Posts Tagged With: champagne


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There were groans when we were awakened at 2:00 a.m. to be driven to our balloon ride grounds. The balloon experience is and optional tour and three of us, me, Owen and Gina were the only takers. It was cold and chilly when we arrived to see balloons and crews working all over a huge field staging area.

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What a thrill when a balloon is suddenly aloft and lighting up the sky and ready to fly. Beautiful.

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We are directed to our balloon and the crew is working hard to get it upright.

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Watching it grow bigger and bigger and lift the basket and come off the ground. Quite a show.DSC06509 (Copy)

Our faces are reddened by the flames. A crewman offers to take our picture. Now we are glad we got up early. We are the first ones to load. The other 21 passengers are nowhere to be seen.

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Balloons all around us are coming to life.

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We are airborne and flying before the sun comes up.

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A beautiful sunrise.

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In the distance, the sun plays across the highest ridges first. What a magnificent way to watch a sunrise. You can click  once than again to make the photos bigger for a better view if you like. Then back arrow to return to the blog.


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This balloon gets close enough to “kiss”  which means we bumped together, a fairly common event when 70 to 90 balloons launch in close proximity.

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We fly over a deep tufa canyon. The white tufa is a volcanic rock that makes quite beautiful formations.

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It is a strange feeling to be practically above another flyer.

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The colors and beautiful background delight the senses.

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Owen and…

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…Gina are both enjoying their first balloon flight. It is a drifting, serene experience.

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At some point, as we gaze at the rough terrain,  the “fairy Chimneys”  we kind of wonder about the landing? I’ve flown before, but only over fields and vineyards or savannah.

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The area has rose-colored rocks and is called the rose garden.

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Some of the tufa shows colorful streaks as well. Something you cannot see from the ground.

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We know that we will hike this area later in the day with our group.

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We watch as SkyWay is making for a landing area where one balloon is already on the ground, ready to be rolled up and put back on the truck.

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Half deflated, the balloon lands right on the chase trailer. I’ve never seen it done that way before this flight. These are giant baskets. We were given instructions on how to brace for a hard ground landing which has been my past experience in the three balloon rides I’ve taken where everyone is in one simple basket holding about 6 people plus one or two crew members.

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Everyone bails out and down she goes.

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We spot our ground crew.

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The pilot throws them a line and they drag us into position.

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Our pilot keeps the balloon slightly inflated while we bail out. No other crew member on this flight.

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We watch our balloon collapse and congratulate the pilot on our soft, perfect landing.

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We celebrate and enjoy cookies and champagne and salute our successful flight. Everyone is taking pictures. We are presented with a flight certificate and then bused back to the hotel. Wonderful. I’d have to say, each flight is different and unique. Very enjoyable.



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To fly from Murphys to Texas takes two days. I first drive to my daughter’s house near Sacramento, spend the night, and get a ride to the Sacramento Airport for my 6:10 a.m.flight to meet Jim in Harlingen, Texas. I flew from Sac to Los Angeles to San Antonio, to Harlingen. The flight was delayed 20 minutes because of ice and sleet on the runways in San Antonio. A bit bumpy from San Antonio on through.

I know Jim missed me. He had champagne waiting and HE, THE GRINCH HIMSELF, cooked me dinner. But, alas, the pictures are still in the camera. I brought two cameras and two cables with me but, not the correct cable to unload pictures from the Sony.

I shared two legs of the trip with a delightful lady named Rosa. I took her picture and several others. I told her to look for her picture on the blog. My apologies Rosa, if you see this.

And, after allowing my computer to sit for 6 months, it was not happy about my return. It wants everything updated, and cleaned up. My security had expired and I downloaded and installed another program before I did anything else.. Well, you know how it goes.

It is colder here than in Murphys. Remember, this is weather- wimp territory. But, Jim assures me it will be back in the 80’s by Monday. I’m looking forward to getting my rambling life back after the accident. I’ll be doing therapy for quite a some time yet while on the road. We’ll be moving a bit slower than normal, for awhile. But I’m happy in Texas.

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Three-Ten To Yuma was a great movie about a train bringing prisoners to the Yuma Territorial Prison.  My 3:10 flight to Yuma had some similarities.  You are strapped to and trapped in a seat just like the prisoners. Yuma flights are special transports because  big planes don’t go there. These small puddle jumpers do. Actually better, less hassle, less people,  and comfortable enough. We won’t be visiting the Territorial Prison this trip, though. I blogged it in 2009.

Sitting by the window presents a rare opportunity to take aerial photos.  Interesting if you can recognize some of what you are seeing as in the once controversial California Aqueduct near the bottom right of the photo.

Which gave way to desert…

…and the Salton Sea.

After being met at the airport by my Sweetie, we went out for an early dinner and celebrated back in the motor home with a bottle of Cooks.

The weather in California is expected to turn stormy and cold. Winter at last.  I got out just in time. Back on the road, with temperatures in the 70’s.  We’re living the good life.

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Since we all like to eat, you would think that a bachelor would learn how to cook, out of self defense, aye? When I first moved into the motor home with Jim, I made my own breakfast and he made his.
Jim made the same breakfast EVERY DAY. He poured liquid egg product into a measuring cup, added six precisely cut slices of cheddar and slathered the top of this mess with salsa and cooked it slowly until  the cheese melted. I tasted it once. Its edible.
For dinner, he cooked three things, cardboard turkey burgers, fried chicken breast, and microwaved salmon out of a plastic package over lettuce. Salad. Everything gets covered with salsa or grated parmesan cheese out of a shaker box and plenty of pepper. Oh, yummy!
I quickly took over all cooking and we made a deal, I do the cooking, he does the dishes. We were both happy with that arrangement.
Now, comes the problem. He is ALONE in the motorhome for the next month plus. He called and said the over easy eggs were not easy. Today, he told me he was sticking with sunny side up until they cooked through. (A little like leather on the bottom and raw on top.) I gave him some hints but its difficult to believe that anyone can be so inept in the kitchen.
I was warned about engineers. He actually counts the number of wheat thins he puts on his snack plate and measures the cheese he cuts. Arrgh!
Some men can cook, but at least Jim  knows how to open a bottle of champagne without it spilling. I gotta hand him that. Plus, he’ll really appreciate me when we get together again.
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We are at Turtle Bay-Fish Camp on the San Joaquin River in Manteca, a short day trip from Murphys. Jim left about 10:00 a.m. yesterday while I stayed to supervise a total revamp on my sprinkling systems. My goal was to finish up early and join him. It turned into one of those frazzling experiences when just as the day was done, I stepped out of the shower to a ringing telephone. A tenant called explaining she had no electricity in her house. Flipping the breakers didn’t solve the problem and my usual electrician wasn’t answering his phone on a Sunday night, naturally. Eventually, we got the problem resolved and I drove to Turtle Bay in the dark, wondering why I didn’t just stay home until morning.

The motor home is an escape for me and I slept like a log, stayed in bed until 7:00 a.m. and in general let the tensions drift away. Then, I discovered, that Jim, who I might have accused of not having a romantic bone in his body, dressed in a blue shirt and blue shorts and reminded me that those clothes were the clothes he wore when he met me. He told me what I wore. Hmmm!
We proceeded to the restaurant where we met a year earlier. I honestly don’t remember dates or anniversaries or what in the devil I wore.
I do remember that he drove from Morgan Hill and I drove from Murphys to a Highway Cafe about equal distance from both of us, in Tracy. He repeated what we talked about, how many hours (5) we stayed and talked, well, you get the picture.

When we returned from lunch, a chilled bottle of champagne was waiting for us in the refrigerator. I can never acuse him of being unromantic again, just because he doesn’t like poetry.
October 26th, a new partner, a new life style, a new year, ramblin’ and bloggin’ around the United States.

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