I am the youngest and have 3 older sisters, and if you’ve read previous posts you’ve seen a few sister trips (Nashville, Charleston, British Columbia) and know that sister travel time is important to me.
My closest sister in age, Bryana, and I have traveled together the most in my life; we even have a pseudo name for ourselves when we get together formed from an inside karaoke joke. #TwistedSister came about because that’s what we call ourselves when we sing “More Than Words” by Extreme, which is the most mellow and bizarre karaoke duet ever. Obviously this means that for the most part, we try to sing this song karaoke whenever we go on trips together, which I’m sure is rather exciting and annoying for all other karaoke patrons.
In October of 2018 we decided to meet in the middle (as I lived in California at the time) and experience the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. We quickly made plans to participate, hot air balloon ride and all, just a few weeks out. To clarify, Albuquerque is one of the most popular destinations for hot air ballooning due to the location and winds, so there are several companies that regularly offer rides. There is also a once a year Balloon Fiesta, complete with hundreds of balloons, food, drinks, and games to experience while watching them take flight. It’s extremely expensive to book a ride in one of these balloons, so we opted for a regular ride outside of the festival for our balloon experience, and got tickets for the main event as a viewer which is exactly what I would do again if I had the chance.
When I told my friends about this idea, the most common immediate reaction was “are you sure you WANT to ride in a hot air balloon? That sounds scary” and I said it was “NBD, and duh.” (But for those of you that don’t know me, I have anxiety around anything that could potentially cause me harm or more specifically, DEATH, but I also oddly like doing things outside of my comfort zone even if I have major anxiety about it. I TOTALLY wasn’t googling hot air ballooning accidents or anything prior to takeoff…)
Thank goodness we opted for the early flight, because we eventually took off over an hour late and the flight scheduled after us ended up being cancelled. Though waking up at 5am that morning after arriving before midnight was not fun, it was so worth it for the experience of being up, up and away! And for those of you interested, my sis Bryana doesn’t really have a fear of heights nor is she as anxious as me and has even been on a hot air balloon before, and once we got in the balloon, I was the one that wasn’t bothered at all and she was nervous. It’s like we switched places! Of all the things I’ve done and felt anxious about WHILE doing it, riding a hot air balloon would be at the very bottom of the list. It was bizarre.
We asked our balloon guy the strangest story that he had experienced while up in the air. Our basket was shared with about 12 other folks (you can select the size you want at booking, if you want something more intimate it’s more expensive) and he explained that in another ride with a similar basket, a man proposed to his girlfriend and everyone clapped. 5 minutes later, another man proposed to his girlfriend and everyone thought it was fake but then also eventually clapped. He said the 2nd GF was pissed. I mean – can you imagine? Why didn’t he abort the mission and do it another way? (I really wish this happened on our ride though to be fair).
After we soared in air for several hours we went downtown for an early Mexican lunch and shopping in the square. There was not ONE place that served alcohol which made it a bummer when we wanted to cheers to the completion of our first hot air balloon ride. I found that whole thing super strange, but chalked it up to perhaps maybe downtown Albuquerque doesn’t get many tourists looking for happy hour or to celebrate. There were mostly older folks and churches though so I dunno <shrug>.
We also ended up getting our Big Dipper / Little Dipper matching sister tattoos RANDOMLY. We picked a tattoo place in the heart of a hipster neighborhood, walked in, and took the plunge. It felt a little weird just going into a random spot that we had no real information on, but we’ve both gotten tattoos before in similar circumstances so it wasn’t that out of the norm for us. And they turned out great!
We then napped, had dinner, and of course – karaoked. We also witnessed one of THEE strangest singing experiences of our karaoke careers.
Picture it: a young teenage girl seductively wearing a short black dress, red corset, super high red stripper shoes and lots of dramatic makeup sang “Phantom of the Opera” – in classical opera style – alongside….her MOM, who opted to wear oversized mom jeans and a sweater vest with sneakers who sang the part of the Phantom. The mom looked like the SNL parody of “Mom Jeans” with Tina Fey. This memory is forever burned in my brain.
The next morning we again woke up SUPER early to make our way to see the morning launches at the Balloon Fiesta. While it was incredibly hard getting up early, yet AGAIN (can you tell I’m not an early morning person??) it was so worth it to see the little balloons light up in dusk. It was breathtaking to see them all go up at once!
We then drove up to Sante Fe for frito pie and an afternoon of art at Meow Wolf and the Nedra Matteucci Galleries. We didn’t have a ton of time so crammed into Meow Wolf for about 3 hours, though I’ve heard people staying all day long and even coming back multiple days to figure out the puzzle.
The whole point is to solve a very layered and crazy family mystery that deals a lot in the metaphysical world. There are clues everywhere and the tiniest details can lead you down a rabbit hole. You can try to piece everything together and figure out what happened, or you can also go through it and take in the unique design and experience knowing you won’t be able to solve it. It is very crowded and you can spend HOURS combing through one exhibit.
It’s a unique art immersion experience that we’re so thrilled to have seen and participated in, however it’s incredibly overwhelming and overstimulating, so afterwards the low energy of the art gallery was much welcomed.
The next part of our trip was my favorite, as we spent the next two nights at Ojo Caliente Spa outside of Taos in a pueblo hut. It was amazing to be in the middle of nowhere, surrounding by healing natural spring waters and spa, breathing in the palo santo and relaxing. I would do this again in a heartbeat, it was incredible! (Though I think they recently experienced a fire and it’s temporarily closed).
The waters felt so good, it wasn’t very crowded, and we got massages at the spa! We also totally didn’t watch Young Guns before going to bed…totally didn’t…
The last day of our trip was spent driving around Taos, exploring the historic pueblo, and getting the best green chile mexican food of the trip.
This gorge was amazing!
I’m so thankful I’m able to do trips like this with my family, it’s nice to be able to make memories one-on-one since my family is so large. Bryana has visited me the most of anyone, we have a special sister bond ❤
I can’t wait to be able to travel again and explore something new! But for now, I’m thankful for the memories. New Mexico was a blast! I got to ride in a hot air balloon, got a tattoo, dove into an immersive art experience, relaxed in healing mineral waters, got a massage, saw a pueblo and ate delish food all in THREE DAYS. Just wow.