Extra! Extra! I Survived Hot Air Ballooning!

Oh, yes, I DID survive. And dare I say? Thrived.

Hot air ballooning was so much more than I could have ever hoped for.

And not just because of the balloon. Or the hot air.

But because it involved so, so many guilty pleasures. I hope you’re ready for an eareyeful.

It started around 6pm on Sunday, when Peppermeister, the man trying to kill me via his 30th birthday “present”, herded me into the car. I knew what was up. Luckily, I’d already prepared my last will and testament.

We headed to a main road not too far from our house; this was the only sign of what was to come:

A long driveway led to an open field, where two other couples were milling about. Peppermeister is ruthless, I thought. With all this extra weight, we would plummet to the ground with even more force than I had originally feared.

He reminded me not to socialize because “people like us too much.” It was a cover-up, because he didn’t want me to get close to anyone when we were all about to die. Except he was right. People totally like us too much when we talk. In fact, we try not to be ourselves in public at all. So here we are at a picnic table by ourselves. Being [secretly] awesome.

An old-school bus with a trailer pulled up, hauling a giant basket. A slew of folks immediately began assembling our death trap.

Babs, a.k.a. Mommarazzi, was, of course, on hand to capture everything:

I was glad it was a rainbow. Hot air balloons are supposed to be rainbows. And rainbows are good luck. …Right?

I put on a brave face.

And that’s when I saw it. The greatest handlebar mustache of all time. You can even see it from the back (far right). The perfect distraction from imminent death.

Our basket had 5 compartments, and each person had to climb in and out while the basket was on its side. I made it, and started worrying I would drop Annie Leibovitz (my iPhone), causing someone else’s death.

I glanced upward nervously; I prefer to be on fire only metaphorically speaking.

The force of the now-inflated balloon pulled our jam-packed basket upright. Oh holy chipmunks. We have lift off.

Goodbye, Babs! Remember what I said about selling Peppermeister’s instruments! …I love you. Psst. Handlebar Mustache is RIGHT. THERE.

OMG. Let’s zoom in:

Tragically, the winds blew us northwest, away from The Mustache Miracle and right over my place of employment. I’d post pictures, but I feel like they might shoot me (how many times can I cheat death in one week?).

Here, look at these instead:

Ah. You never knew Jersey was this beautiful, right? Yes. Quiet, serene, relaxing… oh, wait. Did I mention we were with two couples from Brooklyn (one young, one middle-aged)? Here’s an 8-second reenactment of our first few moments in the air:

I had to admit, it was relaxing, despite their piercing chatter. I was lost pondering gravity potential Glee covers when we started running into trees. We got closer and closer to the ground, and made a bumpy ‘touch down’ in a corn field. The driver fire cord-puller guy claimed it was “to slow us down.” Personally, I think he was just trying to shut Fran Drescher up.

The van that brought the hot air balloon followed us the whole time, because, in case I failed to mention it earlier - they have no control over where the balloon will go.

I was a little worried about crashing into power lines, or this highway. (Or that drivers viewing our balloon-y majesty would cause a pile-up on said highway.)

I probably shouldn’t have looked down at the inside of the basket, either.

It reads: “We’re totally not responsible if we turn you into vampire meat.”

Yeah, I really shouldn’t have read that…

Why are we going so low again? Why? Oh no.

Luckily, we had enough juice to get our basket out of harm’s way, and got to watch as families came out of their houses, dogs barked, and little kids begged us to land in their yard (who doesn’t love watching a hot air balloon? It’s like music. Or eating asparagus and then peeing). Note that even so close to The End, I had only one thing on my mind: Snacks.

About 40 minutes later, they decided there wouldn’t be a better opportunity to land but in this backyard. I braced myself, and…

…We made it. (Crawling Falling out of the basket was even more hilarious than climbing in. My shoe fell off in the process, and Handlebar Mustache complimented my toenail polish [which totally matches my GoGuiltyPleasures slap bracelet, natch]. I may have to consider a Third Husband.)

A copy-cat balloon landed right after us. They didn’t get the memo about the rainbow pattern requirement. I’m surprised they survived.

Loading the basket back on the trailer was fun for everyone who wasn’t loading the basket back on the trailer. …That redhead was cute from the front, too.

And that’s when we found out what had happened. Somehow, I completely missed it. Young Mr. Brooklyn [Gypsy?] had gotten down on one knee -in the basket- to propose to his infant girlfriend. There’s no way the basket should have stayed afloat with the weight of that rock in it.

And P.S. – she’s sixteen.

Here I am attempting to point at the ring during the ride in the van back to our cars (where are Misty’s ninja photo skills when I need them?):

Once we made it back to home base, we were treated to champagne, beer, cheese and crackers. Apparently, hot air ballooning began in France, and when ballooners would land in someone’s yard, the homeowners would freak out. ‘Cause, you know, it was clearly a spaceship. To ease the tension, the ballooner would offer a bottle of champagne to the traumatized family.

Now. Why couldn’t Peppermeister have told me that from the start*?

*He claims he totally did**.

**I never listen to him. Ever. It’s probably why he wants to kill me.

So, what did you think of that mustache/engagement?

75 responses to “Extra! Extra! I Survived Hot Air Ballooning!

  1. OH my god! “This is so relaxiiiiiiiing!”
    You are awesome. I started laughing at the mommarazzi comment and then came along mustache man and I died. The close up of him is priceless. All of your pictures are hysterical. You did it, you survived! I would have pushed Fran Drescher out of the balloon halfway through.

    • Darla, you always leave the nicest and most thoughtful comments! I’m always like, “No one is going to read this or watch this video. They’re just going to speed-scroll through the pictures, if I’m lucky!” But you prove me wrong time and time again – YOU are awesome!

      Congrats again on another soooo well-deserved Freshly Pressed – I’m glad I’m not the one who has to decide which of your posts gets the honor, LOL It would be too hard!

      • Are you kidding? How anyone ever speed-scroll through your posts? every single picture, caption, word, video is always hysterical. I have to tell you I had my volume cranked on the computer so when I heard, “This is so relaxiiiiiing!” I practically jumped out of my skin.

  2. That is some mustache (his, not mine)…I am not sure I would have found it all so relaxing – especially with your traveling buddies (Peppermesiter excluded, of course – he is so awesome for his amazing taste in wives (wife? or does he get to have more than 1? and gifts). Anyway, I digress. I am so glad you survived. So glad there was champagne. And so glad I am not 16 and engaged.

  3. That looks incredible! I think I’d need the champagne during the trip when I’d be sitting on the floor of the basket shaking

  4. I should have told you how safe those things are. We gave my mother-in-law a hot air balloon ride for her 80th birthday. She is now 95, and I am still waiting to claim my inheritance.

  5. That was awesome! Yes, it looked like great fun-for someone else. But I fer I too would have been cowering in the bottom of the basket sniveling like a baby.

    • Thank you! It really was pretty low-key, when you consider the fact that YOU’RE IN A BASKET TIED TO A BALLOON. ;) Honestly, getting in and out of that basket was the riskiest part!

  6. ashleypatterson21

    Wedding earrings are seeing regular light of the day! :P Hot air balloon, ah seems exciting! Did you guys have like seat belts, parachutes? was there an orientation before? Because exciting things generally lead to accidents :P

    • I LOVE that you picked up on/remembered that (the wedding earrings), ha! I was so close to mentioning it! I really do wear them all the time, which is funny because I thought they were too flashy for my WEDDING DAY. Now I wear them to the grocery store ;)

      That’s a great point. There was zero orientation. They beckoned us over unceremoniously, and were like, “Right. You’ll be clinging to this basket sideways while the balloon pulls it up.” Like people do this every day!

  7. Best mustache ever. Why isn’t there a pic of your toenail polish?

    I never thought about balloons just landing anywhere. Scary.

    • Y’know, I never thought about that either and we have a huge balloon festival just up the road every year and they’ll be dozens of them floating through our backyard. The noise those things make when they fire them up really freaks me out. Now I’ll be sure to wait for one to land on top of our house or one of the cows in the field for some extra excitement.

    • OMG. Thoughtsy. I so should have included a toenail polish pic! (I actually HAVE one. Long story.)

      They really do ‘go where the wind takes them.’ Hmm. Balloons as a metaphor for life. Maybe I should rewrite this post.

  8. You’re like those photographers – you know you’re watching a documentary about a guy climbing Mount Terrible, and then you realize, “Wait, someone’s doing the same thing, but with a camera! The documentary should be about the camera person!”

    You’re the camera person!

    • That’s what I ALWAYS think! And the camera guy is probably climbing backwards to get the shot – talk about your unsung heros.

      • Peg, can one be a ‘sung hero’? Or do I have to delete the part of this post where I talk about how much everyone loves Peppermeister and me?

    • B-Man. I read this comment this morning on my phone, halfway through my coffee. I reread it three more times, finished my coffee, and concluded that what you’re really saying is I should have my own show.

      You’re so right.

  9. Sooo jealous! I have always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon! Someday. . .

  10. We’ll see if WP lets me comment on YOUR blog TODAY.
    I saw (which is saying something, living as far out as I do–except I probably knew the pilot, whose name I won’t put publicly but he’s the “local” dentist) a hot air balloon on my drive in.

    I didn’t know Peps could grow to over 7′ tall when he feels like towering over you, then shrink down again for a close up with mental smile. That’s talent. No wonder you married him! Remember Plastic-Man? http://youtu.be/wIoHDB1FUOM

  11. The only reason he didn’t kill you is because you were on to him. He’ll have to be more sneaky next time. I need to know, was the infant’s ring really big or was that sarcasm?

    • Oh, gosh. Erica. You’re right. This is so far from over.

      The ring was flippin’ HUGE. Shame on me for not trying harder to get a close-up ;) AND, they had an entire party-busload of their friends driving all the way from Brooklyn (on a Sunday night!) to meet them in western Jersey to celebrate! (But since the bus couldn’t make it down the ballooning place’s driveway, I didn’t want to mention it in the post. Peppermeister and I were soooo disappointed we didn’t get to see their friends/family to get more of the scoop. I’ve never heard of ANYONE in this area getting engaged at 16. It just doesn’t happen! And she was way too skinny to be pregnant, LOL

      • I had to clarify. I am a bit sarcastic, so I assume everyone else is when they are speaking the truth. Awkward situations all the time. If the ring is huge and they had a van full…..gypsies for sure. It is the only explanation. I would know. I accidentally sat on my couch and watched a marathon of my Big Fat Gypsy Wedding the other weekend. I tried to stop, but I just couldn’t.

        • Is this where the support meeting is this week? My name is Peg and I also watch My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

          • Erica, you have NO idea how hard it is to keep some of my sarcasm in check because it just does NOT [always] translate into the written word.

            My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is amazing (and now they have a series of just romany gypsies in the U.S.!). I wrote about it this past summer, and it is still the number one search topic that leads people to this blog! You don’t even WANT to know what people are searching for when it comes to gypsy girls, though… Peg, I think we should make a support group for THOSE people.

  12. Ack!! I’m hoping all this gypsy talk is a regional thing so I can’t get all pouty, since I come from Hungarian gypsies (and Attila the Hun, no surprise there). But this is soooooo, soooooo. . . SSSSOOOOOO! I love hot air balloons (and fire, hmmm). They sound like dragons breathing when they glide by. I’d have to drink that entire bottle of champagne beforehand before getting in one.

    • Hi Linda! I’m glad you brought that up! I’m always worried I will offend people when I joke about gypsies. I don’t know if you’ve seen “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” on TLC, but supposedly it’s about Romany (Romani?) gypsies (in the UK, and now they have a series focusing on the US). It is a RIDICULOUS[ly appealing for a guilty pleasure blogger] show. As the title suggests, the focus is on weddings, and these girls get married at such a young age, and the dresses…I can’t even begin to describe.

      Being in a hot air balloon is actually really peaceful. Even WITHOUT champagne beforehand, which I can’t believe I’m admitting. I can understand why people make ‘ballooning’ a hobby!

  13. SIXTEEN! JEEZ. Also. That didn’t look nearly as scary as I imagined and you survived!

    Handlebar = awesomesauce.

  14. Beautiful pictures! Although, you do need to work on that ninja photo taking. I mean, she was RIGHT THERE!!

    My theory is that she WAS preggers, and the baby daddy hoped that the balloon would go down in a fiery explosion of no future child support savIng flames! Then, when it landed safely, he realized he had to man up and propose. Lucky for you!!

    Glad it was fun and safe. And that you got the extra added bonus of handlebar guy!! ;)

    • I KNOW, Misty, I KNOW. I failed you. AGAIN. But… But… there were people right next to me in the van! I didn’t want them to see me trying to sneak pictures like a creeper! Still. I know. It’s no excuse.

  15. soooo cooooollll! you two are such a neat couple – please stop being yourself so i don’t think you’re so neat.

    • LOL! Even on ‘mute’ it’s like people can still sense our incredible-osity. Sigh. It’s such a burden being so likable. And I haven’t even mentioned how a fellow basket-rider (the only one NOT from Brooklyn) invited us over to her house for champagne after all of this… ;)

  16. Oh girl, leave it to you to spot a gypsy engagement and a massive ‘stache! You’re the queen of all guilty pleasures!! Glad you made it back to Earth safely!

  17. This is awesome! What a fun adventure: falling out of baskets, champagne toasts, mustaches, and death defying feats. Love the photos!

    • Thanks, Audrey! I’m glad Peppermeister didn’t ask me to pick the best part because it would totally be the mustache. And that shiz was free.

  18. Yeah…i would have to be half-gassed to go up in one…do not like heights. but good for you that you experienced it…that sure looked like RT 78 to me…

    BTW….I have presented you with an award..the Sunshine Award come see today’s post…

    • It WAS Route 78, fellow Garden Stater! I keep planting clues, hoping my very first stalker will finally take notice… Alas, despite my best efforts up to and including using my real name on this blog, I am still stalker-less.

      But hey! I am not Sunshine Award-less! Sweet! Thanks so much! :)

  19. Well I thought that was relaxing, Jules!

  20. This looks like the trip of a lifetime–handlebar mustaches, cute redheads, engagements, sweeping vistas. What’s not to love? Hmm, I probably would have been a little freaked out about the van following my balloon around, having no clue where it was going to land. That doesn’t seem super legit. But it all worked out in the end! Now you get to keep your vodka! Seriously, it looks like you had a super fun, incredible time. Hot air ballooning is definitely going on my list.

    • haha Exactly, Rian! On all counts. The van was definitely not something I ever thought about until we were there, like with the climbing in and out of the basket. I was like, “Well. This is cute.” LOL

      But truthfully, it really was a blast – I hope you get to try it!

  21. It looks like a blast!
    Here where I live they launch them every weekend morning!

    • Too funny – that’s exactly how I was decribing it in my last comment reply – it really WAS a blast! I DEFINTIELY recommend it as a ‘coffee substitute’ ;)

  22. Holy crap this was awesome. The Mustache Miracle. The Fran Drescher passenger. The infant bride. I feel like you just cast my dream movie. And you and Peppermeister are like the couple we all root for, despite that we know they’ll likely die in a hot air balloon collision with a suburban barbecue.

    Loved this!

    • Ha! I knew I could count on you, Angie, to appreciate the true thrill of hot air ballooning – mustaches, infant engagements, and Fran Drescher!

      We seriously were that close to the roof of that one house. Although, I would have rather landed there than on the power lines we nearly skimmed!

  23. Oh mylanta. This had everything a blog post about spouse murder should have with a bonus handlebar mustache. Amazing. Oh man that Brooklyn accent. I’m kind of jealous because that is totally the accent i wanted to hear in new york and i heard maybe one, what gives? Thankyou for sharing that nasal moment with the world.

    • Tee hee Thanks, Erin! I have to agree between the handlebar mustache and the gypsy engagement it was a recipe for pure guilty pleasure success ;)

      I am OBSESSED with accents. I wish I could do them better! Then again, I’d never stop, so it’s probably for the best.

  24. Also, you clearly share my affinity for the awkward face photo.

  25. HURRAH! And double hurrah because my slap bracelet arrived! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Thank you! I love the mustache…. and going to try and get my Bob to fashion his into such a beast! xxx

  26. Richard Wiseman

    The only thing I would be doing in a basket would be looking for the picnic pork pie!

  27. Awesome! What a great birthday/death wish gift!

  28. “I was lost pondering gravity potential Glee covers.” Hahaha!! I wanna have a go :( It looks like so much fun!!

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