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 🙂
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