Photo Friday Flashback. – Hot Air Balloon.

Each October there’s this hugantamous hot air balloon festival in my city.  People come from all over the world and for two weeks I get to drive to work with balloons on the horizon.  It’s a pretty incredible sight.

In 2010, Neighbor and I were honored when a co-worker, Tom, asked us if we’d like to go up in the balloon that he and his family own.  We met dark and early on the morning of the big event and drove together to the park.  After locating Tom and his balloon crew, we ate some breakfast and hung out, listening to weather reports.  Tom takes safety very seriously (thank goodness) and on any given morning, the wind patterns, precipitation, etc. dictate whether or not his balloon goes up.  Once the all clear came through, the crew sprung into action.  The balloon is spread out over the field and it’s a team effort to get it up and ready for flight.  Neighbor and I helped out as instructed – both of us a little nervous and a lot excited.  Or was it a little excited and a lot nervous?

Balloon 1

Soon it was time to get into the basket and take off.  {See above picture.} As we began to float up, it amazed me how quiet it was in the basket of the balloon.  Every so often the fire would spit out flames (technical terms) and keep us afloat but other than that, it was remarkably peaceful, just gliding along with the wind currents.  The sounds below us were muffled to non-existent.  Surrounded by other balloons, there was a sense of community, even off the ground.

Balloon 2

As we approached the river, Tom asked if we wanted to do a splash-and-dash.  When in Rome, said we.  He very carefully lowered the bottom of the basket into the water and then took us right back up.  That was nerve-wracking!  There was a fine line between lifting oneself up on the basket edge to avoid wet sneakers and keeping oneself in the basket and out of the river.  Fortunately, Neighbor and I managed to walk that tightrope.

The chase truck was tracking us and as the time to come down approached, we happened upon the perfect landing spot – an empty field.  The landing was the roughest part of the ride by far, and ours was pretty smooth from what I understand.  If I were to go up in a balloon again, it would be the landing that I would be worried about.  You simply can’t tell when the basket is going to kiss the ground and it can be quite jarring!

Then it was time to pack up the balloon and supplies, and the team was just as efficient in that task as they were in the preparation to fly.  There was a traditional initiation ceremony to celebrate the voyage.  This included Shawna and I having to drink a cup of water (traditionally champagne, I think, but we had to go to work so no alcohol for us) without our hands while two of the crew members sprinkled dirt on our heads.

Balloon 3

Such an amazing experience and one of my favorite memories.  I am so grateful to Tom for taking us up in the balloon.  And for my Neighbor – we had so much fun on this adventure!

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12 thoughts on “Photo Friday Flashback. – Hot Air Balloon.

  1. That looks so fun! I’ve always want to go up in a hot air balloon. And it is even cooler to do it at a festival like that when your own balloon is surrounded in the sky by so many others. So pretty.

  2. When we first moved here, we had no idea that there was a balloon festival right across the street from our apartment. We were sitting in our living room, and there was this strange blowing sound out on our balcony. I opened the shutters, and wham. There was a hot air balloon right outside our window. Like, I could carry on a conversation with the people in the basket. It was pretty cool. I’ve always wanted to do that (ride in one, not talk to people riding in one). Sounds like you had fun!

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