Happy Ballooning.

Sunrise_6264

Looking over Galena, Illinois from a hot air balloon.
(You must contact http://www.aepoc.com in order to use this image for any reason)

Even before I started photographing things, I’ve always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon.  Finally able to this past weekend, in Galena, Illinois, courtesy of Galena On The Fly.  I had around two weeks to prepare for the experience, but didn’t really think all that much about it.  A number of people I told about it said “better you than me”, and similar things, as they’re afraid of heights, or just wouldn’t feel comfortable with… ya know… being in a giant picnic basket attached to a balloon, traveling through use of fire.

We lifted off the ground at about 6:45 am, just before the sun was coming up.  As we ascended, we cleared one of the lodge buildings at Eagle Ridge, right when they happened to be cooking the bacon… and all 12 of us in the basket started to get hungry.  The smell was overpowering; but not as much as the view.

Watching the sunrise is a good enough experience, but watching it in a hot air balloon, drifting slowly and quietly over the trees, river, and golf course, is breathtaking.  Okay, so it’s not “quiet” when our Balloon Master, Andy, fired up the flames – that sounded more like a shotgun… but still, the view was incredible.

Looking straight down from a hot air balloon, during the best Fall colors I’ve ever seen.
(You must contact http://www.aepoc.com in order to use this image for any reason)

It could not have been a better day for the ride.  It wasn’t too hot, or too cold, no clouds, great sunrise.  It was a little crowded, but it worked out.  Though if you do it, I suggest not bringing very much.  I had my 7D and my 35L lens, but I brought along one of my little Lowepro bags with a spare batter and memory card (you never know) and my 28mm f/1.8 lens in case I wanted a slightly wider angle.  The bag is small, but proved to be too bulky in the cramped quarters.   Car had her Nikon point-and-shoot, along with Radix (the nickname of our FujiFilm Instax 210 instant film camera).  During the trip we saw numerous deer and turkeys, along with some pedestrians just staring up at us.  Here are some of the shots from the Happy Ballooning experience:

Balloon Master_6238

The Balloon Master.
(You must contact http://www.aepoc.com in order to use this image for any reason)

Fire!_6261

The FIRE of a hot air balloon.
(You must contact http://www.aepoc.com in order to use this image for any reason)

Course_6228

Looking down on a nice golf course, from a hot air balloon.
(You must contact http://www.aepoc.com in order to use this image for any reason)

Balloon Shadow_6280

Our balloon’s shadow.
(You must contact http://www.aepoc.com in order to use this image for any reason)

Eagle Ridge_6236_pano

At the highest point of the balloon ride; 4,000 feet.
(You must contact http://www.aepoc.com in order to use this image for any reason)

Sunrise_6271

From a hot air balloon, fields just look like patchwork.
(You must contact http://www.aepoc.com in order to use this image for any reason)

The Hills_6274

Sunrise over the hills, from the hot air balloon.
(You must contact http://www.aepoc.com in order to use this image for any reason)

Sunrise_6257

Endless sunrise from the balloon.
(You must contact http://www.aepoc.com in order to use this image for any reason)

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