Saturday, April 25, 2009

A 22 hour day.

You have to hand it to us. When we decide to relax, we relax hard.

Today it was up at 4:30am (again) to try and catch the hot air balloon express over the vineyards. I'm happy to report we caught some good luck with the weather and we finally took our first ever balloon ride (and what a ride it was).

The day started out quite chili but that stopped rather abruptly as soon as the propane jets were lit.
If you've ever wondered what sort of sensation you'd have if your face were burning off, standing in the right spot in this overgrown wicker basket will satisfy that curiosity.

About 10 seconds into takeoff I helped the pilot with "oh lord...okay that's high enough." Everyone else laughed nervously because they were thinking the same thing.

The views, of course, were fantastic. I'm sorry I don't have time to edit these pictures to do them justice as they deserve, but here is a shot of several vineyards leading up into the hill country.
Here's our sister balloon following us over the valley.
I was curious as to whether flying a balloon is more of an art or a science...and it turns out it is neither. You pretty much just sit there and let the weather take you where it wants to. There are a few things you can do - like go up or down a tad to try to hit different air streams - but for all intents and purposes you're at the mercy of the gods. In our case, the gods wanted to take us into a ditch.
Landing, it turns out, is even less of an art or science than flying. We sat in the ditch for a very long time, and we kept having to fire the jets to make sure we didn't fall over into a tree. None of use could get out of course because the pilot would never be seen again.

The free time was kind of fun, and I had time to twitter my predicament along with these pictures and my GPS coordinates (sometimes I think iPhones were God's personal gift to me). It was an interesting mash up between the latest technology of today and the latest of 200 years ago, coming together for the bemusement of my friends. I had responses within 20 seconds. People were looking for my ditch on Google Maps Street View.

Eventually a rescue crew showed up.

After this we took a 26 mile bike ride through the wine country -- which quickly got shortened to about eight miles. I'd like to chalk up the experience as a noblesse oblige field trip for the purposes of environmental/economic research, but in reality it was pretty much an excuse to get drunk and ride bikes.

When Sarah bought her favorite t-shirt (pictured) I told her someday I'd take her to Napa and recreate the scene. So by golly, that's just what we did.I'm sorry I don't have more pictures of the bike ride, but with our friends we stayed up until two am (according to my time stamps) and I'm exhausted. I hope my comments on the balloon ride aren't taken the wrong way as I'm just trying to get a few laughs...I had a fantastic time, and the landing was (roughly) in one of the potential predesignated drop zones (a very nice multi-million dollar estate).

Tomorrow it's on to San Francisco!

1 comment:

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