It snowed overnight, but there was hope the white trim on the Red Rock Mountains would melt by the time the birds awoke with their early morning chirping. In Sedona, Arizona, on an open field, a hot air balloon was waiting.
As my wife an I arrived to the remote location, we could see the crew inflate our chariot – the majestic balloon that would carry us on this sunrise odyssey over the valley of Central Arizona. It took a bit of effort (as did our newly acquainted companions) to climb into the bucket. But soon, with the pilot making adjustments to balance the weight of the passengers, we silently and softly rose above the desert floor.
Though the balloon was huge, there was little room in the basket. Divided into four compartments with four passengers each, the basket was very crowded which we learned was necessary for safety since there are no restraints to hold travelers inside.
As we glided 100-300 feet above the valley, we were speechless. The pilot explained as we moved across the sky, he was in complete control of all of the vertical movements, but had no control over its horizontal direction. The air currents are in charge of that. With the rising sun behind us, the Red Rocks in front of us and the valley below, it was breathtaking. Although the breezes pushed us in a southerly direction, we didn’t feel the wind because we travelled at the same rate of speed. It was a calm morning and we felt that all movement was in slow motion.
Forty-five minutes later, it was time to begin the descent and landing approach. Using a simple cell phone, the pilot alerted the crew to where he though the wind would allow us to land . But as we gradually worked our way to ground level, it was apparent that the pilot’s educated guess was one mile or so off course. Another phone call and adjustments were made and we began our final approach. But we still had one final obstacle.
A deep canyon stood between the landing site and our craft. As the balloon descended into the canyon, the updrafts lifted it to flat land. Slowly and surely, the balloon sank into the canyon and soon our frazzled nerves dissipated as we ascended to a perfect landing.
As we exited the balloon on that crisp November morning, a champagne breakfast awaited us as we processed the marvel we just experienced.
Each Wednesday, KMM’s staff members share stories and anecdotes about their
memorable vacations, recent and past. These will be personal
recollections about trips to our beloved Jersey shore, across America,
and around the world. Changes in Latitude………..