Sundog, Lake Marie Oregon 2018

Friday, October 9, 2015

Balloon Ride and 1000th Blog Post:

It would be nice if everyone could go for a balloon ride at least once in their lifetime. Thursday was our day. We had the choice of going with the Rainbow Ryders, the company that has the exclusive franchise for rides from the launch field of the Balloon Fiesta, at $450 per person plus tax and tip, and go in a large balloon basket that holds a dozen or more people, or to go on a ride with Private Balloon Flights, a smaller off-Fiesta-grounds operation, with only five including our pilot in the basket, and pay only $250 per person.  On Friday of last week, a pilot and flight instructor that flew for PBF came to give a brief presentation about ballooning to our Escapees group, and we were confident we would have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Venus and the moon shine brightly at 5 AM

We had to drive six miles, check in at a small strip mall by 6 AM,   and then drive a few more miles to a city park where our balloon would be launched with several others.

It was still dark at the park, as we watched them spread out the seventy foot envelope for our balloon while our "sister" balloons  were starting to fill.

These two were a father and son from Chicago and were our fellow passengers. They held the bottom hole open while the large fan blew cool air in to inflate it.

Mona, our pilot, fired the burner to add hot air and complete the inflation.

Once it was upright and tugging at the mooring lines, we all climbed aboard and were off.

The sun was just coming up over the mountains as we floated away from the park. This picture is of one of our sister balloons.

Pictures from the ride: 

We saw the balloons from the Fiesta Grounds flying and landing in the distance.

Flying or floating?

I would rather be in our Alfa than living down there. Is that sour grapes? I just remember to clearly how much of an anchor a big house can be.

Our sister balloon is below us as we both float over the Rio Grande River. 

The pilots were in radio contact. 
Happy riders. 

All too soon after about 45 minutes, our pilot started to plan our landing. She talked with the chase crew and selected a set of three baseball diamonds that were ahead. 

But, another balloon had the same destination in mind, and there was a wind shift just before touchdown.  Mona very skillfully took us to a rough, narrow space along the outer edge of the fields. We bumped a bit, but we were safely down.

After we got out, a second couple got aboard and we watched as they took off. This gave another element of fun to the experience because we now joined the boys in the chase crew van and tracked their flight.

The second flight landed in a field with lots of large sagebrush and cactus, but no trees! Rather than try to deflate there, we walked the basket to the edge of the bordering road. This was accomplished by Mona giving it just enough heat to cause the basket to rise off the ground, but not to fly away. Then with the help of all, it was guided around and over the brush.

A local family came out and were very excited to see the landing and help with the pack up.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has been quite an experience. Going for a balloon ride was an unforgettable and wonderful experience.

Blog Post #1000

When I started this blog in 2010 I only hoped, dreamed, and imagined traveling the country as a fulltime RVer. The idea of doing this was actually my husband Craig's idea, brought up some years earlier when he wanted to retire early. At first I couldn't see how we could make it financially, considering health insurance costs and all. I also could not imagine not having a house, nor doing my sculpture work on the road. But little by little the idea did grow on me, and by 2010 I was ready.  Of course it took us several more years to get the house fixed up and sold, but it all worked out. 

Craig continued his employment for a few more years, I retired the art business, we aged into Medicare and Social Security, and the proceeds from the sale of our house provided enough income to allow us to travel without debt.

So here we are and I'm writing my 1000th post, two years into living full time in our Alfa motorhome. Still healthy. Still excited about what we are doing each day and the new places we are traveling to. 

What was once only a dream, is now our reality.

RV life is good!


  1. Congratulations on your 1000th post! I enjoy reading about your life on the road and seeing all of your excellent pictures.

  2. Ah yes, Merikay, "Written in Smoke". I so remember how much you dreamed and how sometimes you really got discouraged. It is wonderful to follow you as you live your dream. Yes, a balloon ride is on the list of todo's for me, something I have never quite managed. Loved the photos, and have enjoyed following along as you enjoy the Fiesta.

  3. congrats on your 1000th post!
    nice that you are both now living the dream!
    great pictures from the balloon ride!!

  4. I, too, remember those treadmill days of yours. I'm so glad you were able to do a balloon ride. It is still one of my most memorable experiences after well over nine years on the road. :)

  5. You've been the best follow....so glad your dreams are coming true!!

  6. This lifestyle can be scary when you're first starting out. But I sure wouldn't trade it for anything. Sure am glad you guys are enjoying the ride also. Including the balloon one.

  7. Congratulations on your 1000th post, Merikay! What a treat it has been.

  8. good way to spend the day and including it in your 1000th post

  9. Congrats on your 1000th post. Your words about your full time journey were beautiful!

  10. 1000! Wow! It seems like just a few months ago and not 5 years that I joined your blogging family and followed the efforts and pains of setting yourself free. I've loved following your new adventures and especially enjoy your positive and enthusastic prose. Here's to another 1000 :-)


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