Last week, I checked a major item off my bucket list — I RODE A HOT AIR BALLOON! And as someone who’s afraid of heights, it was no small feat.
If you’re wondering where all my dreams came true, it was at Balloons Over Horseshoe Bay, the annual hot air balloon festival at Horseshoe Bay Resort. My time at the resort was both a relaxing getaway and a high-flying adventure!
A Relaxing Getaway
My getaway started the night before the festival at Horseshoe Bay Resort, on Lake LBJ right outside of Marble Falls. I stayed in The Tower, and for the first time, I could have been content to just spend the entire trip in my room. I mean look at that view!
Yet, once I ventured out of my king-sized bed with a view, I found the the resort was surrounded by tons of places to lose yourself in the sunshine like a relaxing spa garden with trickling waterfalls and a mini-golf course surrounded by exotic birds.
I could’ve spent a week just exploring all there was to do at the resort!
A High Flying Adventure
The next morning came early as we arrived at the Balloons Over Horseshoe Bay festival site, piling off the bus to the sight of massive balloons slowly taking form with the sunrise as a backdrop. As teams of 4-5 hefty men all pulled and tugged, these shapeless puddles became towering characters.
We cheered as all four balloons took flight, bobbing up and down in wait for passengers.
The real adventure came when it was time to ride these hovering beasts. Despite my fear of heights, I was determined to ride one.
I stood by waiting for my opportunity, when I heard one of the pilots say that the “Auspicious” was about to take flight. As my heart beat into my throat, I knew this was the moment. Speak now or be Earth-bound forever.
I chose flight over fear and boarded the balloon.
I tried to keep calm in the grounded balloon as more people packed into the tiny basket. We somehow fit a total of 6 people plus the pilot into the gondola.
I almost hopped out of the balloon, my fears heightening, as the pilot passed around a consent form, and explained that we were all flight crew members, responsible for pointing out any trees or power lines we saw on the ground and that we should “brace for a train-like crash when we land.”
But I held my ground. And my breath.
I braced myself for the intense pressure and stomach-churning intensity of a plane take off. But instead the balloon weightlessly ascended into the air as the flight crew pushed us up from the ground.
The overhead burner kicked in, but the heat escaping the open flame felt good in the brisk morning air. Soon, we were floating our way into the sky, and it seemed I’d left my fear of heights back on the ground. The higher we rose, the freer I felt.
The feeling of weightlessness was extraordinary, like nothing I’ve ever felt. The ride was peaceful and the view, unforgettable. As we wafted our way through the clouds, it seemed as though even the rising sun was trying to catch up to our ascent.
Too soon, the ride was coming to an end. Like being jolted awake from a lucid dream, I was forced back into reality as we bounced our way back down.
We all braced ourselves as the balloon and the pilot fought about whether to stay in this ethereal float or come back down to Earth, bobbing us up and down like a boat on the thrashing sea. To the balloon’s dismay, the pilot won this fight, and seconds later we were safely back on the ground.
Since that flight, I’m not truly convinced I ever came back down to Earth. You might even say I’m still flying high from my adventure, but one thing’s for sure: there’s no other experience like it and I’m completely sold on hot air ballooning. Can’t wait for my next flight!
Find your own adventure at Horseshoe Bay Resort!