This is my husband’s favorite picture: his little hot head.
Let me fill you in on the picture because I do not think I have shared the story with you before.
This is my wedding day picture. Brian and I got married in a hot air balloon!
It was absolutely wonderful. I had been in a hot air balloon before and fell in love with it. For Brian it was a stretch because he has a “height” thing but as he discovered, unless you hang over the edge of the basket and look straight down, the height thing does not matter. You look out, not down.
When you book a balloon flight, you are not guaranteed that you will fly that day since ballooning is very dependent on the wind. The wind cannot be above 13 km/hour. But we booked it and showed up at 7:30 am in the dark and the cold (October), the pilot said to us, “You must have an in with someone we have not been able to fly in over 2 weeks because it has been too windy, but today is perfect.” Thus began our flight.
We had about 30 people come to see us off at Muskoseepi Park while the crew was inflating the balloon. It was fun to have people around us to celebrate and get excited for us as the balloon got bigger and bigger along with our anticipation.
It took about 45 minutes for the crew to get the balloon up and ready to fly.
The balloon basket does not look “big”, but 5 of us fit in there just fine: the pilot, the pastor, our best person (Martha), the bride and the groom.
Martha was 80+ at the time, a little nervous about heights as well. She is very special to Brian and I and she was our best-person/witness. She could not figure out how she was going to climb into that basket even with the little stool and it was beginning to cause her some anxious thoughts. While her back was to Brian, he just scooped her up in his arms and gently placed her in the basket. She giggled the entire time.
We climbed in and the crew let the ropes go and we started to float. What an incredible feeling, nothing scary, very smooth in motion and truly delightful. We ascended above the crowd of well-wishers below, above the trees, above the city all the while pointing out landmarks. The balloon does not go high enough to block out the landscape below, you still can point out buildings and places.
I have to report, we made balloon believers of Brian, Martha and Pastor Glenn. As a matter of fact, halfway through the flight I asked Pastor Glenn who was enamored with the balloon ride, wearing a little boy grin the whole time, if we were going to get married during the ride. He was so thrilled with the balloon ride and finding out from the pilot all the techy things about the balloon he almost forgot why we were there.
We had our wedding ceremony way up in the sky with the pilot and Martha as our witnesses. It was absolutely the best wedding ever!
As we sailed the skies we were graced with trumpeter swans, geese flying around us, we saw deer and moose below us, it was as close to magical as you can get.
The balloon is subject to the winds and so you cannot plan on which direction you are going to be heading. The wind on the ground could be blowing a different direction than the one you find higher up, so landings are not pre-planned. Traditionally the first hot air balloons in France carried champagne with them to offer to the farmers or frightened spectators below when they landed. Turns out the frightened French farmers often used to pitchfork the alien from the sky and pierce the balloon fabric making them useless. They were appeased when the pilot offered them champagne and the tradition still carries on today. When you land you are treated to a traditional champagne (or orange juice) toast.
On the ground there is a ground crew chaser van following the balloon at all times to be there for when you land. We also had our friend Steve follow us and be there for our arrival as well and take us back to our cars (the crew would have done this as well).
To land the pilot looks for a field or opening on the ground big enough to safely land the balloon, no power wires, fences, or buildings too close together. In our case he knew the farmers who owned the plot of land we were going to land on and he brought us down basically in their front yard. He had warned us that sometimes the basket could fall over on landing and to not hold the basket with your hands holding the outside or your fingers could get squished. I have to admit, there was never a more protected person than Martha when we landed, snuggled between Brian, Pastor Glenn and the pilot, she was completely safe. Divinely helped, our pilot landed us totally straight up and the basket did not tip so it was not an issue.
Our flight was just over an hour long and it was glorious, I would highly recommend that you add a Hot Air Balloon flight to your near future.
And that my friends is the rest of the story to my husband’s favorite picture.