May the winds welcome you with softness.
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that God
joins you in laughter and sets you gently
back into the loving arms of Mother Earth. – The Balloonist Prayer
This was the prayer inscribed on the champagne glasses we used during the ceremonial toast celebrating our successful hot air balloon flight. Perhaps a bit cheesy, but we had a lot of fun. Captain Randy Long took us flying on what he claimed is the largest passenger hot air balloon in America. And yes, this balloon was huge and we were amazed as we shared what looked like an oversized wicker laundry basket with fourteen other adventurers (it holds up to 20).
By comparison, our first hot air balloon trip several years ago was in a tiny and cramped basket as only four passengers jockeyed for good photography positions. But this basket gave us our own little compartment and it was plenty spacious.
Because hot air ballooning is dependent on wind speed and direction, lift off didn’t happen immediately after we gathered at 6:30am. We drove to three locations before Captain Randy found the right spot to launch. We finally got off the ground and drifted quietly above the Sonoran desert to about 1,800 feet, with no rush of wind in our faces. From our corner of the wicker basket, Steve and I scanned 360 degrees of desert panorama as the balloon traveled in a slight breeze. It was just like floating on air, so peaceful and completely quiet except when the burners were running.
We learned there are several hot air balloon operations in the Cave Creek area, as we watched up to 7 balloons in the air almost every morning and even a few in the evenings for the sunset flights (those looked like fun, too). We happened to select Arizona Balloon Safaris and thought they did a great job.
We are currently staying in Cave Creek on the outskirts of Phoenix, enjoying perfect weather so far – sunny days and a bit nippy at night. Cave Creek Regional Park (Steve’s review here) was an easy choice as our home base, as we loved our first stay here exactly three years ago. Our site is wonderful, but we think the beautiful hill behind Betsy in the picture below is causing major internet connectivity issues. It’s leaving me whining because it’s hard to keep up with the whereabouts and activities of my friends in the blogosphere!
Other than that minor complaint, life is good here in the desert!
Next Up: It’s party week!