course on how to do CPR. What I didn’t realize when I signed up and took the class is that class participants would receive a little certificate from the Balloon Fiesta along with a nice pin saying that I am CPR Certified. What a nice surprise. I found this out on one of my volunteer days when my assignment was to match service certificates with pins for the number of service years, in 5 year increments, and there were also certificates and pins for advanced balloon training, and CPR certification.
Here is an album with all of the photos I have taken so far. There most probably will not be another posting until sometime during the Balloon Fiesta, if I have wifi, otherwise it will be after the event when I get wifi. The Balloon Fiesta office has wifi so I was able to update my website today when I could get a few minutes to post this story.
On the wall in the Balloon Fiesta Office I noticed another interesting poster which looks like it was created with pastel chalk. Also, there were two certificates showing that the Balloon Fiesta set two Guiness Book of World Records, one in 2010 and one in 2011. I’m guessing there might be more somewhere, but these are the two that I noticed.
As my crewing experience and volunteer work continues until the Balloon Fiesta begins on October 3rd, if anything interesting occurs, I will add more to this story and add more photos. Many of the sunsets continue to be extraordinary. It fascinates me how the sky and clouds continue to change color so dramatically in one sunset. Here are some pictures from sunsets on September 17 and 18, including some in panoramic mode. If you are wondering if I use a colored filter, no I do not. God created these amazing colors and designs. Some of the photos are clouds that are reflecting the setting sun and colors in the sky.
Healthwise I am doing fairly well. There are some days that are still a bit challenging due to the pain and other things happening in my body, but mostly I am doing okay. I take my medicine so that the pain is not too severe which allows me to function pretty well. I haven’t had to drive because people I volunteer with pick me up and take me back to my camper at the end of the day. This allows me to take my medicine when I need it. I’m really glad I made this trip. I realize every day how much I like to be traveling and living in my camper van, even though it’s a small space. Thanks for joining me on my journeys. I hope you like reading my stories.
If you want to read other stories about my time in Albuquerque and at the Balloon Fiesta, go to my Photo Gallery tab to look at the albums from 2011, 2012, and 2014. I also have stories in the archives for September and October of each of those same years.
Saturday, September 19th, Scott the pilot I crew for during Fiesta picked me up about 6:00 a.m. so I could crew for him this morning. We met several of his balloon pilot friends who were also going to fly. The winds were too strong, so after waiting about an hour hoping the winds would calm down enough to fly, they decided it wasn’t going to happen today so we went out for breakfast and are going to try again tomorrow morning. I need to start going to sleep earlier at night so I will be able to get up at 4:00 a.m. during Fiesta. I got up at 5:00 a.m. this morning and it wasn’t easy. I seem to read at night until about 11:00 p.m which makes it tough to get up really early while it’s still dark out.
I love looking at some of the rocks at different places, this is just a couple of pictures I took for fun.
Sunday, September 20th, Scott the pilot I crew for during Fiesta flew this morning. He had to get his required one hour flight done witnessed by an inspector. A few of us helped out by being his crew and chase crew. It is almost always an interesting experience watching the balloon fly and try to guess where it’s going to land and how to get there. There are usually roads to where the balloon lands, the challenge is finding them. Especially when it’s out in the middle of the desert and there are no houses or parks nearby. We traveled several one lane dirt roads through fields of brush and tumbleweed and finally got there after Scott landed. Unlike yesterday, today the winds cooperated. Since Scott had to have an hour in the air, he found an altitude where the winds were only about 1 mph. Lower down the winds were going much faster.
The weather is beautiful today. Scott brought me back to my camper after I got finished crewing, and I took a nap for about an hour or two. I got up about 5:30 a.m. this morning so by 10:30 a.m. when we were finished I was tired. I even went to sleep about 10 p.m. last night. I think I may have to go to sleep earlier during Fiesta so I can get up at 4:00 a.m. every day. Hopefully, like in previous years I will be able to take a nap for an hour or so most days between the morning and afternoon sessions. After my nap, I went to the grocery store and decided to stop for Mexican food for lunch since I have mostly been eating cold cut sandwiches for lunch and peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast. I have lots of packs of strawberry Twizzlers, and bags of animal crackers, kettle corn chips, pretzels, Jelly Bellies, and snap pea snacks that I munch on while I am reading or relaxing, or to eat with my sandwiches.
September 23rd, was the unveiling of the bronze sculpture of Sid Cutter who founded the Balloon Fiesta in 1972, the detail in all aspects of the bronze statue, including his two dogs, was absolutely realistic. There was another spectacular sunset and the sky came alive with the yellows and oranges as the sun set. It looked like the clouds and sky was glowing and on fire. For some reason I am unable to download the photos of the statue or the sunset with the wifi I am using, but the photos are in the album I posted, near the end of the pictures.