The Adventure Begins in '10' (2010) travel blog

here I am trying to not let the balloon get the best...

Here we are, ready to lift off

A view of all the balloons yet to take off

This is as close as we got to another balloon

Another view from about 1000 feet

Here's a great picture of the RV park where we are staying

Here we can see our truck and 5th wheel (see instructions)

Rick helping to get the air out of the balloon -Packing up...

Pilot Jim preparing me for the ceremony for first-time flyers

Getting "baptized" by the pilot after the prayer

Chase crew members enjoying the ceremony

Getting a celebratory hug from the pilot

Fellow chase crew members Lynn and Bill

Fellow chase crew members Gary and Julie

Our new friends and rv neighbors, Brad and Nancy

This morning we got up at 5 and out the door by 5:30. We arrived at the assigned spot on the huge field to meet the pilot we were to volunteer for. Nope, he wasn't there. We struck up conversation with "chasers" for the pilot parked next to us. They kept the positive attitude going, but when all the pilots returned from their morning briefing we still had no pilot. Our neighbor chasers only numbered three so they asked the pilot if we could join them. Pilot, Jim Forshee from Kansas, said "Sure". Hurray, we had a job! Rick and I followed directions and we all got busy getting everything spread out and then the big fan got turned on to fill the balloon. I was assigned to hold one side of the balloon.

Our team consisted of eight by the time we got fully into the prep work. Once the balloon was ready to fly Jim said he could take two riders. One of the gals, Lynn, jumped right in. Jim said "I need one more". I heard three or four voices say "Get in!". Oh my gosh! They were talking to me!! In I climbed. All we needed now was the "Zebra" to let us lift off. (remember Zebras are the official launch directors)

The Zebra told us to take off and as we rose I started taking pictures. It was so peaceful - even with all the other balloons around us. The breeze was taking us South over the RV park where the Bernsen RV is. (To find us, locate the balloon and notice how it looks like it's part of the double row of rigs lined up like this llll? Just north of the those you can see rows of rigs at a 90 degree angle lined up like this ====. Across the road and just left of the balloon you can see a long trailer then a short one at the beginning of the row-1st and 2nd units in the row. Now do you see our big dark blue truck and then a red truck park a little cock-eyed like this >? That's us!)

We floated south for awhile, then Jim gave it more flame so we could ascend and catch the air currents going back the other way, hoping that we might be able to land on the field. We were in great position, but a lot of balloons had not lifted off yet. The rule is that you cannot land on the field if there are still balloons taking off. We descended again and he began looking for a good place to land. Between power lines and little back yards there wasn't much to choose from. Rick was in the chase vehicle with the other volunteers trying to follow us on the surface streets. That must be quite challenging, but they did a great job tailing us. Before long he found a field where two other balloons had landed. Hitting the ground in the little wicker basket gives you quite a bump. In about two minutes Rick and the rest of the chasers were jumping out of the car that pulled the trailer for all the rigging.

Packing up went smoothly. Then Jim said that because it was my first balloon ride we had to do a little ceremony as soon as we got back to the field. He wasn't prepared with champagne, but he had coke, beer or water. (I chose the water) He said a prayer as I knelt over a half-full glass of water. I was to drink the water without touching the glass with my hands. As I leaned down to bite the glass I got "baptized". We all had a good laugh. Then Jim handed me a card that recites the prayer, acknowledges my first flight and officially shows my name and his dated signature. Along with the prayer he also gave me his official balloon pin and card. The cards are highly sought after. (Jim has flown hot air balloons for more than thirty years and is on his fifth balloon. Four of our chaser crew live in Albuquerque and have worked with Jim for years, the other two came from Arizona and volunteered in 2002)

Rick and I spent a little time getting to know Gary and Julie, then checked with the pilot station - finding out that the pilot we were assigned to had cancelled - and headed home.

As soon as we got to our rig we could see that our neighbors, Brad and Nancy were hooking up their bumper-pull trailer. "You're not leaving are you?" - "Yes, it's time to go." A bit of sadness hit us but then we realized that we are both here in Albuquerque as a stop before going on to something new. We traded emails and phone #s and wished them safe travels. We will miss their company and friendship.

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