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Sat. Oct 7 to Fri. Oct. 13 2017- ABQ NM AIBF

Saturday- The first day of the AIBF( Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta). We awoke at 5:30 and went out at 7 AM to see the balloons. They were flying right over the RV park. One of the balloons landed and we ran over to assist with the landing. It was Simba!

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The top pic is of the back of Simba. I never was able to get a picture of the front of Simba, so here is the one from the program.  The pic above is me holding the crown. The crown is the top of the envelop( the material on the balloon). Everyone else was pushing the air our of the envelope towards me. Below is Simba on the ground. They open vents along the sides and push the rest of the air out. Then we helped to fold up the envelope and put the entire envelope into a large bag. Then we all leaned on the bag to push the rest of the air out of the envelope and they closed up the bag. The put the basket and the bag into a trailer and took off returning to the field to tailgate.

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Here are more balloons which landed in the field.

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Above this guy was cruising the RV park.

We ate lunch. Our shift started at 3 so at 2:30 we carpooled over to the W lot. We were assigned our route ( the north lot) and our 6 pack golf carts. I may have forgotten to mention that we were given a baseball type shirt, a nice vest and a nice jacket. In the pic I am wearing the shirt, and sitting on the vest and jacket. We also were issued a safety vest you can see me wearing, in addition to our ID’s which were on a lanyard.

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Jay was our route leader and John ( who gave us the tour yesterday) joined Bob and I. We went over to the north lot and sat doing nothing for 3 hours. Boring! Finally some people with handicap placards drove into the lot. We would race overt to their vehicle and they would say they did not need help. Parents and two health kids would jump out of the vehicle and walk away. Obviously they were using a family handicap placard just to get good parking!

Bob and I ran, at 5, over to the W lot to pick up our hamburgers for dinner. They were cold, but actually pretty good. We returned and it started getting busier. Jay was pulled away and now John was in charge our our little group. Candy was in charge of the entire mess.

She forgot to assign anyone to the Sisters lot which was the handicap lot. What a mess that was! There were handicap people up on the top of that hill waiting for golf carts to pick them up. The prior year, the carts could not get up the hill. This year they had re-graded it and put down soft dirt. So I was watching handicap people try to walk down this awful hill, in soft dirt, almost falling. Then they had to walk across another lot to get to us and the entrance.

Bob and I were supposed to be just running up and down perpendicular rows ( 2 of them and only 1 existed). Instead, we ran over to the road that these poor people had to cross and pick them up to take them to the gate. We were not supposed to do this nor were we supposed to be in this area, but what where we supposed to do? John had the radio and he was afraid to let Candy know over the radio that she had screwed up! So I asked him to go physically to Candy and tell her what was going on.

He finally agreed to do that. Then he was assigned to the Sisters lot and to call in if he became overwhelmed.He told us do not cross the road, which we did not do!  In Candy’s defense, she was a last minute replacement for Elaine who was supposed to be running the show, but was out sick.

So Bob and I continued to ferry people who were limping and exhausted from this walk to the gates. Then of course, doing the same in reverse. It was very dangerous when people were leaving as the cars were trying to leave and we were having to go directly past them. Then my golf cart died! John was terrified he was going to get in trouble and so were we, since we were not where we were supposed to be. So Bob and I decided that I should walk over to Sisters and talk to John. He was pretty freaked out.

He walked back with me and pushed the cart, with me driving it, back to next to the porta-a-potties, in an area where we were supposed to be. Then he called the broken golf cart into Candy. John speaks with a lisp, and Candy was not understanding him. He kept telling her that I and the cart were safe. She finally, for some reason, decided that it was a broken down car, and was mad at John for not just calling public safety.

John went back to sisters and I sat in the cart. Jay showed up. He called it in to Candy. The cart was overheated. We got it going and traded carts. I finished running people over to the road, they had to cross the road, then John took them to the top of the hill.

When the North lot was empty, they sent Mike Lynch over to help. To late! We all left. Bob and I hated the North lot and do not ever want to go back there again! It was crazy, getting in and out of the lot was a problem. There is only one gate you can go through with a golf cart, and it was closed early. So we had to drive behind the port-a-potties and over the narrow dirt path, that had a big rock in a large hole, which we had to cross,  then cross between the narrow barriers. UGH! Scary!

Anyway, Jay is now in charge and we barely see Candy!

Sunday- Mike and Lorraine Lynch ( Lorraine is my Health Coach) were asked to be the route leaders for route 4. They had to get their own team together and they asked us to join their team! Yahoo, we are on the route we liked!

In the morning, we were up early again and took our chairs out to the field to watch the balloons landing. We helped with a few.

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This balloon was a little bit close! We are the middle MH and that is our car. I wanted pictures if they damaged the MH or took off the satellite. So I was snapping pictures really fast! The balloon landed behind the MH in the next area of the park.

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If you have not been to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, I highly recommend you add it to your bucket list. The pictures do not give you a true picture of this magnificent experience!

We ate lunch and took a nap. At 2:30 we car pooled over to the W lot. Mike and Lorraine have everything ready for us. We took off and had a great time running up and down the 6% grade hill. The golf carts have an engine brake, but you have to hit the ‘sweet spot” with the accelerator to get to it. So it is counter intuitive to have to push the accelerator to go down a steep hill! Bob found the spot easily. It took me several runs to do it. That way we do not have to use the brakes until we get to the bottom of the hill.

Below is our team at the top of the hill. From left was Karen Radcliff ( the injured John’s wife), Bob, Lorraine, Mike, and me!

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This hill is so busy that they even ran two trolleys at the busy times. Bob said that every time he passed me I had a big grin on my face. Well so did he!

Dinner was sandwiches or wraps. When it was not too busy, we stopped and ate dinner. It is really busy around 6 pm and again around 9 when people are leaving.

I had to laugh at one thing. A lady I was driving was staying in the Presidential Lot, which is at the top of the hill, but to the right, overlooking the field. This is where the rich folks stay. So she pointed out that she was staying in the Presidential lot and paying $175 per night. I said to her oh, we are in the regular RV lot where the ballons are landing and it is soooo cool!  GAZINGA! LOL!

Here is the glow which we could see riding up and down.

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We met up with Paula and Charlie and drove back home.

Monday- We are off today. We were up early again, and were out watching the balloons land.

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This was part of our Alfa Roadrunner Rally members. It you notice on the first MH there is a large pipe running up the side. That was what the guys made at our rally in April. It is called a Genturi and takes the generator exhaust straight up and away from the next door neighbors. That way we do not asphyxiate anyone with carbon monoxide! Everyone of our MH’s had one!

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Below is the back of Darth Vader.

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We ran to Walmart and picked up stuff for the happy hour tonight and the pot luck tomorrow evening.

From 11 to 1 we had a welcome luncheon. Well, that was an issue. The shuttle bus runs from 5 AM to 11AM. So we had to drive.We parked in the handicap lot with Paula’s handicap placard and walked down the hill.

Lunch was a buffet with lots of hot Mexican casseroles. Bob could not eat the salad as it had bell pepper in it. We did not like the food as it was just too spicy, but we are in NM!

They gave away a lot of great prizes. Everyone’s name went into the box and they chose names. They gave away tickets on Alaska Airlines, Instapots, 32” televisions,  lots and lots of really nice stuff! Only one of our group won anything and you had to be present to win. That was really not fair. Some of the people who won really nice items were working! So they could not be there. One kid won something and the mother popped up and asked if she could get the prize, as the kid was in school. Nope, you had to be there! That is going on our evaluation, especially since one guy they liked won and they wanted to change the rule just of for him and the room booed them!

So Paula would not have to walk up the hill, we went to get our car. We caught a golf cart ride to the handicap lot. We realized that this was a waste, as we could have driven down to the field.

Anyway, we picked up Paula and Charlie and returned to the MH. Charlie’s daughter, Meg, was flying in, so they went to the airport to pick her up. We had happy hour. Then Paula, Charlie, Meg, Bob and I went to Chili’s for dinner. We had nice salads for dinner, then I had a free dessert. So I ordered the chocolate melt and we all shared it.

We returned and went to bed.

Tuesday- We are up early again today, but Paula and Charlie are working. We were out on the field in the park, again, taking pictures and helping balloons land. Today was a competition day where balloons take off from off site, and fly to the field to drop a bean bag onto an X in the field, then they land on the field. There was one guy there and I signed up to chase. That meant helping them set up the balloon, then jumping in the car to follow it .

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The pilot waited too long, watching others, and finally realized that he should have flown about 1/2 hour sooner. So we had stood around for nothing.

We took the shuttle over to the park and wandered down “Main Street” looking at the vendors. Okay, to be honest, when were were here in 2011, there was an awesome doughnut vendor. We went in search of one of the awesome doughnuts. The vendor was not there. Oh well, we bought a 3 pack of Krispy Kreme’s. We had to take the shuttle back before 11, as that is when they stop running.  The Fiesta is only open evenings on certain days. Mon,Tues, Wed are pretty quiet and there are no evening programs. 

We went to lunch and then took a nap. We had a pot luck dinner in the evening with our Roadrunner group.

We found out earlier that one of the gas balloons, which took off last Sat. night in a cross country race, had landed yesterday in Newfoundland winning the race. They must have caught a very fast current and they landed as far east as there was land.

Wednesday- This was our morning to work. To get in our 80 combined hours, we had to do one early morning. So we went to bed last night at 8:30. I woke up at 12:30 and could not go back to sleep!

We got up at 2:45 and left at 3:30 to drive over to the park. We arrived and the gate was not yet open. So we pulled into line. The last person in the line puts on their hazard blinker. Everyone seemed to work together on this! Our shift was 4 A to 12 noon.

We were assigned to the Alameda route. That meant that we drove through the park, out the front gate, and back towards the RV park. We were out, across from the RV park entrance.

We stopped on the way at the Navigator tent for breakfast. They had breakfast burritos. On Main Street these cost $8 each! We grabbed more coffee, and took off. We arrived at where we were supposed to be and sat talking to each other for several hours. It was very quiet. It was also 36 degrees and our hands and feet were frozen! I miss my ski gloves! We were using hand warmers though….

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We took some folks in to the bag check area. Then after the Mass Ascension people started leaving and we picked them up at the gate and took them to various parking lots and the Balloon Museum.

At 10:00 we were told we could go. I kept trying to leave, but every time I got to the gate, someone would flag me to go somewhere. It got to be a joke. Bob was sitting back at the W lot waiting for me. Even on the way back, all the way on the far side of the field, I was flagged down by a lady with a walker. She wanted to go up, over the entrance hill, to the North Lot. What could I say, but hop on! Her family was still shopping at the Woodworking tent.

I ran her up the hill and the gate was locked. So I ran her to the next gate and another cart was coming my way and the gal said it was also locked. So now we had to go our another way. EEEK, I really did not want to take her through that awful path, as I had heard from Paula that the rock was gone!

I stopped and picked up her family and we went to Gate 31, which was open, but of course I could not get through to take her to her car. Oh well, I got her as close as I could.

I met up with Bob and we returned to the MH. We changed to cooler clothes, taking off our long johns.

We car pooled, taking Karen with us. Paula, Charlie and Meg went in their car. We snaked through the park to the field and parked this time on the field. Today was the Pilots Picnic I expected hot dogs and hamburgers. We got steak and chicken with Strawberry Shortcake for dessert. It was a very good meal.

Bob and I were dragging, so we left early and returned to the MH to take a 2 hour nap.

We had happy hour and ate leftovers for dinner. We went to bed early.

Thursday- We were up early again and out again watching and helping the balloons to land.

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This is how close we are to the balloons flying overhead.

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This is the day I did a FB live showing how Smoky the Bear and two other balloons landed and how they crowd assisted with the landing. It is still on my FB page.

We ate lunch and took another nap. We are exhausted as we are up early and go to bed late.

At 2:30 we carpooled over to the W lot and picked up our golf carts. We did the #4 Route with Mike and Lorraine again. Here is the picture in daylight from the top of the hill.

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We ran up and down the hill taking folks to the bottom and picking folks up and taking them back up the hill. After 9 PM two guys asked for a ride down the hill. Since everything was over I asked them why they wanted to go down. They were from the Presidential Lot and were making a funnel cake run! I did not take them back up the hill, Bob did and they had stacks of funnel cakes!

Friday- Up and out early in the AM again. Here are the kissing bees. One of the bees had landed earlier in the week, right behind some of the MH’s but I missed getting pictures of that.

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The bees separated and one had a very hard landing.

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This other balloon ran into the bee on the ground.

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Here is the famous Saguaro Cactus, called Sahuaro Grande Dude. We crewed for this balloon in 2011.

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Above is Owlbert Eyenstein.

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Above is Tolfy.  There are 550 balloons registered. 50 of which are the shaped balloons.

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Today was the third lunch. It was from 11-2 and was the awards banquet. Since we were not getting any awards, we ate and ran back the MH for another nap.

At 2:30 we left again and carpooled to the W lot. We again had the same route with Lorraine and Mike. We had pizza for dinner, two nights in a row! We ran up and down again. Tonight, it rained for a short time. Just long enough to get us wet! We had two beautiful rainbows, but I was running too much to get pictures.

Each night we had the glow, a laser show, and the fireworks. The fireworks were really awesome, they surrounded the entire field.

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