Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hot-air Ballooning

Number 50 on my Bucket List, which is in no particular order, is hot-air ballooning. How exhilarating it must be to feel the wind on your face as you float through air. At least that's what I thought upon arriving at California Dreamin for my balloon ride. That is, until we got to the launch site and I saw the bible verse John 3:8 plastered underneath their logo. I thought, what, are we going to need Jesus up there? But then Sarge reminded me what the verse said: "The wind blows where it will, and you hear the voice thereof, but know not from whence it came." A beautiful sentiment really. The wind was going to spirit us away.

Hot-air balloons may look like they just float away willy-nilly in the air, but they're really based on a very scientific principle: warmer air rises in cooler air. Given that, I relaxed knowing that Sarge was by my side. He's full of hot air and could float that bad boy all on his own.

They told us beforehand to wear hats because the fire-shooting propane tanks that would hang above our heads radiated heat. When I actually saw the flames, though, I immediately started worrying about my synthetic hair extensions and just how flammable they might be. Damn those braids. Not to worry. I could position myself right next to the parachute cord and end that ride on a whim.

Anyhoo, we climbed into the wicker basket with our two friends plus eight other people, and took off. Slowly. Like about 2 miles per hour, which was good because I suffer from motion sickness. There was no turbulence, sway or keel whatsoever. We floated at a leisurely pace over the Temecula wine country watching their lush vineyards roll by beneath us. Click on the video below to see my friend lose her gum while looking down. We glided as high as 2000 feet. It's funny how you don't feel any breeze at all, but that's because you're moving with the wind instead of against it. It was like sailing through serenity.

We sailed right over our ground crew who trailed our every move in their van. When our pilot was ready to land, he scouted out a suitable landing site with the fewest bumps and grinds to minimize the impact. He set us down oh, so gently amidst sagebrush that was teeming with cheery yellow flowers. The scent of sage reminded me of my mother's kitchen. I had a fleeting urge to call her and tell her about this latest adventure, and then I remembered. . .she passed away seven years and ten months ago. But I digress, as I am wont do to.

I was seeking to do something different, something I'd never done before, something I was maybe a little afraid of doing, and hot-air ballooning did not disappoint.

I'm thankful to God, well, for everything in my life. I'm thankful to our friends (who shall remain nameless) for inviting us along for this balloon ride celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary. I'm also thankful to my husband, Sarge, for going along with my sometimes kooky, off-the-wall, eccentric (his words) crazy ideas. I love him for that. Maybe next time he'll take me to the shooting range.

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