The eleven minute video below is of the town of Moab and my exciting adventures here.
Today I got to do something I have been wanting to do for a long time. I tried to do it down in New Zealand but the weather never cooperated and it never happened. I'm talking about going up in a hot air balloon. I didn't have a confirmed date of when we would be going up. I told Lou, the owner and pilot when I could do it and he would let me know when and where. When I got back to the hotel after 10:00 last night he had left me a voice mail to meet him 10 miles north of Moab at 5:45 this morning. So much for my plans of sleeping in today.
Below we are laying out the balloon getting ready to inflate it.
Next we had to hold open the bottom of the balloon and fill it with air.
Below it is almost full of air and about to stand upright.
Couldn't get a picture of it standing upright because we had to be ready to climb into the basket or it would take off without us. None of us, including the pilot had any idea of where we were going. You can't steer the balloon, you just go where the wind takes you. Below is a picture shortly after liftoff.
The pilot does have control over how high we fly by how often he uses the burner to heat the air in the balloon.
After the picture above was taken we descended and just barely cleared the rocks on the top of those buttes.
You can kind of tell in the picture above how close we are to the top of the butte on the lower right.
There were nine of us including Lou our Pilot snuggly nestled in the balloon. Doug, a man who was with me on the Hummer trip yesterday was also there. Below is me in the balloon as we were floating around.
After the picture below was taken we descended again and practically scraped the basket on the rock as we flew over the formation. Also right after we cleared the rock we scared a deer and we got to see him scamper around just below us.
During the trip a plane full of skydivers flew right past us. Others in the balloon saw them jumping out of the plane later on but I could never find them. I pointed my video camera in the general area. Maybe when I watch the video I can spot them.
Below is Lou the Pilot and owner of the company flying the balloon. A very nice guy.
In the picture below we are close to our landing site.
Below is a picture of our chase crew coming to get us. They never know where we are going to end up. The pilot does have radio contact with them during the flight.
Landings can be the rough part. If the wind is blowing much, the basket hits the ground tips over and then the basket it dragged on its side until it comes to a stop. You end up lying on your back on the side of the basket. We didn't have that problem though. The wind was light and he put the balloon down right on that dirt road. The ground crew chastised him for not getting it dead center of the road. Another problem if he isn't able to land near the road they have to carry that 300 pound basket back to the truck. Below is the balloon shortly after landing as it starts to deflate.
Below is our champagne toast after the flight.
Below is the balloon being deflated.
I have never had so much fun in my life. Everybody had a blast, including the pilot. Weather was perfect. Nice winds up above so we were able to travel quite a way. Light wind at the surface for a smooth landing. I think my new criteria for future vacation spots will be having at least one hot air balloon.
After the balloon flight I visited the Needles district of Canyonlands. It was very cloudy down there and I didn't get any good pictures. But anything after the balloon trip would pale in comparison.
Trip coming to an end now. Going to take a quick peek at the Rockies this weekend before I fly home from Grand Junction the first of next week.
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