The other morning when I was in Colorado Springs, I went to my car early in the morning, and was surprised to see a beautiful balloon in the empty field next to the hotel, readying for take off. I wanted a picture, but my camera was up in the room, and they did head into the blue before I could get up there and back.
But it brought back a wonderful memory.
DC's birthday was Thursday. He is now 67, which is hard to believe if you'd ever meet him. He is a very youthful 67, and keeps himself in very good shape. His "furlough" time has been spent working very hard in the yard, bike riding, running, hiking, and occasionally taking a break to watch the Tour de France or the British Open. Future plans include golfing and boating, but he only has 3 weeks left, so I don't know if he'll fit it all in!
But the memory I'm referring to happened 17 years ago, when he turned 50. I wasn't making a lot of money, but was able to save up enough to surprise him with a balloon ride for the big 5-0. It was all planned for the Saturday before his birthday, which was on a Thursday. We were to be at the top of Horsetooth Mountain by 6:00 a.m. We would be back by 10 or so, at which time there was a surprise brunch planned for our back yard. I had even called a local radio station, asking them if they could play a request promptly at 6:00 a.m.
I was awakened from a sound sleep around 4:30 a.m. with a most unusual and ominous sound. It absolutely never thunders in Northern Colorado at 4:30 a.m. in July. Just doesn't. But it did! I jumped out of bed (well, snuck out would be a better description) and headed downstairs around 5:00 to call the balloon operator. He gave me the expected, but bad, news - there was no way a balloon was going into the sky that morning with the possibility of lightning. I rescheduled for Thursday, his actual birthday. I went into the bathroom to have a private little pitty party, complete with tears, very quietly.
I went back to bed, but first found the radio station that was to play the special request. DC was quite confused by this time - how could I explain all of this unusual activity on a Saturday morning? I had never listened to this station before, never turned on the radio at 5:50 on a Saturday morning, never cried in the bathroom so early in the morning . . .
Precisely at 6:00, right on cue, the radio DJ said, "And now, a song for DC on his 50th birthday!" And there came "Up Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon!" Suddenly, he said, "Oh, I GET IT!" I told him the whole story (well, except for the brunch part), and that the surprise would no longer be a surprise, but it would still take place on Thursday (barring another thunder storm).
But - then I had another problem. How to get rid of him so we could prepare the party! I had to get him to leave, because Kristen was going to the store to pick up the pastries, juice, and balloons. I invented a need for him to go over to his mom's house and do some work on her yard. This made no sense to him, because it was Kev's job. But he went, arriving back just as Kristen drove in the driveway with our tiny little car jammed with balloons. The good thing is that DC is pretty much in his own little world, so you can pull a lot over on him!
I can't remember exactly what happened next, but soon our friends began to arrive, all bearing gifts around the theme of "50". He received an atlas with 50 states, 50 dimes, 50 Hershey's kisses, $50 one dollar bills from me, and, if I remember correctly - 50 Ex-Lax tablets!
He was either surprised, or he is a really good faker. I can't remember which.
It was a really fun, relaxing morning with many good friends.
I was privileged to ride along with the woman who followed the balloon from the ground in a truck. They headed for Horsetooth Reservoir, and it actually touched down into the water for a brief few moments.
DC said it was just so peaceful as they sailed through the air - there is no sense of movement, he said - it just glides with the air stream.
It made a bit of a rough landing, with the basket bouncing along.
Part of the adventure was to help the crew put the balloon back into its home. That is a lot of fabric!
We were transported back to the home base at the top of the mountain, for the final ceremony. We were offered champagne, but since we don't do alcohol in any form, we opted for sparkling apple cider. Little did we know that the "ritual" was a bit nuts -
I can't remember what he had to say, but they "baptized" him with the sticky stuff.
But then we were served, and the adventure was over. He thoroughly enjoyed it.
He would love to do it again sometime, and would love for me to go too. I can only imagine how much more it costs now!