Riding in a hot air balloon as always been on the very top of my bucket list, and I’ve been dreaming about the experience for years. So when I was recently visiting the state of Arizona and had the opportunity to go on a sunrise trip, I jumped. Little did I know that I would have a revelation in the air. Let me tell you about the flight first.
The trip took place above the Sonoran Desert. I dragged my partner in crime, RoseAnna Schick, who was not so keen on waking up so early and who had gone previously in Australia. We were on a very early shuttle which filled up quickly on our way to the site where we would take off. There were plenty of other novices on board so I felt right at home and had no apprehension about riding in the sky.
Phoenix had been experiencing strong winds the day before so there was a small chance that our trip would not happen, and Hot Air Expeditions, our hosts for the morning, would not make that decision until right before departure. As much as I was praying for a good verdict, I respected their decision to protect our safety. How much fun would it be in a windy sky? Not much for me. Fortunately, they made the decision to march on.
Some hot air balloon companies in the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas give you the choice of helping to inflate the balloon or just letting the balloon crew do it. Ours didn’t but I rather enjoyed standing in the middle of the Arizona desert, watching it be blown up. It took a bit of time and certainly a lot of skill on the company’s part.
There were about 20 other people in our balloon. Roseanna and I both had a comfortable spot in the balloon’s wicker basket. As we lifted into the sky, we looked at each other and smiled. She was glad she had come along for the experience.
We went up about 2,400 feet. The morning air was crisp and cool but in the air we were perfectly warm. Patrick (who easily resembled Patrick Stewart) kept running the fuel to keep the balloon lifted, and it was actually warm in the sky.
And we just glided through the sky, just like that. I felt safe the entire time. It was early in the morning. Everyone on board was quiet and in awe of the spectacular views. There were 8 or 9 other balloons in the sky so we were certainly in good company.
And that’s where it happened. I realized that I have many, many years left in my life to accomplish what I want to do. This was a dream come true and there will be many more. Bucket list item checked off, yes, but maybe I’ll even get to do it again.
When we landed, we were shown to a table near landing set with flutes of champagne, chocolate croissants and quiche. It was the perfect way to end the experience. RoseAnna and I looked at each other and smiled again. I wonder if she had a similar experience in the sky.
Hot Air Expeditions is located at 2243 East Rose Garden Loop in Phoenix, Arizona. Their phone number is 480-502-6999.
Disclosure: I was invited as a guest of the Greater Phoenix and Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau to experience a hot air balloon experience but all opinions are my own.