I had a lovely dream last night of floating above Whitehorse in a hot air balloon. It made me remember the two times in my life when I have experienced such a thing in my waking hours. The first time was a wonder; the second a huge disappointment.
I was introduced to hot air ballooning while visiting friends in San Francisco four years ago. They bought Joe and I balloon tickets as a gift. We got up before dawn, drove to a hotel where we had a tasty (and rather fancy) breakfast, and then we were up, up and away.
Floating above the Napa Valley was a zen like experience for me; so calming and such a beautiful way to see the area.
A year later when we visited Cappadocia, Turkey we decided to take a ride there, given how extraordinary the landscape was. Sadly, our experience was deflating. For whatever reason (wind conditions, number of people in the basket?) the balloon operators couldn’t get much height. We spent more time looking at the tops of trees than enjoying a sunrise over Cappadocia.
If you decide to take a balloon ride, wherever that might be, it’s important that you do your research. Make sure whichever company you choose has good safety standards and practices in place, and ask about the number of people they take up at a time. I found our group of 18 in Turkey was too large. If you can, pay the extra cost and go for a more intimate experience. It’s a wondrous way to see the countryside if done right.