Waking Dream

Early morning balloon ride a trip to remember

By Hilary Berg

I have never considered myself a morning person, that is, until an opportunity in an envelope changed my thinking.

Let me explain. “Envelope” is the term for the actual balloon of a hot air balloon. The “opportunity” was riding in one for the first time. I needed to wake up at 6 a.m. in order to arrive on schedule.

Editor's Note

Hilary Berg has been the editor of OWP since 2006. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s in journalism. She and her husband own a seven-acre vineyard and winery called Roots.

Freelancer Valerie Rogers pitched me the story months earlier. She wanted to write a piece on Vista Balloon Adventures, for which she is one of many early-rising volunteers.

When she originally proposed the feature in 2014, I must have missed her mentioning my participation in the photo shoot. I would ride with Valerie and Bryan Rupp, an incredibly talented photographer.

The morning of April 10 was chilly and foggy — making me want to crawl back in bed. At first, I doubted the weather was ideal for flying or photos, but I was so very wrong.

While joining the volunteers in preparing the balloon for flight (see page 30 for some of the many steps), the rising sun illuminated the fog, creating stunning imagery; and we had not yet even left the ground.

Once we hoisted ourselves into the basket, and our pilot, former owner Roger Anderson, entertained us with a few well-rehearsed quips about safe riding, we gently lifted off the ground.

I didn’t even realize we were moving until I glanced down. The fog continued to play with the sunlight, making the experience feel like an incredible dream. Bryan’s photos captured the experience beautifully.

During the flight, Valerie explained — with great passion — why she gets up in the wee hours of the morning to volunteer for Vista: “Helping people achieve an item on their bucket list is incredible, and doing so while most others are just waking up is the best way to start a day.” 

I had never given much thought to my own bucket list, but I have now, and at the top, “hot air balloon” is already crossed out. Thank you, Valerie and Vista. And, thanks to Bryan, I can share with you the beauty of what we saw that foggy Friday morning.

Even though my watch could have argued that I was dreaming, the experience was, in fact, a dream come true.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish before the day is fully under way.

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