I truly was starting to think that I would never get to write about this experience. My brother, sister in law, Jake and I bought my mom a hot air balloon experience for Christmas 2011. She had been subtly dropping hints that this was something on her bucket list so when I saw the Groupon for a hot air balloon I knew I had to buy it. And since I had never been in a hot air balloon I bought one for me, this seemed like an experience that was best shared with a loved one. Plus I got to use it as a list item – I was hoping to make it my number one thing but I was never sure when I would complete it.
We attempted to schedule this balloon flight 4 times before we actually got the go-head that the weather was right. Several times it was two windy or there were storms in the area. At one point I thought we might be getting scammed because we had some perfect days to fly and they told me the winds were to high. But in the end the 4th time was the charm, not only because it was a beautiful fall day but because it was the 4th anniversary of my dad passing. We both knew that dad had given us the perfect day to do something fun that took our minds off our sadness. As the sunset and we glided through the sky I knew he was smiling down on us, happy to have given us a special moment to share and be just little closer to him.
The balloon ride was not what I expected at all. I thought it would be very bumpy and noisy. But it was the complete opposite, we slowly lifted off the ground and began to ascend over Columbia, IL.It felt like we were just standing in the basket not like we were moving at all. For the most part it was a quiet ride except for when they used the burners to lift us further in the air. Another reason this was the perfect day to do this was because those burners make it really hot in the basket, can’t imagine riding in the balloon during a 90+ degree day and having those burners going.
Regarding the basket, I had always thought that it was a pretty large basket where you could move around or sit down. But this was not the case, there were 8 of us and the pilot in the basket and we were packed in pretty tight. This kind of made me feel a little safer like I was packed tight and wouldn’t fall out. I am not afraid of heights but it was a little scary to think how high up in the air we were and that only two little burners were keeping us up in the air. I only had “scary” thoughts for the few seconds of the flight then it was all pure enjoyment. The trees were beginning to change and it was so calm just floating through the air. I never felt in danger or unstable, it seriously just felt like we were standing and the earth was slowly moving by. I had expected to be able to see the ground moving quickly under me. We topped out at 1300 feet in the air but it felt like nothing!
The flight was very enjoyable and our landing was nice and smooth. From start to finish my mom and I both had an amazing time. Once safely back on the ground we had a champagne toast with our flight crew and fellow passengers. I loved sharing this experience with my mom and being able to cross something off both our lists. This was a fun experience and I would do it again – if someone else paid for it and took over the scheduling – two very large pieces of the hot air balloon puzzle. If I never have the chance to go up in a balloon again I am OK with that too. I think if I did it again it would have to be somewhere fantastic like Paris or over the mountains in Denver.
Below are a few pictures from our flight. I plan to do a post with all 80 pictures/videos I took at a later date. These are the highlights!