Weekend Roadtrip: Boulder to Albuquerque for the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta!

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(If you want to find the video link to our road trip adventure, scroll to the bottom of the article. However…if you do you will miss out on the best part: storytelling!)

There comes a point during an given amount of time in life where it is required to pack a small bag of clothes, grab your nearest friend, a family member, some kale chips, chocolate and hop in the car and hit the road for a good ole’ American road trip adventure. It doesn’t matter the distance or destination, but the open road calls us all at some point. As humans, I believe we all have an innate need and desire to explore and go somewhere beyond the current environment we know.

This past weekend, I did exactly this and grabbed my favorite mother (only mother), dearest friend Meggi and we hit the road for eight hours from Boulder to Albuquerque for the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. And let me tell you, it was some of the best 2.5 days that I have had. We had the best time. This also might have been due to our lack of sleep and being slap happy, but I am pretty sure that anyone would have had a great time with or without us!

On Friday after classes, we took the bus from Boulder to Denver and met my mom at the beautiful Union Station where we departed for the 7-8 hour drive. I love driving through Colorado…it is the most extraordinary state and it is such a blessing to have grown up here and still live here today. This drive reminded me how truly glorious every corner of Colorado is. After stopping for gas and trading drivers, we made our way past the Colorado state line and into New Mexico. We of course stopped at the picture to take a picture because memories! Fun fact, I was driving at the time and my mother kept warning me that we would be approaching the sign soon. But like any good daughter, I didn’t listen to that important piece of information. After spotting the sign out of the corner of my eye, I made a sharp turn and pulled over to the side of the road much to the shrieking and dismay of my dear mother. Apparently that wasn’t a very cautious or safe decision. Cie La Vie! We got our photo, have the memory forever and all lived to tell the tale. I see no problem.

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Photo totally worth escaping death. The land of enchantment here we come!

After weathering the last few hours of the drive including a lightning storm, we arrived in Albuquerque where we immediately drove to the closest Whole Foods like the Boulder/Denverites we are and stocked up on late night snacks before heading to our friends place. A million thanks to our friends who let us crash; you know who you are and we love you.

The next day, really a few short hours later, we woke up at 4:30 in the morning and picked up our dear friend and headed to the fairgrounds for the fiesta! With hot tamales in tow (and I am not talking about us), we parked and headed to the entrance of the grounds where we were immediately inundated with tents for funnel cakes and greasy food. Because nothing says good morning at 5 in the morning like fried dough.

After finding a prime spot in the middle of the field (the field is 54 football fields combined in length) we sat down to watch the dawn patrol rise. It is not guaranteed that the balloons can fly during the fiesta and all depends all the wind speed.

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Watching dawn patrol ascend into the sky was one of the coolest things. Little did I know that mass ascension was coming and was about to blow my mind. On this field there are literally hundreds of trucks and balloons being unfurled and set up. It’s kinda the most impressive thing.

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Balloon’s being set up and going up, up and away!

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Puts everything in perspective. 

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Life is one big adventure. With friends, family, some tamales and a good attitude, anything is possible and anywhere is a good time!

After watching the phenomenal mass ascension of literally hundreds of balloons, we headed out of the grounds in search for some grub better than funnel cakes. I know funnel cakes are good…but not that good! We made our way to a random restaurant that turned out to be one of the funniest experiences I have ever had. The place was a dive dinner with a lot of history and turned out to be a bbq and meat kind of establishment. My friend is vegetarian and managed to only find one item on the entire menu that didn’t have meat on it. Sorry Meggi!

But the real story comes after we had our main course and I left to go to the bathroom. First thing you should know about my mother is that she is a bonafide troublemaker! Some people are funny and other people are funny looking; she is definitely the first. While I was gone she told the waitress it was my birthday because she loves getting free stuff no matter what it is. She also loves embarrassing me. MOMS! Anyway, a few minutes later after I returned the waitress returned with a free scoop of ice cream and a plastic model of a bbq rib the size of large child. I repeat, the size of a large child! A plastic model of a bbq rib! Only in New Mexico…We were so slap happy at this point that we found the entire scenario way funnier than it probably actually was. Although looking back, its pretty hilarious. I got a photo with the bbq rib that they took and printed out for me and we went on our merry way. A lunch to remember to say the least.

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This is not real life….

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Happy Birthday to me! 

After driving around New Mexico and getting lost because the car GPS does not work, we made our way to Petroglyph National Monument and watched an informational video before making our way to find the petroglyphs. Honestly at this point we were so delirious from lack of sleep, that we had no clue what we were doing. We even wandered off path and accidentally led a bunch of other strangers up a small hill to nowhere. The blind following the blind! We made our way back on trail and found some great petrolgyphs that are hundreds of years old!

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Petroglyphs

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Tradition!

At some point in our little adventures, Meggi and me decided to start doing friend tree poses at the end of all of our epic hikes. Even though this hike was hardly long or epic and was about 5 minutes from the parking lot, tradition dictated so! Later that night we went to hang out with our friends, had some delicious pizza and called it a night. The next morning we hit the road a little after 9 and started our journey back home. We also decided to make the detour to stop in Taos which was about an hour and half out of the way, but when on the road its always a good idea to say yes and carpe diem.

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On the way to Taos

On the way to Taos we saw some of the most beautiful fall colors and leaves that you can see in the time lapse video! I love fall. After arriving in Taos, we had a delicious Italian lunch and wandered around the town square buying souvenirs we probably don’t need, but we bought anyways because its fun to have silly memories and share them with friends and family back home.

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Us in Taos!

After stopping to watch the sunset, we arrived back in Boulder in the late evening and made the stop back at Whole Foods because nothing says welcome home like an over-priced Kale salad chock full of goiji berries and antioxidants. Lets just say that this was one of the best trips I have been on and I look forward to going on an infinite amount more! You don’t need a lot of money to travel and have a great time.

Here is the link to our trip video:

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