Great Reno Balloon Race 2002
Disneyland '02
San Diego Wild Animal Park
San Diego Zoo
Sea World (San Diego)
Fort Churchill (Civil War Reenactment)
Governor's Mansion
Great Reno Balloon Race 2001
Monterey Peninsula
Zion National Park
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Once again I journey to the Great Reno Balloon Race, circa 2002.  It does not start off well: the first day is filled with clouds that should provide excellent pictures but the rain they bring cancels the event with only one balloon getting inflated (first shot above) CRW_9798.jpg (53550 bytes)CRW_9763.jpg (47003 bytes)CRW_9762.jpg (37730 bytes)
I return the next day disheartened, as there will be clear blue skies, the bane of balloon images (see story from last year here).  But the lighting parade is nice, and dawn patrol does not disappoint, foreshadowing just how wonderful the day will turn out after all. CRW_9787.jpg (35609 bytes)CRW_9824.jpg (85410 bytes)CRW_9810.jpg (33829 bytes)
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I end up with shots that truly show it is a dawn patrol after all. CRW_0008.jpg (18602 bytes)CRW_0019.jpg (18835 bytes)CRW_0041.jpg (20258 bytes)
As usual the inflation of the balloons provide some of the best color and most interesting shots. CRW_0078.jpg (49160 bytes)CRW_0087.jpg (27195 bytes)CRW_0082.jpg (51212 bytes)
Little did I know this particular balloon would end up being significant. CRW_0094.jpg (44308 bytes)CRW_0096.jpg (37993 bytes)CRW_0099.jpg (64158 bytes)
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My strategy for the rest of the day is clear: I'll put my polarizer on (and mostly on the wide angle lens) and at least get some nice dark blue skies (rather than the usual insipid early morning Easter egg blue ones). CRW_0119.jpg (46765 bytes)CRW_0122.jpg (72902 bytes)CRW_0123.jpg (51119 bytes)
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I'm beckoned over by a gal who tells me to get shots of the first ignition. They look great but still don't prepare me for the next shock. CRW_0136.jpg (31142 bytes)CRW_0142.jpg (53124 bytes)CRW_0144.jpg (53045 bytes)
As the balloon inflates, she asks if I'd like to go up.  "Sure," I say, sure this is some kind of joke.  Once she has me sign a release form I realize it might be for real. CRW_0150.jpg (55304 bytes)CRW_0151.jpg (54732 bytes)CRW_0154.jpg (53602 bytes)
A few minutes later I'm looking up from inside the basket of the balloon, and another minute later we're up in the air! CRW_0156.jpg (37972 bytes)CRW_0007.jpg (67568 bytes)CRW_0013.jpg (56609 bytes)
Nothing in my years of being at the Races prepared me for how wonderful it was to go up.  The view is truly quite different from what I had been used to on the ground CRW_0014.jpg (53235 bytes)CRW_0021.jpg (57488 bytes)CRW_0024.jpg (81654 bytes)
Having my wide angle lens on turned out to be the best bet.  Unfortunately, most of the rest of the balloons faced the sun away from us.  But I was still in heaven! CRW_0030.jpg (74631 bytes)CRW_0050.jpg (63968 bytes)CRW_0051.jpg (105031 bytes)
I'll probably never get the chance to go up again, but once was well worth it.  If I ever did, I'd change lenses at least once or twice during the trip. CRW_0058.jpg (73734 bytes)CRW_0074.jpg (49779 bytes)CRW_0086.jpg (37957 bytes)
We touch down and many thanks to the Vets Center.  I only wish I could have gotten the name of the lovely lady who invited me on the trip.  And I've somehow missed one of the names of my fellow riders.  But those I do remember were Helena, Susan and Mike, our pilot. CRW_0091.jpg (60694 bytes)BallyCRW_0107.jpg (46502 bytes)BallyCRW_0108.jpg (48250 bytes)
Normally the yellow/orange/red balloon has always been my favorite, and I got some nice shots of it this time.  But I think the Reno Veteran's Center balloon will now always find a special place in my heart. BallyCRW_0109.jpg (47024 bytes)CRW_0158.jpg (74149 bytes)CRW_0160.jpg (41246 bytes)
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Lessons Learned: Carpe Diem.  What else can I say?  The luck of being given this opportunity to go up (by a wonderful lady who will always remain nameless to me) made more than just my day, week or month.  It will be a priceless memory of what I enjoy the most.  Flying in the balloon was my adventure this year, and it will stay in my heart for years to come.


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