Day 24 - 10/8/14

I woke up at 5:30 am to ride to the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.  I’ve never heard of this event but it’s apparently the Tour De France of hot air ballooning.  It lasts a week long and there are hot air balloons from all over the world.  Now I like hot air balloons as much as the next person but walking up at 5:30 am to watch them is a stretch for me.  However, I’ve been told of this event all the way back in Tucumcari.  It seems like this is THE event of the year in all of New Mexico.  My airbnb host told me it’s worth the early start.

So that’s what I did.  I got on the road in the early dark morning to the Balloon Fiesta Park - yea, they even had a park named and dedicated to this event.  Not just that - they even have a hot air balloon museum.  

There was a long line of cars making their way into that park.  They weren’t kidding.  This is a big deal.  

I paid my admission but got herded on the field.  The park is huge and there are dozens of vendors selling coffee, food, and balloon swag.  

I needed coffee and found my savior:

So far, this morning was getting off to a great start.

Apparently, the morning was a little windy so they were holding off sending any balloons up.  I didn’t really care since I had four Krispy Kreme donuts to eat. 

I was enjoying my breakfast and watched the sun come up.  After a good hour or so, I started to see some inflation going on.

And a while after that, I saw one balloon floating up into the air.  

And then more:

And then a crap load more:

And then a car balloon:

And then some purple thing:

And then a Spider Pig:

And then a dueling shark and diver:

And then freaking Darth Vader!

I have to admit - this hot air balloon festival is pretty awesome!  After a few hours, I had to get going.  But this was what I saw on my way out from the top of the hill.

I had to go back to my airbnb apartment to pack up my stuff and get on the road to Gallup.  There was an stretch of 66 out of Albuquerque and an older stretch outside city limits on the way to Gallup.  It was pretty barren with not much there but it had New Mexico beauty.

Outside of Gallup, about 120 miles from Albuquerque, I reached the Continental Divide - Wow.

It is at this point where the rainfall is divided.  To the west of this point, rain drains into the Pacific Ocean.  To the east of this point, rain drains into the Atlantic.  Hard to believe I rode to this point in the country.

Speaking of rain, it started to drizzle at this point.  I put on my rain coat and continued on my way.  I reached Gallup about 30 miles west of the divide.  I stopped at the El Rancho Motel, which is a famous old motel that catered to the old time Hollywood stars like Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, and Kirk Douglas.  Maybe that’s why they wanted $100 a night for a room.  

However nice the history is, I decided to opt for a cheaper option at the other end of town.  I took a few photos inside and It’s a hoot of a lobby.  

But with the rain on my mind, I forgot to take a photo of the exterior.  I rode to a cheap chain motel at the other end of Gallup and had to have McDonald’s for dinner because most of the restaurants were closed already and I didn’t feel like riding in the rain to hunt for dinner.  It was me and a Chicken McSandwich for our dining experience in Gallup, NM.