August 24, 2015

Fulfilling A Dream: Riding In A Hot Air Balloon

When I was about 3-4 years old I remember walking out of church and seeing a hot air balloon overhead. I was so intrigued by this big, noisy, flying object. Ever since then I have had a fascination with hot air balloons.

Fast forward to three years ago, I hadn't seen a balloon in about 10 years, but I suddenly had a desire to ride in one. I don't know where this sudden urge came from, but it wouldn't go away. On more than one occasion I found myself looking into balloon rides, but they were just too expensive.

Earlier this summer, Andy and I talked about riding in a balloon and we decided this year would be the year. I did some research and found out there was a hot air balloon festival in August, 45 minutes away from our house. I really like the idea of riding in a balloon at a festival with other balloons, so I signed up and waited to hear what day our flight would be.

Unfortunately, our flight was scheduled for Sunday. We don't usually do stuff like this on Sundays, we prefer to go to church, so we were kind  of bummed about that.

Our morning looked something like this:

4:30 am - Wake up
5:00 am - Be in the car driving
5:45 am - Check in
6:30 am - Take off

It was a little crazy! It was weird for me to be up before sunrise. I can't say I have ever watched the sunrise before, this was a first for me. The sunrise wasn't very great because of all the smoke in the area from the wildfires. I may have to try watching the sunrise some other time.


When we arrived at the field, we checked in and then went and found our balloon and pilot. It was really neat to watch and help setup the balloon.

The take-off field.

Our basket. It literally is a basket.

Our balloon.

Our balloon and basket, deflated.

Me & Andy.

Blowing air into the balloon with a fan.

Filling her up.

Looking up.

Megan & I. Feeling a little nervous.
 
Helping hold the balloon down.
 
Andy & I.

Another balloon.

It's getting bigger.

So pretty!

The was the first balloon to take off. If flew with the American Flag hanging from it.

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My mom and sister had come down for the weekend and I told them we were going to be going on a balloon ride in the morning. For some reason, Mom thought it was just going to be us and a pilot in a balloon. She didn't realize that it was part of a festival. They left the house shortly after we did.

As soon as they arrived at the air field and Mom realized what was going on she got SUPER, I mean SUPER EXCITED! She pulled out her new camera and went to town taking pictures.

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In the week leading up to our flight, I had nightmares of falling face first out of the balloon. Naturally, the adrenaline was pumping leading up to our flight. Before too long, I found myself in the balloon being carried away.

We skimmed over the tops of trees, while about 50 feet in the air we crossed over a small airport and I-5. We flew over the top of Costco, Kohls, Taco Bell, and a cemetery.

Just sailing across the airport.

Planes down below.

Crossing I-5.

We made it across. Check out all those balloons!

The cemetery.

The ride was super peaceful, even with the torch blowing. You couldn't feel the ups and the downs of the balloon like you would on an amusement park ride. In a way, I felt weightless.

Our pilot.

Andy & I.

Me.

Andy.
We landed in a field to switch out our propane tank and ride two commenced. We flew over fields and scared a snake, rabbit, cat, and deer.

Before I knew it, 2+ hours had gone by. I'd say we got our moneys worth, the ride was only supposed to be 45 minutes to an hour and a half.

We began looking for places to land without power lines and blackberry bushes, our pilot decided that we were going to land in a residential neighborhood. I wasn't sure there would be enough room to land on the street, but surprisingly their was. As we started to descend all of the neighbors came running to their doors and windows to watch us. It was funny to see little kids standing in their underwear looking up at you. Before too long you could see people running to where we were going to be landing-- I felt like I had celerity status, with everyone gathered around smiling and taking pictures.

Our soon to be landing pad.

Loading her up. The entire balloon fit in that gray bag.

All done! A few remaining neighbors standing around.

Me, our pilot, & Andy.

One of the best parts about the flight was talking to the people down below, who were looking up. The balloon amplifies the sound of your voice so when you say, "Good morning" it kind of freaks them out and then they get excited!

During our flight, Mom and Megan were down below on the roads trying to follow us. They were very surprised when they discovered that we had landed on a neighborhood street.

Overall the balloon ride was a great experience. They only thing that would have made it better, would have been a decrease in the amount of smoke in the air.

Would I do it again? You bet!

These photos here were taken with Mom's camera. They look so good! Thanks Mom!

The sign for the festival.

Fire!

Off we go!

Up, up, and away!

Look at all those pretty balloons.

The butterfly!

Smokey reminded us of our friend Lance. He was the creator of Smokey the Bear.
Megan took some awesome photos too! I hoping to get them from her soon so I can put them up on the blog.

Here are some videos of our ride. Enjoy!







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