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B is for Balloons


Labor Day weekend 2009 found us staying at a motel in the tiny town of Alpine, Texas.  Up before the crack of dawn, we stopped for rolls and coffee at the motel's breakfast bar, then head to the edge of town and a few miles beyond.  No map needed, just follow the long line of cars headed in the same direction.  Leaving the highway and following the dirt roads of an undeveloped housing area, we arrive at our destination... a large open flat piece of land. Cars are rolling in behind us and soon there will be hundreds jumbled together in makeshift parking rows. 

Sleepy-eyed people milling about in the cool morning air, watching the workers busy at their assigned tasks, waiting for the sunrise and its warmth. Then suddenly, it's time! The crews on the ground begin the process of inflating the huge hot air balloons they have laid out like a patchwork quilt across the field. The Big Bend Balloon Bash has officially begun!


There are few things that can lure me from sleep before the sunrise in my old age, but this is one of them... my first visit to see the majesty of hot air balloons close up.  We watch awestruck as the giant inflatables slowly take upright form, one after another - some easily, some requiring a bit of struggle by crews and volunteers. 


Tradition dictates that the first balloon to rise is symbolic of our country. It ascends to a recording of the national anthem.  Other balloons are quick to follow.  The process is fascinating, burners heating air to fill them, pilots and a few lucky passengers getting situated inside the baskets, tethers being loosened, and slowly they rise.  From the ground we look upward, seeing inside the massive balloons as they ascend. 


One by one they float off across the sky drifting Northeast with the wind, painting a rainbow picture that is simply breathtaking!  Chase crews follow across dirt roads and fields to collect the balloons and riders when they return to earth awhile later in the morning. 


As the balloons float farther off into the distance we observers return to our trucks and cars and head slowly back down the road toward town, peering from the open windows of our vehicles and enjoying the beautiful desert Southwest morning with the small range of mountains providing a majestic backdrop. 


Driving away from the launch site, we are privileged to witness a small herd of incredibly beautiful antelope cross the road directly in front of us.  What an amazing ending!

This post was written for the April A-Z Blogging Challenge.  I'm headed off to visit other bloggers and see what they've had to say about the letter B.  Why don't you join me?  To make it easy, use the navigation buttons posted near the top of my sidebar!

This post was also for Monday Memories, a place to share bits and pieces from our past.  I'd love to have you write something to share there with us too. Stop over and check it out!

16 comments:

  1. That looks like so much fun. I would love to attend an event like that. What a great photographic opportunity.

    I'll be back to check out more posts since we already follow each other.

    Lisa
    InspiredbyLisa

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  2. Doing well on the A to Z. I'm just lurking... :)

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  3. Look likes a wonderful adventure! The pictures are beautiful!
    Social Science Medley

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  4. Beautiful post! I am lurking from A to Z...I will stop by again!

    http://diaryofasquaretoothedgirl.blogspot.com/

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  5. What a beautiful event. Lovely pictures too!

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  6. WOW! That looks like such an awesome thing to witness and be a part of. I do wish they did things like that where I live. Beautiful pics too Josie :) And thankyou for your comments lately, you are always so encouraging and you make me think about things in a different way. Sending love and hugs your way <3

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  7. What a great event and wonderful photos to go with it. I've never been to Alpine, but I love Big Bend National Park and west Texas.

    Now following your blog.

    Contrary to my usual practice of subscribing to comments, to save time during challenge I will not be doing so during April. If you want to respond to my comment , please email me directly from your email notification for the comment.
    Thanks.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

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  8. What a great even and wonderful pictures. It looks like fun.

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  9. What fun! The pictures are wonderful!

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  10. It is always cool to watch hot air balloons. Just south of here there is a balloon field and in just a few months they will have a balloon festival and sometimes they drift up this way.
    Really great pictures.

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  11. How magical. We went to a balloon festival here years ago, what a treat to watch.

    -----------------------------------
    My photography is available for purchase - visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

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  12. Beautiful pics, Jos! The antelope, too.

    I work in Indianola Iowa, and they hold the balloon nationals there every year--- I love driving in on those days...balloons floating everywhere. In fact, I nearly got plowed over last year, by a driver who was too busy watching to drive.

    Happy Sunday!

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  13. oo wow! I wish I could take part in something like this!! breathtaking!

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  14. That sounds so very cool. I took the kids up to a launch when they were very little, and it was amazing.

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  15. Josie...this post was awesome. It made me want to be a balloon groupie! *smile* The colors are so vivid and they look so festive all rising together in the sky. Good pictures.

    I don't like heights, so you won't ever find me in one of those...but it would be fun to be one of the observers.

    To top it off, those antelope were beautiful too. It sounds like a fun adventure indeed.

    Your A-Z blog theme is a good idea.

    Have a nice Sunday...oh, and thanks so much for your comment.

    Love, Linda

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  16. We have a balloon festival that happens every fall near our home...it's quite a breathtaking site!! Found you from the A-Z Challenge, I’m now following you on GFC and I hope you have a chance to check out my blog!
    Monica
    http://oldermommystillyummy.blogspot.com/

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)