Up Up and Away . . .
Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
39Trip End Oct 26, 2010
Oh my, oh my, the assent is smooth and the pilot has a deft touch with the flamethrowers. We glide silently along like a cloud over the desert. Nancy cannot wipe the smile off of her face. The sun rises above the mountains of Sedona and the pilot, quite a character I might add, is quite a storyteller. Soon we settle down into a small gulch, Dry Creek, and the pilot literally twirls us around bushes and trees like guiding a ballerina across a stage. Quite impressive. The pilot continues to regale us with a history of Sedona, jabs at politicians and intensive information on how to extract drugs from plants growing beneath us. His dry sense of humor and deep-throated voice made the event just about perfect.
Our two hour, eight and one-half mile trip is nearly over, but now comes the interesting part – how is he going to land this balloon and 7 passengers on a narrow dirt road in the desert. As we approach the landing spot someone asked if he had ever landed the balloon on the trailer that transports the balloon and the basket. Oh yes, he says, twice. Hmm… a repeat today perhaps? No, the wind is complicating things and the chasers have to reposition. He gives us instructions for the landing and we skim along in the strengthening breeze. He says that we will use a few shrubs to slow us down for landing. Well, good theory, the balloon basket does slow down but bounces on the shoulder of the road and hitting and dislodging a fair size rock into the road and as we bounce around a bit. The chase crew works hard to keep us on the ground while the air is released from the balloon. All ends well and no damage occurs to the balloon or passengers.
When all balloons are accounted for we head for a scenic overlook and an early morning continental breakfast, champagne, strawberries and cream and some decadent pastry. Everyone receives a commemorative photo and certificate; we are now "official". More stories, including a short history of ballooning and an Irish blessing. I will say it again he is quite the character and most enjoyable.
George phoned the VW dealer in Flagstaff before we left Sedona and they said come on up, they would take care of us. The dealership was easy to find and we waited while they changed the oil, we waited for what seemed a rather long time; after about 1-1/2 hours George went to check on the progress. The oil change was done – they were washing the vehicle! We walked outside to a sparkling clean van, what a treat. As we drove away we had to don sunglasses the light streaming through the windshield was so bright.
We did some grocery shopping and then stopped for a late lunch at a little place in a strip mall of all places, the Smokehouse BBQ. No one in the place except us but the waitress was very friendly and recommended the brisket so we both ordered a brisket sandwich. It was divine, smoked for 14 hours and oh so tender, your choice of spicy or mild BBQ sauce. The potato salad was pretty good too.