Nov 13, 2011

Back Home. Up In the Air.

I've been home now for 4 hours after a 4 day long weekend and can I say that it's been like a holiday from a holiday?  It's actually been easy to say goodbye to the high life.  It was a wonderful break but I am glad to be home.   

In my absence, the Christmas decorations have been put up at the local shops and ...  SJP is the covergirl for the December 2011 issue of InStyle.





After being served all my meals for the last 4 days, it was a bit of a novel experience going to Coles to buy ingredients to make my own meals.  There was also that first shower in my own bathroom.  As much as I love soaking in the bath at a hotel and using all the fancy toiletries that are provided, nothing beats my own slightly scratchy towels and a light coat of sorbolene at the end of a long day.  It says and makes me feel like I'm home.


It really only was this morning that I celebrated returning a hire car to the airport in perfect condition and with a full tank of petrol.  It was the first time I'd hired a car for a road trip and I had a quiet Coke Zero to celebrate my success.  Everything was so easy and convenient at Tullmarine.  I just drove the car in, unpacked and wheeled my luggage across the road to check in for the flight home.  As luck would have it, Mr Joyce and the unions are still sharing an uneasy truce and the flight was merely delayed due to 'the cleaning crew running late' rather than being cancelled.




We were blessed with freshly cut grass in the paddock where we were to ascend from.  In the background are other groups preparing their hot air balloons.  You have to see the pictures of all the groups in the air later in this post.

And it was only at 4.30 this morning that Mr SSG and I were up before the birds for a hot air balloon ride over the Yarra Valley with Go Wild Ballooning .  My photos are really blurry but I did want to include them with this post because the whole experience was so amazingly fun and unique.  I know it's a touristy thing to do but I am so glad that we took the chance to do this.

We arrived with a 4WD and a truck holding a basket and a large blue bag.  How was it all going to come together?
Chateau Yering (where we stayed) is a pick up point for the balloon ride.  Mr SSG and I received a wake up call at around 4 in the morning.  I got dressed on auto pilot and we walked to the meeting point in the main car park where the 4WD and truck were waiting for us.  All together, 16 were going on the ride today.  The conditions were described as close to perfect.  Not too hot, no rain and short grass (so we wouldn't get too wet as we prepared to fly).

See that toe hold in the wall of the basket?  That's how people get in for the ride.

Gas burners and a fan.  That's how the magic is created.
Mr SSG and I were responsible for a crucial step to get the show on the road.  We had to hold the neck of the balloon open as it filled first with cold air (brought in at speed by the fans).  This took around 15 minutes and I was itching to take a photo of it happening but didn't want to risk jeopardizing the flight if I let go too early....


Inside our fully inflated '350' size balloon, the largest size Go Wild fly with.

Physics was never my favourite subject at school but this morning, watching its principles in action left my in awe of science and how beautifully it can be applied to real life.


The hot air that causes the balloon to rise comes from these propane burners.


It's quite a blast when the burners are first fired up to create that pillow of warm air that causes the balloon to rise.  We had to hold the balloon as the air first got warmed up and it was like being next to a dragon's burst of flames (or at least how I'd imagine Puff the Magic Dragon would behave).  I even got lifted up off the ground for a bit.  Very gratifying after a weekend of very good food.

Semi inflated balloon on the right.  You can see why it took so long to fill and why an average sized person can get easily blown off the ground as this happens.

Everyone in the group helped get our balloon in the air and that's what made it so fun.


Initally, the basket was carried off the truck using the loops to the left of the picture above.


Then we climbed into the padded basket to provide the weight to keep the balloon down on the ground at the beginning of our flight.  A large basket fits 16 or so adults and it was a very comfortable standing room only ride too.


As dawn broke, the other balloons also came to life.  This is wine country and champagne has such a long association with hot air balloons so it is no surprise to see some of the major houses of the region represented on the balloons.  Remind me to tell you about our bubbly tasting at Chandon.  There are photos and they are pretty.


And we're up in the air!  In the nicest possible way.  It was like being in a movie scene.  We climbed into the sky so gently.  It wasn't frightening at all.



From a distance, the patchwork precision of the farm land and vineyards were visible in all their glory.


It was such a different perspective from both driving through the region or flying over it in an airplane.


The peace and gentle bobbing along with the wind was very comforting and my sleep deprivation worthwhile.  The ride really did wake me up and in a nice gentle way rather than as a rude shock.


All too soon, our basket bobbed closer to the ground.  Dots on the expanses of green became more defined and in focus.  After we hit the ground, it was all hands on the basket as we manipulated the weight of ourselves against the weight of the air in the balloon.


The men jumped out and started pulling the balloon downwards.



The air slowly escaped and the task got a little easier as it did so.

 

Finally our buoyant ride collapsed to the ground over the prepared tarpaulins.


Then the rest of us pitched in to roll up the balloon to fit back into its case.


First there was the rolling.


And then there was the lifting and coiling into its case.  We paused every once in a while to shake the bag down to ensure the whole balloon fit back inside.


It worked!  Our teamwork paid off.


Our balloon was hauled into the truck and we drove back to our hotel for a well deserved full breakfast and optional glass of champagne (for those of us who hadn't been drinking it for the preceding 3 days straight, it has been that kind of mini break).

And on that note, I shall leave you for the night.  I am taking myself to bed in readiness for a full day back in the real world.

Looking forward to sharing more of the photos and memories with you over the next little while.

Take care,


10 comments:

  1. A lovely early morning dream. The Balloon ride looks wonderful. Nice captures too. xo

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  2. Wow, love your photolouge... it all looks super amazing, lucky you :)

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  3. Amazing photos! I'm almost a little bit jealous of you as I've always wanted to do a hot air balloon ride:) It sounds like you had an amazing time, and welcome home:)

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  4. Wow! That looks like so much fun and a fantastic experience! I usually wouldn't be up that early, unless it was for a flight somewhere, but I think it was well worth it :) x

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  5. I've always wanted to do a balloon ride but I have such a fear of heights - those pics look amazing though!

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  6. i adore your blog and the theme! Where did you get it!? I just started following you and I would really appreciate it if you could check mine out and possibly follow back?! <3 :)

    www.classyfancypresh.blogspot.com

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  7. Love the balloon pics, looked a lovely morning.

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  8. What a wonderful adventure! It sounds as though the trip was pure bliss. It's good to hear that you're enjoying being home though... it definitely helps with the post holiday blues to appreciate your own little part of the world :)

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  9. I think that is the same balloon company in whose balloon my cousin got engaged. She had bought the trip as a present for her boyfriend, but he carefully subverted the trip and proposed as they drifted through a cloud.

    I've never been hot air ballooning but we have a balloon festival in Canberra, so I must get around to it.

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  10. How great did your balloon trip look! The photo's are great, even the "very early morning" effect you applied to the first one :-)

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