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Happening Upon Hot Air Balloons

When you’re traveling, sometimes the most memorable things are the ones you simply happen upon.

Take our current trip to wine country, for instance. In our usual style, we were driving around one afternoon without a reservation for a place to spend the night and pulled into a little RV Park in Windsor, California. The manager told us that they’d stopped advertising because the park is being developed into a housing community, but they were still welcoming campers due to construction delays. We paid our money and settled in.

We went out to walk the dogs the next morning and the skies were full.

Hot Air Balloons - Windsor, CA

It turns out the 21st Annual Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic was being held at the local community park – walking distance from where we were staying! The balloons were out practicing for the big event, which would take place over the next two days.

Fortune smiled on us once again, as we were able to extend our stay through the weekend – likely because few people knew the campground was there!

Saturday morning was a bust for the balloons … winds coming from the wrong direction would have carried them into an area without a decent place to land. Sunday morning, however, was magical. While the sun rose we watched a dozen balloons launch.

Sonoma Star from Santa Rosa, CA

Sonoma Star - Santa Rosa, CA Sonoma Star - Santa Rosa, CA Sonoma Star - Santa Rosa, CA Sonoma Star - Santa Rosa, CA

The mechanics of it appear pretty simple:

  1. Lay the balloon – technically referred to as an “envelope” – on the ground.
  2. Lay the basket on it’s side and connect the two with cables.
  3. Use a large fan to blow cold air into the envelope.
  4. Turn on the burner and heat up the air so the balloon begins to lift.
  5. Tip the basket upright and continue to heat the air while your friends hold the balloon to the earth.
  6. Lift off!!

Freedom II from Sacramento, CA

Freedom II - Sacramento, CA Freedom II - Sacramento, CA Freedom II - Sacramento, CA Freedom II - Sacramento, CA Freedom II - Sacramento, CA

Even better, the whole thing was pet friendly! Big dogs, small dogs, and in-between dogs all came out to join in the fun.

Dogs at Balloon Festival - Windsor, CADogs at Balloon Festival - Windsor, CADogs at Balloon Festival - Windsor, CA

But this event went way beyond the dog loving crowd. For the cat lovers out there, we bring you:

Bob’s Cat from San Francisco, CA

Bob's Cat - San Francisco, CA

And, if you’re a fan of the fish, we have:

Sushi from Incline Village, NV

Sushi - Incline Village, NVSushi - Incline Village, NV

And now we’ll leave you to enjoy a few more pictures of balloons in the silence that makes this sport special.

Krayola from Palmdale, CA

Krayola - Palmdale, CA

Daydreamer from Windor, CA

and Dream Chaser from Forestville, CA

Daydreamer and Dreamchaser

Rubik from Boulder Creek, CA

Rubik - Boulder Creek, CA

Planning a pet friendly trip of your own? We’ll make it easy:
Pet Friendly Hotels | Pet Friendly Destinations | Pet Friendly Activities

  • I have always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon- looks like so much fun!

    • I think it would be a blast and Rod really wanted to go up in one, too, but it’s a little hard to plan that with the dogs. I’m picturing us stuck in a tree not able to get back to the boys, and that wouldn’t be so good. We’ll have to wait to ride in one for another time.

  • MelF says:

    How lovely. We have a hot air balloon race in Minnesota every spring. It’s always fun to watch them float on by as they head on to Stillwater. I can only imagine how wonderful it was to watch this one.  I wonder… Did Buster bark at the balloons? :)

  • How pretty! Were the Lads scared by the noises the balloons make? Once, I was riding a horse when a hot air balloon flew over us and turned on the burner. Needless to say, it didn’t turn out so well for me…

  • Hi Y’all,

    We used to see a balloon race every year passing over or near our barn in the mornings.  All work stopped so and everyone would watch.

    BrownDog’s Human

  • Windsor is such a cute little area. I love that whole section of Wine Country! I haven’t been lucky enough to visit during the balloon classic. I’m hoping to someday make it to New Mexico for theirs, though!

    • Oh my gosh, I’d love to go to the balloon festival in Santa Fe – especially now that I got a taste of it. Seeing the balloons launch is really something. Next time, I want to get up a little earlier and see them launch in the dark. Seeing them glow before the sun came up would be really neat.

  • I grew up in a town where we had a hot balloon classic every year. I went four or five years worth. It was also very dog friendly.

    The balloons are so pretty thanks for sharing the pictures and reminding me of seeing them in the past.

  • Anonymous says:

    Jackie and I used to live a few miles away from Jefferson’s Monticello in Palmyra VA. Hot air balloons would land on our property quite often and if we were home we always got to share in the champagne toast.  

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