FITS Series: Sundance Balloon Ride

Sundance_1

My godmother gave me a Sundance Hot Air Balloon voucher as my first year of university/birthday present 5 years ago. After 5 cancelled sessions (over the past 5 years) due to unforeseen rain or strong winds, I finally managed to get on! Apparently the average cancellation rate is 6 times or more. I guess I got lucky.

Sundance_2

We took off in St.Jacobs, at the Waterloo Rod & Gun Club Association.

Your Hot Air Balloon adventure begins when you meet your Pilot and Flight Crew. The morning flights meet approximately a 1/2 hour before sunrise and the evening flights approximately 2 1/2 hours before sunset.

At the launch site, your flight crew will brief you on your upcoming balloon adventure. Then, you will watch with awe as your balloon takes shape before your eyes, ultimately standing more than 10 stories tall. Once fully inflated and ready for take off, you climb into the gondola and begin the adventure of a lifetime.

During your flight you will get a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the tri-cities area and will drift silently over the countryside where you will watch for wildlife and talk with envious onlookers down below. After drifting serenely for approximately an hour we prepare for landing.

Once on the ground, we share in the oldest of ballooning traditions, a champagne toast and revel in the peace, tranquility and beauty that you never before knew existed.

Sundance_3

Sundance_4

The view was unbelievable!

Sundance_5

Look at that Home Hardware’s massive distribution center in St. Jacobs.

Sundance_6

Our pilot enthusiastically introduced various landmarks and sights along the way. We sometimes purposefully lowered the balloon to get a better view.

Sundance_7

My favourite was spotting uniquely shaped pools at various homes. Those trees look like broccoli.

Sundance_8

Sundance_9

It got a little breezy up in the air, but the hot air above your head keeps the temperature in the basket high. The taller people in our basket probably felt like their hair was on fire.

Sundance_10

Can you spot the West Montrose covered bridge?

The West Montrose covered bridge is recognized as a historic site by Ontario’s Archeological & Historic Sites Board. It is Ontario’s last remaining covered bridge and has a 198′ span across the Grand River. Visitors come from all over the world to see and photograph this picturesque bridge.

The roof over the bridge served to protect the large timbers and trusses from the elements, and this is also the reason the bridge is still standing after more than 100 years. Uncovered wooden bridges have a life span of only 10 to 15 years because exposure to rain causes unprotected joints to rot in summer and freeze in the winter; the hot sun causes the wooden planks to dry and curl. Applying oil and tar to preserve the floor made the surface slippery when wet. Horses fear rushing water and would often become spooked as they approached bridges. A horse will trot up to the opening of a covered bridge and clip-clop through, reassured by the side walls and the light at the end of the tunnel.

The bridge was built in 1881 and underwent major repairs in 1999. Light traffic is still crossing the bridge daily including horse and buggies. The bridge
is often referred to as “The Kissing Bridge” because it is enclosed and the soft light provides a feeling of intimacy for the romantic.

Sundance_11

Our pilot travels all over the world to take up jobs for different hot air balloon companies. He told us about an incident where they had to jump out of the balloon, at relatively low altitudes, because the balloon was getting out of control and could not land. Despite that horror story, I felt safe throughout the whole flight.

He also told us about one time when a man planned a special mini couple balloon ride and proposed in the air, only to get rejected by the lady. How sad! The weirdest part was that they still had 45 minutes of balloon air time together… with the pilot. #awkward

Sundance_12

There were 4 compartments in each basket, in addition to the middle portion occupied by the pilot. Each basket holds 2-3 people.

Sundance_13

We had to search quite a while for a good landing spot (relatively soft and will not damage farmers’ crops). Then, the pilot had to communicate with his ground team to get permission to land from the owner.

Sundance_14

A little bumpy landing, but overall safe and fun.

Sundance had a little truck following us the whole time, and picked us up at the end (30 minutes drive from St. Jacobs).

Fascinating experience. I loved how we were able to appreciate the beautiful landscape in our country area.

Advertisements

2 Replies to “FITS Series: Sundance Balloon Ride”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s