For our 41st anniversary we did a hot air balloon ride. We were scheduled to do it on the 6th of June but it was too windy. For the next week every day we waited for the call to see if it was going to be the day to fly. Everyday it was either too windy (over 10 mph) or a storm was in the area. Today we finally got to go up.  We met up with the crew in a bank parking lot then drove out to a nice housing area. It was a pretty area with a lake and large field. The guys got the gondola out of the truck and went to work.

2011 06 15 Hot Air Balloon bringing out the basket(27)

Once they got the balloon assembled they started a large fan to blow air into the balloon.

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Once the balloon got a certain amount of air they turned on the burner and the balloon started to rise.

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We climbed into the wicker gondola, that’s right there is not a door just one small hole to put your foot. Once in we realized that with three people and three tanks of fuel there isn’t much room! We also found that when the pilot pulled down on the burner the flame was very hot. Not good on a hot afternoon…would recommend doing this in the spring or fall because of the heat.

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They disconnected the robe from the truck and we started our heavenward ascension. I know it looks like I’m holding on for dear life but there wasn’t anywhere else for my arms.

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As we floated up and down along the way we saw many sites. The pilot got down to the tree tops and I touched the top of the tree. I tried to pull a leaf off but we were traveling too fast.

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The propane burner.

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This is a clover leaf where the pilot thought we might have to land. There wasn’t a lot of wind and he wasn’t sure we would make it to where he wanted to land. As we traveled along the highway people would wave and blow their horns.

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In this picture it does look like we had room in the gondola to move around, just remember there are three tanks of fuel on the floor that you can’t see.

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We’re coming in for a landing. There was a large group of people waiting for us. Who knew that people follow balloons and like to be on hand for the landing. Note the black box on the front of the gondola. That is where you put your foot to climb into the gondola.

2011 06 15 Hot Air Balloon Steve Phyllis Thumbs Up

The crew was there to grab the rope to guide us in and over to the road.

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2011 06 15 Hot Air Balloon Back down on the ground (1)

We wait for the crew to say it is clear to get out. Getting in was much easier than getting out. Steve climbed out and I stayed in the gondola as they deflated the balloon. As the gondola was turned over on it’s side the pilot and I (sort of) walked out. Let’s just say it wasn’t a pretty sight but much easier than climbing out.

2011 06 15 Hot Air Balloon (225)We had the traditional champagne toast upon landing. Legend has it that early French aeronauts carried champagne to appease angry or frightened spectators at the landing site, Then our pilot read the Balloonist’s Blessing (also  known as ‘The Balloonists Prayer’) with the champagne toast:

The winds have welcomed you with softness

The sun has blessed you with its warm hands

You have flown so high and so well

That God has joined you in your laughter

and set you gently back into the loving arms of mother earth.