The moment I booked my plane ticket to Lake Tahoe for a family vacation, I knew I was going to complete my hot air balloon ride there. And complete I did: #4: Hot air balloon ride.
The only person in my family who I knew would be 100% down for this adventure was my dad. This is the man who once told me, “every day I wake up excited about the new things I’ll experience.” So, when I presented the idea to him, he was fully on board.
Me, my dad, and a balloon
Leading up to the flight, I heard stories of decapitation during crashes, was told about mishaps caught on youtube, and asked, “Are you going to bring Xanax with you?” (remember, I hate flying), but the little anxiety I had totally subsided the moment we took off.
We gathered in a marina in south Lake Tahoe at 5:45 a.m. and boarded a boat that traveled to the middle of the lake. From the boat, the balloon took off — the only one of its kind, I’ve learned. It was smooth, controlled, and the most peaceful flight I’ve ever taken. The views were amazing. The BEST part — the pilot brought the balloon down to the water. As in, our basket was touching the water. Water was in our basket, people!!! I was a little nervous at that point, but after a few seconds, we were back in the sky at 9,000 feet.
Witnessing the balloon during the second flight touching the water as we stood on the boat was more nerve-wracking than being in it
Here’s our boat from 9,000 feet
I can’t speak highly enough of the crew of Lake Tahoe Balloons. They were professional, entertaining, and their passion was very apparent.
Here’s our shadow projected onto the trees from 9,000 feet
A few things I learned/experienced while ballooning:
- It takes eight minutes to deflate the balloon
- Lake Tahoe has an average depth of 1000 feet
- Salmon spawn in 200-300-foot areas of the lake (only the southern, I think)
- It costs $60K to change the balloon out every two years
- It weights 2,000 without passengers
- It uses a gallon of fuel per minute
And I will leave you with The Balloonist Prayer which was spoken after safely landing and during the bubbly-popping period of the day — both long-held traditions.
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 joined you in laughter
and set you gently back into
the loving arms of Mother Earth.
Back to Mother Earth indeed!
My safely-landed-mimosa-tini. Cheers!