The Flagship has LandedView All Sizes
JOURNAL : May 6, 2012
|Series||Balloon Ride over the Vineyards of Temecula|
Today we boarded a most extraordinary flying machine called a hot air balloon.
Having been previouly invented by the Montgolfier Brothers, this contraption is flying into the skies above Temecula's beautiful wine country for the sole purpose of — sitting, are we? — pleasure!
Balloons Taking Off BelowView All Sizes
Hot Air Balloon InflatingView All Sizes
Indeed, after careful study I could locate neither scientific instruments nor military armament, or suggestion of tomfoolery (e.g. wankers hawking loogies on hapless pedestrians). In fact, fellow passengers appeared to be on holiday or some special occasion.
Assured thusly, we relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
The sun rose and spread over the mountains. The balloon went up, and so did we.
Here we pass our sister balloon...View All Sizes
One thing I shall labour to make clear, is the firm sense of security one feels within the balloon's basket. The rim comes right up to the torso of person of average height, and sturdy handholds are plenty. It would take a determined effort to hoist oneself out of the cozy compartments the basket is divided into.
All the humans, fuel and weight of the basket give it a comparatively compact mass under the open air and fabric above. Despite our lighter-than-air vehicle we had managed to bring some of the feeling of terra firma with us. Although I will occasionally feel that toe-tingling sensation when looking down from high cliffs or tall buildings, I could gaze directly downward from the balloon's lofty heights without feeling it.
..and there she goes.View All Sizes
Ranch HouseView All Sizes
Clusters of Buildings & VineyardsView All Sizes
Twas a glorious day. Primarily a celebration of the birth of my Elizabeth, it was also an opportunity to defy gravity in a most peculiar way: with blasts of gas. No cockney joke this, sir. Rather, the new fad is that as heated air rises it is captured by this nylon envelope, which lifts skyward the attached wicker basket and any humans therein.
Inside the EnvelopeView All Sizes
A remarkable idea! And, I might say, quite an achievement to catch what cannot be seen, as it escapes to the heavens. But that's what these balloonatics do.
Rabbit from about 50 feet up
From the moment we embarked the ride was exceedingly smooth and quiet like sailing in Cumbria. Nary a breeze nor unsettling jolt was felt, nor did we miss the push, drone, or vibration of an internal combustion engine. No airship this, the only flight control system our pilot could employ was elevation via an occasional go with the propane burner over our heads. So we cast our lives to the mercy of the four winds.
Balloons in the SkyView All Sizes
Temecula Wine CountryView All Sizes
Orange groves from perhaps 500 feet upView All Sizes
Closer now, about 100 feetView All Sizes
Orange Grove at about 20 feetView All Sizes
About 3 feet up now...View All Sizes
Several companies operated in the area. A dozen balloons were counted in the vicinty, including our own. All arose from a rather narrow corridor, and dispersed softly like dandelion seeds.
Yet, though we were foolish enough to leave the earth, our fantastic voyage was thoroughly enjoyable. The balloons bobbed gracefully up and down over elegant vineyards and citrus groves, at times the basket nearly touching tops of the trees and within reach of fragrant oranges.
Liz recovering nicely from the flight.
At the zenith we were 2000 feet above sea level. The air was quite fresh. I realized that it was certainly hospitable for residents of cities in the sky one day. A broad vista revealed the tide of suburbia splashing onto dry, sandy scrub land dotted with horse ranches and crisp new wineries. Though I wouldn't like the outcome, I'd bet a pound sterling all this will be tract housing very soon.
Our faithful pilotView All Sizes
What separates this flying adventure from others on Daily Venture is the intimate connection one feels with the atmosphere when travelling in this manner. On a whirlybird or other aeronautical machine the passengers are enclosed in a tight metal capsule and allocated narrow viewing spaces. In a hot air balloon you are out above and within it all, breathing in that sky.
A pair of balloons in the sky.View All Sizes
Brand New VineyardView All Sizes
This scenic adventure was not wholly unprecedented. Years ago while residing in Kensington, San Diego (not the Royal Burrough, but lovely nonetheless) I saw vivid hot air balloons ascending over Del Mar.
My memory doth foggeth so, but somewhere between '98 and 2000 me mum and I went on a balloon ride for her birthday.
Only bits and pieces do I remember — like how difficult it was for me to maintain the surpise until we arrived and the colorful balloons were floating around her.
We coasted in for a perfect landingView All Sizes
One dreamy hour later our capable pilot expertly landed us in the middle of a level plateau surrounded by grapevines as if he had requested this of Zephyrus himself!
While ground crew stowed the craft, we witnessed balloonists in our sister vessel, California Dreamin's flag ship landing safely nearby. Forthwith we were conveyed back to the resort for a scrumptuous continental breakfast served with mimosas.
About this day
May 6, 2012
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