Albuquerque, in addition to being known as ridiculously difficult to spell, is one of the most perfect places in the world for hot air ballooners. As you know, balloons are at the mercy of the wind, but apparently, a set of predictable wind patterns which occur in the valley here, and known as the “Albuquerque Box,” allows a balloon pilot to navigate south at lower altitudes and north from the higher altitudes; allowing balloons to return gracefully to its launch position.
For the last 40 years, the town has hosted the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a nine-day gathering of hundreds of balloons which launched daily into “the box.” While we weren’t able to be here for that event, (which occurs each October), we had to make a stop at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.
We were initially greeted by friendly volunteer hosts Mike and Betty. Both avid travelers, we chatted for quite a while about New Orleans, Albuquerque’s hidden gems, ballooning and all sorts of other things. As luck would have it, we visited on Sunday morning – a free admission morning – and for a museum with free admission, we got more attention and service than you could ever receive at an overpriced art museum.
Although filled with a great deal of ballooning terminology, and geared toward the ballooning crowd, the museum was designed with a logical, interesting flow beginning with the history of ballooning and continuing through balloon use in the military and accomplishments of the world’s foremost ballooners, including some of the world’s most famous balloons and their canopies.
A small section celebrates the museum’s namesakes Ben Abruzzo and Maxie Anderson who, as a partnership, established many ballooning firsts like crossing oceans and continents together.
The museum was even showing video of the fiesta event, which a friend told us she had once attended and was so overwhelmed by the beauty that she actually wept. And we can see why, the balloons are absolutely breathtaking.
Albuquerque will be a place we visit again, since we’ve added the Balloon Fiesta to our bucket list. We have seen so much on this trip but we keep adding more and more to our list to see – Mardi Gras, Balloon Fiesta, hang gliding in Kitty Hawk.
I guess it’s just another reason to travel this big beautiful land again!