Travel takes us away from familiarity: how we adjusted

Travel takes us away from familiarity: how we adjusted

posted in: Fulltime RV, Travel | 0

During our recent cruise vacation, we met lots of new people. The first question usually asked was of course, where are you from? Our answer never wavered from we live in an RV and travel all over, so we don’t really have a from. Some people loved this idea, but then it came up of what do we miss from our “old” life. Isn’t it hard living on the road away from familiarity?

Well, yes and no. There isn’t a one word answer here. All things have their ups and downs, right? You definitely give up familiarity with travel, but you get so much more. We’re ok with the trade-off.

How we turn the downs of travel into ups

Family and Friends

Yes. It can be hard being away from family and friends; we miss family at times. However, traveling has allowed us to see more family. We travel to them. Travel allowed us to be near Paul’s family for a whole winter and we celebrated birthdays, Christmas and even met up for breakfasts with the family.

While we miss having a friend nearby for a last minute dinner, happy hour, hike, etc., we have met so many new friends on the road. It’s been awesome meeting amazing new people and finding them again later in a new place. Social media has allowed us to keep in touch with both friends and family and to know when our paths cross. We have had some great times meeting people all over the country. We can also travel to cities and towns to visit with old friends, so it’s all good.

Heck, we can even meet up with friends and family in new places which allows them to travel as well.

Laundry

a beautiful, clean laundromat visit

So many people ask us why we don’t have a washer and dryer in our RV. Our answer is why would we? It’s not only heavy, but takes up valuable storage space. We honestly enjoy going to laundromats as it takes so much less time to get multiple loads of laundry done. In 2 hours or less we can wash and dry 3-4 loads! If we have a washer and dryer, that would take all day to get done.

Plus, we can wash blankets and the dog bedding easily. Win win in our eyes.

Food Shopping

It’s a basic need that everyone must do. It is also a constant struggle to find the brands and things we like in new places across the country.

How have we adjusted?

Well, grocery trips are an adventure most of the time. It takes us a little longer to find things and we’ve had to search for natural or health food stores for some of our needs. We’ve never gone hungry though and we’ve always adjusted to whatever is available in a given area.

If possible, we find it helpful to go to familiar brands of stores. For example, Kroger stores are all over, especially the west, but they have different names. It’s not hard to find the local Kroger store and then it’s actually quite a familiar feeling inside.

We also love Trader Joe’s and will almost always stop at one if it happens to be in the area. It’s familiar and has some of our favorites. Plus, there are always seasonal items which are fun to discover.

It’s all part of the fun of travel. Seeing new cultures even within the USA and experiencing different food. Worst case scenario is buying dried goods off of Amazon, if we can’t find it in a store. Problem solved.

Exercise

hiking among the redwoods

We have always enjoyed getting outside for exercise. Traveling hasn’t changed that one bit. It has actually made it more fun and exciting since we’re always exploring new trails, waterways and neighborhoods. We can hike in amazing places to see beautiful new scenery. We can run new neighborhoods and trails. Trust us when we say we saw many new trails as we trained for our half marathon in December.

So travel has allowed us to expand our exercise routines and certainly not made them boring. This wouldn’t be the case if we always enjoyed working out at the gym.

Heather has also discovered the App, Down Dog, which has allowed her to continue to practice yoga in our home on wheels. The only challenge with yoga is keeping the dogs off her mat while she’s down on the floor. However, with a little training they seem to have learned that the mat doesn’t mean a new dog bed and know to leave her alone during this quiet time.

What we miss during our travels, but don’t NEED to live?

Baths

Heather enjoyed taking baths when we had a large bathroom. It was her relaxing time with a book.

How have we dealt with that?

Well, it’s not a necessity. It’s a want or need. To fill that void we enjoy hot tubs or hot springs whenever we can.

Heather also enjoys a bath whenever we have one available to us like a hotel, friends house or even on the cruise. Yes, we had a bathtub in our stateroom on the cruise! How awesome is that?!?!?

Book Club

It sounds like a strange thing to miss, but Heather really enjoyed her monthly book club with friends. It not only made her read books she might not have otherwise picked up, but it was so much fun. Sharing a meal (potluck style) and chatting always made for a fun evening and there is definitely a void there.

She still hasn’t found something to fill that void, but again it’s a want not a need.

Coupons and rewards programs

When living stationary, we enjoyed coupons from the local grocery stores and even frequent buyers programs, if, for example, we went to the same coffee shop. We find our grocery bills are a little higher on the road without those coupons and little extras from retail stores.

We also earned a gas discount by shopping at the local grocery store and filling up at their gas stations. We got around this by joining a national gas rewards program and using our camping memberships to get some discounts as we travel.

It’s certainly not a deal breaker for us, but it is a new normal and adjustment.

Our Vet

This might seem like a simple thing to miss, but it’s not easy finding a good vet who knows our dogs. One of our dogs has a lifetime illness that’s not widely known about outside the southwest US and it’s not always easy to get him care outside of our old vet. He requires annual blood work and daily meds due to the illness. As he starts to age, the medicine is also taking its toll on him.

Thankfully, we were able to visit with our familiar vet when we were back in Colorado which was really nice. Our vet has also been very understanding and helps us out over the phone at times. It’s been a blessing having such a great animal hospital who supports our travels and our dogs.

Keeping them up to date on vaccines has been easy enough. It’s the records that are driving us crazy. We have a paper folder for all their records because they have received vaccines all across the USA including Texas, California, Colorado and Florida. These vaccine records are needed anytime you see a new vet or need pet sitting services. This is where being away from familiarity is hard, but not a deal breaker. Just another adjustment. We can handle it.

We’ve adjusted and we make it work, but it’s not easy and we miss the familiarity of our old vet clinic.

Volunteer Work

Heather had a few regular volunteering opportunities that she really enjoyed. It was not only fun, but fulfilling giving back to a community. It’s a little harder to do that on the road, so for now we’ve forgone volunteer opportunities.

Maybe down the road we can do a volunteer vacation or find some way to give back that doesn’t require a weekly or monthly commitment. Again, this isn’t something we need to live, but something that adds value to our lives.

See what I’m getting at? It’s all about making new normals and adjusting to what’s available. What are some of your new normals after living on the road?

2017: A Year in Review

2017: A Year in Review

posted in: Adventure, Fulltime RV, Travel | 0

So as 2017 comes to an end, we sit and reflect on our accomplishments and adventures of 2017. As we go through the photos, we can’t believe the adventures we’ve had! What amazing memories and experiences all in one. After reminiscing and discussing our favs, we share with you, our readers, a year in review!

To whet your appetite we’ve checked off bucket list items including experiencing the Oregon coast, seeing both sea otters and manatees in the wild, visiting Jasper and Banff National Parks in Canada, witnessing the total solar eclipse, attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and more!

In numbers, we’ve

  • Driven over 25,000 miles
  • Visited 17 National Parks and Monuments and countless state parks and wildlife refuges
  • Explored 14 states and 2 Canadian provinces
  • Visited over 45 craft breweries, cideries and wineries (Yes, we like good beer and wine.)

I mean I can’t even grasp we did all that in one year! Wow!

Let’s begin with our accomplishments.

Accomplishments

Personal Accomplishments

Ran a Half Marathon

First, we both successfully trained for and completed a half marathon! This has been a goal of ours for a few years and it finally made it on the list. Originally, we registered to partake in the Everglades Half Marathon. Then Hurricane Irma came along. The race course was under water and the event was canceled.

Well, Heather quickly did some research and found another one just over an hour from where we’d be parked. Heather made it all come together (needed our dogs watched for the night so we could stay in a hotel near the race) and we completed the half on a HOT sunday morning in West Palm Beach. Woohoo!

We became Florida residents!

Is this seen as an accomplishment? We believe it is.

It signifies we completed all the paperwork necessary for our full-time RV life. It certainly felt like a huge weight off our backs and meant our move from sticks and bricks to RV life was complete! Woohoo!

Solar

This was the year we got solar! Paul installed our solar system himself which was a huge accomplishment in itself. In addition, having solar allows us to boondock (be off the grid) more often. Although at times we find it to be a challenge finding non-campground spots, we do enjoy the end results of finding quiet places for parking our home.

It definitely gives us more flexibility with where we park which is nice. When we get tired of being close to people or we simply want to be surrounded by nature, we boondock. It also saves us money which we can spend on other fun things like beer and wine tastings.

Business accomplishments

Ladies first, right?

Hers

Heather’s photography is now hanging in a beautiful fine art gallery in old town Albuquerque! This is super exciting and she’s really happy to build a lasting relationship with a wonderful gallery. So, if you’re passing through the Albuquerque area be sure to check out Romero Street Gallery to see some of her nature and wildlife photography.

On the other side of work for Heather, she has officially earned the title of Enrolled Agent from the IRS. Enrolled agents are Federally recognized in the field of taxation and have unlimited practice rights before the IRS. This means she is not restricted by state lines as to which taxpayers she can represent. This marks the start to her continued education and learning as she works to grow a tax business specifically for RV Entrepreneurs, Tax Queen.

Plus, she’s got something big on the horizon related to this, so keep your eyes open for her next big thing!

Now for Paul’s accomplishments.

His

Paul and his business partners got their very first contract for campgroundbooking.com and all have been working diligently to get that up and rolling for its January 1, 2018 release! It has been over a year in the making and I’m so proud of all their hard work.

Paul also successfully completed an 8 month contract for a company that built software to connect emergency responders with problems at big events. It uses drones, GPS devices, detectors and alarms to know exactly where issues exist and hopefully avoid some lousy situations. Pretty neat, right?

Now onto our fun personal adventures.

2017 Adventures

We’ll start with our trials because we can certainly laugh about them now.

Trials and frustrations

Getting Stuck in Sand with the RV

First off, one of our biggest mistake this year was getting stuck in the sand near Great Sand Dunes National Park. However, we amazingly got ourselves out of the situation with no outside help! Now that’s an accomplishment and a trial all rolled into one. To read about that fun time, visit the post.

If you look closely, poor Suji is a cone head.

Dog Health Issues

Second, we had three visits to emergency vets for an injured/sick dog. If you’re just tuning in, we have two dogs who travel with us. This year adventuring took their toll on each of them from skin infections to a “brain event” (aka a mini-stroke) to an infected paw that took over a month to heal up. It’s been one wild ride with these two, but everything is back to normal and they continue to love smelling and exploring new places all the time.

Mice

Next up was the trial of having mice in our RV. I believe every traveler experiences this at some point and let me tell you, it is no fun to deal with at all! What we learned from this lesson. Have ALL food in plastic containers. We also now have Fresh Cab packets all over our “basement” and in hidden areas. Read more about that lovely story and learn some ways to deal with them over here.

Routine Maintenance

Lastly, was the trial of dropping the trailer off for some routine maintenance. Keep in mind we live in our RV and you can’t simply drop off a 5th wheel for the day for maintenance. The repair shop kept our RV for almost 3 weeks!

The hardest part of it was getting an appointment during “busy” season and then making the shop honor our appointment. RV repair shops typically don’t allow people who didn’t buy an RV with them to receive maintenance during the busy season. Yes. It is truly frustrating scheduling maintenance with an RV.

Thankful for a great friend for letting us crash at her place, dogs and all. However, it’s not easy being out of your home and routine for almost 3 weeks, so it took its toll on us.

Last but not least, the fun stuff!

Amazing Experiences

Kayaks

We purchased kayaks in the spring and are quite happy with our new toys. We have kayaked lots of places including Lake Louise and other places in British Columbia and Alberta, along the coast of Oregon, on lakes and rivers in Montana, Washington, Colorado, Florida, Texas and more. It’s been a wonderful, relaxing and peaceful experience having a new way to explore places. Read more about our kayaks and our first experience with them here.

Hot Springs

We sort of felt like we were hot spring chasing this summer. We were fortunate to visit all three commercial hot springs in the Canadian national parks of Jasper, Banff and Kootenay. While we enjoyed them, we prefer a more rustic natural setting. We found that in Idaho where we had to hike to soak in the natural springs and also in Colorado where we visited some amazing natural hot spring pools. In the end we love hot springs. Who doesn’t?!?!

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

This was a bucket list item for us and it amazed us. A truly magical experience in a great city. Read all about the experience and get some tips for attending yourself here. While we were exhausted after all the early mornings, the experience was definitely worth it.

Experiencing the solar eclipse

We purposely put ourselves in the path of the total solar eclipse and it surpassed all expectations. We also scheduled it to meet up with Heather’s sister and her boyfriend who were camping across the country on an extended holiday. It was the perfect long weekend full of laughs, adventures, family time, new friends in the RV park and of course, the total solar eclipse.

Becoming a little more flexible

Becoming a little more flexible with plans and changing them to experience something unique. If you follow us at all, you know that Heather is a photographer. Well, she learned about the Superbloom of 2017 happening from all the winter rain in southern California and couldn’t resist re-routing us to experience the bloom ourselves. It was worth it! Read all about it here.

By now I have either bored you to death or wowed you as much as myself with all our experiences, trials and accomplishments. Hopefully, it’s the latter and you can’t wait to see what 2018 brings us.

What were some of your 2017 accomplishments, trials and adventures? What’s on the books for 2018?

 

Kayak to visit with Crystal River manatee

Kayak to visit with Crystal River manatee

posted in: Adventure, kayaking, Tips, Travel | 0
We love kayaking and wildlife. Since we were parked about a half hour from Crystal River, Florida, an area well known for its wild manatee population, we decided to combine these two activities into an amazing morning on the water.
So, here are our tips to see the Crystal River manatee up close and personal from your kayak.

Crystal River

First, a little about the town built around these magnificent mammals, Crystal River.

Crystal River is well known for its manatee population at the heart of the Nature Coast of Florida. The city is situated around Kings Bay, which is spring-fed and therefore, keeps a constant 72 °F temperature year round. You will see signs for “swim with the manatees” all over town.

As more and more people come to Crystal River to see and interact with manatees, the Fish and Wildlife Service has tightened regulations in an attempt to protect this threatened species. To start they close the area directly surrounding the spring November 15 – March 31. They also have a lot of volunteers watching the area to help protect these fun animals.

Kayaking to Three Sisters Springs

First, the Fish and Wildlife Service have a map that shows areas off-limits to boats. We recommend checking it out to know what’s off limits.

Our personal Crystal River manatee experience

Put in location

In mid-November we put our kayaks in at Hunter Springs Park in Crystal River in the hope of seeing manatees.

From the park we paddled out towards Kings Bay (to the right). You head around the marina, keeping it to your left and take your first left under a bridge. This will take you to Three Sisters Springs.

Keep your eye out for manatee all along the way. They could be in Hunter Cove near the city park where you put it. We did see about 5 there.

Remember from November 15 to March 31, you can’t kayak directly into Three Sisters Springs. However, outside the spring entrance is another roped off sanctuary called Idiot’s Delight Spring. There you are pretty likely to see manatees floating undisturbed. They may even swim around your kayak. The manatees will move up into the Three Sisters Springs with the tides; it’s too shallow during low tide.

Crystal River Manatee Spotting 

We saw quite a few in the canals around Three Sisters Springs including calves and mom, manatee feeding, sleeping and one even gave a friendly nudge to one of our kayaks. So fun and exciting! They are curious creatures.

When we first arrived to the sanctuary, there were about 20 manatee in the immediate area!

Yes, that’s right. 20 manatee and the season had only just begun!

There was also a volunteer with the Fish and Wildlife Service in his kayak just outside the sanctuary area. He is there to keep an eye on behavior of people, but he is also a wealth of information. Feel free to ask him questions.

After about 20 minutes or so the area got busy and we noticed the manatees dissipate a little. So keep in mind that seeing manatees in a place where everyone else comes to see them isn’t a serene, personal experience like you might imagine. You could be surrounded by swim-with-the-manatee tour boats, snorkelers and other kayaks circling around. While we were thrilled to see manatees expect to be around other like-minded people.

Our tip: Get there early! We were there by about 8:30am and it was definitely quieter earlier. By the time 10am rolled around, there were tour boats and quite a few other paddlers/snorkelers around.

Where to put in

Hunter Springs Park has pay for parking ($5 for 12 hours), clean rest rooms and picnic tables, as well as a small swimming beach and a good put in spot for kayaks. You can rent kayaks there too.

While Hunter Cove is not a particularly natural setting (it’s surrounded by houses and seawalls), the water clarity is good and the springs attract manatees consistently. You should start to see some manatee immediately. Look for dive boats or other tour boats. They will clue you in if there are manatee in the area.

You may even be able to swim out from the beach into the cove and see manatee immediately!

We enjoyed a picnic lunch at the tables provided in the park after our kayak, so we thought it was well worth a stop here.

Three Sisters Springs Manatee

As stated earlier, you can’t kayak into Three Sisters Springs in winter (November 15-March 31). However, you can swim.

If you arrive in your own kayak, there is a location outside Three Sisters Springs where you can tie up and swim into the springs. The water near the tie up is shallow so it should be easy for kayak re-entry when you’re done swimming.

Swimming with the manatees: Is it ethical?

We did not swim with the manatees. Personally, we think it’s invading their space and from our observation when people got in the water, the manatees dispersed. You decide, on your personal ethics, if you want to swim or not.

We love and agree with this quote “A close encounter can truly be a life altering experience.  It can be even more special knowing that you’ve done no harm.

Is it ethical? That’s for you to decide.

Remember these are a protected species.

Many argue that it is better for the mammals to remain wild and without close contact with people. The operators of Aardvark’s Florida Kayak Company have chosen to forgo the more lucrative swim with the manatee programs in favor of a more environmentally friendly, passive observation approach. Do your own research and use your own judgement here.

More reasons we chose not to swim with these wonderful creatures. This post really struck a note with us. We agree that we shouldn’t chase them out of their home and natural habitat.

Please do not touch or approach a manatee. It is illegal! They are protected under the Endangered Species Act. They are wild animals. Keep them wild.

Manatee near Paul’s kayak

Honestly, we were so excited to see them from our kayaks that it was enough for us. They will swim around your kayak and get up close. However, we did see quite a few people swimming with manatees none of whom were overly excited by the experience.

Tips before you swim with Crystal River Manatee

While we can’t recommend a particular outfitter, the wildlife refuge offers a list of licensed companies. Prices aren’t cheap, but they do included wetsuits and snorkeling gear.

We noticed tour operators gave their swimmers less than 20 minutes in the water. If that’s enough for you, then go for it. If you want more time, you’d better get there on your own.

The number of people and nature of the activity makes this a bit of a chaotic scene. Set your expectations appropriately. Remember the manatee might leave an area if too many people are in the water. Again, is it ethical to chase them away from their home?

You should be a good swimmer.

Swimming into Three Sisters Springs is a challenge, even for good swimmers. The springs empty into a beautiful narrow spring run, so swimmers move upstream against a strong current.

You’ll want a wet suit. Swimming in 72 degree water is chilly.

Kayakers can tie up their boats outside Three Sisters and swim in.

Any time the Three Sisters Springs becomes packed with manatees during cold weather, they will close it even to swimmers.

Wildlife Refuge boardwalk

If kayaking or boating isn’t your thing, don’t fret. You can still see the Crystal River manatee. Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge has a lovely boardwalk rimming Three Sisters Springs that gives you good views of the springs and manatees, if any are present.

However, there is no parking directly at the refuge. You must take a trolley to visit. For the full schedule and ticket prices visit their website.

The boardwalk includes an elevated viewing area of the mouth of the spring, where you have an excellent vantage point of Idiot’s Delight Spring. There are also volunteers on the boardwalk who will happily answer questions for you.

Other things to do in Crystal Springs

There are other activities besides manatee viewing in Crystal River. Here are a few other ideas:

Copp Winery and Brewery: We enjoyed visiting here after our kayak. They offer a free tasting of 3 wines from their list. The glasses are totally reasonable and you can sip on a glass outside on their patio. In addition, they serve food, if you’re interested.

Heritage Village: This is a small historic downtown with a few cute shops, a historic train station/museum and a beautiful street lined with live oaks planted by the women’s club 100 years ago.

Crystal River Archaeological State Park: This park preserves an ancient Native American ceremonial site located in a beautiful setting overlooking the wide Crystal River. There is little known about the people who built this place starting 2,500 years ago. A small museum has interesting artifacts and the picnic tables along the water are a great place to relax.

Crystal River Preserve State Park: This is adjacent to the archaeological park. It has several trails with forest, marsh and water views. Explore. Relax. Hike.

Get out and explore on your own. Sometimes, it’s fun to see a new place from your own perspective and stop at whatever catches your attention.

So overall, we spent $15 to enjoy 4 hours on the water and a wine tasting afterwards. That’s pretty reasonable. Plus, it was an experience we won’t forget. Feel free to share your own experience with the Crystal River manatee.

7 Reasons why the Balloon Fiesta should be on your bucket list

7 Reasons why the Balloon Fiesta should be on your bucket list

posted in: Fulltime RV, Travel | 0

Attending Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta has been on my bucket list for a long time. Since moving into an RV fulltime, it somehow seems a little bit easier to accomplish some bucket list items. Well, this year attending balloon fiesta is no longer a dream.

It’s a reality!

First off, what is the International Balloon Fiesta?

For nine days in October the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta creates an enchanted world of special shape balloon rodeos, twilight balloon glows, and vibrant balloon filled skies. Brisk autumn mornings in the Rio Grande Valley create an otherworldly backdrop for the breathtaking majesty of the most popular event, Mass Ascension of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The experience of watching hundreds of gentle airy giants take flight is at once humbling and inspiring. It’s the allure of these magical moments and more that continue to bring ballooning fans worldwide together for over 45 years.

Why should it be on your bucket list?

1. It’s amazingly beautiful and fun!

There’s activities going on all week long from glows to fireworks to mass ascensions. Don’t worry there’s time during the day to relax, work or enjoy some of the city sites.

2. Every morning balloons ascend

The best part – you never know which ones will take off that morning. More importantly there might be some that land right next to your RV!

Yes. This really is part of the charm. Most balloons take off from the fiesta park. However, when Yoda lands right near you in the RV parking area, it’s super exciting!

3. You’ll meet incredible people

This is, of course, totally up to you and what you choose to get out of the experience.

We met full-time families. Vacationers here to fullfill that bucket list item. People we laughed, oohed and ahhed with over the many balloons. It’s definitely a shared experience with people from all over the world attending.

We also enjoyed talking to the pilots on the field. They were friendly and happy to answer questions about ballooning.

Plus, there are rallies of all sorts that attend and it can be a party atmosphere.

4. Albuquerque is an amazing city filled with tons of activities

There’s everything from bike trails to museums to art galleries to casinos to breweries to golf to history and more!

Really there’s something for everyone and I highly recommend you take the time before or after balloon fiesta to explore this beautiful area.

5.Experience of a lifetime

Did I mention it’s like being a kid in a candy store?

It’s magical and captivating. You don’t know where to look. Balloons are all around you.

Never have I seen so many hot air balloons in one place! The sky is filled with them, as many as 550! They are all shapes, colors and sizes. There are special shapes like penguins, Yoda, Darth Vader, a rocket ship, an octopus, lions and more. Every one that inflates and heads for the sky is unique and fun.

We enjoyed being at the park for lift off, glows and fireworks. But don’t forget about simply staying by your RV. Typically the wind patterns move the hot air balloons right over head and many will land in the parking area. Many RVers help with the landing. It’s really a hands on experience like no other.

From what I understand every year is different, so what are you waiting for?!?!?

6. There’s fair food

You can get anything from coffee to fried dough to New Mexico breakfast burritos. Go hungry and enjoy a bite to eat during the festivities.

7. Photography is amazing

From what I understand this is the largest international balloon festival in the world! It’s simply magical. It is also the most photographed ballooning event in the world.

That’s right the most photographing balloon event in the world.

Get out your camera – phone, point or shoot or fancy DSLR and be ready to take a lot of photos!

Bring extra batteries, memory cards and your creative side. Get the lift off. Get the landings. Get the crew working. Get the crowd. Enjoy the details and the flames. Attend a glow and see the flicker. It’s all amazing and so much fun to capture on film and video.

For more photography tips visit Diamond Photography.

Tips for attending

Boondocking

Standard RV parking is boondocking. You should either have a generator or solar for your needs. In 2017 the cost per night is $35. We thought it was well worth staying on premises. It allowed us to take in the whole experience.

Premium sites

There are premium sites available at a higher cost which includes the use of electric and water.

Services available

They do provide trash bins and porta potties which was nice. They also run free shuttle buses from the RV area to the fiesta park grounds. We enjoyed biking over and used the free bike valet provided by fiesta. Keep in mind it’s about 1/3 of a mile to the grounds. Once at the grounds you will walk and walk. Afterall, Balloon Fiesta Park is over 360 acres!

There is also a pay for water delivery and sewage pump truck. You have to sign up for those services. We didn’t need them during our stay, so I can’t speak of the cost.

Be aware of noise levels

Each morning for ascension news helicopters circle the area. The shuttle buses start running early and aren’t quiet. RV’s are packed in, so chances are you’ll hear children, dogs, people talking, traffic, etc. Be aware of it, but don’t let it stop you from enjoying your time at the festival.

Entrance Fee

To get into the Balloon Fiesta Park there is a $10/person cost. However, you can buy a 4 pack at Costco for $27.99 or buy 4 tickets and the 5 is half off. You decide what is worth or how much you want to spend.

Albuquerque

While it’s not the capital of New Mexico, it is the largest city. It is situated at 5,000 feet (1,539 meters) above sea level and a prime location for hot air ballooning because of the “Albuquerque Box.” Albuquerque is home to over 850,000 residents, and its vibrant culturally diversity can be seen in the many aspects of daily life. The area has a unique and varying landscape, including majestic Rocky Mountains, red rock mesas, high desert vegetation and the picturesque Rio Grande river valley. The area is also one of the nation’s most dynamic art communities.

Albuquerque Box Explained

You might hear the term “Albuquerque Box” in reference to the hot air balloons. What does this mean? Well, the cool Albuquerque morning temperatures in October create a set of very predictable wind patterns that can be used to navigate the balloons — at low elevations the winds tend to be southerly, but at higher elevations they tend to be northerly. Balloonists use these winds to navigate in a vertical box — this is beneficial to ballooning because then the balloon can take off and land in almost exactly the same spot. Balloon pilots do not have a way to steer their hot air balloons. While they can control where the balloon flies vertically (by heating the air in the balloon to go higher), they rely on the wind to determine their direction. Pretty neat, right?!?!

 

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