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Thursday October 13- Westminster CO

We could relax this morning as our first appointment was for the dog grooming at 9:30. We dropped them off at “The Barking Lot” for their groom, much to their dismay, as they hate to be groomed. We did more errands, then returned to pick them up at about 12:30. Bob took the CRV for new brakes; I sewed the table cover. Bob arrived back at a little before 4 PM. No happy hour for us, we headed south to have dinner with friends Frank Atwood and Maureen Supple in Littleton at NoNo’s Café. It is a New Orleans cuisine restaurant. Bob had a crab dish and I had lemon dill salmon. A pretty boring day, so here is the article I submitted to the Alfa See Ya’s newsletter.

ALBUQUERQUE INTERNATNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA

By Denise Laurion Gray

20 participants in 40 rigs made a check mark on their bucket list at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta October 1- 9. Neither pictures nor words adequately convey the beauty and fun of watching 500-600 hot air balloons gently traveling above your head and coach.

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A parade of Alfa’s, and a few SOB’s (some other brand) descended upon the ABQ Fiesta RV Park on Friday morning September 30th. Wagon masters Craig and Terilu Christen guided them with military precision into a straight formation of 6 inches from the road line.

At the afternoon welcome meeting, Craig discussed successful boon-docking, reviewing and taking questions about the boon-docking instructional email all participants received prior to arrival. Boon-docking for 9 days was much easier than most of us had anticipated with trepidation. Personally, Bob and I left with fresh water still in the tank, and room in both the black and gray water tanks. So boon-docking for an extended period was another check on our bucket list!

For those that needed it, fresh water trucks traveled through the park each day, along with a Schwans truck, newspaper carriers, RV repair technicians, and RV merchandise vendors. By Wednesday, there was a running joke going about a ‘group dump’. If several rigs coordinated, there was a discount for the rigs that chose the ‘group dump’ option.

The Fiesta officially began Saturday morning October 1st with the opening ceremonies and Mass Ascension. Most of us attended and watched from the launch field as the Fiesta coordinated breaking the Guinness World Book record for the most balloons to launch within one hour, stealing the record back from the French, who had beaten the ABQ record a few years before.

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The ABQ Fiesta is one of the rare events where not only are you allowed to walk on the field, but you are actively encouraged to participate in ‘crewing’ for a balloon team. Craig and Terilu encouraged all rally participants to sign up to ‘crew’ for a team. In doing so, you were given a ‘crew pass’ which allowed you to access the events several times a day. The rally covered 5 tickets for the events, and a ticket is required at each morning and evening event. Many of us turned our tickets back in to Craig, saving money for the rally and the Alfa See Ya’s.

Since the balloons launch early in the morning, most of the morning events were completed by 10 AM. There were plenty of food and merchandise vendors for your browsing pleasure. Favorite food vendors were JR’s breakfast burritos and the huge Dutch Boy doughnuts. Numerous vendors offered jewelry, pottery, art, t-shirts, sweaters, and other interesting items to assist you in donating money to the local economy.

In the evening, many of us returned to the Fiesta Park for the “Balloon Glow”

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and “Afterglow Fireworks”.

Travel to Fiesta Park was via shoe leather express or taking the buses that traveled through the park on a regular basis. The buses had a dedicated lane, so the ride was a short one, with riders not being delayed by the heavy morning and evening traffic. One evening our driver had us singing songs and in a competition with another bus for most enthusiastic bus riders, an interesting experience!

Each morning from 7-9 (with coffee starting at 5:30) Craig hosted a Continental Breakfast in our Rally Tent. In the afternoon, each day, we had ‘happy hour’ where we reviewed our day’s activities. We had an excellent opening evening catered dinner. The caterers were a Native American couple, who graciously spent an extra hour discussing their heritage with our group. On our last evening, we had a delicious gourmet pizza dinner, paid for by money saved by the ‘crew team’ members.

Crewing for a team was not as physically demanding as you would assume. It consisted of assisting the crew with laying out the balloon ‘envelope’, holding ropes, holding down the basket, and riding in the chase vehicle. At the landing, each of the previous activities were completed in reverse. The most strenuous part was the tail gate party, where you were forced to consume excess amounts of food, champagne, margaritas and pina colada’s. It was strenuous, but Alfa See Ya’s are a tough group and we made it through with adding only one notch to our belt buckles.

Many days the balloons landed in or behind the RV Park, giving those who did not ‘crew’ for a team, the opportunity to witness and participate in a balloon landing. Sitting in front of your motor home, sipping coffee, tea or cocoa, while watching the show overhead was a favorite activity. clip_image005

Other rally activities included optional group trips to The Pueblo Cultural Center, a train trip to Santa Fe with a professional tour guide, riding up the Sandia Tram with lunch at the mountain top, visiting the ABQ History Museum, a walking tour of Old Town ABQ, visiting the Balloon Museum, discounted buffet lunch at a casino, touring the Atomic Energy Museum, and a golfing expedition. On Wednesday afternoon, we had the Coach Walk, where we microscopically examined each participating rig, for decorating ideas.

Friday evening, also with saved rally money, we had a gift exchange. Much laughter and stealing occurred during the game, matched by the trading afterwards.

Thanks go to many people, including those who volunteered their generators and gas for our lights and coffee, cleaned up after the breakfasts and dinners, worked with others who had coach issues, scrubbed and vacuumed for the coach walk and used their vehicles for carpools. Very special thanks go to our Wagon Masters, Craig and Terilu Christen for all their preparation and hard work.

So update your bucket list, because Craig and Terilu have already said that they are going to Wagon Master the rally again next year. Watch the newsletter and the website for the information. Happy Trails and see you in ABQ October 5-14, 2012.

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