Today was a strange day. Oh sure, many of my days are strange days just by virtue of the fact that I am, for all intents and purposes, somewhat of a strange person. Today, was different in its strangeness, though. Today, I got to be part of a hot-air balloon crew.
I got to help take out the gondola (that basket thingy), lay out the balloon, and watch as it inflated, even catching a peek inside the balloon as it got bigger and bigger and putting the final touches on the preparation for liftoff.
As we rose into the air, the ground got very far away very fast. We sailed along through the mountain desert landscape, catching a glimpse of our shadow in a sea of sagebrush and laughing as the local coyotes and jackrabbits darted off out of our way and drivers pulled over to the side of the road to watch us.
Looking up was a cathedral of color and light and flame. Looking out across the city was indescribable. The silence was broken only by the periodic roar of the burners as we floated peacefully, drifting with the wind currents and thermals, across the hills.
The landing was a bit bumpy, and dragging a fully-inflated balloon against the wind to the grassy landing site was interesting, but any landing you can walk away from, as they say, is a good landing. We disassembled the balloon, and packed it into its small bag. Amazing that such a huge thing can fit in that tiny little container.
Finally, it was time to go. The crew and pilot posed for a final group picture near the trailer that carried the balloon and supplies. The name of the balloon?
I believe it's more apt than anyone can ever imagine.