Friday, September 12, 2008

Balloons in the sky!

For several years, I have had an interest in those giant, often colorful, gas-filled contraptions that take people high in the sky without the help of a propeller or motor. It all started by a comment that a magazine editor made about me in regard to the first photographs and text I ever had published in a major magazine. It was a story I wrote about hot air ballooning, with photographs to go along with the article. The editor referred to me as a "photojournalist"! WOW! I like being called a photojournalist, and never forgot the comment or the article. So anytime I see passenger balloons in the sky---regardless of the type of gas lifting them up---I get warm and fuzzy feelings inside. I have had the opportunity to ride in several hot air balloons---twice at the big Hot Air Balloon Fiesta held annually in Albuquerque, New Mexico. One of the times, I had the good fortune to be in the Mickey Mouse balloon. The best part of that was the uncomplicated landing we made in a residential neighborhood, where all the little children were ecstatic to have Mickey land on their street! It was the biggest welcoming party I had ever experienced! The pilot of the Mickey balloon gave me a Mickey Mouse hot air balloon pin as a memento of the trip. The second year I rode at the annual Balloon Fiesta, my husband was with me in the balloon. I don't think the pilot of that balloon was as experienced as the Mickey pilot because that landing was not so un-complicated. The first touch-down, we came in too fast to the ground, and couldn't stop, so we went back up again. The second landing, was also too fast, so that we tipped over, dragged along the ground a while, and generally looked very un-graceful. We weren't injured, but my husband's Nikon camera was damaged in the incident, which was unfortunate, but repairable. A few years after that, I rode a helium-filled balloon similar to the one in the photo above, that used to be a tourist attraction in Branson, Missouri. (Both the balloon above, as well as the one at Branson, were tethered so that the occupants did not drift off into never-never land.) I didn't sign up for the ride at Niagara, as I wanted to spend my time next to and below the falls, as opposed to hundreds of feet above it. I had flown over Niagara Falls once where the pilot pointed it out below, but this time, I wanted to experience the falls up close and personal. And that I did---complete with the mandatory plastic raincoat that officials give you when you opt to walk along the stairs adjacent to the roaring water tumbling over the side of the cliff. It was a something I had been wanting to do for a long time, and an experience I would recommend for one and all!
Posted by Picasa