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Monday, December 15, 2008

Red Rock Balloon Adventure

I can hardly be seen here being encased in fleece and tucked beneath Don's arm. I was dressed properly for this.
The fun began pre dawn when Captain Mark Stewart picked us up and right away had us laughing with his witty repartee. To our surprise, we were the first of 15 people who were going that day.
Setting Up
We arrived at the launch site, sky still dark, where the Balloon Posse began setting up the intricate Basket & Balloon rig. What a sight. The balloon itself weighs 750 lbs and has to be inflated by two high powered fans while the crew assists at different points. The basket, which was custom made, to the specifications of Captain, Mark Stewart, can hold 20 passengers in 4 compartments. The center compartment holds the fuel tanks and Captain Mark. He also had the sides made 6" higher than usual, for which my 6'2" husband was thankful.
leaving the launch site
Incredible view Optical illusion
beautiful desert landscape
Mark Fires up the Flame
The Crew Follows Besides the fun balloon ride, the Captain and his Posse, are entertaining us with their routine over two way radios, as the crew follows us. Stand up comedy as we fly up and over the tops of the red rocks for a hour or so, the lights of Sedona, twinkling on the horizon. Interestingly, the overhead view renders the big red monoliths camouflaged as though you are seeing a flat desert landscape. But the concentric rings are visible. REALLY COOL! Mark likes to land on a lightly traveled roadway if possible, as to avoid damaging the balloon or having the customers truck through prickly cactus among other hazards, and he did make a text book landing. From the air we'd been able to see the crew as they tracked us and they were waiting.
The Posse comes to assist the landing
I LOVE my job (Captain Mark) Don enjoys his pipe !
The Toast
To our surprise (we didn't read the whole brochure) we were taken to a nearby circle of rocks where a table was set up with breakfast goodies including fruit, muffins and champagne mimosa's (or not) for whomever wanted them and we were toasted with the Balloon Flyer's Prayer and given our certificates, attesting to the fact that we had all broken the bonds of gravity. Neither of us had a bit of trepidation about doing this and we are so glad we didn't miss it! For those in the New England Area, there is a Hot Air Balloon event in June 2009 in Vermont, which I plan to attend. Hope they are giving rides too.