Art, Inspiration and General Musings

July 11, 2010

Up in the Air

{the view from 1,500 feet}

As a kid, I remember spending my weekends counting the hot air balloons that speckled the morning sky. Some mornings there would just be a few in the air, while on other occasions the sky was chock-full of the brightly colored balloons. It was so magical.

I'm not sure why it took me so long to decide to actually go up in a hot air balloon myself, but for my 33rd birthday I finally decided that instead of counting them from the ground, I was going to count them from the sky! I got online, found what appeared to be a reputable company and booked my flight, enlisting my friend Darcey and my mom to come along with me - after all, no one wants to die alone!

{view of a balloon from the ground}

We decided to spend the night in Napa, since check-in was scheduled for 5:30am - ouch! I woke that morning a ball of nerves and excitement. What was the likelihood of death by hot air balloon? I mean, I'd never heard of such a thing, but that didn't mean it hadn't happened in the past.

Once we got to the check-in site, we learned that our pilot's name was Gabe and that he'd be flying SunKiss. We also learned that it was to be the first time in over a week that the crew would be able to take off from Yountville. Apparently, when the fog rolls in from the bay, the balloons aren't able to fly over the Napa Valley - instead heading further inland to Winters. Well, we totally lucked out - yay!

At any rate, we were slated to be the second balloon to take off, which was cool because we got to watch from the ground as Juliet, the first balloon took off. It also meant that once we were airborne, we got to watch from the air as the other balloons prepared for take off.

{view of a balloon from the air}

As the balloon lifted from the ground, my nerves were replaced with pure excitement and wonder. The only time my nerves returned was when I took a step in the basket for the first time and felt the floor give way a little. Not that there was any actual danger of the basket breaking, but the thought did cross my mind for a split second - one very terrifying split second.

{me up in the air - scratch that one off the bucket list!}

In no time at all, we were at 1,500 feet and cruising through the air - and let me tell you the view was breathtaking. We spent a little over an hour in the air and it was even more magical than I ever could have imagined.

{Gabe adjusting the burner}

{releasing the hot air from the balloon}

Once we landed, Gabe pulled a chord which opened up the top of the balloon to release the hot air. As the air escaped, the balloon began to collapse - its movements reminding me of a jellyfish making its way through the water. It was beautiful.

{Darcey & me - back on solid ground}

{some balloons landing in the distance}

{posing outside of Domaine Chandon}

When the flight was over, we all headed to the Etolie Restaurant at Domaine Chandon for a post-flight champagne brunch. Over fabulous food and bottomless mimosas, we chatted with pilots, other guests and vineyard owners - enjoying our post-flight highs. Special shout out to our pilot Gabe and to the rest of the folks at Napa Valley Balloons for being so wonderful - we had a blast!!!


jenni kaufusi said...

looks like you had a ball in the air. I'm way scared of anything over 7 ft. ps love your twotone shades

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails