Up, up, and away – Albuquerque 2017

The Fall of 2017 brought 80 degree weather to our Texan hearts and the most epic road trip we have been on to date.  It was simply fabulous and it defiantly got the travel bug itching in all of ours hearts.  We have some big changes happening and some goals we are working towards, but we certainly that full-time travel becomes our lifestyle for a period of time in the Hooper Family history books 😉  The first stop on our road trip was at Brantley Lake State Park.  It was a short and beautiful stop the bridged the way to our first big destination {a city that will always hold a piece of my heart}; Albuquerque.

Brantley Lake was gorgeous.  The spots were spacious and the hiking was so unique – the landscape was desert-esque, and not at the same time.  The jackrabbits were abundant and the hiking was splendid!  We also were able to snag our first National Park visit of the trip at Carlsbad Caverns.  I did not think I was a “cavern person,” but it turns our Carlsbad showed me up and I love Caverns.  It was like a magical world underground.  It is truly indescribable and unlike any cavern I have ever been in before.  The entrance into the cave alone was one of a kind and it just got better from there!

Albuquerque – oh, how I love you.  When I first heard this cities name nothing special came to mind initially.  Then back in 2012 we visited over our anniversary weekend and experienced the International Hot Air Balloon Festival.  I was newly pregnant with our first child at the time.  We had the best time and talked about how we couldn’t wait to come back and bring our kiddos one day – when they were little and could experience the magical experience from little kid eyes.  Fast forward to 2017.  We made it back with a 4 year old and a 2 year old in tow.  It was just as amazing this time as it was the first.  Watching our kids stare at the hundreds of balloons in total and complete awe was a dream come true.  This trip we did not venture out of Albuquerque.  We stayed on the festival grounds and stayed close by for some amazing hikes.  I highly recommend staying on the grounds if you decide to add this to your bucket list.  We loved walking through the fields watching the balloons blow up and take off around us, but watching them from the campgrounds was a totally different and amazing experience.  Many of the balloons were landing in the field right across from us.  Andrew and Corbin became professional balloon chasers on our final morning as they helped guide a balloon into landing!  It was such a fun experience.  We have decided to make it a 5 year family tradition – SO we will see you in 2022 Albuquerque!

We did get some awesome hikes in as well which was the icing on the cake for us!  We visited our second National Park, the National Petroglyph Monument, and it was really neat.  The kids are apparently professional rock climbers as they were climbing up the sides of the lava rocks without a single stumble.  It was an awesome experience to be able to see all of the ancient drawings on the sides of the rocks – and we found a {huge} snake skin and a geocache or two.  Our second hike was in the Cibola National Forest.  Andrew and I were able to sneak away for a kid free hike (thank you nana and pa)!  We hiked the Tecolote Train and it was so beautiful!  I was crazy that a 10 minute drive and we were out of the desert and in the mountains.  When we made it to the peak it was insanely windy and gorgeous.  You look out one way onto forest and mountains and you turn around and look out over desert and plateaus.  God’s creation never ceases to amaze me!  The hike was easy and enjoyable (minus the insane detour we took to geocache and hiked through untold amounts of underbrush!  It was totally worth it though and we were able to have a nice picnic lunch in a beautiful little clearing).  Thank you Albuquerque for sharing your majestic beauty with us.