HAPPY THANKSGIVING! More fun with balloons and friends.

24 Nov

Arriving in Las Vegas in time for the week end balloon event we stayed the first night with George and Aggie parked on their drive where haRVey just fits! Our friends have introduced us to many new things over the time we have known them, the fun of ballooning, the other side of Las Vegas, Mexican food and Margaritas. Oh and not forgetting Cinnamon rolls! Mexican restaurants we have discovered have good options for our vegetarian tastes so it made a good choice for an evening meal. Unlimited Margaritas on the evening special was a bonus, but maybe not such a good idea when an early morning wake up is required. The pilot briefing was 6am, we had to be ready to leave at 5.10am….

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The event was to raise funds for a deaf children’s charity and the flight launch was from the car park of a local hospital. Thankfully the weather was cooperating this week end and we were soon busy laying out the tarpaulins and the envelope.  The Friday crew consisted of George, Jan  with husband Joe, Lawrie and Monica and ourselves.

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Our first days passengers were Tony & Brooke from the sponsors Marriot Hotel chain. They enjoyed P1220799their flight and we enjoyed their company, a great couple full of fun it was a pleasure to be able to help them achieve a new experience.

George found a nice easy landing spot for us to repack the balloon – a newly asphalted parking lot of a local church.

 

 

That afternoon we moved haRVey over to the Boulder Beach camp ground at Lake Mead south of the city. Lawrie and Monica were parked there too, we picked up a hire car en route to give us a little more flexibility for the coming week end. Saturday morning we set off around 5.15am to drive back into the city, we arrived at the hospital car park as the sun came up and were able to witness a lovely sun rise.

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Once again we were unpacking Kaleidoscope, more hands today as we had been joined by several more of George and Aggie’s willing volunteers. It seems once you get bitten by the balloon bug its hard to resist getting involved.

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Todays passengers were Scott and Aya the flight was in celebration of Ayas’ birthday the next day, and again it was a delight to have them around. Saturdays landing however was not such an easy one. We gave chase across town, towards a housing area, a nice vacant plot of land was available but it had a 6ft fence surrounding it. George landed the balloon inside the fence by about 20ft, there was no gate, even with so many helpers we still had to find a way to get Kaleidoscope over the fence.

Jon, probably the shortest amongst us, quickly volunteered to jump the fence. He grabbed the tether which was then thrown back over the fence for others in the crew to hold on to. George fired the burners to lift the balloon over the fence while its direction was guided with the tether – teamwork! I suppose that is one of the things I enjoy about the crewing experience, its so much about team work and we have been fortunate each time to help some great teams.

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At some point over the week end in Page, probably post Margareta, a conversation took place about the upcoming Thanksgiving celebrations, between us it was decided we could have an early celebration this week end. Saturday evening Monica, Lawrie, Robert and myself drove over to George and Aggies house where Jan and Joe and Barry and Stacey were already gathered. Jan had cooked the traditional Turkey for the meat eaters but plenty of veggie options were on offer too. Conversation flowed all evening with good food and wine to accompany it. Our North American friends have all shown us wonderful hospitality and for that we are truly thankful.

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Sunday morning we all felt that we had slept a short night as once more we gathered at 6am to begin the morning flight. Today our passenger was Stephanie another first time flier. Monica and Lawrie individually both took a ride with George and Stephanie flying over a completely different part of town to either of the previous days. There were only 15 balloons taking part in the charity week end events but still they put on a colourful display. Many local people came out to the parking lot to view the take off and others watched from their homes as the balloons floated past and over their roof tops.

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Todays landing, although on rough ground, proved uneventful thankfully. As Kaleidoscope was packed away for the last time this week end I took great delight in my final tarp’ folding but did it with a heavy heart, not knowing when I may enjoy the privilege again.

Whilst Lawrie and Monica had flown before they had missed out on the ritual that first time fliers have to take part in at the end of their morning, so once we were all packed up they were lined up with Stephanie beside the trailer for George and Aggie to recite the prayer to the gods in thankfulness of the sunshine and good winds we had received for the flight. The ritual entails a little toast in champagne but not to spoil the surprise for others I will do no more than show pictures…….

 

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After our morning playing with balloons, George, Robert and I drove over to Nellis Air Base for the Aviation Nation air display…. and that’s another story and another blog post I think!

 

PS. Thanks to Lawrie and Monica for the photos marked ‘grumpysplace’ 

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