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Thursday October 6- ABQ IBF

We were up at 4:45 again, and went to jump on the bus to take us over to the park. We went with Craig and Terilu. Terilu took us with her to the Nilz  Family balloons. Patrick and Boby, with their son Paddy, own “Sarah the Witch” and “Sahuaro Grande Dude” a 141 ft. tall Cactus. Actually, they own 13 balloons. Today was the special shape balloon rodeo. The cactus is the largest balloon on the field, and is very big!

While Terilu was introducing us to Patrick, her phone rang. Craig was calling to tell her that it had just been announced that Patrick had won “Pilot of the Day” which is a daily award for having done something special. Patrick was surprised and very pleased. They get lots of nice stuff when they win.

After the pilot briefing, which Patrick and Bobby attended, we had a safety briefing. Then the balloon team leaders( ours was Danny), under Bobby’s directions, had us putting out a very large tarp, then the balloon. Since the cactus is so big, we had to be very careful. We had to wear gloves and pull the material, only by the seams. This balloon costs 100K, so we had to be very careful! We could see where tears had been repaired.

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Boby did most of the set up of the basket herself, making sure that everything met her strict requirements. Boby had given me a job of holding on to the basket to make sure it did not go up when they had the balloon up. The FAA closed the field to flying, but we were going to set up the balloon for the crowd.

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They start with these gasoline powered fans that do a ‘cold’ inflate. Once it was inflated somewhat, Bobby took a reporter into the  balloon. They took off their shoes, and he went in and took pictures. They might have been in the newspaper, but we did not see them

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Then Patrick and Paddy went into the balloon with a propane torch to heat up the cactus’s ‘arms’.

058All this time,Bob and Terilu were holding ropes which kept the ‘skirt’ open so that the air could go into the balloon. Both of them ended up with really tired arms! I was back by the van ( the balloon was attached by rope to the van) and trying to keep people from getting close to the balloon and the ropes. As Patrick added the propane heated air to the balloon and it started to rise, I was holding one of the ropes to keep the balloon on the ground. By this time Bob and Terilu were also holding these ropes. I was holding on with both hands, leaning backwards, using all my weight, and fools were coming  up to me asking for balloon trading cards! I had to tell them, politely, I was a little busy and they needed to ask later. Duh!  Plus I had to keep telling them to stay away from the ropes…

The wind had picked up considerably, so we got the balloon half way up, then had to drop it back down. One of the ‘zebras’ was next to me this whole time taking pictures, since she said she had never seen this big a balloon go up!

One we had it back on the ground, we had to straighten out the balloon  and get the air back out of it. then we had to fold it. There were 14 of us doing this! Then we had to put the ‘arms’ on the main part, then pick up the 3 parts ( very heavy) and put them on our shoulders, as they pushed the storage bag on a cart, while we folded the balloon into the bag. Once you were finished putting your part into the bag, you moved down the line to do more of the balloon. We each did this 3 x, so that gives you an idea of how big this thing was!  Then they had to close the bag. They let little kid jump on the bag to get the rest of the air out. We had to make sure that the bag cover was tucked into the sides of the bag, then one of the very strong guys pulled the ropes to close the bag.

Next we had to fold up the tarp and store all of this in the trailers. Then it was party time! Bob, Terilu, and Craig ( who had joined us) all went over and picked up doughnuts for the crew. When we arrived back, the party had started, with some sloppy joes, dips and chips, margaritas, and pina collatas!  And it was only 8:30 in the morning. None of us had any alcohol, too early!

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After a while, we left and went back to the motor home. We ate lunch at the motor home. Today was the ‘coach walk”. We opened our coach up to visitors and wandered through other Alfa’s checking out what other people have done to personalize their motor homes. Found some interesting items, one guy had lowered his ceiling fan 1.5 inches, which makes it work better and had found some pads that you can put on the fan that helps with keeping the ceiling cleaner. Also, one coach had added some shelves to the cabinets, which we are going to do.

While we were doing that, Brian and Kathy Munger arrived. These are our friends from Breckenridge. Two of our coaches had left, so we had Facebooked to them to join us. So they did, pulling into an open space 2 coached down.

We went to happy hour, and Brian and Kathy joined us. After happy hour, Craig, Terilu, Brian, Kathy, Bob and I sat around talking about Breckenridge. Craig and Terilu  really want to join us there and become GSA’s. We talked until about 6 PM, and we realized that we needed to be ready to go, if the evening balloon glow was a go. It ended up being cancelled, so we ate a quick dinner, and watched TV.

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