I got home from balloonfest last night just before 11, and my alarm was set for just after 5 this morning. So know that I left the balloonfest before a lot of the pilots, and they have to be back at the field this morning ten minutes before I do.
The coffee is strong this morning, but it should be another great day! All the balloons launched last night, with the wind taking them northeast, and it should be another great morning.
Sunday evening we met at Walmart and headed out to find a launching spot for our second flight. It ended up being a hurry up and wait night - it took a long while for the winds to die down.
We're all business while we wait
After a long day at Greenfield Village, I thought I'd take a quick moment for a cat nap. Once I got down to the ground, it occured to me I had a fun new angle for photos. After taking ballooning photos for four years now - I'm on the hunt for the new angles. The team is thrilled.
Once we got the balloon in the sky, I very nearly had them drop me back off at my van as we had enough crew. (Three crew members plus the pilot is our norm) I called home and all was well so I what the hecked it and decided to stay put.
Turns out that was a good thing. They needed all hands for this one.
By law we have to be out of the sky by sunset, and they made it - with two minutes to spare. But really? Way back there??
I'm standing at the corner of the cemetery on Argentine and we're chatting with the farmer about how we're going to get that balloon out. He suggests that Denny pop back up and fly over the tree line and get a little closer to Argentine but away from his corn crop on the other side of the trees.
That's not possible. One - Balloons don't steer and Two - It was now past sunset.
The farmer then said that while he doesn't recommend it as the ground is still kinda soft - we could drive down the edge of the wheat, don't do any doughnuts, and maybe that would work. Just turn left by the big tree and follow the line.
I really didn't want to lug that balloon out though, so we did end up driving back there, with two of us walking lead to look for soft spots.
We finally reached Laura. You're doing great Laura. Keep up the good work!
Hey guys - seems we've seen you at a few landings now. They know the drill.
This was the first time that I really utilized that flashlight app on my phone. We struggled a bit finding all our parts in the dark.
Weather, weather and more weather factored in to a late start in this year's flying season, so I'm not sure there's any way we'll come close to 2012's record flying year - but we're just grateful that we finally got to fly last night.
My buddy Tim came out for the first flight of the season. Tim is the smiliest kid I know, and Tim loves balloons.
Jerry, pilot of the Jedami II, is sporting a new look this seaon. I like it.
Hot air balloons are an aircraft, and therefore have to inspections just like any other aircraft. Denny had his balloon inspected a few weeks ago Jerry had his done last night before the flight. (the reason, this time, that there's someone inside the balloon)
Inspection complete, he's ready for launch.
With the Jedami II up in the air, it was our turn. It's good to be seeing this again.
Denny and Sonja flew
Mike, Carter and I chased.
And we never would have found them here if it hadn't been for the nice lady on the road flagging us down. This was yet another hidden field.
Found them, loaded up and there is hope that we can do it again tonight and tomorrow night.
Sonja tried to tell me to take the night off, with my skirt and all, as enough crew showed up. I told her to quit treating me like I was wearing a skirt. I had dinner in the crockpot, my day's commitments were complete and the husband was home with the kids. I was good.
Preston brought a target for us to aim for. Preston hid the target behind the trees.
A new favorite photo.
I lied. THIS is my new favorite photo.
We saw a few colors changing - still a ways to go. Fingers crossed for a lot of fall flying opportunities.
If you look REAL closely (click the picture for a better view) you can see Jerry flying the Jedami in the distance. He had decided to take off from Hutchings rather than Denny's house.
One of the reasons this flight was a favorite is because we flew over a lot of familiar spots. I've had a lot of coffee in that house.
And I had just stood in the visitation line behind the mom of this house.
Hello! We love flying low enough to exchange hellos.
Funny story. Last Sunday Wendy and I hit a four way stop at the same time as the dad of this house. He started waving his arms in a mock exasperated, would you GO already, and I started waving back, and there was mock horn honking and Wendy, beside me, was all...Mom!!!! And then she looked closer. Oh. Wait. We know him.
A cup of coffee will get you a 4 x 6 A cup of coffee and a sauna invite will get you an 8 x 10. A cup of coffee, a sauna invite and dinner will get you an 11 x 14. You get the idea.
Some of the golfers enjoyed us. Some...not so much.
Our pilot, Denny, with Thompson Lake behind him.
Now we're getting closer to my side of town. The sun was exceptionally bright last night. Made it difficult to take photos - all I saw were spots.
Hey! It's my neighbors and Allan's old boss.
It was fun to fly over the 'hood and surprise some of the kids by shouting their names from above.
I think the only kids that didn't come out were my own. *hanging my head* I had left my phone in the chase vehicle so I couldn't call and give them a heads up.
The time after that was spent looking for a landing spot, watching for wires and keeping the chase vehicle informed. We had a little bit of a rough landing - the wind had picked up and we smacked a curb pretty hard - but my knees still work today so it's all good. We landed in the old Holiday Inn lot - and the ground was pretty broken up, so we had to be more careful than usual when packing up.
It just doesn't get old.
I thought I had some time today to recuperate - but a phone call this morning has me working a longer shift than normal, so time for me to go and get ready. It'll be a lazy supper tonight.
Tonight was a gorgeous gorgeous night for flying. We launched from Three Fires at about 7:12 and it took us just over a half hour to get to the expressway. We were just coasting along and the sky was gorgeous. I was loving all the clouds at launch time.
Mt. Brighton in the background. Click the photo for a better view.
*happy sigh* Did I mention it was a gorgeous night?
And I hate to break it to you, but the colors are starting to change.
Jenny asked, while I was working on this blog post, if we ever see birds. Why yes, yes we do.
We had also seen several deer, but they kept bouncing out of my photos and hiding. Balloons tend to make them run.
We saw horses.
And Kohls. Not many people out school shopping tonight.
We flew over Lake Chemung.
And then we flew over the golf course/driving range....they tend not to like us landing there - so we began looking for a spot to land after that (rule is that balloons have to be out of the sky by sunset). Uh-oh.
I was hopeful of that speck of a building in the distance - hopeful that it would have a speck of land around it. Click this photo to really get an idea of our view when looking for a landing spot.
Looks like there is one just to the right, but balloons don't steer - so maybe just beyond those trees between the barn and the house - and we always watch for power lines, but those looked to be running the other way...
but once we got closer, we could see that there wasn't enough space. Sometimes quick decisions are necessary.
We flew a little bit further, just missed a few spots. Asked someone if they could help by grabbing a line and pulling us over a bit - but they laughed, thought we were joking. We weren't.
And eventually - just in time - we found a spot.
I'm not sure Mike cared for it (I kept telling him to run out further) but we were just thankful to have found a place to land.
As for Friday ....
We officially have another adult in the house. Allan is 18.
I'm headed up to the Boyne/Petosky area with three kids and my mom who will stay with us on her way back home.
Allan decided he'd rather enjoy the quiet at home, and my husband has to work a shift this weekend.
I'm planning to go off the grid - I don't think the place we are staying has free wi-fi.
I'll be home Monday evening sometime - at least, that's the plan.
I have a rule. Balloonfest photos aren't supposed to bleed past the fourth of July. So now, the rest of the photos that I've taken the time to edit and watermark.
My kids are still talking about the treeman. He was cool.
click on any of the photos for a closer look
We were the 29th balloon on the 29th year of the Balloonfest. We figured that was good luck. We came in 17th place. Not bad!
I finally made it to the gym today. It's been a rough year.
She said, don't fall - but if you DO fall, make it a good one..I'm ready! (he was photographing the crowd)
And that was Saturday. On Sunday we met at the school at 6am, then took off to find a launch spot.
I love the light at 6:30 am.
Man, I love the light at 6:30 am.
We couldn't all fit into one vehicle, so I had driven separately. Sonja hopped in with me and we began the chase. The plan was to go to the high school to watch them fly in and over (that was one of the targets) but we made a pit spot at the church since I wanted a picture of the church with the balloons in the background.
While there, we notice another pilot working on launching, but he only had one crew member. They were struggling. He accepted our offer of help very enthusiastically.
His balloon was very pretty. (number one on the program)
His balloon launched and us back on the trail of our own, we called to get a location. They had gone WAY past the school already and were out towards Cedar Lake Road and Schaefer. !!!!!!! There were winds.
The balloon on the left is Sarah's, not Denny's. You can tell the difference because the bottom of her's is red and the bottom of Denny's is black. Denny was busy landing behind me.
After the landing, we had time to go home for a bit before meeting for the awards banquet. After the banquet, I headed home to pick up the kids and headed for the carnival.
Molly, Wendy and Elizabeth
The kids (even Mark) (really) were excited to meet up with their cousins at the carnival. Brian and Kaarina made good partners. They both liked the high and wild rides. *shudder*
Winds and low ceilings kept us from flying as much as we would have liked for Balloonfest this year, but we were able to fly Sunday morning. I love morning flights, but the thing with morning flights is the ground is still wet, so unless we're lucky enough to land on a street or in a culdesac (our favorite) we're pulling out the tarp to lay the balloon down on. Our main goal then is to get the entire balloon to fall onto the tarp.
(This happens for some of our fall evening flights as well)
It's a great system. It's just that once we have the tarp all unfolded and the balloon put away - well, then we have to fold that big tarp all back up again.
It's a very meticulous and well thought out procedure. Scroll down through the next set of photos quickly to get the real view of our folding/getting the air out of the tarp process.
(at this point our pilot paused and said something like, "I think I'm going to puke" but he was well aware that the job was not yet done..so he continued)
I'll go through my pictures later and get more loaded and shared. Right now I'm trying to get the headache to subside a bit while working on catching up around the home and on assignments. Greg and Allan made it home from St. Ignace last evening just as I was running out the door for the evening pilot's meeting. I think I saw my husband for all of ten minutes before he took off for another business trip this morning.
It's been a busy weekend with balloonfest. While the weather hasn't been ideal, we still attend all (well, I did skip Saturday morning's after a brief glance out the window) the meetings and we were able to go out onto the launch field and glow for a little bit last night.
This morning I had my alarm set for 5am, took a quick shower and was at the meeting for 6am. All the balloons flew this morning. This was our church at 7:06 am.
Seemed fitting for a Sunday morning flight
I'll have a ton of pictures to share later, but for now I have to get ready for the ballooners banquet and this afternoon a promised trip to the carnival with my kids. There's another pilot meeting and hopeful launch this evening, but the forecast right now is saying it'll be too windy. Fingers crossed that changes.