When I was younger, chasing balloons during the Balloon Fiesta with my parents was something we always look forward to. It’s one of my fondest memories; I can easily recall searching for the balloons out of the back of our minivan’s window, and trying to figure out where it would land.
There was always so much excitement involved in the whole process. My dad drove, my mom navigated—guessing what open field or local park would be a good spot for them to land, and my brother and I kept an eye on the balloon, making sure it didn’t go in a completely different direction. Once the balloon actually landed, we’d jump out of the car and go help. Sometimes we’d beat the chase crew (an actual crew of people who are part of that particular balloon’s team) to the scene, and we’d get to help the balloon land safely. Once the chase crew arrived, they’d almost always let us help roll up and deflate the balloon. The whole process was electrifying, and I’m excited to start that tradition with my kids.
So, after we left Albuquerque Aloft, we set our sites on a couple of balloons near us, and I started driving. Seeing these huge balloons literally floating right in front of you—totally out of the blue—is so.much.fun! I literally get giddy while I drive around during balloon-fiesta season.
Chasing Balloons During the Balloon Fiesta
Before I knew it, there was a balloon in front of me getting closer and closer; I knew it was going to land soon, so I started “chasing” it. I turned on a fairly large-ish street, and for a minute I was confused, because I didn’t see a park or any open space for this giant balloon to land—that’s when I realized they were going to land right then and there…on the street! I pulled the car over and started taking pictures, naturally.
Some cars drove right past it without even glancing over at the balloon, while others pulled over and gawked at it (like us).
Only in New Mexico will a balloon just land in the middle of the street. It was awesome. To keep the balloon out of traffic, the crew carried it over to a patch of grass, where they deflated it right then and there.
Just seeing that balloon land would have been fine enough, but the day was still quite young, so I found another balloon nearby, and we pressed on.
The Chase is On!
This next balloon we chased, was a huge tease. We followed it as it zig-zagged around a few neighborhoods; it would float up, and then go down and act like it was going to land, but it never did. One time we even thought it was going to land in the middle of an apartment complex!
About 30 minutes into our adventure we spotted the balloon’s chase crew. Since they were in contact with the balloon, we started following the chase crew. The funny part is that we picked up a couple other cars along the way; we weren’t the only ones chasing this balloon!
We did more laps around neighborhoods—turning left here, making a u-turn there, and eventually—about an hour after we started chasing it—we saw the perfect open field for it to land.
The balloon floated down, ever so gracefully, and just like a perfectly timed performance, the balloon’s chase crew jumped out of their car and helped it land safely on the ground. Since there were several cars chasing this balloon, the crew was extremely generous and let several kids get into the gondola. (They offered the opportunity to Julia, but the flame freaked her out, so she clung to me and cried instead.)
Since I had the baby in the car, and a toddler who thought the pretty balloon was out to get her, we decided not to stay and help them completely deflate it. (Maybe next time?).
[Tweet “WOW! Chasing hot air balloons looks like so much fun. Adding it to my bucket list now!”]
Have I mentioned how much I love it here? I truly wish the Balloon Fiesta happened year around. Then again, if it did, it would probably lose the excitement. On the bright side, we’re already planning on coming back this time next year (pending any military moves or deployments, of course), because it’s one of the most magical things to experience in the world.
I’m pretty sure that this (along with taking a balloon ride), should totally be on your bucket list! Have you ever chased balloons? Tell me about it!