the fun photographer

Dani Leigh 

Dani leigh

the fun photographer



Welcome to your fun place on the interwebs; a place to waste time at work looking at your friend's pretty wedding and family pictures and getting to know the gal behind the lens. Go ahead and grab that second cup of coffee! You'll be here awhile!

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Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Jan 12, 2015

It’s finally time to blog about Alb! We call it Alb because Albuquerque is way too hard to spell. Last October Emily and I decided to cross off the longest standing thing on both of our bucket lists which was the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Alb. To say it was magical would be an understatement. It was all those awesome whimsy words like charming and enchanting.

Just a few words about Alb – there isn’t a ton to do, but that’s ok. There are 4 things I recommend:

1. Wander around Old Town. It’s cute. I took a total of 1 or 2 photos there so nothing really to post. But there were adorable shops with all the graphic tees about Breaking Bad, and there are craft vendors and good restaurants.
2. Sandia Peak is the longest tramway in the world and it was a fun time. If you pair this with the hot air balloon fest, just know it is going to be cold – bring warm clothes.
3. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Park is worth the visit. You will see pics from that farther down.
4. BREWERIES!!! There are so many good breweries in Alb, you should definitely pick a bunch to hang out at.

Moving right along, the first night we got there and settled in, we went to the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (note: no need to buy tickets or parking in advance, just get them there). The first night was the “glow.” Which meant that all of the hot air balloonists brought in their balloons, set them up, and once dusk set in, they lit them all up! It was so pretty. But to me, sorta complicated to photograph. I wasn’t sure where to be when and there was no warning that they were all going to light up, it just started happening. It was pretty awesome though and I couldn’t even wrap my head around how amazing this was going to be to see them all in the daylight. There were pretty fireworks that night. 🙂 The next day was the day we went on our hot air balloon ride! We had to get up super early to make it to the meeting spot. We highly recommend saving money and doing a tour with World Balloon off campus from the fiesta instead of taking off from the fiesta grounds where the price is about double. We were nuts excited. The balloon we were in held 14 people. And when it was being inflated laying down it was like a 10 story building inside. Just some perspective for ya. That’s a really little Emily on the left. Getting into a hot air balloon is sorta awkward which is why I recommend not waiting until you are 80 to do it – it was interesting to watch 80 year olds climb over the side of the basket to get in. There was nothing scary about this at all. You literally get in the basket and Captain Murray starts filling the balloon with more hot air and before you know it you are thousands of feet in the air. It was so awesome. I loved seeing all the other hot air balloons in the air – they looked like ornaments just sorta hanging there. We were lucky and were in the first group of the day which meant we got to watch the sunrise from the sky. The chase car found us after about an hour and we switched groups. Better to have this view than be amongst it, if you ask me. Sooooo pretty. We asked crazy questions like where does one get a hot air balloon and how much do hot air balloons cost. I believe the one we were in was around $60,000. Most are give or take 20k more or less than that. It just so happens that Murray’s wife was just given this balloon and that’s how they got into it. Now they run a super successful business and have been taking people out year round in Alb for years. World Balloon, folks. They are awesome. We drove back to have our champagne and get our certificates for being super brave. 🙂 What to do with the rest of the day? Well. We showered and decided to check out this national park. This is the Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Park. I wore flip flops and looked half decent and had ZERO intentions of hiking. ZERO. But take a guess at what we did? We went hiking! A 5k through narrow passageways and extremely uphill. My recommendation is to do the hike but not to wear flip flops. Or a real bra. All of those were fails. Yep. Penis rocks. The next morning we went to see the mass ascension. It was THE BEST! I am not going to lie, we were in a spot where we weren’t really seeing much of the taking off because these balloons are big, yo. So, we took turns leaving our stuff and walking around and seeing the majority of them take off. I went second after Emily had said you have to go over there. I admit, I was teary. It was so pretty. And I couldn’t help but think of all the awesome things I have gotten to see in my life so far. These balloons were amongst the prettiest. After the mass ascension and chowing down on breakfast burritos with christmas sauce – red and green salsa together! We walked back to where the field was once covered with thousands of balloons because they were about to play a game! A game where the winner got 15k! We didn’t really understand what was happening but we knew that there were balloons taking off from 1 mile away and coming into the field without touching down and needing to somehow hit a target with bean bags. There was apparently skill involved but we really just didn’t get it. BUT the good news is that these balloons were sooooooo pretty! And the clouds were perfect so we stayed awhile and took about 16gb worth of photos. I already can’t wait to go back one day! It was so fun and gorgeous!! After this we left for White Sands which was also magical. More on that tomorrow!! Also make sure to check out Emily’s blog post about balloons!!

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  1. Emily

    January 12th, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    I loved witnessing this awesomeness with you! Perfection.

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|  Photos by Dani Leigh photography