Monday, June 20, 2011

Ballooning over Arlington

In another life, we lived a few years in Jacksonville, Florida.  Actually, Arlington, and we loved it there.

One of the many great joys while living there was a hot air balloon ride we took on my birthday.  It was a total surprise to me, one that I will never forget.

Judy woke me before dawn and said, "Get dressed."  She didn't say why.  Then we were out the door driving to I didn't know where. 

Within minutes we arrived at the practice field at Jacksonville University where a number of hot air balloons were being readied for liftoff. 

I thought she just wanted me to see the balloons lifting off, but no... not her style.  She said the yellow one was ours.  I could hardly contain my excitement while the huge balloon filled with hot air and started tugging to break free from Earth.  Within minutes we were 'Up Up and Away.'

The sunrise was just starting to make a little crack over the beach to the east and the town below was coming alive with traffic.  The buildings and bridges downtown were starting to shine in the sun.  It was breathtaking to say the least.

We were drifting south, then east, then west as we changed altitude.  Within minutes we passed close enough to our old apartment on the water that we could clearly see it.

Then we were headed right over our house.  We were close enough that we could hear our dog, Punkin, barking at us.  We even talked to her but I doubt that she heard us.  We didn't want to yell and wake up the neighbors.

A couple of "WOOOOOOSSHHHHH's" from the burner and we went higher and westward, then southward, eventually making our way to Baymeadows Country Club where we gently sat down on a fairway.

We helped collapse the balloon and load it in the chase car, drank our customary champagne and smiled with the realization that this was one of our life-adventures that we would never forget.

Rather than ride back to the start point in a chase car, we decided to walk over to Judy's Mom's apartment there at Baymeadows and surprise her.  We did surprise her but as we told of our adventure you could tell from the look in her eyes that she wished she had been along.

There was only 8mm film movie cameras back in those days so we borrowed one for a few shots.  Plus, the balloon people must have taken some too.  Anyway, we had the film converted to the more modern VCR format.  Then we tried having that converted to CD but it didn't take.

To recapture these unforgettable moments I mounted my Flip video camera in front of an old TV that was still connected to a VCR player.  It definitely isn't Hollywood quality but I think it captures enough of the moment to allow us to re-live it and smile whenever we want. 

Just as important, we can now share it with everyone.

Take a look...

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