As some of you may recall, I did some aerial work last year (well, 2 years ago now – in 2010) from a helicopter and was able to share some of the shots from that event here on the blog. As it turns out, I’ve got this need for altitude! It’s kind of funny because there’s always a little bit of trepidation when I approach these things, but by the time I complete them, the joy and sense of fulfillment is well worth the initial fears. The aerial theme repeats itself again in 2011, as at the tail end of the year I had a unique opportunity to go fly a balloon!
Okay okay, I didn’t really fly the balloon – but I certainly rode in it, and while the experience of a balloon ride is always something worth doing – this was unique in that I was in the heart of the Rocky Mountains! As it was in December, we had a decent amount of snow, so the Rockies were flush with powder! It wasn’t so snowed in that we couldn’t navigate, as you’ll be able to see in a minute, but was merely the perfect amount to make for some amazing scenery! This was done courtesy of the folks at Camelot Balloons.
The experience started early one Saturday morning when I trekked 45 minutes west of Vail to the launch site. Some warm sips of coffee and a fascinating observation of what it takes to get one of these things off the ground was in and of itself an education and experience! But then I got to ride in it too! The pilot – named Merlin – was quite the experience as well – both before and during the flight he was a fountain of informatino – during which I learned he is the only man to cross the Continental Divide on one balloon flight twice! Additionally, I learned that hot air balloons are registered aircraft with the FAA – they even get their own tail number! Afterward, he waxed on with more, saying the Ballooner’s Prayer, and toasting with champagne while we nibbled on cheese, crackers and fruit! (All very tasty too!)
I’d try to say more, but the photos really speak for themselves, so without further ado:
A couple people I’d also like to single out from this trip that were also just a pleasure to share the experience with. First off, the gal running the photography side of the operation – Amy Boggs offers her photography skills so if you want to put your own camera away and just enjoy – she has a great selection of shots when all was said and done. If anyone is interested in contacting her, let me know and I can share an email address. She was totally cool with me taking my own shots, and even sent me a gratis copy of one she shot of me while I was doing my own thing:
A nice touch of black and white to offset the colorful day (plus you can almost not even tell it’s me – which I always like! 🙂 )
The other to thank is the couple I shared my ride with – Buzz and Laurie McDonald from Oregon! They were in the area for Buzz who was on a business trip and they were just a joy to share the ride with. Of course, we traded a few shots from while we were in the air, so to thank him appropriately, I guess I need to share the shot he took of me!
In my defense, I was thinking mountains+winter+extra altitude = freezing cold air, so I really didn’t care what I looked like!
It wasn’t the most cost effective use of funds, but sometimes, to check items off your bucket list – you just gotta pony up, and this is one where you’ll be glad you did! Now, I gotta tackle the next item on my bucket list in 2012 – a kayaking trip in the UP/Boundary waters area. Not sure I will find the time off work or the resources to get a guide and needed gear, but it’s on my bucket list for 2012! Sometimes, it takes the onus of actually sharing such goals with others to make you really take the resolution seriously! So, consider this a chance to share your own goals, bucket list items, or things you are shooting for in 2012 – sound off in the comments as I’d love to hear others goals for the year!