After the morning balloon session, Helaine and I returned to the hotel for a while. The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has distinct morning and evening sessions (with separate admissions).
After a brief nap it was off to the tramway which climbs Sandia Peak. Only one problem. Everyone else in Albuquerque had the same idea. The Friday afternoon wait was two hours! Helaine wasn’t going to take the tram to the top anyway, so we left.
Even from the base of the tramway, over 6,000 feet above sea level, the view was excellent.
Next destination was Old Town Albuquerque, a picturesque area of artsy stores and native craftsmen. We walked around for a while and Helaine found something for Stef.
The Fox Family Secrecy Act of 2006 prevents me from disclosing what she got.
By the way, parking near Old Town is interesting. The parking lot has a series of boxes at one end. Each box has a slot where you put your money for parking. I slipped two dollars in the space marked 122.
We ended up overstaying our time, but got no ticket. I suspect it’s not heavily enforced. In fact, it sound like my money went all the way to the bottom, not my individual ‘cash cubby.’
Old Town is conveniently located next to Albuquerque’s museums. Helaine asked if I wanted to go to the Natural History Museum? I would have, had I not spied a small building, previously used for something else. It was the National Atomic Museum.
The signs outside made it look a little off center and not afraid to poke a little fun of itself. Was this a real museum or a sly museum takeoff?
The first thing I noticed inside was a collection of slide rules. I stopped to gape. This was my kind of place. Before calculators, I was a slide rule expert.
In the history of atomic energy, New Mexico stands tall. Remember, there’s a lot of space here… lots of room to do things you don’t want found out. Our first atomic test was held not far from Albuquerque.
We paid our admission, walked in, and quickly walked into the theater where a movie was about to start; “Ten Seconds That Changed The World.”
Narrated by Richard Basehart and produced by the legendary David L. Wolper, this was a collection of grainy black and white footage which traced the real history of the atomic age, all the way to Hiroshima.
It seemed like it was originally cut for TV with distinct fades to black for commercial inserts. Whatever the case, it was fascinating. It was jam packed with historical film I’d never seen before – really good stuff from the 40s.
As we left, Helaine said, “That was worth the price of admission.” It was.
We only spent a few more minutes in the museum before heading back to the hotel and then the park-n-ride bus to Balloon Fiesta Park. There sure is a lot more traffic on a Friday evening than a pre-dawn Friday morning.
It was still light out as we approached the park. A dozen or so balloons floated about the area. The real action was shaping up on the field.
The Sun went down. The balloons lit up. The was a “Glowdeo.”
Tethered balloons were kept inflated enough to float up, while their attached baskets sat on the ground. Lit from the inside, the balloons glowed in the fading twilight.
I can’t imagine there’s anything else like this anywhere. There were dozens… maybe hundreds of balloons. Most of the time, each was dark, sometimes illuminated by neighboring balloons. The scene was constantly changing and since the balloons were all cheek to jowel, walking a few feet changed the perspective.
I decided to leave my tripod in the car and take my monopod. The monopod provides plenty of support, but not the rock solid steadiness you’d get from a tripod.
In a perfect world, the tripod would have been a better choice. With a few hundred thousand of our closest friends it would have been a significantly more cumbersome one.
To make up for the monopod’s shortcomings and the fact that the gas jets on the balloons were constantly going on and off, I overshot. Sometimes I shot 4,5,6 snaps of the same thing, hoping one would work.
I also kept the shutter very slow, having it open for a quarter second at times. That kind of setting almost guarantees some blur, but most of my shots are very sharp.
As the “Glowdeo” came to an end, we grabbed some tasty junk food and waited for the fireworks… but this was the end of a very long day. About two thirds through the fireworks I turned to Helaine and said, “Let’s head to the bus.”
We caught the spectacular display at the end from the bus stop, but there was little strength left between us to get excited. As the only event of the day the fireworks would haev been great, but we were well into sensory overload.
In the morning we fly… or at least we’re scheduled to fly in a balloon. The forecast has a chance for showers and lots of clouds. It’s iffy, but I’m cautiously optimistic.
Helaine’s never flown in wicker before. It’s a great experience. I’m really looking forward to it.
Blogger’s note: This is my 2,000th blog entry.