Sunday morning, September 25: I missed an excellent photo of the sunrise, because I thought getting dressed before stepping out of the camper would be a good thing… but I was down at the viewing area as the first balloons were lifting off. This time there were three setting up on top, by all the campers. The one with the bears is the one that had done that every launch; it was joined by two more.
Then I turned my attention to the airfield, where the majority of the balloons launched. The wind was light and variable – I watched as craft lifted off, drifted south, drifted east, drifted north, and west again, basically making a large loop! And “Here comes the sun” played in my head as I saw a new shape inflated. And this time the panda went up, not just tethered in place.
At one point, I saw a chase vehicle come up the hill, with balloon and basket, but lost track of them until I heard the whoosh of propane. It had launched from up above all the campers, and came down over them.
I did a little more visiting, getting a tour of an RV the size of mine but new, and four wheel drive, and with large battery storage so it’s running on electricity, not propane, for stove and refrigerator. Nice folks, doing my preferred kind of camping (boondocking), and with a very cute small dog. Then I ate breakfast, stowed everything, and headed out at about 9:30. Most activity down at the airport was over, although I saw several chase vehicles returning with their balloons and baskets in the next several miles.
I feel very ambivalent about this sport. It is beautiful, and it’s a great group of people – but the amount of propane expended for a recreational activity is mind-boggling – to say nothing of the fuel used by all us spectators to get there! I think I’ll stick with kayaking.
Saturday evening, September 24: By about 5:30 that afternoon, balloons were starting to lift off; I and my chair returned to the viewing area. I don’t know if the blue and purple one in the center is a test balloon, or just eager to be off – I think it was the first one out that morning, and it was the second in the evening. And the flag balloon was still in the same place. Did they deflate it during the day? Good question – I didn’t notice!
Again, the Magic balloon inflated behind me, and I think this time it was taking up the person who won the door prize from the NEHARVers. Behind the balloon, you can see about 15% of the RVs in the field!
They delivered chicken dinner, and walking back from the camper after getting a fork, I was struck by how the rounded roof of the vintage VW echoed the top of a balloon!
When all the balloons that wanted to fly had cleared out, they did what I think they called “Moonglow” where they light the balloons using their propane flame. The American flag showed up the best, and it soon became too dark for the phone on my camera to take respectable pictures.
Friday, September 23: Another Roadtrek owner had suggested I join her at this annual event. The Northeast Hot Air RVers use a large field just south of the county airport in Queensbury, New York, filling it with RVs large, larger, medium and tiny; dogs large and small, old and young; children of all ages, and the adults who get to tag along. By five that afternoon, our two Roadtreks and another larger RV belonging to friends of hers, were lined up among dozens of other vehicles. One must be self-contained, as there are no sanitary facilities, so there weren’t any tents. It’s obvious that the larger crowds were down at the airport – one runway was used as a parking lot, and the traffic was said to be horrendous, but that didn’t affect us, going in on a different road. The following photos were all taken Friday morning. I was on my way down to the viewing area with my chair when the first balloon rose – pretty much as the sun did.
I realized that one crew was inflating a balloon immediately behind me, so I went over to watch:
And it flew right over my head!
Shaped balloons are a big deal, and probably really expensive; there were several. The panda was probably my favorite, as it reminded me of my godmother, who loved them. But Taz was a hit, and the snowman. None of them went anywhere Saturday, and the American flag balloon was also stationary; I think maybe it took passengers up staying tethered.
I worked a volunteer stint at the registration tent, then visited through the afternoon until the evening launch. That will be the next post!