Ed points out the “eclipse” or shadow of the balloon on the gorge wall. Digital cameras click as the passengers photograph the shadow moving across the rocks. Ed does a quick pull on the tank valves and the balloon crosses above the John Dunn Bridge and then turns drifting east above the county road, as if he is steering with an unseen keel.
Ed gives the burners a longer blast and the balloon rises above the gorge. Drifting west once again, Ed discusses where to land with the crew on his radio. Barely moving, Ed decides to land the balloon on the nearby road and prepares his passengers. “
“Keep your knees bent and be sure to have your hands on the basket. We might bounce a bit,” he says.
The balloon scrapes the tops of scrub brush with a crunching sound, then another crunch and then…nothing. The basket is stuck to the bushes alongside the road.
“Oops!” laughs Pilot Ed as Lisa and Dave run over. They push and pull the heavy basket over the bushes filling the air with the scent of sage. Once solidly on the road, Ed gives the passengers the okay to exit. Another photo op presents itself as the crew deflates the balloon.
Dave walks over to chat with the passengers. “Most pilots wouldn’t have gotten into the gorge today. That’s just how great a pilot he is.”
Once deflated, balloon and basket are packed into the trailer while everyone climbs into the Suburban for a short drive to the Gorge Bridge, where a delicious spread of fruits, muffins and juice awaits. Everyone’s final task is a champagne toast celebrating another beautiful balloon ride in Taos.
Taos is located 72 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and 135 miles north of Albuquerque. Taos is a 5-hour drive from Denver, an 11-hour drive from Dallas and 8 ½ hours from Phoenix. Fly into Taos Municipal Airport.
Pueblo Balloon Company: 575-751-9877 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Carrie Dow is a freelance travel writer whose work has appeared in Islands, International Living and most recently Go World Travel. She is the International Pet Examiner for Examiner.com, where she writes about animal-based travel and global animal welfare issues. She also covers the adult beverage industry nationally for Drinking Made Easy and locally for Drink Denver. She is mom to a reformed alley cat, an Australian cattledog, an English lab and a Siberian husky. Follow her on Twitter @whereisCDnow.