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Blown Away in Albuquerque

Norm and Patricia Dykstra enjoy an uplifting experience at the International Balloon Fiesta.

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Balloons aloft at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

(Photo: NORM DYKSTRA)

At last the moment had arrived. This is why they had enthusiastically started the day with a 5:30 a.m. breakfast, watched in anticipation as the sun rose and remained patient during a wind delay.

The Dykstras and many other people stared toward the sky, as Patricia wiped a tear from her eye.

“It was so beautiful she just stood there in amazement,” said Norm Dykstra, a AAA member form North Haledon, N.J., about his wife. “The sky was just so incredibly blue and there were no clouds at all. To see the colors up against the blue sky was just indescribable.”

They were at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and 500 or so hot air balloons had just lifted from the field in front of them. The balloons hovered over the desert landscape against a backdrop of the Sandia Mountains in the near distance.

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The Dykstras at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

(Photo:NORM DYKSTRA)

“There are so many different shapes and styles and colors of the balloons,” Dykstra said. “You can’t pick out just one that you think is the nicest, because they are all so different. It’s a kaleidoscope of colors.”

This was day two of a four-day New Mexico tour the Dykstras booked through AAAA,. Among the most memorable balloons were the Wells Fargo stage coach, the witch’s hat from the musical “Wicked,” Vincent van Gogh’s head and the kissing bees.

“There are bumble bees that go up together. When they put two balloons together, if they touch in the sky, it’s called kissing,” Dykstra said. “So, they have the bumble bees kiss each other as they go up in the air.”

The tour also took them to sites around Albuquerque. At the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center they were treated to a dance demonstration and an excellent lunch. At the Turquoise Museum they learned that natural turquoise is actually white but colored blue or green.

But the balloon festival was the main event.

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