When I was growing up we lived in New Mexico. We never went to the hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque but would see it on TV and sometimes even be able to see the balloons from our house with binoculars. I’ve always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride but the opportunity never came up.
They are so beautiful, these silent floating giants slowly drifting through the sky following where ever the wind takes them. There is something graceful and old fashioned about them that reminds me of a simpler time when getting from point A to point B wasn’t only about the fastest method of transportation.
On our New Mexico vacation my sister-in-law and I decided to take the plunge and finally take the hot air balloon ride that I have been longing to take. The company picked us up at the hotel at 5:15 a.m. so we could be at the launch site by 6:00 and up in the air by the time the sun was making its way over the mountains. We gently grilled our driver on the way to the launch site regarding his experience. He had been flying balloons for over 35 years, came from a family of balloonists and his 9 year old son has even flown solo. I’m pretty sure he was more than qualified to take us up.
There were three balloons in our group that morning with 11 people in each basket plus the pilot. I was surprised at how large the baskets were but apparently that is common for a commercial outfit. It didn’t take long to fill the balloons and before we knew it we were gently lifting off the ground. As I gazed down at the ground falling away from me I actually thought about how I’m standing in a wicker basket, about to be thousands of feet in the air and I wasn’t scared a bit. It was so smooth and gentle that it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to be doing at that moment.
I was amazed at the control our pilot had over the balloon. They use the wind speed at different elevations to travel horizontally. When traveling vertically I was amazed at how he was able to nearly stop on a dime at the elevation he wanted. At one point in our little trip he brought the balloon down within 10 feet of the ground so we could get a good view of the ancient petroglyphs on the lava rock formations. Then he quickly took us up to 3000 feet!
This was such a great experience, totally worth the price tag. I’ve now decided that the hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque is on my bucket list.