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Posts Tagged ‘hot air balloons’

             “What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I wondered if this balloon was going to get high enough to miss the wires. It did. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I wondered if this balloon was going to get high enough to miss the wires. It did. — Photo by Pat Bean

Adjusting to a New Life

            After exiting, but not abandoning, my nine-year RV home, Gypsy Lee, in an apartment complex parking lot, I wondered if I had chosen the right place to put down a few roots.

Balloons are a familiar sight over Tucson. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Balloons are a familiar sight over Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

            I was still remembering how claustrophobic I had felt after purchasing my last rooted home back in Ogden, Utah, in which I had spent seven years before moving into Gypsy Lee.

            Right up until the last few months, when this old body decided it needed a bit more space and a few conveniences Gypsy Lee didn’t have, I never felt more at home than I did when traveling across this beautiful country. The road truly felt like home and the place I should be.

            I had thought when I retired that I would have about five years on the road before I would need to settle down again. I almost doubled that. I also thought that I would find a place that would call out to me as being my next home. It never did.  

            I suspected I would end up in my native Texas, where most of my children and grandchildren live, and started looking, and continued doing so for almost a year. I found nothing that met my requirements – nice, dog friendly, large bath tub, light and airy, and near town conveniences but with a place to walk – that either appealed to me or was in my measly price range.  

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            When I started looking in Tucson, where my youngest daughter lives and where I was headed to spend this past Christmas, I found what I had been looking for instantly, with the bonus of it being located at the foot of the Catalina Mountains.

            But almost as soon as I had moved into my new, small, third-floor apartment, I broke my foot and also began having doubts if I had made the right decision.

            A pair of Cooper’s hawks nesting in a tree in one of the apartment’s courtyards helped convince me — I’m a passionate birder — that I had, as did the beautiful view I have of Mount Lemmon to the north and the beautiful sunrises that have brightened almost all my mornings.

            I never thought I would live in the desert and like it. But I’m slowly beginning to think of Tucson as home.

            I’m especially enjoying a landscape where giant saguaro cacti — including one here at the apartment that is home to a pair of Gila Woodpeckers – dominate the landscape, and where it is not unusual to look up and see hot air balloons gliding by.           

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

   Bean’s Pat: Basil the Hippo http://tinyurl.com/cq9x969 I fell in love with this story – and Basil.

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 “There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect.” – G.K. Chesterton

This hot air balloon soaring over my daughter's horse corral was a delightful surprise for my morning. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Up, Up and Away

A common sight for my daughter's family was a rare delight for me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Shortly after the sun came up this morning, I beheld a wondrous, rare sight. Well, at least for me. It’s one that my daughter’s family sees most mornings from their desert landscaped home that looks down on Tucson.

Soaring above their horse corral was a hot air balloon, low enough for me to hear the whoosh of the flames as they roared their hot air upward into the balloon to keep it aloft. I could also hear the low murmurs of its passengers as they looked down on the sights beneath them. I waved.

Of course I wished I were up there with them, floating along at the pace of the wind.

I’ve been in hot air balloons twice, once over the desert near Las Vegas, and once over Africa’s Serengeti. The joy of floating above the earth and observing it from the advantage of height flooded my memories.

What a fantastic way to start my day.

Bean’s Pat: LavendarDragonfly http://tinyurl.com/6tachfh This blogger would have loved my morning. May we all have such eyes to see the tiny miracles of life around us.

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 “The balloon seems to stand still in the air while the earth flies past underneath.” – Alberto Santos-Dumont.

The two balloons behind us as we made our way over the Serengeti. -- Photo by Pat Bean

African Safari: Moving with the Wind

Kim and I were up well before dawn this day. We were going ballooning over the Serengeti. It was one of the costly extras not included in our already expensive African Safari package. So, foolishly, or wisely, depending on how you consider these things, we signed up for the adventure.

One large elephant trumpeted in unison with the whoosh of flames that lifted our balloon higher. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

I, as did Kim, knew that if we didn’t do it we would probably suffer regrets for passing up the rare experience for the rest of our lives. It took me until about 40 to realize that I had a lot more regrets for things I hadn’t done than for any things I had done. And I had remembered the lesson well.

The balloons were still being blown up when we arrived at the take-off field, and we got a briefing from Captain Neal, who would pilot our balloon, one of three going up this day. I thought him kind of cocky, but then I’ve never met a pilot who wasn’t.

Having survived our windy landing, and with smiles all around, we pose for a group photo we will receive as a souvenir.

Perhaps they need to be to have the necessary confidence to believe they can fly without wings.

It was still fairly dark when we took off. So when the flames roared to give the balloons an extra burst of hot air to keep them aloft, they took on a colorful glow in the gray morning light. It started the day like a fairy tale, and images of the hot air balloon in “Around the World in 80 Days” flashed through my head.

Our balloon flew low over the landscape, passing over a small herd of elephants. At the whoosh of flames as Captain Neal turned up the burner to take us up a bit higher, one of the larger elephants looked up at us and trumpeted.

To celebrate our successful hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti, we are all treated to a champagne breakfast. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The wind was fairly brisk this morning, and not only did we arrive at our destination more quickly than normal, we overshot the landing site. And then when it landed, the wing dragged the basket a way and then it tipped over.

All was well, however, and we posed for a group picture before crowding into a land rover to be taken back to the landing site, where a champagne breakfast had been set up for us.’

What a fantastic morning. I’m so glad I didn’t miss it.

Le Figaro said it best in 1908: “I have known today a magnificent intoxication. I have learnt how feels to be a bird. I have flown .. I am still astonished at it, still deeply moved.”

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Early morning balloon ride over the Serengeti toward the rising sun.

 

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