8 Day New Mexico Balloon Festival
We continue westward this morning through Arkansas and Ft.Smith on our way to Oklahoma City for the night. Oklahoma City is the capital of the state of Oklahoma, known for its cowboy culture and capitolcomplex, surrounded by working oil wells. The reflecting pool andempty glass and bronze chairs of the Oklahoma City National Memo- rial recall the victims of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Lunch is included at the Cattleman’s Steakhouse. We continue to Elk City, Oklahoma for the night.
This morning we depart Elk City as we continue west stopping in Amarillo for lunch. After lunch we arrive in New Mexico as we con- tinue to Albuquerque for a two night stay. Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city, sits in the high desert. Its modern Downtown core contrasts with Old Town Albuquerque, dating to the city’s 1706 founding as aSpanish colony. Old Town is filled with historic adobe buildings, suchas San Felipe de Neri Church, 5 museums, and shops selling Native American handicrafts. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®, the world’s largest hot air balloon festival, takes place each October, when you’ll see hundreds of balloons in the sky at a time. This magical hot air balloon festival is considered to be the most photographed event in the world, drawing a huge international crowd of balloonists and spectators.
We visit the 78-acre Balloon Fiesta Park early this morning for the Mass Ascension—where hundreds of hot air balloons take off, turning the sky into a virtual rainbow of colors. What began as a gathering of thirteen balloons over thirty years ago has since turned into the largest ballooning event in the world. The Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum is the world’s premiere facility dedicated to the art, culture, science, history, sport and spectacle of ballooning.It features one of the finest collections of ballooning equipment andmemorabilia in the world. We will visit the museum after the Mass Ascension. We will return to the hotel in the afternoon with free time for relaxing or shopping. This evening we return to the park for the main event—The Balloon Glow at dusk when all 800 balloons ignite on the ground. It’s an exhilarating sight! The glow is followed with an After Glow Fireworks Show. Be sure to bring your camera!
It’s a short drive to Santa Fe, the oldest capital city in the United States and where the desert meets the Rocky Mountains. We begin with a sightseeing tour of Santa Fe including the State Capitol, the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, San Miguel Mission, the Palace of the Governor, and Loretto Chapel’s “Miraculous Stairway.” After lunch in Santa Fe, we continue through New Mexico entering Texas for overnight in Amarillo.
Departing Amarillo this morning, we continue through Texas into Oklahoma City area for lunch. After lunch we travel through Oklahoma into Arkansas. Fort Smith lies on the Arkansas-Oklahoma state border, situated at the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau rivers. We spend the night in Pocola, Oklahoma at the Choctaw Casino. Buffet Dinner included this evening.
We arrive in Memphis for lunch. After lunch, we will tour Memphis’Sun Recording Studio where Elvis recorded his first record. We will explore Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland Mansion. Fully immerse yourself in Elvis’ life and career like never before at Elvis Presley’s Memphis as you experience Elvis’ roots, his influences and his artistry. Walk among some of Elvis’ favorite automobiles, including his iconic Pink Cadillac, Stutz Blackhawk, 1956 Cadillac Eldorado, Dino Ferrari, Mercedes Benz limousine, Rolls Royce sedans and more. Step aboard Elvis’ customized airplanes to see how he traveled in luxury. Plus Dinner included this evening at either Vernon’s Smokehouse Barbeque Restaurant or Gladys’ Diner.
Today we begin our last day of travel through the state of Tennessee stopping for lunch in Nashville. After lunch we begin to bid farewell to our new-found friends as our tour comes to an end. We will have memories to last a lifetime!