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Battle Between Spring and Winter
3/26/2011 4:42:49 PM

A short break in my series of hot air balloon related posts to highlight the battle between Spring and Winter that is going on in my backyard today.  Last week, the temperature was in the 80's, flowers were blooming, and things were beginning to turn green.  Today, the temps are in the 30's and the weatherman is predicting 3' to 5" of snow.  Not sure if we will get that much but a heavy wet snow is starting to overtake the Spring colors.

The Chase
3/26/2011 7:19:03 AM

While the standard pickup is still the most common chase vehicle, as can be seen in these photos some have some high end graphics and are much more elaborate (and probably much more expensive).

Heat 'em Up
3/24/2011 9:43:32 PM

Many of us have seen and enjoyed colorful hot air balloons or even attended a balloon race or fiesta.  We sometimes forget what it takes to get these beautiful creations into the air.  An abbreviated story of this process is presented in these pictures from a number of different Balloon Fiestas in Albuquerque.

The first step is often the adjustment and testing of the burners.  This is often done with the basket sitting on the ground or in the back of the chase vehicle.  It is especially captivating when seen in the early morning darkness.

Next the envelope, or what we often call the balloon, is unpacked and unrolled.

The envelope is then spread out on the ground or a tarp to allow efficient inflation.

The basket is then laid on the ground and connected to the envelope.

Once everything is connected and in place, a combination of heat from the burners and air, supplied by a heavy duty fan, is used to inflate the envelope.

A short time later the balloon starts to stand.

As the balloon starts to stand, the fan is no longer used but the pilot continues to heat the air inside the envelope using the burners.

As the air continues to warm, the balloon continues to rise toward a launch ready standing position.

And finally, we have the balloon standing and ready to launch.

At an organized event like the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, once the balloon is ready to launch, clearance must be granted by event officials.  If this doesn't come immediately, the Chase Crew may need to assist in holding the balloon on the ground.

And finally clearance is granted and the balloon can launch.

Hope you have enjoyed my short story.

Balloon Density
3/24/2011 7:11:14 AM

More photos from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  These photos show how crowded the sky can get during some of the mass ascensions that are scheduled throughout the week of the Balloon Fiesta.  There are usually around 700 - 800 balloons at the Balloon Fiesta and because of the unique wind patterns, known as the Albuquerque Box, all of the balloons are often concentrated in a fairly small area creating opportunities for photos like these. 

The large building in the back left of the third photo is the Balloon Museum which is located on the south side of Balloon Fiesta Park.  It is worth a visit if you are at all interested in the history of ballooning and learning more about how balloons work.

Glowing Balloons
3/23/2011 3:14:34 AM

A few photos from evening Balloon Glows or morning Dawn Patrols during several  trips to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Big Horns
3/22/2011 6:21:11 AM

I had taken several trips to the western US before sighting a Big Horn Sheep.  Even then, the sheep were too far away to photograph.  Finally, after many tries, I was able to get some spring photos of the Sheep at Rocky Mountain National Park and a couple of years later in Nevada.

Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep ram, Rocky Mountain National Park.  The ram is still in his winter coat.

Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep ewe with (almost hidden) young sheep, Rocky Mountain National Park.  The horns on the ewes more closely resemble the horns expected on Mountain Goats than those of Big Horn Sheep rams.

Desert Big Horn Sheep ram, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.  A different sub-species of the Big Horn Sheep.  The color is much darker than that of the Rocky Mountain Big Horn.

Desert Big Horn Sheep ewes, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.


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