I just returned from Southern California and had a great time down there. Candace and I met with my grandpa at his condo in Oceanside. We spent an evening with him, very much enjoying his stories and a wonderful mexican restaurant that he brought us to for dinner. Early this morning, 3:45am to be exact, Candace and I got up and left Oceanside. Trusting Candace did not know what she was getting up for, but I promised her that it would be worth the wake up.
We drove out of Oceanside, CA with the full moon still reflecting off the water. Under the cover of darkness we drove the 76, and then north to Temecula, CA. We got to the winery vineyard and the sun was still asleep behind the mountain. Still not knowing what she was doing there, Candace followed me to the registration table and we checked in. The man at the table said, ” Well, you two will be flying with Eric and we will get going as soon as the balloons are ready.” I’m not sure but I think that Candace let out a little shriek when she heard that.
We went with a group of people to a nearby field and there were five balloons there ready to be blown up. We pulled up as the fans were filling the balloons. After a few minutes the torches were ignited and the oxygen filled balloons slowly raised from the earth. Candace, two ladies and I all climbed into the balloon with our pilot and up we went. There were many other balloons over the grape vineyards. At one point we counted 12. As you came up over the fog and climbed higher then the surrounding mountains it was a very neat experience. At one point we dropped within 40 feet of the ground then he got the fire going full force and we shot up raising to 2000 feet. It went up about as fast as a high speed elevator would in a building. It was such a thrill to shoot up past the other balloons.
After an hour in the balloon, we touched down, packed up the balloon and everyone went back to the winery for the traditional ballooning toast. Everyone raised their wine, Candace and I raised our Orange Juice, and we toasted to the safety and fun of the morning.
I tell this story partially for entertainment, but for another reason as well. In this day of video games, virtual reality, and high budget films, there are few things in life that can stay as such a thrill. Flying planes, seeing big explosions, high speed car racing, all of these things become an everyday occurrence. However, riding in a hot air balloon was not one of these experiences. It was absolutely breathtaking. It got onto my list of “Things That Take My Breath Away”. Other things on that list are standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and watching the sunset against the Golden Gate Bridge. What things are on your list? I would love to hear them.