Saturday, September 22, 2012

White Sands Balloon Festival, Our Balloon Ride

This past weekend was chock full of events and we were brave souls, getting out of bed two mornings in a row at 5:00 a.m. for balloon lift-offs, attending the Tularosa Basin Wine and Music Festival on Saturday afternoon with the Red Hatters and returning to the Alamogordo Balloon Park that evening for the Balloon Glow. Normally the whole Balloon Festival takes place at White Sands but they had a missile shoot on Saturday.  We were able to go to White Sands for the Sunday morning lift-off. I've only been to one balloon festival that didn't completely happen in Plano, Texas due to 9/11 so this was especially interesting to me. Doug was in contact with the manager of the festival three weeks before, finding out all the info, and we hooked up with him when we went to the event. As a result, when two riders didn't show up to go up in the balloon he was sponsoring, he came looking for us and gave us the opportunity to go up. I have a fear of heights and was a bit hesitant, but decided to throw caution to the winds. I'm so glad I did. This is the most calm and peaceful I've ever felt. Mona, the pilot of 23 years experience, was very professional and gave us a marvelous flight. I'm ready to go again!

Joe and Sharon Kelman with Carla. They are new to Alamogordo.
Looking into the inside of "Cool Beans" balloon

A beautiful shot against that beautiful blue sky
Some of the 54 balloons airing up and sky bound
The subject matter makes it easy to be more artistic in photography
Just breathtaking!
Great shot of the basket and underside of an especially pretty balloon
Balloons as far as the eye can see
Another view of this amazing event
Just about ready to lift off surrounded by crew members
It's about this time that Ed came looking for us to go for a balloon ride so the view will soon become more birds eye as you will see.

Our friend, Ed
This is the balloon we went up in and it is huge
Lady in pink top is pilot Mona L. Johnson surrounded by her crew
Here am I trying to figure out how to climb in (no easy task for a 74 year-old)
Pilot Mona and do I look pleased with myself or what?
You can tell Doug is in because this shot is so close
Up Up and Away in my Beautiful Balloon
Just look at those mountains in the background
I haven't said a word and Mona is worried that I'm terrified!
Caught part of our balloon overhead while shooting the others
Adding hot air to keep going
Some balloons landed to trade out passengers
This is a brackish water treatment plant
Pilot Mona adding more hot air
The white truck and trailer is Mona's crew truck following us to where we land
Mona decided this cement pad would be a perfect place to land
And, we are down, a perfect landing
This is the top center of the canopy pulled to let hot air out
The balloon is coming down but still trying to go skyward
It was "shake and bake" and I helped!
It does come down faster than it blows up
"Never step on the envelope fabric!"
This is like stuffing a huge snake into a bag
Pilot Mona and crew pushing the air out of the "snake"
Once everything was loaded, Mona took us back to the Balloon Park to our car. We went to IHOP for breakfast and home to rest a bit and change clothes for the afternoon Wine and Music Festival with Red Hatters. If you will notice, Mona and her crew are all wearing gloves partially to keep body oil from getting on the fabric because it tends to rot it. We learned a lot about ballooning and had a grand time. Thank you Mona and Ed.

As it turned out, various things had happened in the lives of my Red Hatters and only one besides myself was able to attend. We had a grand time and took advantage of the one-on-one to become better acquainted.
View of the set-up for the festival
Carla aka Queen Ladybird and Dorothy Smith
Carla greeting Gloria, creator of beautiful jewelry and a former Red Hat Queen
This is Guitar Slim and his band and they played some fine music
Thanks, Doug, for all the great photos.

This is all I have to say for now.

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