Picking up from last time –
It wasn’t long before we saw other cars park and heard people getting out. As the sun began to show, we followed people into the little room where everyone was meeting.
There was light breakfast stuff – donuts and cinnamon cake. I partook in some of the sugar, not ’cause I especially wanted some, but ’cause you know, I was sleepy.
Our host started pouring mimosas.
By the way, I didn’t realize “hot air balloon host” was a job, but it is. She confirms your reservation a day or two before you go. She gives you food and drink, tells you which balloon you’re in – and then points you to the correct balloon and tells you when to go there. She also takes a bunch of pictures.
So, yeah, writing it out, of course it makes sense there’d be a host, not just a pilot. But when I first got the text “this is your hot air balloon host,” I thought “huh. Didn’t know that was a thing.”
It was funny how much people were invited to drink (at 5 in the morning!). Bottomless mimosas were flowing in the room where we waited. Then there were multiple bottles of champagne flowing once we were in the basket. The pilot just kept asking if people wanted more. (And then there was a party bus coming back, but we’ll get to that.)
We all begin to make our way outside from the breakfast room and look on as the hot air balloons get set up. Trucks drive these huge tarp-ish-looking things out into the field. The baskets come out and get set up sideways (so they can blow propane, or whatever it is they blow, into the balloons to help blow them up.
We start to see the balloons get more and more full, and then we’re invited to walk through rows of the vineyard to get to the field and get closer to our balloons.
(I have some cool video, but am having a hard time uploading it here… grrr…)
Once we get down to our balloons, we can see in more detail the baskets on their sides with a strap with which to pull them up. Once the balloons are almost fully inflated, someone grabs the strap and pulls the basket right-side-up, as the pilot climbs in and the balloon becomes fully formed straight up in the air.
At that point, Chris, our pilot says, “If you’re with me, come on in!” So, everyone in our balloon goes on over there.
And this is where I’ll pick up next time.