For Jeff's birthday last month, we went up to Calistoga -- literally up, in this balloon that sort of looks like it should be catching fire, but is actually getting inflated.
We went up with Calistoga Balloons, who cleverly enough have a Calistoga water balloon.
That's us in the shadow!
And there's our shadow again, seemingly way far away.
Our awesome pilot, Jim. He had that classic pilot mellowness, nothing seemed to rattle him...or maybe it was classic Nor-Cal mellowness, we were close to Mendocino.
The view from the basket. Are you getting vertigo?
There was a second Calistoga Balloons balloon up that day. Yes, all of those people got in that basket -- it's huge!
Chief and me up in the balloon. He seems like he's having a fun birthday, right?
If you're thinking of going on a Napa Valley area balloon ride, I highly recommend Calistoga Balloons. They were super-organized, and have been in business for 30 years. You appreciate both of these things when you're 2,000 feet up, with only some hot air and a flimsy silk balloon keeping you from plummeting to the Earth below. A nice part of their package is that you get brunch afterwards, which is good because you have to get up at the crack of dawn. By the time you get down you're ravenous!
You can't bring a bag or anything extra with you into the balloon, except for your camera. So pack light! Also, you will be hot up there. Remember that the blazing fire that inflates the balloon? It's burning while you're in the air, which keeps you toasty. In fact, the top of your head gets pretty hot, so a hat is a good idea.