Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

We met the hot air balloon company at the flight location at 5:45 am Sunday morning for our sunrise flight.  We were relieved that the winds were not 35 mph this morning like they were yesterday afternoon.  There was a van with a trailer attached that held the huge basket we were going to ride in and another van held the “pouch” with the balloon inside.  There were five balloons taking off that morning, and we were in one of the larger baskets that held 11 people (two families of four and one other couple along with the balloon “driver.”

Unloading the "wicker basket" that would carry us into the sky
The crew started unloading the balloon and basket and then asked for volunteers.  Ashlee was quick to raise her hand, so she and a boy from the other family helped hold the balloon open so the fans could blow it up.  I think she took on more air than the balloon did!  You can hardly see her face in the photo – her hair was almost blown off of her head.  They got the balloon blown up with the fans while the crew got it attached to the basket (which they had first turned sideways so they could hook it up to the balloon), and then they started using the hot air to make the balloon rise and upright the basket.

Tipping the basket to so it could be attached to the balloon

I'm going for that wind-blown look.
Once the basket was upright, they told us to climb aboard pretty quickly because there wasn’t enough weight in the basket to keep it down at that point.  There was no “dignified” way to climb in, so I’m glad Scott didn’t have the video camera at that time since I climbed in ahead of him!   A few squirts of hot air into the balloon, and we had lift-off.  Absolutely incredible!  Once we were airborne, we were looking off into the distance, and there were lots of other balloons in the sky around us.  It made for a beautiful sunrise picture.
Balloons starting to rise from the hot air

Happy Father's Day!

Ready for lift-off
Emilee, who is afraid of heights, had originally said she would be hanging out in the middle of the basket… she didn’t want to be anywhere near the edge.  Check out the photo below to see her hanging over the top of the basket.

Hanging over the edge, looking down at the city

View from inside the balloon

We spent about an hour floating through the sky toward our destination of a big open field across town.  We flew over the Rio Grande River along the side of the Sandia Mountain.  We had an absolute blast!  It was easy to forget we were floating 10,000 feet in the sky in a wicker basket dangling from a balloon!  Did you know there is no steering wheel on a hot air balloon?  I don’t know how he did it, but our “driver” started taking us down to the landing site.  On approach he said, “By the way, there are no brakes on this thing.”  Okay!  So we all had to face backwards, hold on to the rope handles, bend our knees, and brace ourselves.  We hit the ground, bounced, almost tipped over, went airborne again, hit the ground again, bounced again, and a crew member ran across the field to grab our rope to hold us down while pulling the balloon to the side so it wouldn’t deflate on top of us.  WAY FUN!  What an amazing experience!

There were several other balloons in the air with us that morning.

We landed right beside this balloon shortly after they landed.

Once on the ground, they drove us back to the launch site and set up a continental breakfast with pastries, juice, and champagne.  Believe it or not, nobody in our group of six adults drank alcohol, so they didn’t even open the bottle of champagne!  The balloon driver quoted the balloonist’s prayer thanking God for a safe return to earth, and we toasted with juice to a safe landing.  Then we each got a flight certificate and a souvenir balloon pin.

Thankful for a fun ride and a safe landing

The girls helping to pack up the balloon
Since it was still so early in the morning, we made it back to the hotel in time for a more substantial breakfast.  Scott’s face lit up when he saw biscuits and gravy.  And Emilee’s face lit up when she saw watermelon.  Ashlee said she was full from the muffin she had earlier, but she couldn’t resist the biscuit and gravy.  Best breakfast yet!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you guys are having an awesome time! Don't know that I would have had the guts to do the balloon though :) I'm really enjoying reading the blobs. Cheri you are a great writer. I almost feel like I'm there with you. Can't wait to see where you go and what you do next. Love ya.