I WENT HOT AIR BALLOONING!!!
Going hot air ballooning was a big deal. When I called my Girl Cousin and asked her if she wanted to do this trip with me (cause you know...birthday buddies...) I said, 'I'm not going on a budget. I'm staying in a nice hotel...and I'm going on a balloon ride...you still in?'. She was in - so we booked our balloon ride with Napa Valley Balloons. Nautie Friends, they get an A+, yo. A big 'ole fat perfect score.
Our ballooning adventure is what you might call: giving up is for losers.
Originally, our platypus tour and balloon adventure were in conjunction with eachother - we'd be whisked away from our post balloon ride champagne breakfast to go on a wine tasting tour - or at least that's what I imagined...
We woke up briiight and early on our first day in Napa and were picked up at our hotel (it was still dark out kind of early). We got to the balloon check in point and to say that the staff of NVB (Napa Valley Balloons) was friendly is an absolute understatement.
Any which way, we take off for our balloon launch site. The balloons are there - they're getting filled up - the sun is making them look magical - we get assigned a balloon - we literally run for our balloon - and then it got windy.
I was literally laying in the basket (which is on its side) to help provide a little weight. The balloon is filling up - as in the burner is going and so are the fans. Take off was imminent - I mean, other balloons were drifting past our location (flown by other ballooning companies).
....and then the day was cancelled due to wind speeds. Wop Wop. It was surreal. We looked at each other and said, 'did that really just happen?'.
Perk? We got to watch them roll the balloons back up and there was a cute little dog who clearly knew the drill!
Thank goodness we had some wine tasting in our future because it did detract a bit from our horrible let down.
I'd also like to mention that I appreciate when things are cancelled due to safety concerns. You cancel anytime you like NVB! Don't you worry about those other balloons in the air! I'm happy to trust the judgement of an experienced pilot...must be the sailor in me...
But listen friends, is that anyway to WIN?! One day of high wind and you let it lie? Glad you're with me because NO...no it's NOT!
We rescheduled and woke up again at the butt crack of dawn! Day two. Hungover as all get out (thanks Platypus!) - we climbed back into the van for a ballooning adventure.
This is the only photo I have our day two adventure because the decision was made to ground the balloons as we pulled into the parking lot. I must admit we were a tad under the weather so going back to bed wasn't sounding too awful.
As we were driving through the Valley I turned to Girl Cousin and said, 'you know we could try one more time....I know you fly out in the morning but we could literally drive ourselves to the parking lot and head straight to the airport after we land....I mean we could...'. She said, 'let's do it!' so, I called NVB and asked to be put on the schedule one more time....in our favorite pilot Bob's balloon of course.
Hence, day three in Napa commenced. With an early morning jaunt to Domaine Chandon with our fingers crossed!
Guess what? We actually went on a balloon ride! It was so different than I thought. Do you know that you really can't steer a balloon? You can go up and down - and the rest is up to the wind. Jeez, how symbolic is a balloon ride? Maybe a little like life, no?
Wanna know how sassy all that ballooning made me? I'm going again. Wanna know why? It was a tad cloudy on Day 3. Listen, I had some epic photos planned - don't get me wrong I got some good ones (over 350 in fact) but, I want to see a gilded Napa Valley - and I will!
Alright, I know what you're thinking. If you can't steer it how do you land? Well, I believe the answer is that you hope to have a decent pilot. We literally landed on a strip of gravel next to the highway. For realsies. We kind of skidded a long and then stopped. Then the 'chase crew' tries to get all the air out of the balloon as fast as they can. (I also forgot to mention that part - while we're in the air there is a team in a truck that shadows us - like storm chasers - might be a fun job!)
By opening the flap at the top they're able to quickly dump the hot air from the balloon. Then they kind of stretch it out. If you stand in front of it you can feel the heat coming out in waves (it makes for good pictures, too).
There you have it friends. A balloon ride. An 'effin BALLOON RIDE!
What? Oh, you'd like to see more photos? No problem! There are hundreds!
In case you'd like more Napa Love you can read about Day One and Two but clearly, I've been saving the best for last! A mini disclaimer: as I rang in The Flirty Thirty I was feeling a little uncertain about what to do with my 30x30 List. Then I thought, 'it's not over till it's over'. I've got a whole year of being thirty ahead of me folks. It's not over. Be looking for more 30x30 posts! I think the balloon ride adventures let me know that 'settling' isn't always the best option. Do more! See more! Be more!