Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride
On Saturday, we were up before the sun. Getting dressed in a half-sleepy daze punctuated by jolts of excitement.
We were going hot air ballooning!
This has been a bucket list item of mine since the turn of the century (lol), and now it was happening.
But I'd fantasized more about the amazing view than the reality that we'd be hundreds and hundreds of feet in the air!
Fine time to admit a fear of heights, yeah?
No worries. We had good attitudes about it.
We layered up and met our pilot in the parking lot of a local Ingles to then shuttle over to the meadow where we'd launch.
Our pilot Tom flies with Asheville Balloon Company, and he was friendly, personable, and very at ease with the skies.
During the three hours we spent with him, we really came to understand that hot air ballooning is sky sailing.
Your every move is dependent on the wind. Gusting you this way and that, the pilot controls the up and down movement, and uses the wind to propel us forward.
It is best to go at sunrise because the wind is most predicable then.
Which worked for us.
With the fresh morning dew dampening our shoes, we watched as the balloons were unrolled and inflated right before our eyes.
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^^ Look at the size of the people compared to the balloons.
Billowed with cool and hot air, our chariots were soon ready to sail.
We clambered aboard, fitting ourselves into a basket the size of a public bathroom stall. Very snug for seven people!
Tom the pilot whipped out a bottle of champagne and offered us all a toast. I thought it was to cheers the occasion, but it turned out to be very smart to calm nerves!
And before we knew it, our handlers let go, and we floated softly up.
It was surreal to watch the ground drift away, to watch the tops of trees come to eye level, to turn your head and see the sun stretch unhurriedly across the peak-tipped horizon.
Around us, the other balloons set sail, too.
It was impossible to know which way to look first. Asheville is green as far as the eye can see, peppered with luscious trees, sprawling fields, and mountain ranges. The morning we went, a rolling fog teased us, shrouding the view every once in a while...
... before letting us have it.
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Talk about a bird's eye view.
I couldn't believe I was seeing views like this with my own eyes, no glass, no machinery around me. Light as a feather, at the whim of the faintest of early morning breezes.
Before long, we snapped a selfie in the sky.
At 3,700 feet, to be exact. In a wicker basket.
Flitting above, below, and around the other balloons.
Spotting our own shadow!
And trying not to look straight down.
Tom kept us cheerfully aloft and fully apprised of all the sights below.
Though I was interested in learning about the sprawling vista (Cold Mountain, from the movie, was somewhere to the west of us), I was too enthralled with the view to pay careful attention.
Kissed by the most delicious, life-giving sunlight.
And catching a leaf when we skated across the tree tops.
We were airborne for over an hour, but it felt like ten minutes. When it was time to land, we found a rolling hill beside a Baptist church and met up with the crew, who caught our anchor so to speak and softly tugged us to earth.
^^ Feet back on the ground safely!
Tom surprised us with an impromptu picnic of brie, crackers, and mimosas!
A glorious morning, indeed. An entirely new life experience, all before 9 am.
Cheers to saying yes to life!