So I was driving just outside of Birmingham, AL when I realized that I was kind of lost. I never really mind getting lost because that’s when I sometimes find the coolest things. In my quest for adventure, I forgot about what I was trying to find and began a search for something more interesting.
Then I spotted it: A hot air balloon. It was in the distance behind some trees and seemed to be grounded. Nearing the spot, more balloons came into view, then the sign. It boasted of hot air balloon rides! Talk about adventure! Pulling to a stop, I got out and walked into a small, white building. It’s a little company that takes people up and floats them over their homeland for a fee. The walls were lined with balloon photos and happy smiling faces. “Those are some of our customers,” came a voice to the right. Gliding silently through an outside door came a graceful young woman with a radiant smile. I knew right then, I wanted my picture on that wall.
After getting the details for a few minutes, I remembered that I have my own lady who would love to experience our city and countryside from high-up. Later that afternoon, I met with my sweetie, Lauryn, for dinner. “Have I got an adventure for you!” I exclaimed enthusiastically. “I’m taking you on a hot air balloon ride!” Her expression changed. “You know, I’m afraid of heights, don’t you?” Her tone suggested that I should know that, even though she never told me. “This is different,” I argued, “It’s completely safe and it’s not like you’re standing on a ladder or something. It would be fun and educational. Our area will have a whole different perspective from the air. And we’ll take pictures!” That got her. Lauryn, an avid amateur photographer, couldn’t resist a unique shutterbug opportunity.
So, the day came when we both arrived at that little office and signed the papers. “Why do I have to sign waver like the thing is going to fall out of the sky?” She’d already taken an instant dislike for the girl I’d met on my first trip. I think she sensed how I had been talked into it. More questions came and more reassuring. Reluctantly, Lauryn and I climbed into the basket, digital SLR’s around our necks and with butterflies in our stomachs, the pilot pulled the cord.
Woosh! came the flame from the burner and slowly, we lifted off. Airborne, there was a surreal sense of tranquility as we floated silently through the sky. With telephoto and wide-angle lenses, Lauryn concentrated on clicking-off the best shots. I snapped some, but I focused on the breathtaking views of the area. I knew my baby would bring home the best wall-hangers.
Once on the ground, we felt a whole host of emotions: Calm, excitement, relief and anticipation to see some of those framed photos on the wall. I was looking forward to going up again!