A couple of weeks ago, I went home for the Wellsville Balloon Rally. Mom arranged for she, sister, and I to go on a hot air balloon ride while we were there. What an amazing experience! Of course, I got sick (I’ve gotten sick paddling my own sea kayak)–not like really sick, just a little woosy. But, it was worth it for the amazing views of the valley.
Balloons filling up and taking off. Yup, that's the BP balloon up there in the sky. I was afraid we'd have to ride in it (I wouldn't have gone).
As we floated up, up, and away, we had great views back along the river. Balloon pilots really watch each other to help judge winds at different altitudes. Pilots can only control altitude, the rest is up to the wind.
I think I took this while we were still on the ground, waiting for our ride to inflate. As you can see, it was a perfectly clear, calm morning--great for flying! We felt like we really lucked out.
We floated over town, waving and shouting to people on the ground. Although we were high up, because the ride is nearly silent, we could hear people on the ground and in other balloons and they could hear us.
I liked looking at people's gardens. This one was neat because you could see where, year after year, they had rotated plots throughout the yard.
We floated west over Niles Hill. I watched a great blue heron fly along the ridge of the hill to its rookery in the trees, Mom exclaimed at pigeons circling below us, we watched a line of geese trailing through the river.
Sisters. One brave and fearless. The other a wimp and a little queezy. Both smiling.
We floated over the Wellsville Country Club.
We made a clean landing on the 18th hole. The basket didn't even tip over! What an amazing pilot!
Upon landing, the chase crew descended on us, manuvered us to a safe spot, helped us extract ourselves from the tiny basket, and industriously deflated and packed up our ride.
We celebrated a safe flight and landing with local wine (I pretended--still woozy from the flight and 8:00 a.m.? No thanks.) and this traditional toast: The Winds have Welcomed you with softness. The Sun has blessed you with his warm hands. You have flown so high and so well that God has joined you in your laughter and set you gently back again into the loving arms of Mother Earth.