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Tuesday, September 11, 2012


by Mauverneen Blevins

This past weekend one of my favorite events took place in Reno, NV – The Great Reno Balloon Race.  Held every September, it is a festival of hot air so to speak. In this case, being full of hot air is a good thing. A very good thing.

Taking to the skies
I have always been fascinated by hot air balloons. Maybe it was the movie Around The World In 80 Days, but it always seemed to me that it would be a positively awesome experience to fly through the air suspended from a brightly colored balloon.

Balloon enthusiasts
I lived for a time just up the road from Rancho San Rafael Park, in Reno, Nevada where the Balloon Race is held. Being a mountainous area, I couldn’t see much from my front door until the balloons were actually airborne. To take full advantage of the fest, it’s best to get up before dawn, bundle up – high desert is pretty chilly before the sun comes up - and head to the park with a thermos of coffee and a folding chair and find a spot to wait for the ‘Glow Show’ and the ‘Dawn Patrol’ to begin. Only a handful of pilots are qualified to fly balloons in the dark and it is definitely worth getting up early for! It’s a wondrous sight indeed to watch these balloons glowing brightly against the black sky as they gently ascend.

Trio of beauties
You can of course go into the park and mingle with the other balloon enthusiasts and the balloon crews, but I always preferred a spot on one of the hills above the park. As the darkness gives way to the daylight, I could watch the activity on the field below as colored sections of cloth were spread on the ground and one by one the balloons begin to fill and take shape and slowly ease into the sky.

Seeing one in the sky as I sit in my backyard or drive down the road causes a stir of excitement, seeing 100 of them in the sky at once is a thrill.

Early Morning Commute
150,000 people generally come to the Reno Balloon Fest. Albuquerque, even more well known, boasts 600 balloons and draws twice the amount of spectators.

Always fascinated by them, I of course always wanted to go up in one. Eventually, that dream came true, in Africa of all places. And it was every bit as wonderful as I had ever dreamed it would be. The one thing that surprised me though was the size of the basket – it held 16 passengers, plus the pilot. The ones I’d seen before were not commercial, they only held maybe three or four people.

Ballooning over Africa
Having gone up once I can tell you I will definately go up again. Floating through the air above the treetops was the most quiet, peaceful thing imaginable. Even with 16 other people.

The best way of travel, however, if you aren't in any hurry at
all, if you don't care where you are going, if you don't like to use your legs,
if you don't want to be annoyed at all by any choice of directions, is in a
balloon. In a balloon, you can decide only when to start, and usually when to
stop. The rest is left entirely to nature.
— William Pene du Bois, The Twenty-one Balloons.

For more of my Balloon pics go here!/media/set/?set=a.1212696964876.32985.1452336363&type=3

As always, words and photos are my own, and require permission to reprint. However, feel free to share the blog in it's entirety. In fact, I encourage it!


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