Sunday, June 5, 2011

Our 9th Anniversary

Clinton and I celebrated 9 years of marriage this weekend. Since we usually aren't even on the same continent for our anniversary, we decided to make this a special one. I started off with a massage at home. Oh my goodness- It was HEAVEN!

The BIG event of the evening was Hot Air Ballooning. This is something on my bucket list so it was perfect! I am kind of an adrenaline type of girl and really enjoy anything with excitement. We met up with the company we booked the tour with at a grocery store parking lot. They transported us in a passenger van to a "launch location". There were 5 other couples ballooning also. Now I thought that there would be some type of launch pad where they take off every time- NOT the case. When you are ballooning you are totally at the mercy of the wind. We went to the first location (aka- the driver pulled over the side of the road beside a big grassy field). The hot air balloon guys got out and got on their phones ( something about getting weather reports, wind reports, etc...) They looked up at the sky a lot and released a couple of helium balloons. They then looked up at the sky more and put their hands to their chins a lot contemplating. Back on their phones, looking up at the sky, contemplating, etc...They then released a third helium balloon and it went in the totally opposite direction. At this point we had been sitting there about 25 to 30 minutes and I knew we WEREN'T going to be launching from that site. Sure enough the guys got back in the van and let us know that we needed to go to a second location.

We drove and we drove and we drove closer to the ocean. Let me back up and say before we all loaded up in the van we had to sign a release. You know where they tell you that you could die and all those things. Clinton ALWAYS reads any type of contract so he read the whole thing. He kind of laughed when he read it and said " There is a possibility I can go to jail for trespassing?". The guy just chuckled and said , "yes we cover everything in the release". OK so back to driving... We drove closer to the ocean and the driver turned down a road. He then turned down a dirt road and through an open gate with a "No Trespassing" sign on it ( ok I thought- this must be where the jail part comes in. lol!) He continued driving on this (road)- it was more like 4 wheel driving. We turned a corner and then I saw what must of been the "secret launch site" lol! There were already 2 other companies there setting up in a big field. Hurray! at this point I knew we WOULD get to hot air balloon. I really was starting to wonder if we would get to go up or not because they will only go up if they are 100% confident they can do it safely. In that case we would have done it the NEXT evening and we didn't have a sitter for the NEXT evening so I was sweating a little.

The guys immediately hopped out and started unloading and setting up. I think they did it in record time! They got our balloon set up before the guys beside of us who already had their equipment unloaded when we arrived. The balloon was inflated and we all climbed into the basket. There were 11 of us total- 5 couples and the pilot. Clinton and I got in first so we were directly under the flames and beside the pilot. I was a little worried about how we were going to all fit and about the weight. Lets just say there were some extremely LARGE men in our group. However, the basket accommodates more so there was the perfect amount of room.

Soon we were up up and away! What an amazing feeling to be off the ground and floating through the air! Since we launched by the ocean it was an amazing view! We then floated past some BEAUTIFUL homes!! We got to see Bill Gates' San Diego compound, The Kroc family ( founder of Mcdonalds) compound, Janet Jacksons old home, as well as the Nordstrom family home which was under remodel. The pilot gave us a really interesting tour and was really knowledgeable about the area. He cracked open a bottle of champagne so we all got to enjoy some bubbly.

We floated for about 45 minutes to an hour and then the pilot told us about the "landing position" we needed to take when he gave us the signal. Basically it was men in the back, women in the front, and hold on for dear life. He gave us the cue and then I saw the look of concern on the pilots face, which was NOT a good thing but he had been ballooning for 25 years so I wasn't THAT concerned. He told us to hold on tight because it was going to be a "bumpy one". HA! little did I know. I never really thought about the landing. Basically liked I mentioned earlier you are at the mercy of the wind. Landing a balloon is kind of like docking a sailboat with the sails at full mast. If a big gust of wind comes along you are basically screwed. Sure enough that is what happened to us- a big gust of wind came which made for a bumpy landing. We landed, bumped, and drug for a ways. Three of the ground crew jumped on the basket like some type of "hot air balloon cowboys" to attempt to stop it and keep it from tipping over. However, we tipped anyways and then we drug some more. Woo Hoo! ( Did I mention that I LOVE Adrenaline). Everyone was staying very calm but I couldn't help but giggle. Finally they got us stopped about 50 yards from a big cliff. Now THAT would have sucked. At this point I was really laughing and wondering how the heck we were supposed to get out. I did the natural thing and handed one of the cowboys my camera so he could take pictures and attempted to (cough) get out gracefully. lol! I asked the pilot if that was a normal landing and he said no it only happens about 10% of the time. Lucky us!

Man what a trip! I definitely do it again! However, I would not recommend it for young children or the elderly. lol!

We finished the evening at Ruth Chris Steakhouse for a late dinner. I love Ruth Chris. It is one of those places where I TRULY enjoy the food and say "hmmmmm" after every succulent bite.

THIS will be an anniversary that I will ALWAYS remember. Thank you Clinto for the memories! I love you!

unloading the basket at the second launch site. setting up the balloon....

The first balloon already up and our balloon still on the ground.

getting ready for takeoff...

here we go..... You can see the third balloon still on the ground as well as our van.

our shadow...

Just ONE of the AMAZING homes we saw...

woops! crash landing. Clinton was NOT amused but I was enjoying every second.

attempting to get out gracefully. For those of you who know me ,know this is an oxymoron.

Yay! Finally out.

This is NOT what the basket is supposed to look like when you land.

We watched the third balloon to see how they would land. They did the same thing but it was a LITTLE smoother. They tipped at the very end.

Me and our pilot enjoying some well deserved champagne.

Our desserts at Ruth Chris

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Sounds awesome, Kelley!