Val on Vacation

Dawn Patrol, Albuquerque, NM
Dawn Patrol: First to Ascend for Safety

I placed my business on Auto-Pilot and took a little vacation!  Thanks to my Assistant, I was able to keep my laptop in my suitcase!

Our destination… Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We loaded the Hummer and spun our wheels for twelve hours!  Our main target was the annual Balloon Fiesta… the spectacular sight of hundreds of Hot Air Balloons over head.

Our first night in New Mexico, our friends treated us to authentic New Mexican food.  “Red or Green?” is the question asked with every order.  Red Chile or Green Chile… known for their Green Chile, I tried it with almost every meal!  (That heart-burning story might end up in another blog!)

Our dinner and evening walk took place in “Old Town.”  A fantastic little plaza with shops, restaurants and VERY strict parking regulations!  Eighteen inches away from the curb?!?  You’re welcome, New Mexico… we just donated $40 to your City’s finest!

Red Ford Truck
Old Ford Truck… I noticed HE didn’t get a ticket!
Old Town Shopping
Old Town Shopping – Chili Peppers Everywhere!
Morning Sun Balloon

Our first morning waking up in Albuquerque… we were greeted with the bright morning sun!  Not even at the Balloon Fiesta yet, the balloons hovered all around us.  The special shapes of each aircraft totally blew my mind!  The details, the colors… the physics!  All I could say was, “WOW!”

Being the house and architecture fan that I am, I was also intrigued by the homes in the subdivision we were visiting.  Adobe-style homes with Stucco exteriors matching the hue of the surrounding desert land.

Albuquerque Homes
Stucco Homes in Albuquerque
Tomato Plant
Tomatoes sprout from desert land

The yards were xeroscaped and held so much beauty in their simplicities.  The fences between the yards were short stucco structures allowing such openness between neighbors.

The “Lawns”… No grass; just graveled yards with easy-maintenance plants and trees.  Needless to say, I was surprised to see sprouting tomatoes in a garden of pebbles!


One thing about this trip… which is VERY unusual for me… not much was “planned!”  The ONLY thing planned (to some extent) was our visit to the Balloon Fiesta.  I knew we would pay for parking, hunt for parking, pay for entry and find our way to the balloons.  We really didn’t plan beyond that.

So, we were pleasantly surprised with the V.I.P. treatment we ended up with.  We were invited to join a Balloon pilot and his crew.  Our visits to the Balloon Park included free parking, free entry and a personal escort to the Balloon Field!  The “green acres” of land was the backyard of the Balloon Museum.  The field was rimmed with large tents of Turkey Legs, Funnel Cakes, Donuts, Coffee, Hot Cocoa, Souvenirs and much more.  One area of the tents was reserved for a Wood Carving Competition.  Tree trunks and chain saws… rugged, manly men carving magnificent rustic creations.

Carving Competition
Wood Carving Competition – Balloon Fiesta

During our first visit to the Balloon Fiesta, the air was chilly and the wind was gusty.  The evening “Balloon Glow” was canceled because of the strong winds.  But, we did enjoy a great display of fireworks.

The second evening’s visit we FINALLY witnessed the Balloon Glow up close and personal.

Ahh-mazing!  The envelope of each balloon was inflated with a large shop-type fan.  Once the opening was large enough, the burners were ignited for the flaming heat inflation.

During the dawn of our third trip to the Balloon Fiesta, we witnessed an enormous Sponge Bob, a threatening Darth Vader, a spooky Haunted House Balloon and a buzzingly beautiful Bumblebee family!

Sponge Bob
Darth Vader
Haunted House
Bumble Bee Family
Bumblebee Family

Our last visit to the Park is one I’ll never forget!  Not only were we a part of the Balloon Crew, but we were asked to be a part of the “Balloon CHASE Crew!”  Once our Pilot was up, up and away, we jumped into our trucks and followed the Madhatter Balloon!  We sped by traffic-directing Police officers and followed the “Critical Crew” who would be first on the scene in case of an emergency!  Fortunately our Pilot (Mike) and his passengers landed safely.  On the way back to the Balloon Park, we saw a not-so-fortunate landing.  A Balloon was wrapped, torn and tattered around a tree.  Luckily, no one was critically injured!

By 9:30 am, when most of the balloons were safely on the ground, the sound of popping champagne bottles and the “psst” of beer cans rang in the air!  A toast… to another happy flight and safe return!

The Balloon Fiesta 2010 was one of the most remarkable events I’ve ever been a part of!  As a matter of fact, it made such an impact, this blog turned out to be about balloons rather than the “Oldest House in the U.S.A.” (which was what I originally planned on writing about!)  I guess I’ll save that for the next blog!  😉

~Val J Aranda, REALTOR® & Traveler~


Val J Aranda, REALTOR®

2012 NW Military Highway, San Antonio, TX 78213
Call/Text Val: 210-378-5987

“Offering valet real estate service around the clock.”


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