We got to the motel early enough that we drove the loop, taking sunset photos. When we got back to the motel, there were folks in the parking lot unloading paraphernalia for hot air balloons. John asked where they were going to launch. It turned out to be the Phoenix ballooning club and they were there for their annual launch the next morning at the Valley of the Gods. OMG!
We were up before sunrise to get into the area for our early morning photos over the rock formations. It was to be a glorious, clear morning. As the balloonists arrived (they usually launch soon after sunrise), we were able to drive around, watch the launches, and get photos. To have the iconic rock formations, the wonderful early morning light would have been a photographer's dream in any case. But then to have the colorful balloons floating in and around the rocks made the experience a once-in-a-lifetime event.
The slides from that day are gone now, but the memories are still as bright and colorful as they were then.