Traveling alone will be the scariest, most liberating, life changing experience of your life.Try it at least once!
Although it is becoming more popular, traveling solo is still somewhat unusual. When paying admission or being seated at a restaurant, I am regularly asked questions like, “Just one?” “Will anyone be joining you?” “Would you like the table in the corner?” “You’re traveling alone?” This past weekend was no different; however, being a party of one did have a few advantages as I traveled south to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Friday night I attended a music concert, but had not purchased tickets yet because I wasn’t sure if the drive, finding my Hipcamp, and then driving another 45 minutes to the concert venue would give me enough time to make the start of the concert. Well, as it turned out, I arrived at the concert early. I joined the ticket sales line when a woman asked, “Are you here by yourself? I smiled and told her that it was just me. She handed me a ticket for a seat just feet from the stage and asked if I wanted to join her and her daughter. I offered to pay for the $80 ticket, but she refused and assured me that she was glad there was someone in need of “just one ticket.” The concert was amazing as was the conversation we shared throughout the evening.
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta hosts approximately one million visitors each year. In order to attend the morning glow event, I had to leave my camp space at 3:30 am to drive what normally would take 20 minutes to get a parking spot and set up my chair in time for the 6 am morning glow and 7 am mass ascension. I decided to sleep in Saturday morning and visit some other local attractions. I spent the morning at the Petroglyphs National Historic Site, where I hiked and hiked and took lots of unique Native American etchings created sometime in the early 14th century. Very cool.
I made it to the afternoon balloon session too early (but ended up with free parking), so I spent some time in the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum where I learned more about balloons than one could imagine! I returned to the Balloon Fiesta Park in time to grab entirely too much (but really good) local food from various vendors. I then wandered around taking hundreds of photos as the balloons were being filled. The evening glow was spectacular – the fireworks show was one of the best I’ve seen, but didn’t compare to the balloon glow. I made it back to my trailer before midnight and set my alarm early enough to watch the morning glow and ascension. It was well worth it! The photos do not begin to show what 600+ balloons lifting off within seconds of one another actually looks like.
I left the Balloon Fiesta Park and drove to Sandia Peak to ride the tram to the top. Because of the number of visitors in the city, the wait was over three hours; however, because I was traveling solo, I was able to cut two hours off my wait when one of the trams had just one spot available. So, for the second time this weekend, traveling solo provided another wonderful advantage. The trip up and back was lovely, as the aspens were just starting to turn along the mountain side.
From there, I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening in Old Town. I browsed through most of the shops, listened to local mariachi bands, and ate at a restaurant in a building that was nearly 200 years old – in the corner of the back room at a table for one.