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exploring the enchanting albuquerque, new mexico

you know how people are always saying to “keep austin weird” and “keep portland weird”? well they should say that about albuquerque, too. because albuquerque is so weird. so so so so weird. keep albuquerque weird.

A stop in downtown Albuquerque wasn’t part of our initial plan for our weekend trip to New Mexico – we had driven all that way for the Hot Air Balloon Festival, and for that alone. ALAS, God/the universe/a non-denominational-higher-power works in mysterious ways, and on the first morning of our visit to NM, Albuquerque decided to have generally shitty weather, deeming it unsafe for many of the hot air balloons to ascend into the sky. And also deeming our plan to spend the day at the festival essentially pointless.

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Waiting for the winds to die down at 5:30am!

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The Mass Ascension was delayed, so we just kind of stood around waiting for word that the balloons could start going up… 

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The forecast was not looking good for the afternoon, and so we decided to scrap our festival-all-day plans for exploring-downtown-ABQ plans. We’d reassess the rain/wind/cold situation in a few hours, and determine whether we should head back to the festival for the magical evening golden hour ascension of the balloons.

First stop…

Old Town Albuquerque

Old Town Albuquerque was SO CUTE, and reminded me a lot of downtown Santa Fe, with all of its shops and red chili peppers hanging from the adobe-style buildings and Native American jewelry.

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Downtown

When we got to downtown Albuquerque, the sun started shining and it looked like maybe – just maybe!!! – the evening session of the hot air balloon festival would be a possibility. We spent a few hours wandering the streets, admiring the interesting and colorful architecture, and popping into quirky restaurants and shops. It reminded me a lot of the vibe of South Street in Philadelphia, plus tons of Native American accents.

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hey Aim!!!!!!!

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So, we ended up not going back to the festival, because 1) it cost money to re-enter (*eye roll*), 2) it was still pretty cold, 3) we were EXHAUSTED from sleeping in a car and waking up 3:30am to attend the morning session. We had booked an Airbnb for that night, and I think a hot shower and warm bed just seemed too appealing.

Petroglyph National Monument

The next morning, we headed to the Petroglyph National Monument, which according to the NPS website…

“…protects one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago. These images are a valuable record of cultural expression and hold profound spiritual significance for contemporary Native Americans and for the descendants of the early Spanish settlers.”

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And on our way out of town, we caught an amazing view of the hot air balloons in the distance…

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For more on our time at the festival, read the post Amy shared on her blog, Lameyland!

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