November 19th, 2004 - Balloon Ride

In August, 2002, Deanie asked me what I wanted for my Birthday, and I said "a balloon ride".  Nothing much happened for a few months, and I asked about the ride, and Deanie eventually called around and found a place near Worcester that gave rides.  She didn't want to schedule one, not knowing my availability, so nothing happened for a few months.  Eventually, we scheduled a ride, for the spring of 2003.  Well, to make a long story just a tiny bit shorter, scheduling a balloon ride is non-trivial.  First of all, they're VERY dependent upon the weather - especially the winds - if the winds are forecast to be blowing more than 5 mph or so, they cancel.  Then, since they're booked up months in advance, if you get cancelled, you can't reschedule for a few months, at least during peak season (spring, summer, early fall).

Over and over again, over the course of the next year and a half, we were cancelled, rescheduled, cancelled, rescheduled, cancelled, rescheduled, cancelled, rescheduled, cancelled, rescheduled, etc. - you get the picture.  Finally, we scheduled for the morning of November 19th, 2004 - 2.3 years after my birthday in 2002.  (Interestingly, I had to buy myself my 2003 birthday present as well - Sid Vicious' album with "My Way" on it).  At any rate, we called the night before to confirm, fully expecting to get cancelled once again (we had a lot of precedent for that belief), but we were told we were on!  At 6 AM the next morning, we got a phone call telling us to be at the launch site at 7:30 AM.

We watched the crew unload and inflate the balloon, and then the 6 passengers climbed in with Mario, the pilot, and off we went for a quiet hour in the air.

I had asked Deanie to come along with me, and she had reluctantly agreed, but during and after the ride she said she really liked it a lot, and was very glad she had come along.  That was the best part of the ride for me.....

This is a view looking straight up inside the balloon with the propane heaters going full blast to inflate it.

This is a view from about 20 feet up, looking down on the chase truck and the guys packing up stuff to begin chasing us.

Some condos close to the launch site, from about 50 ft. up.

The house where we took off.

Local landscape from down low, with a good view of the bottom of my finger.

View toward Worcester from a thousand feet.

View of Mt. Monadnock behind Mt. Wachusett.

Deanie in other corner of balloon.

Some factories, with a dangling rope.

Me and Deanie, with basket pole.

Us again, with the same pole.

The house next to the one where we landed.

Great shadow definition on the trees nearby!

Deanie just before landing.

Out of the balloon, starting to deflate.

A little further away, balloon deflating more in backyard.

Obviously a LARGE backyard, with friendly folks helping out.

Balloon almost deflated and ready to pack up.

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Copyright 2004, All Rights Reserved, Marc J. Zeitlin

Last Updated: February 21, 2006