Waking up at the crack of dawn, had to get ready to meet some of the other Road Warriors, namely Jeff Wallach and Tom Harack (Jay Stuller decided all of a sudden he was afraid of heights and wanted to live) to experience a hot air balloon ride in the beautiful Sonoran desert–home to a million cactus of all sizes and kinds. This was perfect for the Road Warriors, as most are full of hot air anyway.
We were picked up by a driver from Hot Air Expeditions and driven out to the desert to meet the balloon crew and our pilot, Patrick. After signing the releases, we were loaded into the basket and ready to go! Jeff was nervous as this was his first balloon ride. Tom grasped my arm so tight that I almost passed out from lack of blood flowing to my brain. I guess that’s the price you pay for having been on a number of balloon flights before.
Well, our pilot cranked up the propane to fill the balloon and off we went into the sky. Funny, the higher we went, the more Jeff turned white while Tom took pictures. The Sonoran Desert is a beautiful place, but when viewed from above the views are astounding.
Our pilot was very experienced; he’s the Chief Pilot for the company and logs about 500 hours per year flying balloons. Our balloon, which we named “The Good Ship Golfer,” was big. It takes four 20-gallon propane cylinders to get and keep this baby aloft. It has a wicker basket that can hold up to 12 people–or six golfers with their clubs. (Only kidding.) We “flew” for about an hour over rocky terrain, freeways and small hills, sometimes getting close enough to see footprints in the dirt from hikers. That was cool.
After landing we were treated to a small champagne brunch to celebrate the flight, each of us given a diploma certifying our balloon experience. It was a great way to spend an early morning before returning to our hotel to play golf. I recommend that you check the company out, www.hotairexpeditions.com. Ask for “The Good Ship Golfer!”