Saturday, June 25, 2011
Ten or twelve years ago, Dave surprised me with a hot air balloon ride, telling me a couple of days ahead of time. That morning of the ride, the weather was bad, so the ride was canceled. I found out later that the weather makes the schedule very iffy. Anyway, all the years since that aborted trip, I kept kind of expecting him to schedule it again, but he never did.
Two weeks ago, I was up early on a Saturday, driving in to work to take care of a minor issue, and the balloons were up high in the sky all along my driving route. As I watched them that morning, I decided it was finally time for that hot air balloon ride.
The next Saturday was the date I wanted; we were going to be busy pretty much the rest of the summer. That was the only day that was going to work. Further, on that morning the balloons were launching from the Boulder airport instead of their usual spot, in conjunction with an airport open house that featured a display of antique planes. I thought it would be fun to walk around and look at the planes afterward. I picked out a company via the internet and called and made the reservation. That was when I realized how important that the weather was to being able to even lift off. After talking to the main fellow from the company I had chosen, Fair Winds, I was on pins and needles the rest of the week, compulsively checking the weather report.
Somehow, I was able to keep this a secret, my surprise for Dave, even though I was dying to tell someone--anyone. I didn't even tell my sisters or my girlfriends. There are people who go for the rides over and over and never get to go up in the air, and I didn't want to get everybody all excited when there was only a 50% probability of success!
On that Friday, I called in at noon to confirm and they told me that the weather report was good and the ride was on. Then, I was really excited because I could finally tell Dave. He had already been talking about how he was looking forward to sleeping in. When he got home from work I told him that he wasn't going to be able to sleep in. He asked why not. I said, "We are going on a hot air balloon ride." He said, "No, we aren't!" I said, "Yes, we are!" It was pretty funny. Of course, he was delighted (and also shocked).
I smiled the next morning when I came down, and he had a backpack there ready to go with stuff that we might need. Everything went just like I hoped. We were able to take off and it really was peaceful and beautiful and interesting. The ride was about an hour and a half. We floated along with six other passengers and the pilot. The pilot's wife manned the chase vehicle and she and some other staff were right there ready for us when we landed.
The landing was a little rough, in my mind, but everyone else said it was a great landing. All I know is that it was pretty bouncy.
After we drove back, just as I had imagined, we walked around and looked at the antique planes. It was a really great day. I was pretty proud of myself.
Here are some shots that I took that day. Some of the pictures are of one of the other balloons from the same company that went up when we did and was close to us most of the time.