Florida Guide > Other Activities
Orange Blossom Balloons
On our first visit to Orlando, we decided to combine a long held dream to fly in hot air balloon with the opportunity to get off the normal tourist beat and see some of the areas more natural assets from a different perspective. Our children who were then aged 14 and 10, were a little reluctant to be dragged out of bed in the early hours before daybreak but they soon became excited as we hit the I4 to make our way to the rendezvous point. By the time the first glimmer of daylight began, just before the sun comes up over the horizon, we were actively involved in unpacking and then inflating our balloon. At first light we were airborne, slowly climbing into the sky along with two other balloons. We were packed snugly, eight to a basket, which helped us to keep warm in the early morning mists.
The biggest surprise for me was the peace and serenity as we travelled along, except of course when the burner was fired to give us lift. We felt truly at one with nature as we glided over woodland, barely clearing the treetops, eagerly scanning the murky pools below for any sign of alligators or other wildlife. Once or twice a heron or an egret would fix us with a steely glare as we passed by and several dogs complained with a bark as we woke them from their slumbers.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, visibility improved and we could make out the landmarks of Disney in the distance, the golf ball at Epcot and the outline of the Swan Hotel. The other balloons in our group were sometimes above us and sometimes below as we travelled up and down into different air streams to take us in the direction that our pilot wanted to go, that is to say to a safe landing area. As we started to descend we passed quite low over some holiday properties where holidaymakers were outside on their decks with an early morning cuppa. We were delighted to see them excitedly waving to us as we went by, we of course waved back. We were given clear instructions what to do upon landing. I was a little anxious to say the least but I needn’t have worried, we reached terra firma with the gentlest of landings. The recovery vehicles seemed to arrive at exactly the same time and after disembarking we began the final task of folding away the balloon. This was followed by the age old custom of toasting the flight with a glass of champagne. The adventure was rounded of by a hearty breakfast at the hotel, which we had used as a rendezvous point.
The following year we purchased a property along the N27 in an area similar to that which we had flown over. I now often enjoy a tranquil early morning coffee out on the deck and if the wind is in the right direction, a little after sunrise I might see a balloon or two pop over the treetops in the distance. I always wave at the passengers in the baskets, it takes me right back to the day that we enjoyed our flight and I hope that I can become part of the memories of theirs.
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