Friday, March 22, 2013

Let's go fly a balloon!

I recommend that you sing the title of this blog to "Let's Go Fly a Kite" from Mary Poppins.  That's how I sang it while I typed it.  And also, it's much more fun that way.  Anyway!  February of last year Grant and I bought a Groupon for a sunrise hot air balloon ride as a Valentine's Day gift to each other.  So you buy the Groupon and then pick a date for your fun adventure.  Then at 6pm the night before the flight you check their website to see if the flight will happen or not.  Apparently weather is super important to hot air balloon rides.  Which seems pretty obvious, actually.  Well, our first 5 balloon rides were canceled for bad weather.  After each cancelation you're given the option to rebook on one of their next available flights.  At first it was super easy to rebook, then the Groupon started showing up almost every week and suddenly it was an entire month before we could book another one.

Finally a few weeks ago we got on the balloon!  And it was so cool.  And also a little lame.

We had to show up at this hotel at 5:30am about 15 minutes from where we live to meet all of the other people and fill out paperwork.  People were late so we left late.  Then we had to get in these vans that took us to the launch site.  Twenty-five minutes later we're still in the van and the sun's coming up.  I thought this was a sunrise balloon ride?  We pull up to this giant field and all the pilots get out and tell us to wait.  The pilot gets back in the van and says we have to go somewhere else to launch since apparently this place has swampland or something.  You'd think they'd work that out before they had 100 people waiting to get in balloons.

Another 20 minute van ride happens.  The sun is now completely up and I'm getting cranky.  We get to another field which meets the pilot's approval.  Then they start to take all the balloon stuff out.  We have to help them set the balloons up.  At first I thought this was really cool that we were able to experience everything that goes in to making a balloon fly.  But then I remembered it was 630am, I hadn't eaten breakfast and it was a random chilly day in Florida (seriously, it's the only time all season I wore a sweater, pea coat, gloves and a scarf).  I just wanted to be in that balloon and then get back to the hotel for complimentary breakfast.

look how cold Grant is!
We helped roll it out of the bag
Grant volunteered to help hold the balloon open while they were filling it up with air.  He said that it was cool to see, but it took too long and the air was really cold.

The balloon we were in was brand new.  It was the first time it had ever been flown.  I thought that was special until I realized that all my pictures would be of the dingy balloons since I was in the pretty shiny new one.

Finally they got the balloons up (it took at least another half hour) and we jumped in the basket.  Our balloon (and 2 other ones) held 16 passengers plus the pilot but there was another balloon that held 25 passengers.

The fire was nice and warm
We went over a lot of swampland which was nice to see.  If we were flying on a warmer day the pilot said we could've seen gators.  Once the basket hit the top of a tree and it scared me so badly.  We were in the air for about 40 minutes.

look at all the steam coming off the golf course pond
I think this is my favorite picture.  It's a reflection of our balloon in a little pond.

I also thought it was really cool that we flew right over our apartment!  Our building is the last one on the left.

After we landed (which was a little terrifying) we had to help put the balloon back together which was awful.  It took forever since we had a new balloon and we were in this really prickly grass type field.

Once the balloon was in its giant bag we got back in the van (there's people who follow the balloons in the sky to find where you're going to land and meet you there) to meet people from another balloon to have a champagne toast.  I was the last one to get champagne so there wasn't much left.  Sad face.  They had orange juice too, so I guess we had Mimosas.

They said an Irish toast and then we piled back in to the vans to go back to the hotel where breakfast was served.  By the time we got home it was 10am.  Basically we were gone for 5 hours for a 40 minute balloon ride that met 15 minutes from our apartment.

Overall it was a great experience that I probably won't do again.  The actual balloon ride was amazing, but we paid almost $200 for it and for all the labor we did I felt like we should've got a discount or something.  Here's some more pretty pictures. 

orange trees

pretty balloons

The inside of the balloon while we were in the basket

“The winds have welcomed us with softness.
The sun has blessed us with its warm hands.
We have flown so high and so well
That God has set us gently back into
The loving arms of mother earth.”

-Irish ballooning toast


  1. I think this is a really cool experience that I'd love to do sometime...but I wouldn't want to do all that work or wait or be in a basket with 16 people. And, I would have wanted more mimosas, preferably beforehand because I'm terrified of heights. I'm sure the time up in the air was worth it and truly beautiful!

    I love that reflection picture!!!

  2. Your balloon is really pretty! But I know that feeling... when something is almost really cool. Sounds like that company has a few kinks to work out, but overall a very cool experience!

    Also, I used your balloon story in a "two truths and a lie" on a non-date I went on recently. I said I went in the hot air balloon as my lie - I thought of it because we had just talked about it! haha

    Love you and miss you!

  3. hahaha i love you so much callie! i love that water picture too!!!!

  4. regardless of all the annoying parts, i think it seems like it was an awesome experience! thats also why i dont trust those livingsocial deals unless i actually know the company or place they are for.