There’s something whimsical about going on a hot air balloon ride — the massive colorful balloon, the small wicker basket, and that weightless feeling as you soar high above the ground — it all feels so playful and dreamy, and ever since I attended my first festival as a young girl I’ve been fascinated with the idea of floating among the clouds.
The Autumn Aloft Hot-Air Balloon Festival is held each fall at one of my favorite mountain locations in Utah and when I first learned about the event my excitement could barely be contained. I immediately added the festival to my calendar and I couldn’t wait to spend my Sunday morning watching those giant, colorful, hot-air balloons launch high into the September sky.
What I didn’t expect was that we’d have the opportunity to fulfill that childhood dream from so long ago.
Frost covered the ground and I shivered as we walked around the park — next year I need to remember to bring more than just a light hoodie for this early morning mountain activity — and whenever a giant flame was released into one of the hot-air balloons nearby I slowed my pace in order to warm my face and hands with the residual heat emanating from the balloon.
It wasn’t long into our walk that I discovered an incredible opportunity which made me forget all about the way my hands hurt from the cold and the way my face stung from the frigid wind.
As a line began to form near one of the hot-air balloons, I wandered over to learn what all the excitement was about, and that’s when I discovered an opportunity that had this adrenaline junkie grinning from ear to ear: this hot-air balloon was offering rides for FREE! Without hesitation I scribbled our names onto the ride list — Wait… uhhh, I mean, I first read the entire liability waiver and then added our names to the list. ;-)
I never imagined that I would cross off a bucket list item that day, and before we knew it the time had come: it was our turn to climb into the wicker basket and prepare for lift off. The sun had risen high into the sky and as they fired up the flame located just above our heads any remaining icicles from our face and hands were instantly dissolved.
While our time in the air wasn’t nearly as long as your typical hot-air balloon ride, it did give us our first experience of weightlessness as we floated higher into the bright blue sky, and I’m already looking forward to another opportunity to climb back into that tiny wicker basket to see where the wind blows.
Would you go on a hot air balloon ride?