Balloon Magic in Colorado

For Labour Day weekend (last weekend) I went to visit my friend Keenan in Colorado. For years I’ve read his blog and loved watching all his posts of him exploring and enjoying the mountains in Colorado.  It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit…so decided that Labour Day weekend was the perfect time to go and explore Colorado for myself. (Fair warning: this post is going to have a PILE of PHOTOS!)
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My flights were uneventful… I actually lucked out with a really awesome seat, I could stick my feet into business class but the real perk of this was I had extra leg room! It was one of those flights that I fell asleep before we took off, and woke up about 45mins before we landed! (Nice to get a cat nap in… travelling always makes me feel so tired, especially jumping back in time 2 hours with the time zone difference!)  balloon-magic_0001

Keenan picked me up…and after heading back to his place and a quick walk for Ro…we headed out for dinner and ice cream! Ended up having the most fantastic burrito…and even had left overs for the next day.
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So Friday night I was told, “So we are going to have to wake up at 5:30am tomorrow…BUT it’s because we are going HOT AIR BALLOONING!!!” Huge-amazing-awesome-surprise…

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Anyone who know me knows I don’t like early mornings… but hello!? Maybe I should reassess that stance…and be getting up earlier to catch the sunrise…because there is some magic light and so gorgeous and worth getting up way early in the morning.

balloon-magic_0005No words of complaint about the hour…when you get to see the sun rise on the horizon!
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“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

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There was huge excitement as everyone was put into their groups… there were like 4-5 Balloons that took up between 6-8 people  (plus driver) in the basket. We went with Fair Winds– Hot Air Balloon Flights.  They launch them about a 30min drive from Keenan’s house…often he has seen them taking off during his early morning runs!
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But first thing first… huge fans were used cool air to inflate the balloons (that had been laid out on huge tarps)…the baskets were all on their sides.
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After they were filled with cool air, then it is switched the ‘hot’ air…and slowly the balloons came up off of the ground! (The two people below joined our balloon ride… they were enjoying some early morning fresh air…)
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All the balloons were so colourful and gorgeous.  We ended up going on the more green one.
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I did find out some information I didn’t know about…”Most hot air balloon launches are made during the cooler hours of the day, at dawn or two to three hours before sunset. At these times of day, the winds are typically light making for easier launch and landing of the balloon. Flying at these times also avoids thermals, which are vertical air currents caused by ground heating that make it more difficult to control the balloon. In the extreme, the downdrafts associated with strong thermals can exceed the ability of a balloon to climb and can thus force a balloon into the ground.” Source

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This wasn’t my first balloon ride… when I was younger I won a hot-air balloon trip for two through a grocery store competition.  So I took my gramma… (She was the one that always told me to sign up for the in-store competitions.) We went at sunset…so the sunrise was a bit different! balloon-magic_0012

Our balloon is getting filled with hot air…balloon-magic_0026

As the balloons inflate, there is someone holding onto the top with a long rope… (not sure why… and I didn’t ask…) But it was cool to flip around to the other side to quickly get this photo before we had to jump in our basket. balloon-magic_0013

So exciting…as we started to take off.  Now in our basket…we had 6 other people.  A couple that was celebrating their 44th Wedding Anniversary; a lady who didn’t like heights (but was going to have the experience with her husband)…and another couple that had perfectly timed iPod play list… that they shared earphones to listen to the whole trip!
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The other balloon waiting to take off… until we got into the air! (Every balloon had a walkie talkie so the balloons can communicate with each other.)balloon-magic_0015

WOW!!! the mountains + balloons… honestly, there are no words… I couldn’t stop smiling, staring and taking photos! balloon-magic_0016

…such amazing gorgeous views.  balloon-magic_0017

…I loved flying over the neighbourhoods, everything looked so tiny—and almost like a model village! I remember thinking this as a child on my first trip too! (sometimes things don’t change). balloon-magic_0018

…those smiles didn’t stop the WHOLE time!
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…even our balloon pilot was all smiles as he talked and told us random things about what we were seeing! He also would turn the balloon so we could get a view over our side of the basket! balloon-magic_0020

We ended up going in a pretty straight line… and went up to 7500 feet! balloon-magic_0021

As all good things, come to an end… soon our trip ended!… I was expecting a bumpy landing (my first trip we bumped and were dragged sideways in a farmer’s field)….but that was so not what happened this time.  We had one BUMP and then hovered over to a better grassy area to put out the balloon.  balloon-magic_0022

…We stayed in the basket until the balloon was unflattened and laid out onto the grass.  (they opened up the top…. (which was closed before we took off!) balloon-magic_0023

After we got back to were we took off from we were surprised with ‘goodie’ bags! A t-shirt, framed photo of the two of us in the basket taken before we took off, a pin, and a mini-bottle of champagne.  (This is a tradition in ballooning…rumours had it the first French balloonists would take champagne to give to spectators to ease their nerves when they landed!)
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…then we got to wait around while all the balloons and baskets were packed up! Keenan and I took the time with a few selfies! (some on our iPhones and others on my SLR…)
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…after we headed into Louisville for brunch, at this really neat family run 50s style diner.  balloon-magic_0030

So that was the start of my action-packed-weekend-of-fun in Colorado…Keenan you sure know how to start a weekend off with a BANG and surprise a person…Thank you so much for this amazing surprise!

But don’t worry dear readers, there’s more adventures and stories from Colorado to be told…but they are going to have to wait until the next post!

EDITED:  to add Keenan’s AWESOME video from the adventure! Thanks for putting this together Keenan… 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Balloon Magic in Colorado

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