Leaving the Foggy Moab Valley on Friday afternoon to arrive in Bluff, Utah under blue skies, I heard about the Bluff Balloon Festival from my friend Tom at the Times Independent (local Newspaper).
There were many hot air balloons there from several different states and other countries. I stayed at the Kokopelli Inn after signing in at the gas station right around the corner from the motel. The rooms were small and "efficient". I stopped into the Twin Rocks Trading Post to have a look around. Talking with the owner, he tells me of the best place to watch the balloons from. It happens to be the city cemetary overlooking Bluff. Oh well, it was a good site.
The first event at the balloon festival was the "glo-in". It was supposed to start at 5:30pm and according to Utah Time, there was no one there. About 20-30 minutes later the balloonists started trickling in. Finally after dark there were maybe ten or so balloons that had filled their envelopes with hot air and had their burners lit. It was quite a site to see them all aglow. It was difficult to take their photos in the dark but I did capture a few.
The next morning the Festivals second lift off was supposed to take place at 7:30am after a short Pilot Meeting. I left the motel at 7:30 just as a balloonist was driving by and followed him to their launch site. It was a cold morning and not much activity to the west side of town, so decided I had time to head back to the favorite spot next to the cemetary. It was slightly overcast when the first of the balloons took off and with a very slight breeze, the balloons headed east out of town at about a walking pace. Some pilots flew low over the town and the horses and dogs kept a close eye on these strange creatures.
After the balloons took off, I had a good breakfast at the Twin Rocks Cafe. This would have been a good spot to watch the balloons from since they flew right over the cafe. I heard the cafe owner tell another patron that he had seen one balloon brush against the rocks above the cafe and started it spinning. The balloons continued on to the east and north. I thought I would see them again on the way back to Blanding. Wanting to check out the booming city of Aneth, UT, so I took a detour to the east and low and behold ran into the balloons again. I stopped to watch some of them land and this is where I ran into the Alien and it's owner Erik Cornelison from Albuquerque, NM. I was especially glad to meet in person Erik who I had recently met for the first time online. Erik and his wife along with their able rescue crew were a fun bunch.
I continued on in search of Aneth on the Navajo reservation. Keeping a keen eye out for Aneth, I blinked and missed it. There was a hugh water tower but the town is pretty small and not on the highway. Continuing on to Cortez, Colorado and then to Monticello, Utah just in time for lunch. The roads were clear, the skies blue and even Moab looked much better on arrival later that afternoon. It was a short trip but a good one.