Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day 277: Seattle and Balloon Ride Installment #1

On Friday, the 19th, after picking up our rental car in Seattle, we picked up Scott outside the Moore Hotel. It makes my heart happy that Scott's back in the U.S.! With cell phone connection! And getting to spend the week with him was such bliss!

We headed out to Pike's Place Market, where my favorite thing here was actually the original Starbuck's coffee shop, and their original logo:

Being with Scott, who is a Commando Vacationer Extraordinaire, meant we still took in the Space Needle, the Science Fiction Museum, and the Experiencing Music Museum (Jimmy Hendrix) before stopping off at the Verizon store. Only after all this, we checked into our hotel for the night. Oh yes, and there was also some wine tasting thrown in.

Balloon Installment #1:

Each day, I'm also going to include some balloon photos, because I must! I didn't want to take a balloon ride. I hate heights. And mountains. And roller coasters. And ferris wheels. And parking garages. I hoped Doug would forget--or that Balloons Above the Valley wouldn't have openings. But they did, and the three of us headed to Napa Valley on Thursday, the 25th, at 4 am. I made peace with death.

But it was unbelievably wonderful! Hot air balloon rides start early in the morning to take advantage of the rising temperature and warming of the air. Balloons rise with the heat from the propane, and there is no steering. You ride with the wind, and the pilot only controls up or down motions.

We were assigned to Frank's 2nd group. There are 2 groups: the first group goes up, and the 2nd group gets into the "Chaser" van. (Remember "Twister"? Kind of like that, only different.) Three vans "chase" the balloon in the air. The pilot is in communication by radio with the vans and tells them what streets to take. The initial launch, at sunrise, was from a vineyard, and we watched workers picking the grapes from the vines alongside us.

The "chasing" was exciting, all by itself, although the "young'uns" who are the crew of the chasers seemed to like to scare us, telling us the pilot had "about 3 weeks experience" and that "we don't run into mountains much," but would then tell us more accurate detail about the operation of a hot air balloon operation. Wait till you see where the first group landed!


Anonymous said...

I wished I knew how to email you directly... I'm thinking of surprising my husband and my mom with a hot air balloon ride for their birthdays (Dec. 18th and 19th respectively)... My mom is VERY afraid of heights... saw you are too... but do you think my mom would love it or end up chickening out???

~Kim in FL

pat said...

Glad to see you saw some of the fun funky spots in Seattle. Pike Place is such a lot of fun! LOVE that last balloon shot--just gorgeous!!

Cindi Koceich said...

I love all of these photos...what great memories you've captured!!

Jeanne said... good to see you posting again. You have a handsome son! Love all the funky photos and your balloon shots. That last one takes my breath away.

Good for you for stepping out of your comfort zone to take the balloon ride. Just think what you might have missed...

You are awesome! How's your knee, btw??

Jess said...

Wow, what an awesome mini vacation! Scott sounds like my mom, she always squeezes the maximum amount of sight-seeing and running around into the minimum amount of time! I need a vacation from my vacation when she's done with me! LOL

That balloon ride looks AMAZING. I want to go on one SO BADLY. Dh is afraid of heights too. I've only been in a balloon one time and it was tethered so we just went up for a few minutes, then back down. I remember the top of my head getting awfully hot though with the flames! LOL

Reds said...

Wow - looks like you had a great time!! Love the balloon shots - can't wait to see more!

Bobbi said...

I am so jealous of all the amazing places you go to! Umm the original starbucks-that would be a dream.

The balloon ride just looks so amazing and beautiful. Thanks for sharing all the great pics!

Joanne said...

Beautiful!!! How exciting too!

Mandy said...

Goodness...that last one is so lovely. It brings me such a warm, peace in heart. Wonderful photos, Angela.

Suzy said...

Very cool shots! I love Seattle and your photo's brought back my memories there! So fun!