RVing in a cemetery parking lot probably doesn’t sound like much fun to many of you. Of all the trips we’ve taken in our RV, we would rank boondocking at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in our top 3. With 50 full-time RV families and hundreds of hot air balloons floating overhead, it was an adventure we will never forget.
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Once we decided we were going to make the leap to full-time RVing, we became members of a group called Fulltime Families. This is a community of thousands of families who all live and travel in their RVs full-time. Many times a year they gather in locations all over the country for rallies, and it just so happened that this year we joined in time to register for the Up & Away rally at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
I grew up going to the balloon fiesta. We lived in southern New Mexico and my mom worked for a bank that had hot air balloons at the fiesta every year. It was fun as a kid seeing so many huge balloons in one location. Now I was excited to get to take my kids!
We spent the week before the balloon fiesta at the Dancing Eagle RV Park just an hour west of Albuquerque. This is where we met four different families that are also members of the Fulltime Families group. My kids had a blast hanging out with one family that was parked right next door to us.
Me? I spent a few days in bed with the flu. But at least I got over it before the fiesta.
We had planned on checking in to the balloon fiesta on the first Sunday of the event, but we got told that if there was any possible way to get there early, we needed to come. It seems that the balloon fiesta event coordinators OVERBOOKED the campground and the Fulltime Families area was in jeopardy of losing some of the RV spots we had reserved. So, we ended up heading to the area on Saturday instead. Here’s what the line to get into the campground looked like when we got there:
Once we got through, we were directed to the cemetery parking lot where all of the Fulltime Families members sites were reserved. We hadn’t even put the truck in park when Peyton asked if he could get out and go play.
The little girls in the camper next to us quickly took to our big girls and had fun hanging out near our camper most of that day. But Peyton? I don’t think we saw Peyton for most of the week. He came back to the camper to eat lunch, eat dinner, and go to bed. Many times he was up and out of the camper in the mornings before we ever saw him.
We spent the rest of the day Saturday and all day Sunday watching other full-time RV families roll into the rally area. Here are a few pictures of our campsite and what the rest of the cemetery parking lot looked like for the next week.
Did I mention this parking lot was filled to the brim with almost 50 Fulltime Families?
Most mornings, the girls and I would get up at 6:30 AM, put on two layers of clothes, and climb up on the roof of the RV to watch the balloons launch and fly right over us. Here are some highlights from those mornings:
I can’t even explain how amazing this was. Being on the field is quite amazing as you will see in part 3 of this series, but having all of these balloons fly overhead and then watch some of them land right near us was pretty darn cool. One morning, one of the pilots landed in the field near us and gave tethered balloon rides to the kids. The girls were eager to go up, and if you play this video in full screen mode, you can even see our non-smiley girl with a smile on her face.
In part 2 of this series, I’ll talk more about our days and evenings at the Up & Away Rally and introduce you to some of our new friends.