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Hot Air Rising

Mass Ascension at International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2015

Mass Ascension at International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2015

My husband and I flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico October 2, 2015 to attend the first three days of the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.  If you have never attended, it is a must see.  It is hard to explain the feeling of standing amongst hundreds of hot air balloons as they inflate for lift-off, and then turning in a circle and everywhere around you and above you are over 500 hot air balloons in a mass ascension.   They have a “main street” area with food vendors, craft vendors, stores, buttons, and various types of merchandise to shop and enjoy.

Morning Patrol Life-Off at Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Copyright 2015, Photo by Grace Grogan

Morning Patrol Life-Off at Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Copyright 2015, Photo by Grace Grogan

We spent the first day there from beginning to end, arriving at the park around 4:30 am and leaving as the fireworks were being shot off that night.  A long day, but we experienced it all.  The second day of the show we left after the morning lift-off and spent the afternoon driving up to Sante Fe to visit a botanical garden.  We found we enjoyed the morning glow and dawn patrol lift-off more than the evening glow.  It could have been the so-so weather on the night we stayed that left us with that feeling, because the night glows are one of their most popular events.

Inflating a Balloon. Copyright 2015, photo by Grace Grogan

Inflating a Balloon. Copyright 2015, photo by Grace Grogan

If you have been following my posts for a while you know that my husband visited Sante Fe and Albuquerque during his trip west a few weeks ago, which I talked about in When Your Husband Returns..
This was my first trip to New Mexico, and here are some quick thoughts about the trip:

  • When booking a nice, early morning flight, don’t forget you have to be at the airport 1-2 hours before flight time, meaning a 6:00 am flight requires being at the airport by 4:00 am.
  • Don’t book your layovers too tight.  We had a one hour layover in Dallas, but by the time we were able to exit the plane and walk to our departure terminal, making only a quick restroom stop, we arrived at our departure terminal two minutes before boarding began.
  • New Mexico is a dry heat, so you don’t notice the heat like you do in more humid areas, be sure to wear sunblock.
  • The hottest (spiciest) food in Michigan is mild compared to “normal” food in New Mexico.
  • Chillies are used in a lot of food (they were even offered in Chinese fried rice), it you don’t like spicy food, ask before ordering.
  • A two-hour time difference can work to your advantage when you have early mornings planned
  • It is worth getting out of bed to be on the Balloon Fiesta Field at 6 am for the ,morning glow and dawn patrol lift-off.
  • Old Towne Albuquerque is a wonderful place of interesting architecture and great shops.  Don’t miss Sculpture Park on the east side of Old Towne.   They also have a fantastic pizza shop, fresh pizza on a light and airy crust.
  • If you want to take the Tramway in Albuquerque to the top of the mountain, plan for it to be a several hour excursion.  We waited in line two hours only to have it shut down due to high winds.  The next time we arrived 20 minutes after they opened in the morning, but already the line was longer than the day we waited two hours, plus there were five tour buses there already.
  • Sante Fe is a photographers dream; be sure to visit the Museum Hill Botanical Gardens.
  • When doing all carry on luggage, be wary of what you purchase.  Packing for the return flight can be tricky.
  • Plan to visit the Fiesta and New Mexico again, because it is an awesome, breathtaking, unique, cultural, event and location well worth the trip.

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Filed under events, Life is a Melting Pot, travel

Boat Week

I love Boat Week.  There are numerous activities working up to the main event, the send off the sailboats on the Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race.  Boat Week is fun and energetic.

Fireworks at Vantage Point.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Fireworks at Vantage Point. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

The kick-off is actually on a Wednesday night with the Rotary Parade.  This is an event  I have never attended, but those who do attend the parade really enjoy it.  That is followed by Family Night on Thursday, where families can walk up and down the Black River and view the boats, visit the midway, ride the zip-line, climb aboard the large Ferris wheel, enjoy some great food from vendors, check out the live manikins, and participate in many activities especially designed for families.  The night is topped off by fireworks.

Friday night is Boat Night.  This is a party night, and the later it gets, the more crowded it gets.  Many of the same activities available on Family Night are repeated on Boat Night.  Beer tents let attendees celebrate, bands play on stage, and the walk along the Black River gets more and more crowded as the night rolls on.  This is the party before the Saturday morning send off of the sailboats.

Boat Night in Port Huron.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Boat Night in Port Huron. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Saturday morning starts with the Boat Parade.  As the boats head out of the Black River and onto Lake Huron for the start of the race they are out on their deck, waving at the hundreds of spectators lining the river.  We normally watch the parade, but this year we were on a press boat to take photos of the start of the race, so in a sense we were part of the “parade” trying to maneuver out of the river.

Port Huron to Mackinac Race.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Port Huron to Mackinac Race. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

The starts are timed for several hours, with the smallest boats starting first and the largest boats being the final ones to start.  This year was great with spinnaker starts and a boat captain that put us into some great positions for photographs.  As the day wore on the boat owners were watching the reports of a incoming storm and we could see the black clouds moving in.

Racing to Beat the Storm.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Racing to Beat the Storm. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

As soon as everyone had taken all the photos they needed of the final race the captain had everyone sit down on the boat as he announced we were going to make a fast paced ride back in an attempt to get off Lake Huron and into the St. Clair River before the storm hit.  It was a fast ride with a bit of rocking and rolling as the storm moved closer, and we were in good company as numerous boats were running the same race we were.  The rain started to hit just north of the Blue Water Bridge.  We made it safely back to dock.

A fun-filled week of activities and an exciting ride back to put an end to it all.  Actually the activities for boat week end Saturday night with a Lighted Boat Parade, which we did not attend.  If you are ever in the Port Huron area during Boat Week, I hope you take the time to enjoy at least some of the activities, if not all.

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Filed under Activities, Blue Water Area, events