Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pool parties and hot air balloons in Arizona

So guys, let's finish up this post about my time in Arizona!  BUT, let me tell you... the rest of the trip was pretty awesome, so hang in there with me.

After the race, we went back and rested and after we were good and napped, we got dressed and headed out to a pool party.  We went to a local resort called Talking Stick and they were having a big pool party that day with outdoor music, drinks, dancing, and lounging in the sun.  Apparently this is a thing that happens all the time in Vegas, but I have never been to Vegas like that, so it was brand new to me!  To be totally honest, I was really self conscious before going.  I felt really uncomfortable in the bathing suit I was wearing and stressing out about it.  But, I decided to just suck it up and embrace myself for who I am.  And, it ended up being a ton of fun and great to be outdoors and in the water and laughing and smiling with friends.

I love pictures where everyone just looks happy.  My friend KV used to say that after we would take pictures in college and it always stuck with me.  I don't know why I always associate it with KV but I just always remember her commenting, "We look so happy in that picture!" and now it is something I always notice... happiness beaming out of pictures!  And with that in mind, I will share all these pictures of Brick and I :)

We stayed at the pool party for most of the day before returning home, resting a bit, and then going out for even further celebrations.  It was Brick's birthday weekend so we had to go all out, but man it was tiring!

The evening ended late and the next day started early as we had to be at the hot air balloon place at 5:00 a.m. (which was about 45 minutes away from where we were staying.)  And YES, you read that right - I said "the hot air balloon place" because we went out on a sunrise hot air balloon ride!!!

It was an incredibly amazing experience and we had gorgeous views of the local scenery and it was truly breathtaking.  What was so amazing was knowing that it was just some hot air that was holding us up more than 7000 feet above the ground!!!  We were SO high!  I couldn't believe that the thing that was carrying us had just earlier been stuffed in a bag on the ground.  It really did scare me a bit knowing that there was only a tiny floor board below us holding us into the basket and that it was just a random BALLOON keeping us afloat.  You cannot control the direction of the balloon or where it lands or anything like that.  You just pretty much go up, float around, and and land where you can.  It's a pretty archaic process it seems, but it is also what is so magical about it!

From here out, I will just share a bunch of pictures.

Once we landed, in the middle of the desert, they had champagne and breakfast for us.  It was amazing!  The landing was a bit funny because you had to turn around and face the opposite direction of where you were landing, bend your knees and brace yourself.  Again, since it is just a balloon and a basket, there are no wheels or breaks or even a real way to stop it.

There were a few guys on the ground that our driver, Mark, was communicating with via walkie talkie and explaining where we were expecting to land.  They met us there and helped us stop once we were on the ground.  While we were facing the opposite way and getting close to hitting the ground, we all of a sudden heard Mark yell out, "NO!" and it made all of us panic.  We had no idea why he was yelling, but in the end, I guess it wasn't a big deal because landed safely after skidding to a stop on the ground.

They pulled out the champagne and the snacks and we chowed away, enjoying the chance to finally be on the ground again.

They recited "the ballonist prayer" before we toasted, which is apparently what balloonists everywhere say when they return to the ground.  "The winds have welcomed you with softness, the sun has blessed you with warm hands, you have flown so high and so well, that god has sent you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth."  It was such a magical day!

Later that day we returned home for naps, laziness, and just hanging around playing games and eating throughout the rest of the day.  After such a busy weekend, it was really nice to have time to just sit and reflect and relax and of course laugh.  For lunch we went out to Culver's for frozen custard and burgers, since Culver's is a Wisconsin chain that we happened to find in Arizona (4 of the girls are originally from Wisconsin.)

We ordered pizza in for dinner and just had a great day lounging about, unfortunately watching the Hawks lose, and playing charades and other games.

It was an early evening for me since I had a 6:00 a.m. flight on Monday returning to Atlanta, and with that, my adventure in Arizona came to a close!

The last final thing that I will mention is that on the way to landing the hot air balloon, we happened to see some hikers on the ground that we shouted to and said hello.  They were taking pictures of us and it was fun to just shout below and see the tiny people on the ground.  Then on Monday, I was searching around on Instagram looking at the hashtag of the balloon company that we went on the trip with.  And then I saw US!  The hikers posted the pictures and used the hashtag and I was able to find them.  They posted more pictures for us and it was such a fun, cool way to close out an awesome trip!

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