Posts Tagged ‘hot air balloon ballooning love boulder’

I used to live on Twin Lakes, in North Boulder. On summer days, we would often wake up in the morning to the “shhhhhhh” of hot air balloons passing by our condo — sometimes near enough to say “good morning” to the bright-eyed folks dangling beneath the balloon in the basket.

Ever since, I have wanted to ride in one of those balloons.

Nearly 10 years later, I got my chance. A coworker invited me up for a ride with Fair Winds Hot Air Balloon Flights, and I jumped at the chance. Despite the fact that we had to be at the launch site at 5:45am. And despite the fact that Trent, my coworker, was a self-confessed acrophobe and this was his plan for “getting over” his fear of heights.

When we arrived at the launch site, in a field just west of Twin Lakes, there was a little table set up with pastries, coffee and juice. Families and couples milled around, alternatively smiling with anticipation and yawning. Jeff, the owner of Fair Winds, greeted all of us, had us sign release froms and divided us up among three crews on three separate balloons. He soon had several of us helping unfurl and inflate the balloons.

Our cheery pilot, Jeff

Before I knew it, we were all climbing in and lifting off the ground. To my surprise, my stomach did a little flip. I looked over at Trent, who had his eyes closed and was taking deep breaths. But then, as we lifted up higher and could look out over the trees and around at the other balloons rising (there were six or seven others), it was such a peaceful and beautiful scene that any twinge of fear I had subsided. Trent seemed to be having the same experience, now with his eyes open. The balloon floated up so gently that there was nothing to give me pause besides the breathtaking scenery.

Then we came upon the sight that I will never forget: the mirror-like Twin Lakes below, reflecting the two balloons at eye level in front of us, the sunlight filtering in behind the balloons from the East and lighting everything aglow. One of the balloons, a bright red one, dipped its basket into the water.

After that, we rapidly gained altitude, and the views expanded in all directions. Beneath us was all of Boulder Valley, the still-snowy mountains beyond and the Front Range to our east.

Jeff, one of the nicest and most exuberant people I have met, would give little exclamations of “yay!” and “all right!” as we ascended. He is masterful enough as captain that he can rotate the balloon to give each passenger a good look at the view they request.

We glided over farms, houses, mansions (lots of mansions), cows, prairie dog holes, Walden Ponds and the adjacent water treatment facilities, and several  little (and not-so-little) bodies of water that I didn’t know existed. I was shocked at how lush and green the lanscape was — not the mid-summer Colorado I thought I knew.

Up high, it was warm in the sun and next to the flame, and at times, we each fell silent to reflect on the views. Jeff noted that, looking out over the foothills and mountains, he sometimes imagines what it must have been like for early explorers who travelled by horse or wagon to come upon all this remarkable beauty. And from up high, it felt like we were discovering it anew ourselves.

Eventually, we drifted down south of Empire Road in Louisville, near the Colorado Tech Center. We had a fairly smooth landing, thanks to the chase crew who met us there and guided us in. Trent looked glad to be on solid ground again, but exhaled and said, “That was so much easier than I thought it would be.” I gave him a congratulatory pat on the back.

We all helped pack up and then were carted back to the launch site in a nice, big van. Everyone was giddy and talkative. Back in the liftoff field, we gathered round for goodie bags and a send off from Jeff and the crews. Looking around at the happy faces, it was clear everyone had a great time. I left grinning ear to ear, feeling like the luckiest girl in the world.


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