You may remember that back in October my friend Kelly, her mom and aunt tried to have a hot air balloon ride as a part f Kelly's Life List. You may also remember that it was cancelled due to our balloon operator practically severing his thumb on the gate to his truck. Ouch.
As bummed as we were not to go on our ride, we were pretty excited that we had all our fingers and toes, so we prayed for the guy and found other fun for the day. Good thing Northern California in October is full of all kinds of fun to be had and we are fun people, so no harm no foul. As the guy raced to Urgent Care he shouted into the phone, "Call back in the spring!"
So, Kelly did and Sunday was the (new) big day. The months between our last scheduled ride and this one only served to heighten our anxiety over riding in a balloon a bazillion feet from the ground. I slept maybe 20 minutes the night before. I wish I was exaggerating, but I am still tired three days later.
By 4 am, it was obvious I was not going to be sleeping anytime soon, so I got up and got ready, kissed Aaron goodbye and told him he might need to be more worried about my driving ability than my safety in the hot air balloon. He smiled, grunted "bye babe" and rolled over, proving he wasn't all that worried about me at all. Hopefully he remembered to switch off the 5 am alarm. He also has no memory of that exchange.
When I got to Kelly's she confessed she also had a hard time sleeping and we nervously ate our McDonalds breakfasts while we waited for her mom and aunt to arrive. I'm reasonably certain that our anxious stomachs had nothing to do with the food.
Once we got to the launch site and saw the Sky Drifters trucks drive up, excitement moved in and we forgot to be anxious anymore. It took about 30 minutes to blow up the balloon and for me to take about 1000 photos. By the time we stepped into the itty-bitty wicker basket we were amped and ready to fly.
Since Sunday I have been asked at least a dozen times if I was scared up there. I honestly thought I'd have my heart in my throat the entire time, but once we got up there, floating on the wind I didn't have another thought about being afraid. The experience is so surreal that I kind of forgot about the fact that we were a bazillion feet above the ground. Until I began to stare at the ground and think, "Wow. I would totally die if I fell." So I stopped thinking that.
There were two really cool things about the balloon ride. First, the company we used was based in Rancho Murrietta, so our flight was over familiar territory. My Dad kept his plane at the Rancho Murrietta airport, and as teens we would swim in the Cosumnes River at Mies Road or Sloughhouse. Seeing local places was way cooler than floating above unfamiliar vineyards in the Napa Valley.
Second, as often as he can, the owner of Sky Drifters flies two balloons at once. Seeing another balloon in the air with you, really heightened the experience, I think. You know, because I know so much about hot air ballooning and have ridden so many. Whatever, it was awesome.
As soon as I saw the bridges, I immediately thought of my friend, Jen, who loves bridges as much as I love old graveyards and buildings. Jen, lets go see this one! It's on a trail! It's an old railroad bridge! Yes, these are the things I was thinking of as we floated past.
If you want an awesome view of the valley, definitely visit Sky Drifters! Group rides start at $175 per person and regualar rides are $195. Not a cheap way to spend the morning, but definitely worth it!