Saturday, July 30, 2011

Balloon Festival

Late yesterday evening LC, Jamie and I drove down to Mentock Park in Cody thinking that we would have the opportunity to witness lighted balloons.
In my "Cody County Visitors Guide" it says:

Cody's annual Wild West Balloon Fest with the theme "Sweet 16" honoring the 16th year of the event. Organizers are planning for about 25 balloonists from around the US.  A spectacular balloon glow will start at dusk Friday July 29.  Balloon competitions will begin at dawn Saturday and Sunday.

We arrived at the park around 7:30pm and seeing that nothing was going on at that point, drove into downtown proper to eat a late dinner at a local mom and pop restaurant before heading back to the park.
I had expected glowing inflated balloons.
After spending some time watching the fearless kids performing gravity defying tricks on bicycles and skateboards and scooters in the skateboard park we ventured further to see what the balloonists were doing.,
Surprisingly there were no inflated balloons.
After resolving to come back to the park early this morning to see the dawn balloon takeoff, we watched for a short period of time in the waning daylight, as crowds encircled the craft baskets to see the flames................
Our neighbor had told us that the balloons began their journey at either 7am or 8am and that she thought that the balloons traveled towards the Belfry Highway.
The plan was to see the takeoff, visually follow the balloons as long as possible, hopefully grab a few pictures of the colorful display, and then head off on hunts for yard sale treasures.
So when we stepped outside at 7am heading for the truck I was incredibly surprised and disappointed to look over towards town and see that we had already missed the takeoff.
I made a grab for my backpack and then made a grab for my camera, hoping to capture a couple of pictures before these colorful and wonderful balloons disappeared from sight.
I stood in the back yard and as more and more balloons made their appearance I quickly snapped shot after shot.
I had never seen a balloon festival before.
It was cool.
It was very way cool, and became even cooler as I started to see first two, then three, then four, then 10 or more balloons gently floating through the air..................
As LC and I continued to watch them, and point enthusiastically at different balloon designs, it became very clear that these balloons were not heading away from town and towards the Belfry Highway after all.
They were headed our way.................... 
We excitedly followed them and excitedly watched as the lead balloon floated within a mile of the house.
It seemed from our vantage point up on a rise to be almost following the line of the road leading directly onto ours.
And we excitedly watched as this first colorful craft came in for a soft landing.
It appeared to have landed right on the road.
With Cedar Mountain in the background.
OK - it was time to get outta Dodge.
To load our dog and ourselves into the truck, drive the mile down to the road and to see if we could track down this balloon.
And the others as well.
Because they were all headed our way.
What great fun so early on a Saturday morning!..................
I had imagined that the balloons would take part in some lengthy journey and was surprised to realize that they were all indeed heading towards the ground only a couple of miles from where they started.
Regardless, as we approached the road we saw chase vehicles heading down a side road that led to open fields.
We were only a couple of minutes from the house and as we continued, I realized that I would be able to get many good pictures after all.
It seemed like such a great adventure first thing in the morning to have a couple of fists full of hot air balloons landing in a field almost right next door to us...............
We pulled the truck over to the side of the road behind some of the chase vehicles, I climbed out of the truck and commenced to snapping.
Taking pictures in all directions as they wonderfully and colorfully floated above and behind and in front of me.
Trying to catch them in action before they floated down to the ground, sometimes softly and under control and sometimes........not so much.
I turned to LC and he was smiling at this unexpected adventure as much as I was................
Neither LC nor I had ever seen a balloon festival before.
To have these balloons fly so close and then to land so close to our home was very fun and very exciting.
Our experience this morning was quiet and serene and colorful and we enjoyed more than I ever could convey here, just how much we loved this intimate opportunity to experience the balloon festival first hand.............

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