One of the more unusual types of sightings we’ve enjoyed in our RV travels is hot air balloons flying overhead.
Early one morning last summer while camping in South Dakota’s Black Hills we awoke to the roar of a balloon heater’s flame and we dashed outside to see a balloon floating over our trailer. A few weeks later at the end of August we saw the Fall River Balloon Festival in Hot Springs, South Dakota.
This was a small balloon festival with just a dozen or so balloons, but the evening balloon glow was a true delight. The balloonists slowly heated the air in their balloons and raised them to an upright position while holding them down to the ground with tethers.
Then, on cue from the announcer on a loudspeaker, they all turned on their heater flames at the same time, lighting up the balloons in the dark.
Unfortunately, the wind picked up and the balloon glow had to be cut short. The balloonists did a quick “twinkle” where each balloon turned its heater on and off repeatedly, making the group of balloons appear to twinkle, and then they brought their balloons down.
But the next morning the balloonists were at it again, bright and early, out by the small Hot Springs Airport air strip.
The balloonists arrived before dawn and started laying out the balloons on the ground. Once each huge balloon was stretched out on the grass like an enormous blanket, the balloonist team then began to inflate it with hot air.
Before long, all the balloons were inflated and sitting on the ground ready to launch.
Then, one escaped.
and then another.
And soon they were all in the air, drifting across the open field and following the air currents.
We ran across the field, our cameras clicking away. The folks in the baskets waved down at us and seemed to be having a ball.
The sun crested the horizon and cast a golden glow across the sky.
Before long the balloons were out of sight, and the little handful of spectators began to fold up their chairs and head home.
If you have never been to a balloon festival and you are in Arizona now, there is a fun one going on at Lake Havasu this weekend (Jan 19-21, 2018). We saw it, along with the Buses at the Bridge VW Microbus festival a few years back (blog post here).
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Balloon festivals popular with RVers:
- Havasu Balloon Fest – Jan 19-21, 2018
- Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta – October 6-14, 2018
- Yuma Balloon Festival – November 16-18, 2018
Balloon Events and Flyovers we’ve seen in our travels:
- Balloons, Prisons and Salad Makings in Yuma, Arizona
- Balloons and VW Microbuses in Lake Havasu, Arizona
- A Balloon Flyover while Camping with Cows in the Black Hills, South Dakota
- + Lots of Great RV destinations in Arizona
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