17 May 2009

Up, Up and Away

Jeremy and I finally took our long-awaited balloon ride.

It was very serene, and I'm normally terrified of heights. The ascent was slower than an elevator. Our ride took us about two miles in an hour. We ballooned over Longview, Texas, home of the Great Texas Balloon Race, which we will attend this year.

The burners that give the name to this sport are very true to their name: they are hot. We avoided ballooning in the winter, thinking that we'd be too cold. If we do it again, I don't think it will happen in late spring. I eventually moved to the center of the balloon under the burners so that Jeremy's scalp wouldn't be scorched at the end of our adventure.
As we landed, we were both certain that a family of sapling oaks would be taken out by our balloon. But the family was spared. I feel they'll grow to be mighty one day.
A final note...it isn't romantic. I'm so happy that the engagement Jeremy planned didn't work, and so is he. The basket for a balloon ride for two is small. Very small. Like 4'x4'. With us, the pilot and two large tanks of whatever gas is used to keep us in the air, it made for very cramped corners. Luckily, we had a friendly pilot (who happens to be a "real" pilot for American Airlines).

As is the tradition following the landing, we had a round of champagne. We learned why this tradition came to be. Evidently, when ballooning became a method of transportation, they were considered to be UFO's (or whatever they called them back in the day). When a balloon landed in a field, the passengers and pilot would have to quickly run for their lives before landowners and neighbors could get to them with guns and knives. To prove that they weren't harmful, they began carrying bottles of local champagne with them to offer to the angry townspeople. Surely if these creatures in unidentified flying objects had local champagne, they couldn't be harmful. So, the tradition began. And we like that tradition.

Although unromantic, the balloon ride was a fantastic birthday present. It's an unforgettable adventure!

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