Jen's Balloon Ride

For my wife, Jennifer, each yearly milestone is a reason to challenge herself, to try something new. As her loyal partner, my goal is to help facilitate that - to make her birthday an adventure, something to remember.

One year it was trying sushi for the first time. Another year, a tattoo. This year: I got her a ride on a balloon.

After a couple of false starts (balloon flights are very weather-sensitive), we finally got a call at 4:30 am that our flight was a go. Here, in her own words, is Jen's account of her trip, illustrated with photos from both of us.

This is a very photo-intensive story, so I've broken it up over several pages to help with loading times.

Jen at Dawn


When the pilot called (and he is a licensed commercial pilot) to let us know we'd be flying today, he said the office would open at 6:30am.

We didn't know how long the drive would be - and we get there at 5:30. Dawn is just a glow in the eastern sky, satellites and stars glitter above us. I curl up in the seat and try to get a little more sleep, but I'm too excited. Then people start arriving, the hangar is opened, fans are brought out, trucks back into the hangar and pull out with baskets.

Other riders pull into the lot and we start milling around in the dewy grass. C takes photos of the inflated purple dinosaur out front, in the attached miniature golf course.

When Dragons Ruled the Earth Only so much a flash can do in the pre-dawn hours

[Chris: It's hard to get a good shot of a giant purple dinosaur/dragon when there's no real light and things in the way of the flash.]

It gets lighter and lighter, and finally the office is opened.

Dawn's Early Light

We meet one of our captains, Capt. Eric, who asks us to sign in and then fill out the form. This form basically says that riding in a balloon will expose us to greater risks than those encountered in daily life, and our signature absolves Balloon Quest and the pilot from any liability. Including the possibility we may be arrested for trespassing, if we land on someone else's property. Good thing C can come up with bail money.

All the passengers have arrived, and Eric has a short video for us. How to get into/out of the balloon basket, don't pull on any cords or ropes, stay in the basket until the pilot says you can get out, bend your knees to absorb the shock of landing. Okey dokey.

We go back outside to watch the balloons inflate.

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