Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hot Air ... and where to find it.

Every year, on or near the autumnal equinox, the City of Plano has its Balloon festival. A combination of ballooning meet and local fair, it is a kaleidoscope of color, ethnicities, volunteers, and gastronomic indulgences. It is preceded by intense volunteer committee work, manned by good citizens devoted to frenetic planning and grand spectacle, supported by a city management accustomed to a lower level of dedication to same.

This time of year is best for ballooning. The winds of spring and summer have given way to the light airs of early autumn, and are most suitable for balloon flight. This is, I’m told, that to keep ballooning safe, you really want to stay away from windy days. Getting the huge envelope filled with hot air is impossible to do when you have to brace yourself to windward, and the birds fly backwards. Should one actually achieve flight, your support team has to cross counties and states to recover your, and the balloon’s, remains. Baskets recovered from rough landings – misshapen, crushed, shredded, or vestigial - have been known to have the distinctive tang of unbridled fear. Rain as with most sports, is also not considered good for a balloon meet.

Unlike in the past few years, this morning must have been near perfect and even we tyros knew that the dawn patrol would fly. To be sure it did, and we had a grandstand view of the colorful bags taking to the air. Our complex is next door to the fields from which they leave.
The long(er)distance fliers left first, leaving the field for those that sell “balloon rides”.

The latter take trippers for a short round trip for a couple of hundred dollars. They stay close to the ground and somehow making use of local low level air currents to take off and land again in a few minutes and the same city.

I could see who was who in the command module – the white knuckles on the wicker basket rim as the balloon scraped the roof tops were a dead give away. The elephantine flatus of the gas-burner told of the equanimity of the others.


Sunny side up daisy.
Meanwhile, on the ground and outside the grounds, the city’s only contribution, traffic management, was woeful and inept. At 0900, when all the good little Southern Baptists were still singing “All things bright and Bushieful”, and the streets were just a tad over empty, the first imprecations and curses, were clearly audible. The city, taking the line of least effort, simply closed off major streets without due notification to residents, and failed to position any (let alone clear) detour signposts. The shortcomings of its Finest in basic traffic management, promise to add excitement to the day’s events.


Pieter said...

Whatever i tried to format those pics,the BLOODY blogger would not let me fix it. So ... thank the gods you're all smart enough to work it out around the daisy.

Bird said...

Damn it. I missed the Dachshund parade in Addison and now I missed the balloon festival in my own dang town. Time to get a life Brighid.

Martine said...

What an uplifting post...made my spirits soar as high as a...oh, alright...

Great post...despite your frustrations it looks awesome! I have trouble formatting around pics, too...which I why I usually choose the "large" option...then you can only type above or below each pic...


Pieter said...


Thank you for the help. I'l leave the fancy stuff to ... my compass points ... should it ever.