Up, Up, And Away In Napa Valley
Napa Valley Aloft Balloon Rides
6525 Washington St
Yountville, California 94599
As 2018 comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on my travels and adventures throughout the year. I am incredibly grateful to have a chance to visit those places that are familiar and those that were foreign, but extraordinary. While I was doing so, I realized that I had not shared one of my most memorable moments of 2018. Although there are quite a few, this one was certainly momentous.
We all have fear. From flying, snakes, close spaces or germs, we are human and have that one “thing" that totally sends us over the edge. For me, that’s acrophobia or a fear of heights. Don’t get me wrong, I love the view and I have no problem flying, but there’s something about being up that high and plummeting to the ground that just gets to me. So you can imagine when I told my best friend that I wanted to take a hot air balloon ride over Napa.
“What the hell, Court?” I believe were her exact words, but without a doubt, it was by far one of my favorite adventures.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
I’ve been to Napa more times than I can count. When you have a best friend that lives in San Francisco, it’s become part of the travel repertoire. Even though I could try new wineries or stay in a region, I really wanted to do something unlike any other trip before. Enter Napa Valley Aloft Balloon Rides.
After doing substantial research, I pulled the trigger and booked our spots on their sunrise balloon ride across Napa Valley. I had no idea what the hell I was getting myself into. Was I seriously going to trust someone to maneuver a balloon, with strings nonetheless, over the grapevines while I stood in a basket? A freaking basket? Yes, yes I was.
Let’s fast forward to the morning of our ride. We left the city SO early. Thank God the time change was in my favor or I would have been more of a wreck than I already was. We made it and met the rest of the fearless party. To be honest, I was incredibly surprised by how many people were waiting. I thought it would be a small, intimate gathering of people, but Napa Valley Aloft had enough that we ended up launching two balloons that day.
After signing our lives away and listening to a safety briefing, we were given instructions on which balloon we would be flying in.
I’m going to keep it real. This is the point that I could have used a shot of bourbon or Xanax, really anything that would have calmed my nerves. While I am all smiles in front of this basket, I was really a ball of nerves on the inside.
In true Courtney style, I wanted to be first in the basket. Not just because I wanted to pick the best spot ( hello, have we met?) but I also wanted to get a feel for what the next hour or so would be like.
First, things first, there’s a dress code for the balloon. Whaaat? After I had already picked out the perfect “I’m in a hot air balloon for the first time but look like a pro outfit” I had to quickly alter my plans. The dress code calls for pants and closed toed shoes. I mean, really? And then I found out why…
I was discouraged to find that there wasn’t a little door that I entered through to get into the basket. Rather, I had to hoist my leg over the edge of the basket and shimmy over into my specific compartment ( hence the pants rule). The basket is divided into quadrants and there are three people to a quadrant. Luckily, I was with two of my best friends, so it worked out perfectly.
Once our basket was loaded, our captain completed some final checks and we were off. We were no more than two feet off the ground before I was squealing and holding my best friend’s hand. After a few minutes passed, I loosened my death grip and began to move closer to the edge of the basket.
Am I ever glad I did. Check out these views!
From takeoff to touchdown, our ride lasted a little more than an hour. Once we landed, we all piled in a van and were taken back to our meeting point.
Would I do it again?
Absolutely, yes! Even though I spent the first few minutes of clinching my friend’s hand for dear life and wanting to sit in the bottom of the basket, I realized that this was one of the most peaceful moments I had had all year. We were floating over one of the most beautiful places in the country and despite my initial fear, I didn’t have a care in the world. I was doing my best to soak up as much of this beauty as possible.
In fact, I had such a wonderful time, that I am researching options for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and Cappadocia as I type! I can’t seem to get enough!
I could have never imagined that climbing into a basket and soaring over one of my favorite spots in the country would have allowed me to conquer my fear of heights. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not planning on skydiving or bungee jumping anytime soon, but I am one step closer.
Until Next Time!
Tariff: While there are multiple options, adult aloft adventures begin at $200.00/ person with the option to add a champagne brunch afterward. More exclusive rides can be arranged for $1500.00 +