Balloonin’ Around

For Fun, Photo Story

Last weekend was a very event-filled time around our place. For a country girl who thinks making more than one trip to town per week is outlandish, making two trips each day to join the populace of our community about did me in. Or about floated me off…

We went from horse races to fair-like activities to the night glow event (night time lighting of hot air balloons…) to dinner at a sushi bar (yes, vegan options were available) to chasing balloons by early morning daylight–and all that was before Sunday’s church service!

Since I took a mere 300+ photos last weekend, I will save you the ache of watching my family’s slide show in its entirety. So here is just a glimpse of how last Sunday morning drifted into being…

Laying in bed at 5:30am wondering why nobody else is stirring or jumping into their day clothes to go balloon hunting with me. Snoring and deep breathing sounds is all I hear. Okay, fine. Forget it, we won’t go. Now, just a minute. It is Mother’s Day and I am the mother. Nudge, nudge, nudge. Oh, sorry did I wake you? Yeah? Okay. Toss the clothes. Come on buddy, we got some chasin’ to do. Husband tells me he will stay home to keep an eye on the dogs. Huh? Okay, then. Kid wipes night out of eyes and says he’s good to go. Hey Grandma (my mom), you awake? Sort of? Well, good. Here’s a hat. Pull your jeans on over your pj’s and get in the car. Let’s go, let’s go.

Yes, I pulled over to the side of the road en route to the fairgrounds. And then I squatted so far down that I nearly split my Wranglers. Just to catch this shot. Look, balloons float like bubbles. Cool. Way cool. I had never seen hot air balloons in real life until last Sunday.

Do you see how I made that one balloon dot my “i” way up there in the sky? Neato.

Oh, sorry mom. Did I give you touch of whip-lash as I drove off the shoulder? Yeah, I really needed to take another picture. Isn’t this cool? Are you having fun in the back seat with the kid? Thanks for sitting back there, even though the front seat was empty. Well, yes, it does have all my camera stuff on it and my granola bar and that jug of water.

Not a sight you normally see coming into the city limits. Uh, yeah, I pulled over again and snapped some shots. I sort of pulled over. Hey, it was early and I was nearly over. Nobody else was driving on that road at that particular hour. Okay, yes, I just stopped the car and got out right in the road.

Whoa Nelly, would you look at that? Uh, no, I have never been on this road, but let’s see where it goes. There are the balloons. Looky-looky. Let’s catch ’em! Okay, so I am not very original. There were A LOT of cars pulled over just alongside the highway and crowding the airport parking lots. The HABs fired up and shot skyward at the fairgrounds sailed across town and then landed at the far field of the airport.

Yes, we live in an area of the Pacific Northwest where wind farms seem to grow as abundantly as onions and wine. The wind makes the turbines go ’round. And the wind made that balloon drift right out of town.

It was a grand display of colors and wonder and wind.

Uh, no, I am not taking the photos from the local state pen (it’s actually farther down the highway). That is the airport fence. And no, I didn’t scale the fence for a better shot. I am getting to old for that. Besides one gashed scar from scaling a fence is enough.

This one missed the (hopefully) designated landing field and it barely missed the trees and nearby warehouses when it became one with the ground again. They don’t have steering wheels or handle bars, ya know. HABs are at the mercy of the wind.

We saw it going down so we got back in the car and found it. All they did was set the basket on its side and roll-up the balloon. Uh, they get in something and float way up there in an object that really resembles that guy’s jacket. Great. Good for them. Are they nuts?

Yeah, get in a wicker box that resembles grandpa’s old-time fishing box and blow around with the breeze.
We headed for the bribery coffee I promised with my dawn-cracking pleas to get out of bed, but the roadside coffee hut was not open that early (way before 7am, people). But wait, we can see three more balloons landing right over there. Drive, drive, drive. We got out and walked across the field. No fences. I stood right underneath one of three and snapped away. A lady approached and I readied for a run. She looked at my son and asked if he wanted a ride. Whew. I mean, What?! He nodded his head. I asked grandma if she wanted a ride. She nodded. All yes.

As the balloon landed and the crowd she chose gathered, my heart beat hard. I have never been off the ground in anything more exciting than an elevator. Fear of heavy things in the air. Fear of heavy things falling out of the air. My son assured me he wasn’t interested in going without grandma. Just as the loader-lady was situating the weight evenly and taking one other person out (extract one, load one, extract one, load one), I pushed my mamma back and grabbed the side of the wicker basket. “Sorry mom!” I hollered as I hoisted my fanny over the edge.

I have no earthly idea what happened there. I mean, one minute I was fine and firmly planted on the solid ground and the next, well, I was trying not to pee my pants. I did realize later that I was sweating like a maniac. It was just running down my back. Anyway, I was looking at the young pilot fella as he lit the fire into the balloon. My son dropped my hand. Maybe I was squeezing too hard. I told mister pilot-man about my fear of heights. He said, “Yeah some don’t even realize when we’ve left the ground.” Okay buddy. I wasn’t born at night. And certainly not last night. Peak over the edge. “Hello mamma! I am in the sky. Whoa. I think my heart thumped so hard that the pilot felt the basket bob in the wind.

That loopty-knotted red rope was smaller in diameter than my pinky finger. A couple of those puppies tied the gigantic fishing basket to the stretched-out coat. Hello. What was I thinking?

Once back on the ground, I of course apologized to my poor mamma. She said, “That’s okay honey. You did startle me when ya shoved me aside and hopped in. But hey, you got off the ground! And I have been para-gliding before and I went way higher than you did in that hot air balloon.” Para-whatting?! In your swimming suit? Over water? Are you nuts?!

Happy Mother’s Day to me. Whooppee!

And I did exchange emails with a lady who took some picture of me way up there, from way down below. As I had done the same for her. Soon I will have proof. Cuz I am not sure even I really did it.

(Now it is a couple of hours later and I am getting back to this post. My husband came home and went out for a horseback ride. I had to scoot off the computer and tend to the sick kid on the couch and wrangle the dogs from going along with the husband and the gelding he is training. It seems that someone actually looked at this corner of mine and those two someones even left notes. I thought it odd, their comments about my bravery. Then I realized I hadn’t finished here… I rarely blush, so I am not doing that. Just raising my eyebrows really high, with one crooked. That is my “uh-oh, sorry” look. Here is the rest of the story folks!)

And I did exchange emails with a lady who took some picture of me way up there, from way down below. As I had done the same for her. Soon I will have proof. Cuz I am not sure even I really did it. I mean I got into the basket and let that young man float me up into the sky. And many minutes later he stopped with the flames and opened the valve (or something) and let hot air out, so we went down. Now, why didn’t we float off into never-never land? Cause we were tethered to the back end of a really big Dodge pick-up. Yeah, we were floating high, but I was tied to the ground by a really, really long strap! Hey, it was dangerous up there. My visiting mamma could have cut that tether line and set us free in a fit of frustration because I shoved her out of line.

Now, Susan and “Graceful” if you wanna leave different comments, go ahead. I am ready. And ya know what? Next year, I may talk someone into letting me take a real ride. My husband assured me that even if I strapped a parachute to my back, I would never be high enough in a hot air balloon for it to work properly. So there goes that bright idea.

Maybe, just maybe in one year’s time I will talk myself into one of those extra large wicker fishing baskets.

See that red balloon and its riders, those were the folks who took a float before me. That lower black-topped balloon was off of the ground too–only it was held earthbound by several people holding onto its ropes. Good night, that seems a tad risky. All I can imagine are people dragging along and dangling from the balloon if a wild wind whipped into a frenzy.

See, I am close enough to touch the clouds. And I had my zoom lens on so I am really much higher than it looks. ๐Ÿ˜‰

10 thoughts on “Balloonin’ Around”

  1. This is the most fabulous, fantastic, fun story — I loved every word, and the pictures are just wonderful. What a cool, cool Mother's Day. And way to be Super Brave!

  2. ๐Ÿ™‚ sounds pretty fun, anyway … and the balloons are so colorful it makes you want to soar

  3. I am cracking up over your addendum…but you know what…it's still brave to me. You were HIGH up there, especially for a girl with a fear of heights (and I can relate to that!). Plus, when you courageously hopped aboard, you didn't know you weren't actually technically flying. I did laugh at the picture show the rope tethering you to the ground, though!!!

  4. So beautiful! The pictures are gorgeous!! And I DO think you are brave. This girl would never hop in, I am terrified of heights!!!

  5. you're so funny,and it is still very brave.the photos are breathtaking.

  6. Stopping by from High Calling Blogs. I love hot air balloons. Your photos are exquisite.

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