Thursday, July 31, 2014

We Took my Dad Ballooning Dad came to visit from NY recently. He visits for a few weeks every year and looks for all kinds of adventures while my Mom enjoys a staycation of her own at home. Last year, his visit here included a day of Ziplining at Navitat...when he was 83 years old.

This year he chose to go for a Hot Air Balloon Ride!!
We all woke at 4am (yikes!) to head just a few miles out of town - 
very excited to be meeting Rowena, our pilot from
(Did you know balloons only launch in the early morning hours?
 Has to do with cooler wind patterns before the sun heats up the air)

Nothing could have prepared us for the fascinating set up
(from out of a deceptively small box trailer).
Between the highly attentive, 2-man ground crew and
Rowena's 30-years-of-balloon-piloting anecdotes,
we were almost too busy learning and being amazed 
to notice we were lifting away from the ground in pour basket...
yes, an actual basket,
just like the Wizard leaving Oz.

Now, it's not really a natural thing for most of us - 
to be rising into the air, standing straight up, without any ability 
to steer the vehicle, looking out as the terrain falls away,
then aligning with clouds - 
barely a surrounding barrier between us and the
way, way ...way down
Not a strap, harness, buckle, parachute or personal tethering apparatus of any kind.
Just hands and hips resting against the basket rim.

Once past that startling realization, 
it was suddenly and infinitely calming.
Effortless gliding...soaring serenity found...
No sound at all except dogs barking up at us from their yards
and the occasional release of propane to heat the air that kept us bouyant.
Too far up now to even be worried
(besides, after a few minutes of watching Rowena, why worry?
This pilot is a master and delights in what she does!)

We began to look around at an area widely renowned for its ancient beauty - 
though we were about 1800 feet up with wide open, 360-degree views-
not at all like from a plane window.
This was truly birds's eye ...
exhilarating and unspeakably splendid!
The gilded skyline brightened as the sun ascended 
and a few other balloon silhouettes rose up in the distance - 
intrepid travelers like us in an otherwise empty, silent sky...
very, very cool. 

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