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About Australia, Part 5 (my birthday)

October 8, 2011

Sorry to leave a whole week since my “Part 4” post. Life and work got in the way, per usual, and I knew this was going to take bit longer to put together. Consider yourself warned – there are a lot of pictures…

As I mentioned, we had to get up at 3am the morning after our trip along the Great Ocean Road for some special plans we made to celebrate my 29th birthday. It started with a little bit of a hiccup at 4:30am when we realized that the transportation we had arranged had left without us, and we had to make several calls to get it straightened out. In summary, there were 2 couples staying at our hotel, but the company didn’t realize it right away. So whenever they talked to either couple, they assumed we were one and the same. We got it straightened out, they came back for us, and during the 45-minute car ride we made friends with the other couple – Steve and Melody from Northern California (they were on their honeymoon).

When we finally made it to the Yarra Valley, it was nearly sunrise, and there was a heavy mist along the ground. It was beautiful and a bit surreal. We all helped the company get the equipment set up for our hot air balloon ride! It was a little more “hands on” than we were expecting, but I thought that part of it was pretty cool and liked seeing how it all comes together.

(Clearly I was a big help…)

At last we were ready to make our way up through the mist, just in time for sunrise!

I can’t even adequately describe how much I loved this experience (seems to be a theme of the trip, I know). But seriously, anything I could say would just be the same old cliches over and over… so I’ll just have to let the pictures speak for themselves.

As we were nearing the end of our flight, the balloon pilot started looking for a place that was “dry enough” for us to land. Apparently they just kind of randomly land in these pastures and the farmers know that it could be their pasture on any given day, and they don’t care. The pilot decided to land in one particular pasture, but as we were descending we noticed a powerline under us (no bueno), so he maneuvered away from that, only to land us between 2 trees, which is not ideal for packing up the balloon. We were also pretty far from a gate, so the truck with the trailer for the balloon was not able to get to us. In order to rectify the situation, the pilot told the guys to hop out of the basket, and after he put a little more hot air in it to get it off the ground, they were supposed to pull the balloon away from the trees far enough for him to get into the air again without having to worry about hitting the trees.

So, out hop all the guys, right into a muddy pasture. They weren’t exactly thrilled, but they were good sports about it…

…and then we took off up into the air and left them behind in the pasture! (in the picture below, you can see me looking out on the far right side of the basket):

AND – every time the balloon landed, this herd of cows all grouped together and stared at us, but as soon as our balloon went back up in the air, they started creeping toward the guys:

The guys had to hop a fence and cross some railroad tracks, but they met up with the truck and were given a ride to the next pasture over where we finally landed.

Everyone got out and started helping to put away the GIANT balloon. My job, along with 2 other women, was to go to the very front and pull backwards on the rope to bring the balloon toward the ground (not as easy as it sounds…).

When the balloon was packed up, we were driven to a nearby vineyard – Rochford Wines – for a champagne breakfast.

The balloon pilot gave us an Irish Blessing while “anointing” each of our foreheads with a cork that had been dipped in champagne. Then we received certificates stating we are now “official” balloonists.

We had our breakfast at the winery restaurant, and since it was turning out to be a stunning day in the Yarra Valley, we decided to stay out there with our new friends and keep the party going!

But for now, it’s late (even in Alaska) and I need to go to bed… so I will continue this in Part 6 later this weekend! I promise it won’t be another week before I post it – and I’m sorry if you’re sick of my Australia posts, but hang in there – I’m nearly done! The first 4 days were completely full of unique experiences, so they’re taking a little longer to get through. 🙂

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2011 4:42 am

    Great, great post! A balloon ride is now in my “to do” list!

  2. October 8, 2011 9:14 pm

    love it! it should be a birthday you never forget! :o)

  3. Jen B. permalink
    October 9, 2011 2:36 pm

    Not sick ATALL about your Australia posts! I am SO enjoying reading about this awesome adventure. What an AMAZING birthday and pics to show for it!! Happy Birthday, by the way! 🙂


  1. About Australia, Part 6 (wrapping up my birthday) « If Here Was There
  2. A brief interruption « If Here Was There
  3. About Australia, part 7 (Phillip Island) « If Here Was There

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