While working my first job in radio, at a station in Meadville, I had a chance to help promote what was then a relatively new festival called the Thurston Classic Hot Air Balloon Festival. As part of the promotion, we ran a contest for one listener to win a hot air balloon ride with me, Beth Christy. I wasn't sure that was a great idea, after all, what if I completely freaked out as we left the ground. How high would it go, would it be a jerky flight, and how does it land?

As it turned out, the woman who won was so very nice and she helped me keep my cool. As we floated along, the views were amazing and it was so quiet, I wasn't prepared for that. Obviously, it got noisy when they turned the burner on, but it was so peaceful. Houses and cars on the ground looked like they were toys as if you could just pick them up. I loved every second of it.

As we prepared to land, the pilot gave us instructions as to what to do when the basket touched down. It was one of the gentlest landings he said he'd ever had. We landed in a field of daisies, no kidding, we floated just above the daises, touched down, floated a little more, and came to a gentle stop surrounded by the flowers in the field. It was like a fairy tale.

My boss, who was in another balloon, also had a great flight but his landing was not as nice as mine. When we met up later he was covered in, um, well let's just say that he had enough manure on him that he could have fertilized a few of his wife's flower beds with just his shirt. He was so mad that I landed in a field of daisies and that he had landed in the middle of a cow pasture. I tried not to laugh, honest I did.

That story has been brought up many times over the years, but I would take another ride in a hot air balloon in a second. That's what you have a chance to do this weekend at the Empire State Balloon Festival at Barton Orchards in Poughquag. If you have a special birthday or anniversary to commemorate, do it with a balloon ride. Can you imagine proposing to your significant other in a hot air balloon floating above the Hudson Valley?

Opportunities like this don't come around that often, don't miss your chance to have an experience of a lifetime. Get your hot air balloon ride tickets here and we'll see you at the Empire State Hot Air Balloon Festival at Barton Orchards this weekend.

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