Friday, July 31, 2009

Indianola Balloon Festival

Riding in a hot air balloon is something I have always wanted to do - but was too afraid to do anything about it! This year I decided that it was time to push myself beyond my comfort zone and take some risks. What did I really have to lose anyway?

Through my photography meetup group, I heard about a balloon festival in Indianola, Iowa so I got online and did some research. I knew this was my opportunity so I booked myself on the evening ride for July 31. Then I waited...
Finally!! The day came and I headed to Iowa. My friend, Kate, who lives in Des Moines decided to join me on this little adventure so she met me there and we checked in for our ride. I was more than a little nervous but I was also quite determined.
The hardest part came when they introduced the pilots and ours looked like he was 12! Oh dear Lord...

But not to worry - he was fabulous! His name was Taylor and despite his attempts to terrify us once we were in the air, he was a fantastic pilot! I was asking him questions about his experience and from about 2000 feet in the air, he said I was about 8 minutes late on those questions. Touche.
Being squeezed into a basket with one friend and 13 strangers is a very unique experience. It didn't take long before we bonded - passing cameras and shuffling our buns to share the view from the edge.
As the balloon rose, I was amazed at how little fear I actually felt. It was quiet (except when the fire was on) and I felt very much at peace.
You could hear so many sounds - people talking from the ground, cows, cars, horns, etc. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

There were three balloons carrying passengers and our highest point was just over 4000 feet.
It was so awesome to look down and see one of the balloons flying below us.

Taylor managed to bring us in for a perfect landing. Our basket didn't even tip over and though we had prepared ourselves to be one big pile of humans in a hay field, we were quite proud of our pilot!
Upon our safe return to Earth, we were treated to a champagne toast to celebrate our flight and presented with a personalized first flight certificate that is suitable for framing.
Here's to bravery and a life full of adventure! It was a day I will never forget and one thing I can mark off my bucket list.
I wonder what's next????

Thursday, July 09, 2009

BBBS Bowl-a-thon

Last spring I was accepted to serve as a big sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Kansas City. One of the expectations of the "Bigs" is to form a team of six people to participate in their annual Bowl-a-thon.
I had no idea if anyone would be willing to do this but I figured it never hurts to ask - and the free beer and pizza certainly might help! Sure enough - I had five wonderful people who volunteered to bowl with me - and raise money! Andrea, Melissa, Paula, Joy and Brian made up a fabulous team! We not only had a great evening but we raised over $700 for BBBS thanks to our generous friends and family.

The icing on the cake came when I managed to bowl a strike my first five times up to bowl. I have only once in my life bowled a turkey and I can't remember EVER getting five strikes in a row. It was pretty darn close to a miracle! It really was a wonderful evening and it's really good to have friends who don't care how silly they look if they know it's for a good cause - or at least for free beer!