Monday, October 10, 2016

10/8/16 Saturday at the ABQ Balloon Fiesta

A few more photos from the better camera of our Saturday at the Fiesta.

It was mostly a wash-out, both morning and evening sessions. As was our tent.

You can see the yellow flag flying over that center tent. It would change to green two hours late and only for about half an hour. A few balloons went up, a few more started to inflate and had to stop and deflate. We would find out the following morning that the passengers on the balloons that did get out during that short window weren't in for the best ride. They were radioed down as quickly as possible due to lightning strikes and by the time the crews got to them, they were in the same rain Marci and I found ourselves in as they evacuated the fields.

During the two hour delay, before getting soaked, we were sitting on the field and I glanced down and had to take a photo. Marci, who is always cold, is wearing two pairs of pants, three tops, and two pairs of gloves including my thick ski ones. I, who am always hot, was in a single layer, and had long since abandoned my fingerless mittens. Also, her half sipped hot chocolate versus my completely drained free coffee (free with my breakfast burrito!) 

So post-photo, we wandered back over to the tents waiting on the flag to possibly change and so I could get another cup of coffee. Next to the Pinon Coffee tent was Channel 4 news, which Mom had said they were watching to see if they spotted us, so we popped around and waved at the camera.

The Dos Equis balloon was the first off the field flying the flag and everyone cheered.

What we would also learn later this weekend was that this mostly yellow line of balloons are all flying under the Rainbow Ryder corporation, even though quite a lot of them are other smaller companies contracting through them. These guys get the first lift-off, because these are the paying passengers. 

Little did we know that we were also watching the same balloon we'd be in the next morning taking off here. The Sundance balloon to the left will be ours. This line is all Canadian -- Sundance is a Canadian company and the radio stations are Canadian as well.

This Colorado balloon is also going with passengers through Ryders. We actually requested this one after we realized it was among the options, but he was slated for a private ride.

About now is when the last balloons that were going to make the window lifted away. 

Darth had just gotten up when he started face-firsting into the ground.

We made our way over to the end tents where we thought the Rainbow Ryders check-in would be, only to discover it was way at the other end. We wanted to see where we were going in the dark the following morning. Right about that time, the rain really got going. By the time we got over to Gate 14, per the email, only to be told, "oh, no, that's changed, it's Gate 9" and going even farther to Gate 9 to find the check-in tent we were soaking. And we still had the mile walk back to the tent. 

So our main order of business was to take our wet pillows with our wet selves over the laudromat to dry them, find a Walmart, and buy tarps to stop the small leaks we were seeing in the tent. It was supposed to keep raining through the night. We kept watching the weather hourly report and it kept saying the rain would start up hard that evening and go through Sunday morning. We were steeling ourselves for a rain-out.

Marci having to live without her third hoodie layer for 14 minutes.

We bought two tarps and a package of bungies thinking we just needed to reinforce the "room" tops of the tent. (Ha!)

We stopped in for lunch on the way back at Little Anita's in Corrales, not but a few miles from the field and made a mental note to skip El Pinto and just come here. More, better food, for half the price! Both places, being New Mexican, bring you gratis sopapillas and honey for dessert.

And I think this is where I left you when I tried to post a phone blog from the tent. Note the dark blue over Marci's "room". 

I am a little further out into the center of the tent here because Marci had moved my cot out a bit during some rearranging to avoid water drips on the pillow. There was still a tiny little puddle behind my cot where the morning's rain had gotten that we didn't reach. 

And she hadn't quite gotten the air mattress centered back on the cot. So there came a point where I discovered I was doing a slow-motion fall as the matress pitched over to the back wall, me riding along. Marci, all snuggled in her bag, could only watch helplessly as I went. I was thinking, "Is this actually happening?" as it was happening, it went so comically slow. 

"Welp. Reached that little puddle after all." I deadpanned from the floor.

She started laughing. I started laughing. And we could.not.stop. It was one of those moments where every time you think you've settled down, it starts back up. It was good for the soul.

So here's from the outside of the tent, after our MacGyvering of both tarps plus a couple of other pieces we rigged over the top. 

Now notice in the above photo: that little light gray piece there is going to be the biggest problem overnight. As it turns out, it is NOT waterproof. And it is right over my head. 

We watched the twitter feed through the afternoon as we stayed in the tent and out of the wind and the traffic. The Balloon Glow was called off due to the winds. We decided to head over to grab a bite to eat and then straight back to the tent to watch the fireworks (moved up to sunset) before calling it an early night for our 4 a.m. wake-up Sunday. 

the red flag of doom

I snuggled into my sleeping bag around 8:30 just as the rain started up. I remember thinking, "this is so peaceful, listening to the rain fall on the tent."

After a deep sleep, which felt like well into the middle of the night, I woke to the realization that the ceiling of the "room" portion of my tent was currently about an inch from my face. And it was dripping. Since I'd been mostly under the sleeping bag, I was blissfully unaware that the top of my pillow and all of the canvas on top of my sleeping bag was soaked. At least it was canvas. I was still dry inside. But I had to move. I set one socked foot down into an inch of water on the floor.

Marci had already moved her cot to the center trying to get away from the same issue on her side. We had to basically blockade the entry to get both of us out of the dripping tops of the sides of the tent. I changed socks, pulled out our ponchos to lay them over our sleeping bags, and huddled deep inside, staying away from the soaked side of the pillow. I pulled out my phone. It was 10:30. And the monsoon was in full swing.

We heard everyone around us out in the rain doing what we thought we had solved that afternoon, getting extra tarps over the tops of their tents. Then I listed to two guys talking really loudly in their tent until after midnight. I finally drifted back off for a couple of hours.

At 2:30, I woke back up with the terrible realization that my bladder was not going to go much longer. And I couldn't get out of the door to the port-a-potty without moving everything yet again and hurdling over the cot to escape. But the rain had stopped.

When I got back into my bag, I pulled out my phone again and checked the hourly.

0% chance of rain for the next 6 hours.

I dozed the last hour until the 4:00 alarm went off and we set about getting dressed and out of the tent lake for our balloon flight.

Marci had been telling me on the drive down (while we were on the scenic route instead of the I-25 route) about this concept of "Second Degree Fun." It's the idea that there are experiences that are terrible while you are experiencing them, but the retelling after the fact becomes the fun part.

At 4:00 a.m. when we both woke, I said, "That was some second degree fun last night."


Here's the few photos of the aftermath I remembered to snap before we broke camp:

Up next: Sunday's Glorious Balloon Flight


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