What should I expect on a hot air balloon ride?
That’s all I wanted to know before I took my first trip.
I always knew that I wanted to do something different for my 40th birthday. I’m not really the big party or girls trip to Vegas type person for an occasion like that, but I did want to commemorate the special day doing something out of the norm. My husband suggested skydiving, but that was a bit too out of the norm for me, but it was a step in the right direction. I decided that taking a hot air balloon ride would be perfect.
Terrence thought it’d be fun to spend my birthday in Vegas, so I wound up in Sin City after all. It was just him and me, and we had a really awesome time. It was one of the best trips away that we’ve had together in my opinion. Terrence took care of every detail, from dinners to booking the hot air balloon ride.
After a little bit of searching, he found a good deal on Groupon for a company that had good reviews on Yelp. He says it cost about $200 for the both of us, and that included the champagne toast at the end.
Do you want to know what it’s like to go on a hot air balloon ride?
It was very different than I anticipated, and nothing I read really gave me all of the details I was looking for before we went on our journey. I’m one of those folks who needs to know every detail before I do something so I can know how to plan everything from my clothes to the type of energy I need to bring into the situation! I mean, I often read spoilers for movies before I go see them. I love me some details!
Even though I went into the whole thing a little blind, it was still a good time.
Okay, so the first thing that was a surprise for me was how early we had to meet. We had to be at the hot air balloon company office before sunrise. We hung out for a few minutes before we started to pile into vans to go to the flight location. Fortunately for us, they reminded us that there are no bathrooms on the balloon (obviously, but I wasn’t even thinking about that!) or on the field where we would be taking off. We all rushed to go before the vans took off.
Once we got to the field, which was literally just an empty field behind a hospital, we got safety instructions and the crew sent a few latex in the air to check the wind. We had to wait for an all clear before the balloons were even brought out. If it’s too windy, or the temperature isn’t right, flights might have to be cancelled. Fortunately, we were good to go. The team pulled baskets and the big cloth out of trailers and started to set them up.
It took about 20 minutes to set up the hot air balloons.
The sun was just rising at that time. It was cold while we were waiting, but I had tons of layers on so it wasn’t too bad. Terrence was asked, along with some of the other men, to help with setting up the balloons. He was nice and toasty from lugging heavy fabric around. Once they lit the propane, I got a nice little warm kickback from that.
After the balloons were set up, we got stepped inside. There wasn’t a door in the basket like you might expect, but rather we had to climb into it. Our basket was a little smaller than the other balloons that were taking off that morning, so Terrence and I only had one other couple plus the pilot in ours.
Everyone started taking off all around us, and our pilot let us know it was time to take off. As we started rising off of the ground, my stomach dropped and I all of sudden got really nervous. I hadn’t thought about the fact that I would be in the air until we were starting to rise up, but then it hit me. I was like, “Oh snap. What am I about to do?” I gripped a rope inside the basket so tightly that it left an imprint on my hand. I only let go a few times to get some pictures.
There were a lot more shots that I wanted to get. I was scared of dropping my camera as we rose higher and higher off the ground. I was also nervous about falling out of the basket, so I tried to stay very, very still. Terrence kept moving around to get pictures. I didn’t move an inch, not even to shift the weight from one foot to the other.
About 15 minutes in, I started to relax. It was super quiet except for the comforting sound of the hot air, and peacefully still. It was chilly up in the air, so I was glad to have on jeans, the closed toed shoes the company suggested, a hat, and gloves. I wore sunglasses, too, which came in handy on the bright, sunny morning. We chatted with the couple that was in the hot air balloon with us, and learned a little bit about our pilot who was from France. He shared a ton of hot air balloon history with us. He also gave us a little bit of gambling advice. I was glad to have a pilot who was chill since I was feeling so anxious.
We could see so much when we were up in the air!
At one point, we were low enough to see people. It was still pretty early, only about 7:30 AM or so. We waved at people walking their dogs, and a crew of men doing some construction on a house. We were just floating along, like it was normal! One big detail that had never crossed my mind was that the hot air balloon was going to land wherever it was going to land. It’s not like a plane where you can steer it back to the place that you started.
Each balloon had a van and a driver on walkie talkie with the pilot who was following us on land so they could pick us up. The wind decided to blow us to a neighborhood park and we had a soft landing on thick grass just a few feet away from a sprinkler. We hopped out and the pilot and his navigator dragged the balloon off the grass and into the van’s trailer right before the sprinkler came on.
We jumped in the van and headed to a little playground where the other families from different balloons were waiting with mimosas. Our host said a poem, gave us each a certificate, and we toasted. It was one of the most fun experiences of my life, and the perfect way to bring in 40.