Saturday, December 24, 2011

Arizona- Antelope Canyon and Hot Air Balloon Ride

Arizona – Antelope Canyon and Hot Air Ballon Ride

I’m combining some days here, because it’s the day before Christmas and stuff needs to get done. Santa and all that… and family gatherings and Joy to the World!

Ok, so back to Page, AZ. The morning after the Horseshoe Bend, we went to the Antelope Canyon. You have to use the Native American tours to do this, because it’s considered sacred grounds.

A jeep took us off road and into the sand dunes, sliding along the way. The Antelope Canyon was everything I dreamt it would be and more. The canyon walls are cool to the touch, smooth, wavy lines caressed by water, made to look as though it’s silk. We were fortunate enough to catch some sunbeams shining through. I loved the feeling of the canyon, loved being there. Here are some pictures and maybe you’ll understand why this was on my bucket list of places to go..

After that magical walk through the Antelope Canyon, we drove back to Flagstaff and spent the night with Greg’s cousin’s family. We had a lovely afternoon with them… and then another early morning start.

There was only one company that was willing to take a hot air balloon flight out of Flagstaff, Roping the Winds. Our pilot was Scott. This was my third hot air balloon flight and Greg’s first. I was worried that after the helicopter ride, Greg would find this mundane. But he found it just as peaceful as I did…. That is…. After he got over some initial fear. Not of the hot air balloon flight…

Here’s the humor in the situation, or maybe not humor, but it’s funny to look back on it…. We were meeting Scott and his “crew” at a particular location close to where Willie’s house is. Scott picked us up in his truck and then drove us to various points to find a good area to lift from.

That’s when we met Hank, “the crew.” I’m used to the crew being more than one person, so that had a red flag flying halfway. Then we got to know Hank a little more. He was free with information about himself. The word “colorful” comes to mind when I think of Hank. I liked him, but he was a little scary too.

Hank told us how he was in the Vietnam War. We thanked him for his service. He told us how people treated him when he returned back to America and how it really messed with his mind. And how his Dad then took him to Europe where he basically took a year off and drove his Harley bike… oh, did I mention that he was a member of the Hells Angels and that’s why he had his jacket on when we first met him to cover his tattoos in case it scared the clients…. Oh, and then… Greg was wearing a hat that he bought during our San Francisco vacation.. the hat said, “Alcatraz.” When Hank saw the hat, Hank said, “You been to Alcatraz? Yeah, me too. Only, I wasn’t on a tour. I was there for 10 years.” Gulp.

Now, we were getting all this info from Hank, while Scott was driving here and there and stopping there and here to “test the air” for lift off and we were getting further and further into the mountain range. Greg actually took a picture of Scott and Hank, “Just in case something happens to us, someone can see the pictures on Greg’s iPhone.”

All that said, Scott and Hank are good guys. They gave us an excellent hot air balloon ride and were very informative. I’ve never seen a black piball used to test the wind currents – they sent up a black helium balloon to see how fast and in what direction it travels. We didn’t want to go up too fast.

When we were up in the air, Greg asked about the direction of the current and Scott said, “There are lots of different mechanical tests you can look at, but the best is the spit test.” Yep… Greg and Scott spit off the hot air balloon and watched their spit get carried in the wind current!

Here are just a few pictures from the hot air balloon ride.

If you want to see more pictures of the entire trip on my Picasa site, click here. Believe me, there’s a lot more than what’s on my Picasa site, but my darling husband asked that I limit it as much as possible, so I tried.

It was a great trip, beautiful sites from cactus and mountains, to helicopters and hot air balloons, from red rock to the Grand Canyon, from the Horseshoe to the Antelope Canyon, from nature to family. It was a vacation that packed a lot of treasured memories!

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