Up, Up and AWAY! (FINALLY)

Date ideas
October 4, 2008

I can’t believe it, but I finally got my long-awaited Graduation gift from Nick.  In May of 2007 Nick surprised me with one of the things I’ve always wanted to do – go up in a balloon.  Little did we know how hard it is to actually get up in the air!  6 tries later we finally made it happen.  While it was spectacular in so many ways, I think because we’d gotten our hopes up so many times prior to this that the actual experience could have never held up to what we’d built it up to in our heads…

We ended up with a picture perfect fall morning for a sunrise balloon ride.  We took off from Prior Lake at 7:15 AM as the sun was cresting the horizon.  The flight covered about 5 miles in 1hour.  I was amazed at the stillness of the world from that height, especially since there was relatively little wind (I learned that the wind must be below 15 MPG for the balloon to go up).  We started out in the suburbs and then made our way to the country.  You can’t steer the balloon, so it just kind of goes where it wants!  The landing part was bizarre too.  We came down in a farmer’s field and then the spotter went to get permission to see if we could deflate there.  It’s hard to control where you land, so it’s kind of at the mercy of the landowner.

Likes: The peacefulness of it.  The floating sensation.  The craziness of the experience as a whole (flames shooting above your head, standing in a wicker basket, etc.)  The view and ability to get close to things.  It was such a unique vantage point!

Dislikes: The basket was cramped- 5 of us in that little thing.  You become good friends fast!  The landing: the initial hit was fine, but then we couldn’t get out of the balloon (to prevent it from taking off), so as the air deflated the basket suddenly tipped over and we all fell to the ground hard.

I’ve attached some of my favorite pictures from the experience.  If you want to try this for a special occasion, call Ed Chapman, the chief aeronaut.  He’s well qualified, as a past pilot for United.  He also will tell you fascinating stories about the 20 world records he’s set.  You can check out his website at www.BalloonRidesMinnesota.com or call 952-492-5331.

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