For Christmas my friend Lisa gave me a flight certificate she earned as a volunteer hot-air balloon chaser. It took her a full summer of volunteering to earn another one so we could go together. And today, despite iffy weather conditions, we got to go up!
It’s fascinating to be a quiet observer of such an operation. In our case, we piled in vans to find just the right launching field with the right wind direction. Of course, no one balked at the care our pilot took in this regard!
Here are the balloons stretched out; four, with one behind me. And the sun is just beginning to rise.
As air is blown into the balloon, the volunteers worked fast to connect the “parachute” to the top. As a passenger, Lisa wasn’t required to help, but if you know Lisa you know she couldn’t resist.
An added bonus to our early-morning adventure was the inclusion of our very own photographer, Walt. You don’t have to wonder about how he fits into the picture. Pretty cute, huh?
After the balloon is inflated, the hot air is added, which causes it to rise. Once upon a time, someone figured all this out.
We all climb in the basket (I’d say the heaviest ride in the back, but that doesn’t apply to my friend…).
And up we go! See our faithful photographer?
This felt a little strange.
I like it best when we’re up high. Even on this overcast day, we could see a lot. And utterly peaceful.
The curving Willamette River
A view of St. Paul, home of the “famous” rodeo. See it? The turf is laid for the tiny town’s high school 8-man football team, which was undefeated for two years until last weekend. See what tidbits a quiet observer can pick up along the way?
I just love this picture!
Our trustworthy pilot, Kelly.
Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
Back on solid ground. Time to work, this time all the passengers, including yours truly, got in on the process of stuffing the balloon, referred to as the envelope, back in its carrying bag.
Right about here is when we detected some moisture in the air. And by the time we returned to the airpark for brunch, we were thankful Walt had a couple of umbrellas in his car.
Meanwhile, Mauri and his sons are out on a lake, fishing. I don’t suppose the weather conditions will affect their success. Not like it did ours! I’ll just have to wait to find out.
No worries. By end of morning, John texted this pic to me with the caption: 5 fish, 3 fishermen.