Over at the Question of the Day Indigo asked if anyone has ever ridden in a hot air balloon. I did! Jake got it as a gift for a birthday. It was fantastic! You show up at the location where the crew is setting up the balloons. You can either just watch or help. It is so cool as you see what looks like a huge tarp turn into a balloon. (there are two balloons that go up at once, ours was called the "love balloon" because it has a huge heart on the side) As soon as it's inflated, they arrange you into baskets and the "Captain" starts pulling the hot air strap to get us off the ground. While we were in the air, he told us a little history about hot air balloons and how they work, anda little about the area. We saw an old railroad bridge, went over a waterfall and saw a gorge or two. While we are flying, the captain is in constant contact with the "chaser" crew who is following in car on the ground. This is because the balloon never land where it takes off. There is no way to control the balloon. By this I mean that the captain can go up and down with it but otherwise has to allow & rely the wind to carry the balloon. As we travel he has to have a pretty good knowledge of the area to know of a few landing spots to aim for.
It was pretty fun. After we landed (in the backyard of a subdivision), we helped put the balloon away, they drove us to our cars and we had champagne. The views were beautiful. You'll notice many of the pictures are of the other balloon. Hard to take pictures of the balloon you're in as it's flying. ;-) Anyhow-here are some shots from our trip.