Hot Air Ballon Festival, Page Arizona

Today has been the most fun day of this road trip so far. When Johannes and I stopped in Page, AZ, last Monday, I saw a banner that announced an upcoming hot air ballon festival in town. I am a big fan of hot air balloons and had wanted to go to the biggest balloon festival in Albuquerque with 650 balloons (The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta) in October but unfortunately couldn’t make it. So, without further ado, I changed my plans and instead of going back to Zion for two days, I decided to stay longer in Page.

The Page Lake Powell Hot Air Balloon Regatta had about 60 hot air balloons this year and it was such a beautiful sight. A lot of the balloons I have seen so far had big sponsor logos on them – but almost all of the balloons at this festival did not have logos and had the most beautiful colors (except for the Coca Cola one).

Right after the morning briefing, when all the teams were getting their balloons ready for launch, I met the official photographer of the event, Paul. He invited me to tag along with him, which was a great opportunity to not only hang out with a photographer who has been taking pictures of hot air balloon festivals for many years and to talk about his experiences but also to meet some of the pilots. I was even allowed to go up for a bit in one of the balloons after its flight was over. The pilot told me about the requirements of becoming a pilot and it seems doable. I keep thinking that it would be so much fun to join a team one day or to create our own. I am utterly fascinated by hot air balloons and the teams. Everybody pretty much seemed to know each other – like a big family. One of the reasons why the US is my second home is that it is so easy to talk to people and to have good conversations with strangers.

The weather was very cloudy this morning and the light was ok but not perfect. There is another launch tomorrow morning and the weather is supposed to be sunny. It will be interesting to see the difference. Unfortunately, Johannes took our 70-200mm/2.8 home with him because my photo backpack was already extremely heavy and we did not think about it being quite useful for the festival. Next time then. I am definitely planning to goto Albuquerque next year and am already trying to motivate some of my friends to join me 🙂

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What I learned today…

  • Find out in advance from where the balloons will launch (Website, Facebook page, Teams – usually easily identifiable as they usually wear team shirts)
  • Bring all zoom lenses

On the bucket list…

  • Go to Albuquerque Festival
  • Find out about other unique balloon festivals
  • Join/found a hot air balloon team

Day 1: Denver, CO to Placerville, CO

The first day on our trip from Denver to Las Vegas via a number of National Parks and Forests was off to a bad start when our early morning flight from Chicago to Denver was grounded due to a hydraulic defect. The replacement machine got us there about 3 hours late, which basically was all the time we had that day to stop for a few photos in between our 8 hours of driving.

We picked up groceries as we passed through Denver and headed straight for Interstate 70 towards Grand Rapids. The rest of the day was pretty much spent driving through the beautiful scenery of half a dozen National Forests, past historic gold mining sites as well as current coal mines, and tiny remote villages. Fall had progressed more than we hoped and the yellow leaves we had hoped to see were almost gone. However, the naked trees are still a stunning sight worth exploring and taking pictures of.

Due to our late start, we had to skip Needle Rock and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – already noted for our next trip to Colorado. Although we barely had time to get out of the car, we were able to test some of our new equipment, especially our new travel tripod and the GoPro stabilizer.

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The beautiful Dillon Reservoir.

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An all-American truck hauling what looks like very American things.

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The steep hills are no joke in Colorado. Many warning and instruction signs try to improve road safety for truckers along the Interstate 70.

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If you live in a remote valley, don’t expect the mail to be delivered to your doorstep.

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In the words of one of Orval’s Used Cars Facebook reviewers, “Orval’s Restorables is one of the most unusual businesses on the Western Slope. They sell broken dreams and twisted metal to people who have the heart, imagination, time and love to make them right again.”

What did we learn today?

  • take your time driving throught the Colorado National forests – many beautiful photo spots
  • late October will be too late for yellow fall leaves in the higher areas, it’s better to come towards the end of September until mid-October

On the bucket list…

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