Thursday, June 9, 2011
Up, Up, and Away
We loaded up the wagon
and headed west!
Well, NOT really!
We took the truck, but,
We did have to stop for donuts at Wall Drug
and while we were there
get our picture taken on the
old covered wagon!
Monday morning Sall had some
business to do in Custer, so I called up our
friend, Steve Bauer with Black Hills Balloons,
to see if his balloon was
going up today...
Sure enough, the weather was perfect
and I even got to fill an empty spot
in the basket in exchange for
a little free advertising!
"If you are not doing anything
on a hot air balloon adventure!"
after this post,
I promise, you will
be clicking over to our
sponsor's website (Black Hills Balloons)
to make a reservation
for the REAL ride of your life!!!!!!!!
They took us to a beautiful meadow
where they could spread out
this magnificent balloon.
It started to erupt like a huge
monster at first....
Then one by one,
the beautiful colors...
The crew holds
on to the ropes
and keeps the fabric
from falling inward...
Two huge fans start inflating....
Then 195 MILLION BTU's of
heat start to warm it up...
Our Pilot and 7 passengers
jumped aboard the 8 passenger basket...
(yep, that's me looking at the camera
smiling like an excited little kid)
(which I thought was
going to burn the curls right off my head)
I definitely recommend
wearing a hat on your ride!
and suddenly our feet were
rising off the ground!
good bye land...
good bye chase crew...
see you soon, hopefully!
Higher and Higher...
we bopped up and down
anywhere between 60 to 1500 feet
It was so quiet you could
hear a pine needle drop!
Our shadow followed us
over the beautiful Black Hills forest...
The wildlife would see us
and scurry to shelter...
(Lower left - Notice our shadow and how small it's getting?)
1500 feet high plus the altitude at
Custer, South Dakota is 5,300 feet
That puts me at 6,800 feet
with nothing but hot air
No wonder I was speechless!
Stunning vistas of the Black Hills of South Dakota,
we could see for miles!
We saw unbelievable
You can't see this from your car!
Can you see Crazy Horse Mountain?
that's 15 miles away
Our pilot took us way up high (a little breezy up there)
then we would just drift and come down to forest level again
and literally grab a pine cone off the top of a 60 foot pine tree!
"Be quick here comes one now!"
We covered 5 miles in the fastest
hour of my life.
The whole time I was in awe of
the whole adventure,
and did not want it to ever end.
I had to snap myself out of it,
(as we descended from the sky)
and met up with our land crew once again.
Suddenly the whole safety issue was
far from my mind and all I was thinking
about was the peaceful moments
spent up high looking down on the forest.
I braced myself for whatever kind of
bumpy landing we will have...
and even that was perfect!
Walter, our pilot, set us back
on the earth so gently it made
me want to give him a hug...
Because that was the flight of a lifetime,
one of those experiences that
makes you feel great to be alive!
Our shadow landed with us...
in the middle of somebody's tractor cemetery.
Seriously, I thought I died and woke up
in tractor Heaven!
(but, that's another post)
Our crew grabbed the basket and the lines
and we got to deplane (as the flight attendant would say)
and watch our
aerostatic (that's a fancy name for hot air balloon) vessel
It was memorable!!
95 foot tall 77 feet across!
Walter pulls the Red line and down she goes!
I hate folding laundry - how'd you like to fold this baby up?
To celebrate our great adventure
Walter serves us champagne...
turns out, it's a 200 year old French tradition!
(I always did like the French)
Walter told the intriguing story of
how ballooning all began in France and
how they celebrated surviving the
first balloon flight some 200 years ago!
Just hearing about the whole
legend from Walter was like
listening to Will Rogers tell a story!
What a glorious adventure and fun morning
this has been!
Seriously, this was right up there with
climbing Mt. Everest!
(I have yet to do that, but I would compare the two, I'm sure)
a truly magical experience
everyone should do once in their lifetime!
I highly recommend Black Hills Balloons ~
their pilots are some of the best in the world
and flying over the Black Hills in South Dakota
is an experience like none other in the world!
A HUGE Thank you to Steve Bauer...
I hope this post brings him
some future adventurists!
Have a beautiful day, my blogging friends!
Linking this post to a fun new
click on over and enjoy!