Thursday, September 28, 2000

Up, Up, and Away

What a day we’ve had! Peggy had set the alarm for 5 a.m., but I was wide awake at 2:45 a.m. and unable to get back to sleep. At 4:30 I was sneaking downstairs to take a shower before she woke up. We were out at Prosser Dam watching the fog rise off the water long before anybody connected with the balloon company showed up.

As it turned out, it was a lovely day for a balloon ride. We had booked for an hour; three other people (2 from Honolulu, one from Atlanta) were joining us for the first 30 minutes. We watched them get the "sleeve" of the balloon set up and start pumping air in it...

...then switch from cold to hot air until the whole thing finally stood upright, inviting us to hop in and start our adventure.

I expected Ray, the balloon operator, to start our trip with "I can’t come back...I don’t know how it works!" but he didn’t. He explained balloon aeronautics to us as we slowly drifted from ground zero up 1,000 feet. There is absolutely no sensation of leaving the ground. Just one minute you’re on the ground and the next you’re watching your car become a tiny speck far, far away. While waiting for wind to carry us along, we hovered over the mist rising off the water in the dam and Ray explained that he couldn’t watch it because it mesmerized him and he could easily go into a trance. It did have a kind of "lava lamp-esque" quality to it.

Shortly before the first half of the trip ended, Ray aimed us through a grove of pine trees and we were able to pull needles off the top of the trees. That was pretty kewl.

The balloon set down on a hillside and the 3 other passengers scrambled out and waved goodbye to Peggy and me as we continued our flight. Ray decided to go higher and got the balloon up high enough that we could see Lake Tahoe off in the distance. We took lots of pictures of the shadow of the balloon on the ground and on the treetops, and even reflected in Peggy’s sunglasses.

We landed in an open field and bounced a few times before coming to a halt, each time dumping condensation on my head. But we finally got out of the balloon and Peggy helped roll the sleeve back into its package while I snapped lots of photos.

When all the balloon equipment was loaded, we climbed into Ray’s beat up old van, a real classic, and were driven back to our car. Then it was time to go back to the condo, clean, and pack up (after we’d looked at all our photos first, of course!)

It was an uneventful drive home and we got here around 2. I hoped to take a nap before going to see Beauty and the Beast tonight, but alas that was not to be, as there were three tapes waiting for me to transcribe. I got a load of wash started and dinner in the oven and then attacked the transcription.

When Walt came home, we had a quick dinner, then left Peggy here while he and I went into Sacramento to see the show. I could get into this critic jazz. We had 10th row center seats for this opulent show and it was just great. The down side, of course, is that it’s pushing 1 a.m. and I’m still struggling with getting the review written, which I have to do before Peggy and I leave for Los Angeles tomorrow.

In an hour, I will have been awake 24 hours.

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