2013 Gratitude Project – Travel: Hot Air BallooningThis month will be a celebration of travel. I am so grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had over my nearly thirty years to explore the world. Click here to read about my 2013 November Gratitude Project – Travel
When I was fifteen I was an exchange student in Adelaide, Australia. Over the six months I spent there I lived with two host families. With one of them, I participated in the Barossa Balloon Regatta. The Michells, my host family, had a balloon named Brainwave that we took to the event.
Over the festival I helped set up and put away the balloon, I played ground navigator as we followed through paddocks in South Australia’s wine country during the couple of balloon challenges, and I had the amazing opportunity to go up in the balloon.
It was wonderful floating gracefully over the vineyards below. I never imagined getting the chance to fly in a balloon like that. The landing can be a bit shaky with the basket sometimes tipping as it hits the ground, but that’s completely worth the experience of flying in hot air balloon.
The whole festival was fantastic, but one of the more memorable events was the night glow when the balloons set up in a field at night and glow. They don’t leave the ground. With all of the different balloons the field is covered in beautiful colors. It is a magical experience.
To set up the balloon we set the basket on its side and unfolded the balloon in the field next to it. At that point, two people held open the mouth of the balloon to let the heat in from the flame. This is a really hot job. As the hot air fills the balloon it inflates and raises above the basket.
During one of the challenges of the festival balloon teams were given coordinates of a drop location that they had to hunt down and try to hit with something they drop from the basket. The team that gets nearest the target wins a prize. Part of the team is in a vehicle on the ground helping navigate the balloon in the right direction. It seemed much easier for those in the air than for those on the ground since on the ground there were obstacles, fences, gates to open and more. However, they had to deal with air currents and natural forces. It was very exciting.
Also during the festival, I had the awesome opportunity to ride in a helicopter. I did two things over a few days that many people have on their bucket lists for years. I am so grateful for the awesomeness that is flying! I am grateful for both of my host families in Australia that made me a part of their families taking me on vacations and adventures across Australia.
Here are the pages from my Australia scrapbook from the balloon festival. (click on the images to make them bigger)