Friday, April 11, 2008

High Times in Albuquerque

Wow! With an altitude of 5280 feet above sea level, visitors to Albuquerque start out high. With the Sandia Mountains, you can quickly get even higher. But the ultimate way to get high in Albuquerque has got to be in a balloon. Our flight was scheduled for Monday morning -- we met at 6:45 a.m. to get to the field where the balloon trucks were assembled. It was cold -- in the low 40s -- and we huddled together waiting for the final decision on whether or not we could fly. Rainbow Ryders has a great safety reputation and they weren't going to jeopardize it by taking off in iffy conditions. The winds were light on the surface. Several small balloons were released to see what direction and speed they would travel. Is this the origin of the phrase "trial balloon?" The signs were not auspicious. The sun rose -- we didn't.

Next morning, we tried again. This time conditions were right. How lucky we were because April is Albuquerque's least predictable month and the days following turned windy and chilly. There were five balloons up on Tuesday so I got great chances to shoot balloons from our balloon. There were twelve of us, including the pilot, in our gondola -- we were literally cheek to cheek! The ascent was as gentle as taking a breath, the flight amazing and the landing smooth. A perfect day, a perfect flight! On the ground, we shared champagne with other balloonists and raised our glasses to pilot Mike Collins' toast:

"The winds have welcomed you with softness,

The sun has blessed you with his warm hand.

You have flown so high and so well

That God has joined us together in laughter

And set us gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth."


Akinogal said...
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mell said...

But how did you get into and out of the basket...

Love, Music, Wine, & Revolution said...

First of all, you look so stinking cute with your little headscarf in that balloon!

Second of all, I can think of some other ways to get the "ultimate high" in Alburquerque ;-)