[MAD] Mary Ann & Don

MAD Anniversary

Posted by madkingblog on September 27, 2009

August 16th was our 1 year wedding anniversary.  Since I had planned and surprised Don with our Valentine’s trip to San Francisco, “we” decided he would be in charge of anniversary plans and it would be a surprise to me.

Well, he out did himself… it was the most romantic and awesome surprise, gift, anything that I’ve ever received. Don surprised me with a sunset hot air balloon ride!  Not just any hot air balloon ride either…

Don did his research and went with a company that had great reviews and we ended up getting a pilot with 20+ years of experience.  He went straight up, and WAY up, and while the other balloons stayed low and headed directly for the canyons, we went high and slowly drifted out toward the ocean!  We didn’t know at the time that our pilot was so experienced and doing this on purpose, we were a little apprehensive and worried but it was gorgeous!!  He dropped us back down over the estuary beside the Del Mar race track.  We floated only about 10ft above the water and then glided over Interstate 5 while people in their cars honked and waved at us.  We could see them!  That’s how close we were!  We also glided through some tree tops close enough to reach out and touch the leaves it seemed… though I didn’t try!!  We finally headed for the canyons, catching up with and passing some other balloons.  WOW!  Had we been in any of the other balloon we would have missed more than half that experience!  We found out later that was only the sixth time in 20 years our pilot has done that (going towards the ocean first) and the other pilots aren’t as experienced and will not risk it.  There are not words to explain how AMAZING this experience was… definitely in the top 10 greatest experiences of my life.

Here is a video I took with the camera of us taking off.  At first, you just see the scene around us where all the balloons are being inflated, then we begin to lift off and I turn the camera and you see how excited we are, and I turn back to the scene as WE LIFT OFF!

This is us ready and waiting!  This is where I was when filming the video above!

A balloon below us and some still on the ground about to lift off!

When we dropped down over the estuary… this is how close we were to the water in our giant hot air balloon… amazing and serene.

As we head back up over the 5, the picture below is probably one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever taken…

As we float away from the ocean and towards the canyons, more gorgeous pictures below…

Below are all the balloons we we passed hehe, and the first pic after landing.  Landing is crazy!!  You pretty much just hold on for dear life and be prepared for the basket to topple over and be dragged for who knows how far!  Lucky for us, it wasn’t too windy and so our landing was a few ‘bumb and go’s with some near capsizing but we actually stayed up right.  The basket did have to be pulled up an embankment, so a few guys including Don jumped out to help pull and the rest of us stayed in the basket to keep it weighted down.  Haha, good times.

Below are some more fun pictures of how we had to hold the basket down while the balloon deflated…

Finally, with the balloon down and the sun set, we got our Champagne toast, but first our pilot told us the story of where the tradition of a Champagne toasts comes from.  It was a funny yet dark story.  If you want to know it, I recommend a hot air balloon ride!  SALUTE!

Donald, thank you so much for the most wonderful gift I’ve ever received and making our 1 year wedding anniversary as memorable as our wedding day itself.  😀


2 Responses to “MAD Anniversary”

  1. Michelle said

    Love it! Looks like an amazing anniversary! I want to hear the champagne toast story 🙂

  2. Amy said

    Hey MAD! I loved reading about your anniversary adventure and seeing all the beautiful photos. Now I think I want to take a balloon ride! Thinking of you and your great love for each other from down home Texas. 🙂 Let us know when you’re ready for your next vacation after France so we can host you!

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