Last August, a landmark birthday for my mom was the impetus for a big summer adventure. After a couple of years saying that someday we would take a hot air balloon trip, we finally did. It's a good thing the other two attempts didn't quite work out because we had an absolutely perfect day. Even the pilots hailed the weather as a ten out of ten for flying the friendly skies. Our balloon along with two others was laid out and blown up in a field in a rural part of northern New Jersey.
As we gently (and quickly) floated upward, those left behind became ever smaller. My dad followed us in the "chase vehicle" where he was able to get some photos. We cruised over farms and gorgeous homes in rural New Jersey. In one direction, we could see Philadelphia. In the other, the towering cluster of buildings indicated the New York skyline.
With precision controlling, we dipped into the cornfields and greenery where we could pick acorns from the treetops. The oblivious livestock went about their business, but the family guard dogs circled nervously, unsure what to do about our alien-looking floating form in this country setting. People sitting casually on their decks or talking on the phone waved vigorously. The kids at the summer camp stopped their activities to point and scream happily at us during our voyage.
At our altitude, the mid-August moon seemed more than full as we descended into the early twilight of a clear night. The pilot shouted down to some curious onlookers and we politely landed with consent in their front yard. The neighborhood kids gathered to watch the spectacle we created, and were recruited into helping deflate the colorful nylon beast.
An elegant champagne celebration awaited our arrival as the final touch on our glimpse from the sky. We sat at the table complete with cheese, fruit, and other victuals with our new ballooner friends, and enjoyed a slideshow starring ourselves with picturesque shots from the chase vehicle. We left the farmlands of New Jersey with a whole new perspective from above.
Up, up, and away!
Back on the ground (some photos courtesy of Dad).