Higher Than A Kite! ▌ Sierra Vista Photographer, Arizona

Correct me if I am wrong Mom, but I think you planted the seed in the mid 1980's... I have always carried with me a dream of floating through the air in a hot air balloon. It started years ago when my parents took us up to a hot air balloon festival in Glens Falls, NY, camping overnight, waking before dawn, and rushing to get to the field in time to watch the glowing orbs take off into the night sky. It was breathtaking to watch and NOW I can confirm that it is breathtaking to experience! My bosom buddy and fellow photographer, Julie Rivera, approached me with the idea of flight a month ago. In celebration of her mother's birthday they were surprising her with a hot air balloon ride and there was room for me in the basket, if I wanted to go. Ahem, "YES!" The morning was perfection, clear skies, a soft breeze, great fellowship, a wedding proposal even! (No, sadly, Julie and I are not getting married. But a charming young Austin couple is!) The flight was as I had dreamed it would be: slow, smooth, calming, quiet, and addicting, it ended MUCH too soon! A huge THANK YOU to Austin Aeronauts, to David Smuck, our extremely talented pilot who practically parallel parked our vessel in a new subdivision, right between a porta-potty and a family of deer, and to Chuck, our chasecar-man, for arriving on the scene a mere .5 seconds after landing! Thank you for the safety of your experience and expertise and an incredible introduction to my new obsession, ballooning!

Ballooning starts before sunrise as the crew assembles the basket and our aerostat, "Willie Nilly".

While a large fan fills the balloon with a stream of air, the colors begin to twist and turn, and I, forward photographer of the day, sneak over to the "groom" and say "are you planning on proposing to this gal today?" I was met with a sheepish grin; every woman on the field knew his plan, except the one that mattered...

Moments after take off, the sun begins to shine through the horizon. Nearing 2400 feet above the ground and I hadn't a single nervous bone in my body, it was calm, cool, quiet, and I found myself thinking about "heaven".

A little later in the flight the "groom" gives me the signal and the surprise was perfect! The ring momentarily blinded me, but I recovered, as did she, and everyone suffered perma-grin from that point on.

By this point in the flight I have already decided that we will balloon in every country we visit and live in, because what better way to experience the landscape than floating smoothly past the hills, streams, neighborhoods, with children running through the backyards screaming "hello up there!" at the top of their lungs.

My favorite, the water reflection, and I'm thinking Grand Tetons in autumn with clear still waters and full balloon reflections, and yes, my children might have to pay their own way through college 'cause Mama's buying a balloon!

We do manage to have a southerly wind, which is apparently NOT the norm for this area, and we fly over I-35 at rush hour for only the 2nd time in five years of David flying the area. It was incredible to be over farm land one minute, seeing our reflection the next, counting pools and picking out our favorite expensive house, and then crossing a major spider web of freeways!

The morning concluded with croissants and champagne and a little ceremonial poetry:

The winds have welcomed you with softness, the sun has blessed you with his warm hands, you have flown so high and so well that God has joined you in laughter and set you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

And I continue to recite those words to myself, the most eloquent summary of my morning!


Julie Rivera Photography said... at May 24, 2009 at 5:17 AM

Oh, just gorgeous Karyn! I love how, though on the same balloon, squashed into the same small basket, we both got uniquely different pictures. Great job on the ring shot and her reaction afterwards!

Melissa said... at May 24, 2009 at 8:25 AM

Oh wow! That is beautiful! What an amazing experience!

Merrie said... at May 24, 2009 at 10:39 AM

Okay, so you are forgiven for not calling back or taking my call this morning, so that you could post this eloquent blog. My favorite is the water reflection shot and the happy couple collage. As far as your children's college funds, you may have to go back to school to become a doctor to afford the balloon AND the kids. But, then you'd have all those tuition loans. I guess you'll just have to create that new job title of professional (in the basket) balloon photographer.

Amy said... at May 25, 2009 at 6:00 AM

Neat to see your view and Julie's of the same balloon flight. You've given all of us a sense of what you saw while up there. Glad you could join in on the fun and check one thing off your "bucket list".

EL at Through My Own Lens said... at May 25, 2009 at 1:32 PM

Holy cow! First off, what a fun time and what a good buddy Julie is!!! And secondly, what a absolutely PERFECT photo of the reflection - amazing!!! I'm going to go check out Julie's pics too!