October is here. Which means that here, in the great state of New Mexico, it's one of the touristy-est times of year. Welcome to Albuquerque's International Balloon Fiesta. Non-New Mexican people have a tendency to refer to is as the balloon "festival." Please note that this term is completely and totally inappropriate. It's fiesta. Considering how many people aren't aware that New Mexico is part of the United States, I don't think it's too much to ask to use our Spanglish jargon.

Given that I've spent my entire life right here in Albuquerque, one might think I'd be bored with the balloon fiesta. Like, hot-air balloons, big deal! In actuality, though, it is during this time of year that I imagine owning and piloting my very own hot-air balloon. This fantasy usually goes away as soon as the week is out. Still, it doesn't matter how many I see, I am still so easily amused by hot-air balloons it's not even funny. And if anyone else talks about hot-air balloons and/or events involving more than one balloon, you can be sure that I'm right there telling them how in Albuquerque, there are nearly 1,000 balloons present each year at the balloon fiesta. Because I'm competitive that way.

There's really only one thing not to like about the balloon fiesta: the population practically doubles in the city. Every motel and hotel in town is packed, and the cheapest place to stay is, on average, $100 per night. Most places are booked long before the October for the whole week of the balloon fiesta. Now, I don't really mind having lots of people here, because I like to play tourist myself from time to time. But. The city gets really crowded, and whereas at other times of year most drivers are 'jerks,' the average 'jerk' driver suddenly elevates into 'asshole' driver.

But none of this can stop me from enjoying myself. Though I've slept in and missed the mass ascensions for the past two mornings, I at least saw one balloon up close so far. The picture above was taken just outside my apartment this morning. I heard it outside, and managed to get a picture with my camera phone. Never mind that I was still in my pajamas, and was probably close enough for the people in the balloon to see me. I mean, I'm sure they see that sort of thing all the time, and are quite used to it by now.

Tonight I'm going to the balloon glow, or "Glowdeo," to use our awesome Southwestern terminology. While I'm there, I'm thinking about buying a pin of the Darth Vader Balloon, because I'm all about the dark side.