Shilo’s Birthday Balloon Ride

Aug 9, 2011 by

From Shilo’s laptop Aug 16th…

I had the BEST birthday this year. A special thank you to my amazing husband James who was committed to making the entire day a celebration of me and for me – it was everything I wanted to experience.

James arranged for us to go on a sunrise balloon ride over the Red Rock canyons of Sedona for my birthday – he even kept it a secret until I unknowingly intercepted a phone call from the Balloon company 2 days before!

So, last Thursday morning, Aug 11th, we were up before the crack of dawn – a mark it on the calendar occurance in my world! – and waiting to be picked up in our condo lobby by 5am. We met our balloon pilot and drove to the launch site. 5 balloons were going up in the air that morning and it was a sight to behold seeing them all lined up.

We were going up with 3 other people and the pilot. The air was cool which was a blessing. There was a bit of cloud cover that moring and although it blocked a bit of the sunrise, it also sheltered us from the direct sunlight and the crazy heat once the sun was up – my fair skin and freckles rejoiced at this reprieve! It had been averaging over 100 degrees all week.

The views from the sky were stunning. We saw lots of wild life – coyotes, deer, giant ant hills, birds and more – great vistas of red rock. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. And what surprised me most is how smooth the ride was. We would raise 50 feet in the air very rapidly but it didn’t feel like we were moving. Amazing!

Mom, even though you don’t like heights, I think you would LOVE this! ūüôā

Our ride lasted over an hour. I had images of a bumpy landing – hitting ground, dragging along and then the basket tipping over and all of us having to crawl out on our hands and knees (I am not sure what movie I got that image from!), but our pilot (who had over 25 years piloting balloons) was graceful and masterful in his landing. We bumped gently onto the ground, with the basket dragging only a few feet before we came to a complete stop upright and with total ease! Then, the packing up began – the guys deflated the balloons, packed them up for the next day’s ride (wow, do you ever have to be strong to bundle up 400 pounds of balloon fabric) into a small, easily transportable trailer.

When all the balloons had landed and been packed up, we travelled to a clearing where we were regaled with tales of how balloon rides began and how they became synonymous with champaign. Then we had a fun champaign toast and they served us breakfast. James had told them it was my birthday, so I received a special toast and instead of singing to me, the owner made me a mini balloon out of the cork of a champaign bottle Рvery cute!

We were dropped off back at our condo shortly after 8am. It was SO Much fun and I was exhausted so we went back to bed for another couple of hours of sleep.

In the afternoon of my special day, we drove around looking at real estate in Sedona Рthere are some incredible homes nestled quietly in the hills. Lots of artistic influences as well Рmost homes have sculptures or decals, etching or décor of some kind on the front of their house or on the front lawns.

Then for dinner, we went out to a great restaurant called the Elote Cafe – gourmet southwestern food, with a flare for unique corn dishes.

I had so much fun that day and laughed a lot!

What I loved most about the balloon ride was how peaceful it is in the air. And how present in the moment I was, enjoying every sight, sound and sensation.

It was also quite interesting to learn that although the pilot can control up and down (and how fast he descends or ascends), he cannot control the direction of the balloon – that is mother nature’s doing. So the pilot puts the balloon into a breeze and goes with the flow. Such a great symbolic lesson for my life – align with the current and go with the flow.

 This is one of the most famous houses in Sedona (below) Рapparently it is owned by the guy who created the laser for laser eye surgery. It has a fountain at the main entry way, a 4 car garage, a waterfall cascading down the backyard into a pond, sitting areas, stunning decks and some amazing architectural features.