One of my favorite college traditions was riding my bike down to Balloon Fiesta Park on chilly and dark October mornings. My girlfriends and I would take the path along the Rio Grande, bypassing the traffic and the famous parking fiasco most Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta attendees have to endure. We’d arrive at the far back of the field and peer over the fence, pulling on more layers to watch the balloons inflate as the sun rose and then ascended into the sky over our city as its light spread through the valley.
Sometimes, the balloons would float over the Rio Grande and we’d follow their course, spinning back home and stopping occasionally to admire the pink of the morning sky or watch a balloon land in a flat patch nearby. The next morning, we could return and experience the same amount of magic all over again.
Sure, experiencing the Balloon Fiesta this way means we didn’t get up-close-and-personal with any of the balloons or have the chance to help unfold and inflate one. It means we experienced the balloon fiesta, not as outsiders but as participants from a different angle, from an enchanted and serene perspective.
Here’s a taste of what that’s like.