• Veronica Cline Barton

Up, Up, and Away—Hot Air Balloon #InspirationResearch (IR)

One of my favorite fictional events so far has been the hot air balloon event hosted at the Cherrywood Hall estate featured in Cast, Crew, & Carnage; the Filming of Castlewood Manor. A trip to the Albuquerque for their fabulous hot air balloon event cemented this event in the book. It was a wonderful experience seeing these magnificent floating giants take off in the dawn lit sky. It’s amazing how quiet they are as they ascend, the silence broken only by the whoosh of the propane heater injecting the hot air into their billowing folds, causing them to inflate and rise into the sky.

I was amazed at the size and skills of the teams needed for each balloon launch—-people to unroll the giant canopies, lay out the tethers, inspectors to ensure that everything is safe, and of course the pilot(s) and their guests who are lucky enough to hitch a ride. We arrived at the sight at around 4am, and the fields were already crowded with the teams to get everything going. We were able to walk all around the fields, getting close up looks at the prep teams and the massive balloons, trying to keep warm in the cold morning air.

To me there is nothing prettier than seeing the gorgeous colors of the balloons, highlighted by the fiery heaters in the dawn light. I knew having a balloon scene at Cherrywood Hall was something I wanted, and it was great to be able to get up close and personal with these beauties, even at a very early hour (the balloons need a cold air environment so that the balloons can lift off with heated air—once the ambient temperature gets too high, you won’t be able to lift off).

I’ve only been up in a hot air balloon once, many years ago when I attended the University of Louisville. The balloon I was in stayed tethered to the ground, so I only went up around 100 feet or so. I still remember the thrill as we ascended, and one day, I hope to be able to take a longer, and much higher, ride. Here are some of the balloons we saw at their various stages—the pictures don’t do them justice, but believe me they were hot air beauties 🙂 .

Laying on their sides being inflated

The balloons rest on their sides as they are being inflated, looking like giant pillows thrown together for a giant sleepover. The basket and burners are connected to the balloon by the teams. The pilot is continuously checking weather conditions an air speeds for take off and landing, and visibility (no fog or mist). Passengers receive instructions for landing, which may or may not be so smooth. I was impressed at the size of some of the baskets which could hold 8-10 people—although if the landing was rough it would be hard to get not get in a people tangle once you hit the ground. Excitement is in the air, with lots of laughs and giggles.

The glowing in the dawn light

The ‘glowing’ is a beautiful site to watch in the early morning hours. The balloons are now filled enough to be upright, and the sky still dark enough to appreciate the bright ‘glow’ of colors that happen when the propane tanks heat the air. The colors of the balloons are so vibrant, you seem like you’ve been transported to some magical land. We only saw the glowing during our morning walkabout, but they also do evening glowings so that more people have a chance to see these beauties (although the balloons do not take off in the evening due to warmer air and wind conditions).

And they’re off

Once the balloons have been filled and passengers loaded, the pilots look for the right time to ascend. It’s amazing to see one right after the other ascend high into the sky. Everywhere you look another balloon is taking off. The people in the baskets look down and wave, laughing and smiling. It was an amazing experience to see them ascend high in the sky. My little gray cells were churning, hoping to capture the elegance of this moment for the lucky passengers who would be ascending the skies at Cherrywood Hall. We watched as the winds lifted them into the air, flowing away with the air currents. It was fun tracking the balloons as we drove back to our hotel, watching them glide over the streets of Albuquerque. Balloon teams track their balloons on the ground carefully, trailing the balloons and preparing to get them once they hit the ground for pick-up.

Be different and fly high 

I was enchanted by this event and truly enjoyed this bit of research for my writings. I was impressed by these modern day flyers and their beautiful balloons. The city of Albuquerque does an amazing job of organizing this event. If you get a chance to attend, you won’t be disappointed.  Would I take the chance to fly over the vineyards and estate at Cherrywood Hall? You bet—my kind of #InspirationResearch (in fact lifting off right now in my reader mind). 🙂

Crowns and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. Look up balloon events in your local area. Gemma would approve 🙂

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