Friday, August 13, 2010

Up, up and away!

The morning of day 4, I awaken to the sound of the alarm clock on my phone.  I roll over in bed to see that it is 5am.  The hubby and I sleepily get read for the day ahead.  Why on Earth would anyone on vacation get up at o'dark thirty?  Why to ride a hot air balloon, of course!  (See what I mean about my husband not being thrifty?  Lol...)

We jumped in the car and drove over to Domaine Chandon Winery, which is where the balloon meeting station is.  They pumped us with coffee while they explained what to expect and what to do and not to do while you are in the balloon basket.  (DO enjoy the scenery while staying relatively still.  DON'T try to jump out of the basket while the balloon is off the ground because you will die.  Etc, etc.)

We took this pic of the Domaine Chandon sign after the balloon ride.  It was still dark when we first arrived.

Once everyone was filled to the brim with coffee and information, we were loaded onto shuttles and taken to the launch site.  (We were also told to go to the bathroom before we got on the shuttle.  Apparently there are no bathrooms aboard the balloon.  Who would have thought?  How the Wizard of Oz survived on his hot air balloon trip I'll never  Surprisingly the 'launch site' was the parking lot of a near by store.  It was kind of a small space, but all the balloons were inflated there without a problem.

We headed over to the balloon that we were assigned to and climbed aboard.  There are no doors to the balloon basket, you just have to climb in and hope that you don't land on the other people that got in before you.  (Being the klutz that I am, I was really worried about landing on people.  I didn't, but it could have been tragic.  The gods have spared me this

Me breathing a sigh of relief for not crash landing on anyone while climbing into the basket.  We had 12 people in our basket.  There really wasn't too much room to move around, which was fine with me.  That meant no crazy thrill-seeker trying to rock the basket back and forth.

In a matter of minutes we were floating up into the early morning sky.

This is what the inside of the balloon looks like.  You could really feel the heat of this, which was kind of nice because it was really cold that morning.  It wasn't on the whole time, though.  They only need to heat the air to climb to higher elevations. 

The view.
This is how close we were.  La'akea is actually leaning backwards to get this shot.
As the flight went on we got higher and higher up over Napa Valley.  The view was incredible!

Our pilot gave us a whole tour of the valley.  Complete with bringing the basket down to where we could reach out and touch the trees.  He even had us reach out and pick the leaves.  It was really cool and totally unexpected. 

We floated around for a little over an hour and began our descent.  We had traveled almost 14 miles away from our starting destination.  Now I know you're thinking, "14 miles away?  How are you going to get back?"  We walked.  No, we didn't!  There is a team on the ground that follows the balloon around via van.  They meet you at the landing site, wherever it may be since it is different every time depending on the weather conditions,  and help you have a smooth landing.  Once the basket is close enough to the ground, they literally grab hold of it and pull you to the ground.  Then part of the team stays there to pack up the balloon and the rest of them shuttle you back to Domaine Chandon where you are greeted with a champagne breakfast.  Mmmmm...champagne.

Me happily on the ground again.

After we finished up breakfast we walked back to the car and headed back to our hotel.  We wanted to get in a little more sleep before our next adventure...the Wine Train!

Well we had to stop to take some photos!
In the wee hours of the morning my husband told me these were mushrooms.  It was dark and I was still sleepy, so I said "Wow those are the biggest mushrooms that I have ever seen!"  He played it off cool like they were really mushrooms.  I didn't protest because, let's be honest here, I'll pretty much believe anything at that hour of the morning.  
By the time we left it was bright and sunny and I had ingested about 3 cups of coffee.  When we walked past it again I had to check it out, thinking that I needed to get a picture of the hugest mushrooms on the planet.  When I saw them I knew I was had.  It was just a bunch of rocks stacked on top of each other.  He laughed for a pretty long time.  Nice one hunny.  Very funny....haha.
So I made him take this silly picture with the sign.  Who's laughing now?

No comments:

Post a Comment