Vicki and Pat Fogue’s hot air balloons have carried them across the world, from Ireland to rural China, and from Stowe, Vt., to Albuquerque ballooning’s “mecca.”

“Ballooning has been a conduit for us to travel,” Pat said. “We get to explore places from the air when we fly, and then on our feet during our off-time.”

Colorado Springs is no exception. From the sky, they can see the enormity of Pikes Peak juxtaposed with the vibrant red rock of Garden of the Gods. From the ground, they can walk through a mosaic of balloons — some familiar staples of the ballooning world while others, such as the Owl, are new shapes laid across the ground of Memorial Park — and engage with the niche community they refer to as “family.”

That’s why the couple, who live in Columbia, Mo., are regulars at the city’s annual hot air balloon festival. This year, they were first to lift off Saturday morning at the 42nd Labor Day Lift Off in their blue, football-shaped balloon emblazoned with the Pepsi logo.