Sunday, April 07, 2013

My birthday present

I've always thought it would be wonderful to go up in a hot air balloon.  With a milestone birthday this year I thought that would be the perfect opportunity for an extravagant birthday present.  Dave is not keen on heights so it was a given that he would be watching with his feet planted firmly on the ground.  So I asked Mum and Tassy to come with me.  We were all so excited! 

It was an early morning start. The morning was cold but still pleasant - practically no wind.  The long grass was wet tho so we got cold wet feet.

The launch site is chosen on the morning of the flight.  This day it was Kings Park, near the Carillon.  They had let off some helium balloons to work out the wind direction.  It was to take us west over the lake.  The hot air balloon can't steer at all.  It can just go up or down and then go with the wind which can blow in different directions at different heights.
We all helped to unpack the basket and balloon, unroll and stretch it out.  The balloon is enormous - 8 stories high in fact!

We're excited!


This balloon took off just before us...

Dave took these photos of us taking off.  Woohoo!  Actually it was sooooo gentle and quiet (apart from the blasts of the burners).

See you soon!

There was some mist or fog close to the water, it moved so quickly beneath us as we drifted slowly.  You can see the Carillon on the right and the Defence Offices at Russell on the left.

That's the National Gallery of Australia on the left, the High Court on the right and Parliament House in the background.

Another of Dave's pics from the ground.  We are in the blue EU balloon.

That's the National Library on the left.

The pilot told us about the Kayak Cameraman.  He's photographing us here.  I found his blog and he has some pics of our balloon that day on his blog (the EU balloon).

Nice and close to Commonwealth Park.  It looked beautiful from above.


Smile for the camera - I'm going to buy the photo the pilot took of all of us on his dangling camera.

The flower beds for Floriade...

These are the other four balloons we shared the sky with.  Looking south with Woden at the far right.

Looking south over Yarralumla.

This is about the highest we got.  I think I preferred it lower cos I liked seeing the details of things below.  That's Black Mountain Tower.

Some rowing sculls on the lake.

Looking west over the new National Arboretum.

Above Yarralumla Nursery.

Our shadow as we come in to land.

The landing was very exciting!  We had to stand facing away from the landing, holding on tightly to ropes and bending knees.  We hit the ground fairly hard and the basket tipped over about 45 degrees.  Tassy and I screamed and laughed and screamed and laughed.  The wind picked us up and dumped us again a few more times, each time the basket tipping about 45 degrees.  There was lots of screaming and laughing.  But it was a typical landing.  It's not unusual for the basket to tip completely over onto its side. 

The balloon deflated and we all helped roll it up.

Tassy's job was to roll in the middle of the balloon to push the air up and out the top of the balloon.  She said it was harder than it looked (it looked like she was failing).

Then we all picked up the heavy balloon and loaded it back into its box.

Tassy's other job was the jump on the balloon to squish out the remaining air so it would fit into the box.  Instructions were to jump like she was jumping on mum and dad's bed.  Plenty of experience there.

And our adventure was over by 9am.  It was soooooo special.  I'll remember it always.



Lea said...

And I totally had you pegged for an 80's party with Rick Astley playing all night;) Looks like you had a wonderful bday celebration. So good that Tassy and Granny were able to share in the day. I love the pic of Papa..I'm not sure if he's excited or praying for a safe flight. I live the pic of Dave taken from above too. Funny. Some wonderful photos and wonderful memories. The landing sounds fun and very neat that you were hands on in the packing up too. Can't wait to hear more about it. Big love and birthday wishes. Leax

Bron said...

Happy birthday...what a fantastic present..the photos are stunning xxx

Lis said...

Happy birthday! Wow what an adventure and a birthday to remember, it looks like you had so much fun! Im with Dave I dont think Id be brave enough to get up there but it cerainly looks amazing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your fantastic pics and commentary Yvette! So glad it was fabulous and memorable - what a great experience for Tassy too (you're all very brave!)

Best wishes, Debster

Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC - great photos. I wish I could have been there too. Tassy is such a lucky girl to share in your birthday experience.

love aaj

Abbey Crafton said...

An opportunity of a life time...unfortunately for me, I have a horrid fear of heights ...envious of those of you who dont. What a grand experience !

Granny Janny said...

Oh Yvette I just LOVED your Blog. It was such a wonderful account of our amazing experience. Thank you so much for asking me to go with you. It has to be the most daring thing I have ever done and was such a thrilling, beautiful experience. I would love to do a Blog post on it too but it will be nowhere as good as yours. I would love yours in a hardcopy as a book to keep forever.
Love Mum

Charlotte said...

What AMAZINGLY AWESOME pics of your balloon adventure! It certainly looks like such a beautiful way to get a different view of your familiar city! I didn't think that the balloons can't steer, and totally rely on the wind! Of course they do!
I LOVE the pics of the flames going up into the balloon, they're so awesome. Was the blonde chick your friend too? Cos she smiles so nicely in your pics!