A few months back, Memorial Day Weekend, we headed out west for my sisters college graduation. We had a wonderful weekend spending time with family and seeing a few friends. First let me start by saying, I love hot air balloons – Disney’s Up is one of my favorite movies and this Up themed photo shoot pulls on my heartstrings every time.
Being on the west coast for more than 2 days and not working, I took the opportunity to plan a little adventure for my love – a hot air balloon ride, over Napa Valley (something we have always talked about doing). The best part was that I planned the whole thing as a surprise.
I didn’t deluge much information leading up to the day, other than the fact that we had to get up at 4:30am and drive 30 minutes to our destination. It was hard keeping the secret, but so worth it. Now I must first start by saying that my love is not one to get excited about things – at least not in the way I get excited. You know, screams, jumps, breaking out in to song and dance kind of excitement… yay, that’s not him. But in his own way he was trilled for the adventure!
If you have never experienced a hot air balloon ride, then let me tell you a little about it. First off, they start early. Like, super early! You have to be there by 5:30am and they even suggests you get there even earlier for coffee and pastries, and so you don’t miss you balloon taking off – no one wants to feel like Dorothy.
The purpose for the early call time, is the air at sunrise creates the perfect condition for ballooning. Not to mention, the views are spectacular!
Another thing to note, the temps are pretty comfortable up there. Not at all what I expected. I wore tons of layers, as it was fairly chilly that morning, but once you get above the haze and the fact that the heat from the flame is right above you, it’s actually pretty warm.
On that note, you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing a hat – not only to shield the top of your head from the heat, but to keep your hair from blowing around, which as you can imagine, would not be a good thing considering there is an open flame above your head.
It’s also not as easy as you may think to get into that basket – I totally understand how Dorothy got left in Oz (can you tell I LOVE The Wizard of Oz? ) You have to hold on tight, hoist yourself up (yes, hoist is the only appropriate word) and then fling yourself over, into the basket. And if you have short legs like me, it’s even harder.
But the good thing about all the effort that it takes to get into the basket, is that you’re pretty confident that getting out will be just as difficult. Good to know, considering you’re going up, up – like, way up in the air.
Once your up, the feeling is so surreal. It’s calming, peaceful, and inspiring, to say the least. I absolutely loved every minute!
The whole ride was about an hour-long, give or take. And I have to say the landing was pretty fun. Hot air ballooning is so unpredictable and the landing is no exception.
They teach you a little grab and squat technique that everyone in the basket must do, in order to ensure that the basket doesn’t tip, once you touch the ground. Sounds scary but it’s actually pretty exciting (and easy to do).
Our balloon “Big Blue”, was the first to land and our landing couldn’t have been more perfect. The balloons behind us weren’t as lucky but everyone was safe and landed with grace, they just didn’t show off like our balloon did.
Overall the experience was unforgettable and one I won’t ever forget. I can’t wait to do it again one day in a new location, although I would be happy with Napa Valley again, too.
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This is not a sponsored post, we just loved our experience so much and Napa Valley Balloons was by far the biggest and best option in the area.