Sunday, August 8, 2010

Up, Up and Away

Well, I know I promised the next post was going to be about moving the tufa walls, but something else came up at the same time that's a whole lot more exciting.  First a little background.  We live a few miles from a small town, Seymour, which is 'famous' for the title, 'Home of the Hamburger'.  The first hamburger was invented there at the county fair way back in the day, so they say, and they valiantly defend their bragging rights against anyone who dares to say it ain't so. 

The 22nd Annual Burger Fest was this weekend, starting on Friday with our favorite (after the parade) event, the Hot Air Balloon Rally with folks from all over bringing in their balloons.  On Friday evening, early Saturday morning and evening and once again early Sunday morning, if the weather permits, the owners of the hot air balloons launch their craft and float gently whichever way the wind blows.  We are three miles away, as the balloon floats, and have always hoped they would land here on our farm, but the wind was never just right.  We have had a few hot air balloons land here occasionally, but never during the actual event.

That is, until Friday night!

Beginning to launch, Friday night

This is one cool balloon!
Carl, Joel, Ann and I went to town Friday night to watch the launch.  The weather conditions were perfect,
being almost dead calm.    As we watched the balloons ascend, we noticed a few of them were headed out toward our place---oh boy!--so we got in the car and proceeded to give chase.  We weren't the only ones on the road, either, and it's amazing no accidents occur with everyone driving around looking up!  Balloons are rather distracting.

 Chasing balloons down the road:
Now we're getting excited; one balloon looks like it may land here!

Balloon chase crew asked permission first, then drove into field

Every experience we have had with hot air balloonists have been positive, they are wonderful people!  They are always courteous, always ask if they can come onto our land with their chase vehicles and try as hard as they can to pick an area to land where they will do the least crop damage.

How ironic it is that on a solo voyage back on July 1, the exact same balloon landed here in our hayfield the same day that the hay was being baled.  Here is a picture of that day:
July 1, 2010 landing
Our farm renter, Dale, had just finished baling hay less than two hours before this same balloon landed again, August 7, 2010. 
August 7, 2010  Same balloon, same field!
We drove out into the hayfield too, after picking Grandma up from her house.  Dale and his brother, Eric, also joined the party, too. After they landed, the crew asked if any of us wanted a tethered ride.   Yes, we did!
They have a 100' long rope attached to the balloon and one at a time,  Joel, Ann, Eric, Dale and I all climbed in for an ascent.  What fun it was, and a once in a lifetime chance to ride in a hot air balloon.

Joel going up, taking pictures from basket...Left to right: Eric, me (waving), Dale, and Ann (taking pictures)  The other folks are the balloon crew.
View of top of balloon from basket, you can also see the burner unit on the bottom.
A little higher
Grandma is sitting in Joel's car out in the field.  She did NOT want a ride!
Ann's ride in the balloon
Yours truly, climbing in for my ride, wow....not my best side..........
They actually could get airborne with me aboard, amazing!!
 In the picture above, our garden is seen, well, ok, its behind the trees.  I was the last person to go up for the tethered ride and pointed out where we live to the pilot.  I wish I had spoken up sooner because the pilot said we could have maneuvered the balloon closer to our yard and had aerial pictures of the garden.  That would have been SO neat, oh well, maybe next time? 
Getting dark, time to load up and get back to Seymour for the Balloon Glow
What a great time this was for me; I doubt I'll ever have the opportunity again.  I wish Carl had gone up for the tethered ride, but he is not a fan of heights.  Though he said now he would do it, so if there's ever a next time, Carl's going up first!

We all headed back to Seymour again for the 'Glow' which is very pretty.  All the balloonists' come back to town and set up their balloons one more time and fire up their burners which lights up the balloons:
Unfortunately, on Friday night they were not able to have a very good glow due to the wind picking up and blowing the balloons around. 
Too windy to get the balloons ready for the glow.
This picture was taken in 2005, same place, better night for a 'glow'.
Since we had driven to the park to watch the glow and it got so windy, Joel decided to fly some kites while we were waiting and gave a few lessons to willing bystanders.  (He usually has a kite or two with him in his car.)  
Joel flying kite while waiting for Glow.

We left the flying field around 10 pm and had decided to have an impromptu bonfire (and supper, for us) which was attended by lots of new and old friends.   Cody and Briana were amongst the company, and they also provided some lively entertainment--you had to be there, trust me, but we had a good laugh. We finally fell into bed at 1:30AM.

Cody works for the local telephone company which sponsored one of the balloons and was able to take an actual flight.  There was room for one more passenger, so Cody asked Joel if he would like to go. At 6AM Saturday morning, we are on our way to Seymour again to watch Joel and Cody fly!

Early Saturday morning, setting up for flight
'Tequila Sunrise' almost inflated, the one Joel and Cody would be flying in.

Almost ready...
There they go!

Firing up
Straight above us
The following are pictures Joel took from his vantage point in the balloon:

Taking off

Leaving Seymour behind:
Told you it was a small town.
Company in the sky
Neighbor's farm
There's our house, see it?  No, I can't either, but it's there, trust me.
Sailing away
Ann, Carl and I were chasing Joel in our car.  Here he takes our picture as he flies over:

Misty morning

Coming down
Can't land in cornfield, hmmmmmm...
Look out for the tree

Cleared one tree, here's the next one!
Setting down in a driveway-this was one talented pilot!
Back on the ground again, safe and sound.

Moving to the road to take it down.
Packing up!
The flight was over.   Joel has some wonderful pictures and memories to treasure, and so do we!

I promise the next post will be about the tufa wall moving thing.

'Til next time!


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Karen, what a life! Farm life is starting to look pretty exciting - not sure I would have had the nerve to go up!


Littlebloomer said...

Wow! What a great experience and pictures. We were at the event on Friday night. First time for us and we'll certainly go back again. I too grew up on a farm near Seymour, then moved to Appleton for 20+ years and am now back in Black Creek. That same balloon landed once in our yard here in Black Creek. Love your blog. Thanks

Karen said...

Hi Eileen, Yes life around here is exciting at times; maybe bizarre is a better word for it? ;-) We just never know what's next, life is unpredictable. I know what you mean about going up in the balloon, though my trip on a tether wasn't the same as Joel's full flight! I've never flown in an airplane and neither has Joel, so this was definitely a new experience. The balloon ascents for Saturday evening and Sunday morning were canceled due to the windy weather conditions, so he was lucky to have gone when he did.

littlebloomer, have we met? If we haven't, why not? I hope you stop in to visit some day, you're only eight miles from here. Now you have my curiosity piqued!

The Dutch Baker's Daughter said...

Oh my! Seymour has gotten so much more fun and exciting since I lived there. Funny, that whole hamburger thing came about long after I left, but I still brag about it to everyone. How fun to be able to get on that balloon...I'm jealous!

Karen said...

Hi Cathy, Hamburger Days and the balloon rally really livens up the town for a couple days, that's for sure. Just being able to go up 100' or so on a balloon tied to a rope was alot of fun but Joel's trip was really nice. I'm glad he could go. Things have changed, but much is still the same, too. I bet when you visit, you're amazed at how tiny the town really is!

Littlebloomer said...

Hi Karen - I don't think we've met, but I think you and Carl may have gone to high school with my younger sister or brothers. Not sure where you're located, but I'd love to visit. I found out about your garden and blog through the Master Gardener visit earlier this Summer. Good luck on Thursday with the TV crew.

Beth said...

Beautiful photos, Karen! Sounds like Joel had a great ride too.

Betty819 said...

How neat was that! My sil in AZ used to be on the chase team of some group that used to fly hot air balloons in her area. She could sure relate to this beautiful photos..thanks for sharing them with us. I think it would be neat to go up into one. The problem I'd have is climbing up into one of those baskets!