Every year, I see the hot air balloons floating over Peavine, and think, "I should go watch them some year." So this year, I hopped out of bed at 4:56am, and dashed out the house to meet my friend Lara at 5:30am by San Rafael Park.
I was AMAZED at the crowd of people stomping up the hill toward the park - in PITCH dark! Kids, grandmas, moms and dads, strollers, blankets, chairs...you name it, people were carrying it.
Lara and I had on headlamps, so we could run the trails behind the park up Peavine and watch the balloons rise for Dawn Patrol. The view was incredible, and all the Patrol balloons raced northwards as soon as they were released. We should have realized that was a bad omen, as later the Mass Ascension could not take place, as the wind was too strong.
Instead, most of the balloons simply inflated and then remained tethered in the park. It was still amazing to watch the teams lay out the balloons, fill them with air, then hoist them vertically up above the basket. We couldn't believe the heat coming off the burners as the captains blasted the flames into the silk balloons.
Here are some of the photos of how they get the balloons going.
I will definitely go back next year, as it was really much more fun to be in the park than to be watching the balloons from far away.