Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bucket List: Item #1 - Hot Air Balloon Ride (Part 1)

On November 2, 2012, I left work and got on the road to Charleston to meet up with my mom.  We got situated in her car and started the trek to Anderson, SC for the Balloons Over Anderson Hot Air Balloon Festival.  It took us about 4 hours to get to our hotel where we settled in for the night.

We got up at the crack of dawn with plans to find the festival site and watch the morning flight of balloons take off.  I was scheduled to fly in the afternoon flight, so this would help us get a layout of the land so that we could plan for the afternoon.  After getting very lost and mistakenly thinking that the water tower (in the shape of a hot air balloon!) was the festival site we finally figured out where to go.  I'm a little ashamed to admit that we managed to pass it at least 3 times in our search!!  oops.

We bundled up and worked up the nerve to get out of the car.  I had definitely not come prepared for the brisk, FREEZING temperatures we were encountering that morning.  We finally made the plunge and got out of the car to head to the festival site.  It was still dark and relatively quiet when we arrived, but that all changed pretty quickly.  The trucks and vans started rolling in and the balloon crews began unloading the baskets and the balloons.  It was all incredibly fascinating!!  The crews finally received the word that the wind and weather conditions were suitable for the flights to take place.  That's when they started filling the balloons...first with cool air from a fan and then with the heat of the fire.

I heard a woman tell her granddaughter that the balloons were like giants waking up as they were filled.  What a perfect analogy!  And then the first balloon lifted off -- then the second -- then the third -- soon they were all off the ground!  I was completely awestruck!  It was like being in a dream as all of the balloons lifted off and floated away.

After all of the balloons were small dots in the sky, my mom and I made the executive decision that we needed hot coffee to warm our bodies up.  We decided to go exploring since we had quite a bit of time before my 4pm flight and the festival had not really kicked up yet.  We made our way to the historic downtown area and got some mediocre coffee from a local shop.  After finishing our coffee, we decided to walk around and enjoy the downtown area.

I thought it was so cool that they had these engraved quotes on the sidewalk all through the downtown area.

 My mom and I found some new friends...

photo by LSPhotography

photo by LSPhotography

And we enjoyed some the local scenery before grabbing lunch and hitting the local Goodwill.

photo by LSPhotography
photo by LSPhotography
 Then it was time to prepare to go back to the festival for my flight!