A couple of weeks ago, I had the lovely pleasure of checking off one of my Life List items: taking a ride in a hot air balloon. It was the first item I shared with you on my list, way back in 2009. A year and a half later, I got one heck of a birthday present.
The ride was supposed to be a surprise on the morning of my birthday, but montreal weather did not prove very cooperative this May. So a couple weeks later, on a verrrry early saturday morning, we drove 35 minutes south east of Montreal to a little supermarket parking lot in a town called Chambly.
From there we crammed into the Eol'Air van (the crammed part was a preview of what was next) and drove to the official launch site.... a field between a road and semi-creepy little hotel. We watched and listened as the guides pulled out the balloon and spread it out, before using a big fan to blow it up. Those are technical terms, btw.
When the balloon had really started taking shape, and the basket was fully attached, the fan got turned off and the pilot started lighting the gas burner. The hot air made the balloon start to rise up, and pretty soon it was time to hop in.
It wasn't very long after we all got cozy in the basket, that we were already up in the air.
It was such a subtle, exhilarating sensation! Much gentler than in an airplane, but just as exciting.
We floated slowly (and quietly!) over the Richelieu River. In the distance, is the balloon that took off right next to us. We had a bit of a head start, but they stayed much higher than we did throughout the flight.
The view above.
We flew by a golf course, fuzzy from the morning dew.
We crossed cute, brightly paved roads.
And watched our shadow move slowly across the countryside.
It was really the most relaxing ride... until the landing. Before we took off, the pilot explained that come landing time, there were two possibilities. The first, that we would settle calmly down onto the ground.... he described in a very anti-climactic sort of way, that I really appreciated. The other option, well never mind that, he said.... we probably WON'T be tipping over on our side today because there's virtually no wind.... blah blah blah LIES!
In his defense, there WASN'T any wind. When he said that. But the moment we came 50 feet within our landing site, well there was the wind to welcome us home. In a very unenjoyable, actually quite violent sort of way. Suffice it to say, I chose poorly when I put myself in one of the corners, and come landing time, I had 3 people all squishing me into that poor farmer's corn field. Makes for a good story though!
That's our landing trail through the cornfield. Heavy enough to snap those corn stalks! You can see a video of our flight and the 5 star landing here.
At the very end after everything was put away, the pilot distracted us with a lengthly history story and a bottle of champagne, and made us get down on our knees to say a prayer in thanks to a safe flight (yes) and landing (arguable). When he finished the story, and we finished praying, he said we could drink the champagne he had poured in glasses in front of us, but only if we reached for it with our mouths, while our hands stayed behind our backs. While reaching in ernest for the champagne, he came with a bottle of water and poured it all over our heads, 'baptizing' us in honor of our first flight. We were drenched and confused, but at least we had the champagne ;)
And so, I have one less item on my Life List. Which means I'll have to find something to replace it with. Have to wait for next Wednesday to find out!
What have you checked off your Life List recently?