Friday, May 1, 2009


Last week dad and I had a trade show in Phoenix. I had never been to Phoenix before so I was excited about going someplace new but, on the other hand, I was leaving my family for five days. Our flight left at 5:45am on Saturday and I didn't get home until 5:15pm on Wednesday.

One of the things I was looking forward to was meeting up with the Webber family. Dennis and Linda Webber worked with the Albany church when I was in my mother's womb and left when I was about a year old.

We attended church with the Webbers on Sunday and it was so nice to see them again. I had seen Linda before when I was at Harding but that was over ten years ago. They had brought two of their granddaughters to church - little Ava was not very interested in getting her picture taken.

That night I went out to dinner with their daughter, Megan. We've been friends since we were one although we haven't been in the same city for any extended period of time. We were both at Harding briefly and thanks to facebook, we've been able to keep in touch. We talked for about three hours and if we lived closer I know we'd be even better friends.

As we were flying into Phoenix I was trying to figure out the lay of the land. I have a thing for maps and geography so my nose was pressed to the plane window on our approach. Phoenix is obviously in a valley but it was so wide and flat and the mountains were so bare. It's hard to say it's beautiful. I think the better word is captivating.
Even though I basically memorized the map of Phoenix I still needed something more. I felt like I was missing something. So dad and I took a hot air balloon ride to get a birds eye view of the area.

I've never been in a hot air balloon before and they're not joking - it's hot.

We woke up at 4:15am in order for them to pick us up at 5:15am. Take off was at 6am. There were four balloons full of people. Each balloon held about 8 people plus the captain. Our captain was Patrick and he was great. He was a great tour guide, pilot, and he even did scientific experiments.

Phoenix is that blip in the background of the picture. There is a little bit of white in the background - that's downtown Phoenix. We were way up north so that we wouldn't interfere with incoming and outgoing flights from the airport.

This was about 7000 feet. That was when I realized that I didn't have any protective gear on and that I was standing in a wicker basket kept afloat by a lot of vinyl. But dad was cool with that.

I loved the look of the dry riverbeds. Captain Patrick said that there were always chances that they could fill up but they rarely did. Phoenix being a desert and all, that kinda made sense.

In this picture, I like how you can see the grid work of civilization next to the natural formation of the mountains. What amazed me most when we were flying was that there were these bigger-than-hills but smaller-than-mountains right in the middle of a neighborhood. So different from what I'm used to looking at.

They look so easy to hike. Part of me says, sure! I can do that. And then the other part of me says - it's 101*, you can barely walk to the convention hall.

Those dots in the sky are the other hot air balloons.

As we were landing I could see the cactus better. Captain Patrick said that a cactus doesn't grow an arm until it's about 50-100 years old.

So that makes this cactus around 75 years old. Think of all the history this one has seen! We passed one by the highway that was estimated to be over 300 years old. I wanted to take a picture of that one but we were driving too fast. That cactus has seen the Native Americans, Spanish explorers, cowboys, silver miners, and the influx of people who settled here after WW2.

When we landed we were a little too close to a fence. The ground crew (in purple) needed passenger assistance with moving the basket full of people so dad hopped out and helped push.

If hot air balloon rides weren't so pricey I think I'd do this more often. It gives a different perspective of an area. And while I don't feel like I got to see everything I wanted to see in Phoenix I was satisfied for that trip.


Anonymous said...

There's Davids hairline again......Looks like you had fun. Aunt Kathy

Cary/Ashley said...

What a fun trip! Glad you were able to go for a balloon ride!!
Cary would be happy that you are also a map/geograhpy lover!

L. said...

Katie, I'm a secret admirer or all things map and geography too! wohoo for nerds.