When I got the invitation to go on the boat with Captain Gary, I was squealing with delight. I recalled the memory of the previous visit to Lake Havasu when my good friend, Linda, told me of the invitation to go boating on the lake, I had no idea of the treat that was in store for me.
Having had a bit of boating experience, I asked Linda what kind of boat it was, so I could dress properly. She flashed that mischievous grin for which she is so famous. “Oh, I don’t know, some kind of blow-up thing.” she chirped in her elegant British accent.
I cocked my head, furrowed my brow, and pursed my lips. “We’re going in a dinghy?”
She laughed and quipped, “Dinghy? No, I’m not dingy. I’m serious.”
Hmmmm, I better just be prepared for anything, I thought.
The one thing she did say was that it was a sunset cruise complete with wine and hors d’oeuvres, so it couldn’t be bad. The hosts, Captain Gary Kellogg, and his fabulous wife, Kathy, took us on a memorable route with majestic views of the craggy mountains playing visual tricks in the sunset.
So with those happy memories in mind, I received my instructions for the early morning boat ride in the pontoon yacht (no, hardly a dinghy)! Gary said, “Oh yeah, we are acting as crew for a balloon event. One of the British Balloon enthusiasts is going for the Guinness Book of Records and he wants us to photograph him floating over the London Bridge. That’s all I know. Be ready with some layers of cold weather gear at 7:00 a.m. It can get chilly out on the lake in the early morning hours. See you then.”
In the morning there was a pre-flight crew briefing where I learned the British Hot Air Balloon team was here making a documentary as part of their quest to fly in as many states as possible in a four week period.
What I didn’t know is that I was to be part of the crew rather than a mere observer. At first I thought the photographer on our boat, Gary Meyers, was joking when he said, “Okay, Carole Jean, be ready to catch the rope in a few minutes.”
Rope? What rope? I thought. When I saw the balloon hovering near the boat with the pilot, Andrew, holding a coiled-up black tether line, I realized it was no joke. We were to tow the balloon to shore after the mission was accomplished – the mission of capturing the balloon hovering over Lake Havasu City’s “London Bridge.” Due to the direction of the wind, towing is the only way we would get the balloon to shore. It has up and down controls, but that’s about it.
The attached video will tell the whole story, but I will admit to being a bit nervous about losing my grip on the line. I was hanging on with all my might while smiling as though it were nothing in case the camera caught me in the viewfinder.
After all was successfully documented, the crew high-fived and fist-bumped, returned to the marina, and called it a morning – a very fun morning!
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Here’s hoping they break the record! Thanks to all for a most exciting and unexpected adventure!
Oh yeah … almost forgot. As an aside, I got to enjoy a little private caper. I have been looking for the perfect opportunity to put closure on my last marriage fiasco. What better way to release the pain and disappointment by “flinging the ring?!” With a photographer readily available, and a lull in the balloon activity, I pulled the titanium ring out of my pocket. It started out as a gold and titanium striped ring. The gold flaked off within a week of the nuptials. A fore-shadowing of events if there ever was one!
It’s done, and I am happy and free!