Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Ham-Let Special Shapes Hot Air Balloon

Ham-Let (When Pigs Fly)
Special Shapes Hot Air Balloon

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s… a pig!

When pigs can fly!

Once a year, in central New Mexico, not only can pigs fly, but so can elephants, cows, sharks, whales, frogs, fruits and vegetables, houses, clocks, automobiles, and Wild West stagecoaches.

We’re talking about hot air balloons, of course!

And you never know what you might find at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!

These fanciful balloons are known as special shapes because they are not in the shape of the traditional teardrop balloon.

A handful of special shapes first wowed Balloon Fiesta-goers in the mid-1970s.

These early shapes included a Carmen Miranda look-a-like, Planters Mr. Peanut, J & B Scotch Bottle, and Owens Country Sausage, a balloon shaped like a giant tube of sausage.

Fast forward forty years and today nearly one hundred special shape balloons and pilots come from around the world to participate in the yearly Balloon Fiesta.

There are two events that showcase these odd-shaped creations.

The Special Shape Rodeo takes place on Thursday and Friday mornings when all the special shapes take flight at once in synchronized mass ascension.

A special shapes-only glow called the Special Shape Glowdeo lights up the sky on Thursday and Friday evenings. At sunset, pilots fire up their burners and the tethered balloons glow from within.

The two-day Rodeo and Glowdeo are fan favorites and draw huge crowds.

Special shape balloons can take on any form imaginable.

Seventeen new special shape balloons are making their first appearance at this year’s Fiesta including a Mariachi from Mexico, Whooz’up the Owl, Scorch the Dragon, the Lovebirds, and Con Air, a flying convict.

Returning to this year’s lineup for the tenth year are special shapes favorites Darth Vader and Master Yoda.

See all the special shapes at the Balloon Fiesta’s Special Shapes Directory Search.

The 2016 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta begins Saturday, October 1st and runs through Sunday, October 9th.

Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument

Rock Carving
Petroglyph National Monument

Situated in the suburban sprawl on Albuquerque’s Westside is one of the most impressive collections of rock carvings in the world.

Petroglyph National Monument contains more than 24,000 images chipped into stone by Native people and early Spanish settlers.

A variety of images can be found along the hiking trails of Boca Negra, Rinconada, and Piedras Marcadas canyons. Be on the lookout for carvings of reptiles, birds, insects, animals, geometric designs, crosses, and human-like figures.

Archeologists estimate that most of the images were made 400 to 700 years ago by the ancestors of today’s Pueblo people. The oldest may be nearly 3000 years old. Pueblo elders believe the petroglyphs are as old as time and that they choose when and to whom they reveal themselves. You might not see them all.

Although Boca Negra Canyon is the most popular and accessible area for viewing the petroglyphs, Piedras Marcadas Canyon contains the largest concentration of the ancient carvings.

All three petroglyph viewing sites are a short drive from the Visitor Center, a good place to start your visit. Knowledgeable staff will answer your questions and help you plan your visit. There are also restrooms and a gift shop.

The Petroglyphs became part of the national park system on June 27, 1990. It is a living shrine that holds deep cultural and spiritual meaning for present-day Pueblo cultures and for the descendants of the early Spanish settlers.

Admission to the park is free. However there is a small parking fee at Boca Negra Canyon: $1 on weekdays and $2 on weekends. The fee is waived for those with valid Federal Land passes.

Keep an eye out for high desert critters. On a recent visit we saw hawks, roadrunners, hummingbirds, rabbits, desert millipedes, lizards, and a blue florescent-colored Desert Spider Beetle.

Breaking Bad Tour of Albuquerque

Three years after the demise of Heisenberg, Breaking Bad is badder than ever.

The runaway-hit TV series tells the story of how a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher transforms himself into a ruthless crystal meth kingpin.

Critics have declared it the best television show of all time.

Set and filmed in and around Albuquerque, Breaking Bad put the Duke City on the international tourism map.

We recently explored the world of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman aboard ABQ Trolley X.

The 38-mile, 3 ½-hour BaD Tour takes visitors to the iconic Breaking Bad filming locations for a behind-the-scenes look.

Featured locations include: Walter White’s house and condo, Jesse Pinkman’s house and duplex, Gus Fring’s house, The Car Wash, The Laundry, Saul Goodman’s law office, Tuco’s headquarters, Combo’s Corner, The Crossroads Motel, and Los Pollos Hermanos.

Driver / Tour Guide / Co-Owner, Mike Silva, was a wealth of information on Albuquerque, its film industry, and the making of Breaking Bad.

Below are highlights from our tour.

Jesse Pinkman’s House & Duplex

Jesse Pinkman's House, Breaking Bad

Jesse Pinkman’s House
322 16th St SW

Jesse's Duplex, Breaking Bad

Jesse’s Duplex
323 Terrace St SE

Fun Facts

Show creator Vince Gilligan originally intended to have Jesse killed at the end of the first season and have Tuco as Walter’s partner. But a writer’s strike shutdown production and the season ended with the footage that was already “in the can.” Furthermore, the actor who portrayed Tuco, Raymond Cruz, asked to be remove from the show. Cruz was playing the role of detective Julio Sanchez on The Closer at the same time he was playing the role of Tuco on Breaking Bad. The contrast between the two characters, good-guy cop vs. psychotic meth dealer was messing with his mind.

Jesse’s house is located in an affluent neighborhood in downtown Albuquerque known as the Albuquerque Country Club. Local filmmakers have used the Country Club area in many films because it doesn’t look like the typical dessert Southwest. With its big overgrown trees and green grass, it can look like Anywhere, USA. For instance, the setting for the movie Wild Hogs was Cincinnati, however many scenes were shot in the Albuquerque Country Club neighborhood.

As of August 2016 Jesse’s house is for sale and listed on the market for $1.6 million.

Los Pollos Hermanos

Twisters, Los Pollos Hermanos, Breaking Bad

Los Pollos Hermanos
4257 Isleta Blvd SW

Walter's Booth Inside Twisters, Los Pollos Hermanos, Breaking Bad

Inside Los Pollos Hermanos
Walter’s Booth

Fun Facts

Los Pollos Hermanos, the fried chicken franchise used by drug baron Gus Fring as a front for his crystal meth empire, was filmed at this South Valley Twisters location. Twisters is a local favorite best known for its breakfast burritos the size of a newborn baby.

The Twisters sign above the entrance was replaced by a computer generated “Los Pollos Hermanos” sign in the show. Although there are several Twisters locations throughout Albuquerque, this location was chosen because it was closest to Albuquerque Studios, home to the Breaking Bad set.

Saul Goodman’s Law Office

Saul Goodman's Law Office, Breaking Bad

Saul Goodman’s Law Office
9800 Montgomery Blvd NE

Original Door to Saul Goodman's Law Office, Breaking Bad

Original Door to Saul Goodman’s Law Office

Fun Facts

The site of Saul Goodman’s law office has been several different businesses since Breaking Bad premiered on January 20, 2008. We know of four: Hooligans, The Local Brewhouse, The Vault Nightclub, and Sinner’s ‘N Saints Bar & Grill. During renovation, the current owners found the original door and glass window that the production company left behind and have incorporated the Breaking Bad connection into their business.

Walter White’s House

Walter White's House, Breaking Bad

Walter White’s House
3828 Piermont Dr NE

Fun Facts

Just as Walter White transformed from mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher into coldhearted Heisenberg so too is this retired teacher-homeowner transforming into her own Heisenberg. Completely fed up with the volume and abuse of her property by fans, she has taken to sitting all day, every day in her garage, giving passers-by the “#1 fan” salute. She has also tried to disguise her house. It is now painted green with white trim around the window and garage. There is a gate at the front entrance and AstroTurf in the front yard. On this tour we were fortunate to catch her on a rare day off.

All interior scenes of Walter White’s house were shot on set at Albuquerque Studios. No interior scenes were ever shot at this location.

Walt’s Condo

Walt's Condo, Breaking Bad

Walt’s Condo
3932 Silver Ave SE

Fun Facts

Series creator Vince Gilligan owns this condo and rents it out to actors who are in town filming. It is located in Albuquerque’s trendy Nob Hill neighborhood.

The Car Wash

The Car Wash, Breaking Bad

The Car Wash
9516 Snow Heights Circle

Fun Facts

The location of the A1A Car Wash, where Walt laundered his drug money, was the Snow Heights location of Octopus Car Wash, a well-known Albuquerque landmark. The family owned Octopus Car Washes are now owned by Mister Car Wash the country’s largest car wash chain.

Taco Sal

Taco Sal, Breaking Bad

Taco Sal
9621 Menaul NE

Fun Facts

Across the street from the car wash is Taco Sal another well-known Albuquerque institution.

John B. Robert Dam

John B. Robert Dam, Breaking Bad

John B. Robert Dam
Juan Tabo Blvd and Osuna Rd NE

Fun Facts

The John B. Robert Dam was used as the pick-up location for those who needed to disappear. The concrete “tombstones” are designed to slow the flow of flood water spilling over the dam from the summer monsoons.

Gus Fring’s House and Laundry

Gus Fring's House, Breaking Bad

Gus Fring’s House
1213 Jefferson St NE

The Laundry, Breaking Bad

Gus’s Laundry and Meth Lab
1613 Candelaria Rd NE

Fun Facts

The location of Gus’s industrial laundry business and meth super lab is a real-life industrial laundry business called Delta Uniform & Linen. It is the only location where the actual employees were used as extras.

Not On The Tour

The following locations are not on the tour but are worth seeking out.

Hank and Marie Schrader’s House

Hank and Marie Schrader's House, Breaking Bad

Hank and Marie Schrader’s House
4915 Cumbre Del Sur Ct NE

Fun Facts

Hank and Marie’s house is located in the foothills of the Sandia Mountain’s with beautiful views of the city.

Walter White’s Headstone

Walter White's Headstone, Breaking Bad

Walter White’s Headstone
Village Shops at Los Ranchos
6855 4th St NW

Fun Facts

Sometime after the final episode of Breaking Bad aired on September 29, 2013, Albuquerque held a fake funeral for Walter White at a real cemetery. The headstone was placed in Albuquerque’s Sunset Memorial Park as part of the funeral, however families with loved ones buried in the cemetery were concerned that the site would become a tourist attraction. The headstone was moved and is now located in the Village Shops at Los Ranchos on 4th street. It is mounted on a wall at the back of the shops on the north side.

Note the little bag of crystal meth (blue rock candy) left by a fan on top of the headstone.

You might be from New Mexico if…

20 reasons you might be from New Mexico… We invite you to add your own!

  1. You’re fluent in Spanglish.
  2. You know “Christmas” is the official response to the question, “Red or Green?”
  3. School is canceled because there is half an inch of snow on the ground.
  4. You’ve been told, “Your English is really good.”
  5. You know New Mexico is one of the 50 states.
  6. You live in a house made of mud.
  7. You know the “correct” pronunciation of Madrid. It’s MAD-rid unlike its namesake in Spain.
  8. You buy green chile by the bushel.
  9. You know chile is spelled with an “e.”
  10. You look forward to the summer monsoons.
  11. You get your green-chile cheeseburger fix at Blake’s Lotaburger.
  12. You like your cars low to the ground.
  13. Your Christmas decorations include Chile Pepper Lights on your tree and luminarias (or farolitos) in your yard.
  14. You know mañana doesn’t mean tomorrow, it just means not today.
  15. You remember when Río Rancho Estates was a small housing development outside of Albuquerque.
  16. You know New Mexican food is not Mexican or Tex-Mex food.
  17. You wake up to the sound of the propane burner of a hot air balloon flying over your house.
  18. The only jewelry you own is turquoise.
  19. Formal wear means ironing your jeans.
  20. You have sent salsa to your relatives living out of the state.

Thanks for visiting and have an “A-1 Day!”