I was up early yesterday morning. Had to be. Someone was picking me up at 6 am. The start of my hot air ballon adventure.
I sat in the back of a van. It was a 1/2 hour drive to a small airport to meet others in our group. A total of twelve of us.
We were then driven another 1/2 hour to the launching site.
The highway runs through the desert. At some point, the van made a sharp turn into and onto the desert itself. And in we drove!
We met up with the ballon and a crew of workmen. The ballon was deflated and rolled up. It was being taken off the back of a truck. Then spread deflated and flat along the desert floor.
Air was injectd. No, we did not have to blow it up ourselves! It took a while for the ballon to fill. We were told when inflated, it would be 8 stories high. Two hundred feet tall by 100 feet wide.
I thought they were kidding!
They were not!
Awesome to look up and see.
We piled into a tiny basket beneath the ballon. All twelve of us and our pilot Captain Bill.
And away we went!
It was nothing like I expected. The uptake was smooth and easy. The whole trip was the same. Whether high or low or sideways, it was as if floating. Softly.
Captan Bill provided a running dialogue. He was terrific! We learned much about the desert, its animals, winds and the geography of the area.
It was cool. Tending towards cold. I had been warned to dress for cold. I did. Long pants and a leather jacket.
The desert was not as I expected. My vison was miles of soft flowing sand. No. It is hard crusted sand. Your feet did not make an indentation. Rocks galore. Every where. Muted red ones. Dull black ones. My thought was a volcano must have once tread here.
A lot of vegetation. Cactus trees galore. Different types. All explained from the air by Captain Bill . Plus other type greenery. Not flush. Here and there erupting from the crusted sand.
Captain Bill explained there are different levels of desert. The area we were flying over minimally qualified to be called a desert. Somewhere else there is that desert of the movies.
We finally landed. The landing area is not pre selected. It depends on the winds. Tracking vehicles followed us below on the desert floor. Our landing was somewhere in the desert.
Now came breakfast!
This air ballon thing was a class act!
Two folded picnic tables were set up near the shade of a lone tree. It was warm now that we were down on the ground. Tableclothes appeared. With clothe napkins to boot. Crystal champagne glasses. China. Silver.
We had champagne and orange juice. Did the air ballonist toast. Ate. Sliced apples. A pastry filled with chocolate pudding. A ham and egg quiche. Cheese.
Do I recommend the air balloning experience? Definitely! And if you are going to do it in the Phoenix aea, I strongly recommend Hot Air Expeditions. http://www.hotairexpeditiomns.com/.
Met some interesting people during the ballon adventure.
There was a whole family from the western Massachusetts area. From grandmother to granddaughter. The step dad was a retired Marine.
The granddaughter, daughter, stepdaughter was Cassandra Tessier. 19.
An obviously much loved person.
Several months ago she had a double lung replacement. Life saving. It was celebration time!
There was a couple from Scotland. Told me their favorite place to vacation was the United States. They visit every year. A different part of the United States.
The husband is a realtor. He rents properties.
We talked briefly of many things.
These Scottish travelers had previously visited Key West! Made the drive down from Miami. Were impressed with the view along the way.
He was a golfer. We talked of how far the ball goes in the Phoenix area. Phoenix is about 4,000 feet above sea level. The air is thinner. The ball has less resistance. He visted a driving range. Claims he hit the ball an extra 50 yards off the tee. I believe him. I recall when I have played here in the past how long my drives were.
We got into Obama. I told them I had the seeds of disillusionment festering in me. He was sad. He told me the rest of the world looks to Obama to bring the world out of this recession. As America goes, so does every other nation! He told me Scotland and England’s future definitely depended on our successfiul recovery.
We were driven back to the airport where we had started our little adventure together. Whereas we were all quiet on the trip to the ballon, we were chatting like lifelong friends on the return trip.
Then we parted. I was sad.
I had worn my Key West Lou tee shirt. Questions were asked. I am sure that several of my new found friends will be reading this morning’s blog. And hopefully forever more!
I was tired. Exhausted. When I got back to the hotel, I went to sleep for 3 hours. It was not the early morning start. Six here is 9 back in KeyWest. I am still on Key West time.
It had to be the air. All that fresh air while gliding along in the ballon. I slept the sleep of the dead.
My evening was the same as the night before. An early movie and dinner. Same theater and same restaurant. I am on vacation. I can do what I want.
Saw Secretariat. About the horse that won the Triple Crown in the early 1970s. Great movie! Touched the emotions! Brought tears to my eyes several times.
Dinner was at the same steak house as the evening before. However before I could eat, I had to return to the hotel to change. A cold front had come in. Just like in Key West. I needed to change from shorts and a shirt to long pants, a long sleeved shirt and my beat up leather jacket.
Then to bed.
This is supposed to be Grand Canyon day. I don’t know. Weather reports are not good. Rain predicted. We shall see.
Enjoy your day!