Frugal RVing In South States - Ebooks

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ken & Donna's Excellent Adventure

Dec 20, 2009

Well, it has finally happened - the moment we've ... well, that Ken and I were waiting for, anyway.

Today with great anticipation, and supreme weather watching (too much wind, = postponement) - we got to go up in a hot air balloon.

They had 2 choices in timing - 0 dark hundred (6:30 am) or 2:30 pm.

If you chose the morning, you meet at the pilot's house for a quick coffee, orange juice, hot chocolate, or what have you. You then do the waiver signing, and receive a briefing on processes, then load up in his vehicle and drive to the launching site.

For the afternoon outing, which we chose, you do the same thing, but hold the liquids.

On the way he told us a bit about the history of ballooning (I was 3rd row back, so missed a lot of it, but I am sure google could fill in the blank).

We then watched the process of getting the balloon ready to launch. They started by taking the caddies with the balloon and the basket out, and pulled out a huge nylon mat on which they lay the actual balloon. That is to protect it from damage on the ground while it inflates.

The basket's upper rack and burner are set up, the balloon laid out on the mat, and connected to the basket, and then a gas driven fan inflate it with cold air. When it is about half way full - enough to make the mouth wider, a second fan is added to increase the speed of filling.

When it is close to full, the pilot carefully gives a few bursts of the burner to coax the balloon into the air. The ground crew are holding lines that direct its ascent while one line remains anchored to the truck.

When the balloon lifts high enough, the crew guides the basket upright. At this point, all passengers must quickly embark so as to minimize strain on the ground crew who is now struggling to rein in the giant that is grappling to be free.

It was done with great efficiency,.... but one of the inside guidelines was tangled, so we all disembarked, the ballon was let down, and they went inside to correct the tangling.

Take 2, the balloon ride. In this scene, the balloon is inflated by fans,..... I think you recall the drill,....

... and they quickly embarked,.... giant ...., oh, right, here we are! The pilot gave a couple long bursts with the burner, and we alight into the sky.......

Editor's Note: (had it worked, a video would have been here, but instead it is viewable in my album entitled TAKE OFF!!! See link at the bottom of this post) There are a couple vid clips among the slides, so check carefully. Most are around the end, but this one is somewhere in the middle

We were airborne for about 1 - 1/4 hours and saw some awesome sites. We were as high up as 4000 feet, and as low (while not yet ready to officially descend) as about 50 feet or so - just above some house rooftops (under full control at all times).

We landed in a field that was between crops at the time, bounced a couple times, dragged a few feet, then fully landed.

The chaser crew went quickly about their business, the balloon's top centre was released to quickly disperse the contained air, and we held ground in the basket until the balloon was fully deflated.

We then were driven back to the pilot's house, each holding a complementary cold unleaded beverage (with another history of the balloon traditions which we were not to take part in...) and were to have a champaign toast, and wonderful lasagna dinner (or breakfast if you chose the early run) and were given a certificate to commemorate the journey.

(We skipped the dinner because we were rushing back to the ridge for the Christmas parade of lights ..... which we missed ... only to find that there will actually be nightly parades until Christmas eve .... D'oh!!)

Editor's Note: The parade of lights is every other night as the Senator's Wash region is so large that they run the ridges in alternating shifts - much to the chagrin of our guests who came out to see them the following night, but I digress...)

Anyway, here are some shots, and a link to my web album for the rest of the story.

Here is the link to more pictures in my web album.

(I had to study a previous link for an album to guide me in dropping the link into the HTML editor, but hey, I'm learning - since I still haven't gotten feedback on why the button for linking is failing, but I digress...)

Okay, that took for ever to upload the video, and I actually finished the following post so now I will bid you


Posted by Picasa


  1. From Rae by email:
    Ballooning: incredible! That video is making me a little queasy, though. :)

    The queasy would be from my hand rather than the flight. The lift off was gentle and smooth, actually, and not dizzying at all.

  2. Wow, hate to say it but me afraid of hieghts, don't think I could do that.

  3. Coal: The pilot is acrophobic too. (and I am prone to it too. I hyperventilate, but with encouragement, usually push through. In this case, there was no racing heart and the like) The pilot won't even do ladders or rooftops for maintenance, but the brain is not equipped to judge this type of distance, so it doesn't perceive the height.

    Because you are drifting with the air currents, you really don't feel the movement, or the rising and dropping.

    If you have occasion to challenge the fear, I recommend you get in the basket and discover how little fear you feel. :-)