Our plan going out in style was to watch the sunrise from our rainbow colored, eight-story tall, Hot-Air Balloon. My group gathered; pre-dawn, in the lobby for the drive to the airfield. Thankfully, we made a much needed coffee stop along the way so we were wide awake by the time we met Bob of Bob’s Balloons. I learned that we gave up some much needed deep REM sleep because of the wind factor.Not only is wind necessary to fly a balloon, but you want the right kind of wind. In the wee hours of the morning, there are calm winds flowing parallel to the earth, allowing for a smoother, gentle ride.
Bob’s gang wasted no time in unloading the balloon. They stretched out this huge balloon flat on the ground with the basket on its side. Then they hooked the balloon to the sides of the basket and started to fill it up with air by some huge fan hooked up to lawnmower motor, while we held up the sides. After the balloon was completely filled with air, we climbed into the basket and waited a bit because the air must be heated in order to get the balloon off the ground. And then slowly, for the second time in two days, I floated in air.
The winds were calm so we drifted slowly over the landscape, watching the fog burn off to reveal numerous lakes, and different areas of town. It was very peaceful and romantic, which is why Bob got his notary license so he can perform balloon wedding ceremonies. About an hour later we made our final descent. We all helped put the balloon to bed- which was great fun since first you all roll around on top of the balloon to get the air out, then lift piles of it to shove into the container, and then jump on it some more to get it all squished in.
Your reward for a job well done is a refreshing mimosa. But before you sip, Bob offers the Balloonist’s Prayer.
“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 your laughter, and has set you gently back again in to the loving arms of Mother Earth.”
And so ends my perfect 24 hour quest for adventure. I crossed three thing off my list, had more fun than “you would have thought possible while keeping your clothes on” (as they say at Deland) felt completely renewed and I have Daytona to thank for that. Who would have guessed?