If you have traveled through Hamilton Co. Indiana this month, you have likely seen a big orange and yellow mass in the sky. This semi-permanent fixture (through Halloween, anyway) is the latest attraction at one of my favorite places - Conner Prairie Settlement. Every time we drive by the circa 1859 hot air balloon, which is often, Steven shrieks about how much he wants to go up in it. Because he has become rather cautious in his old age, I could only figure that he wanted to take this risk because either (A) it is yellow, (B) he has no idea how high it goes, or (C) we just saw the movie "Up" and he thinks the experience will be like a Pixar movie.
But regardless of why, I was certain he wouldn't actually do it. So the weekend before last I called his bluff. He marched into the park with me, walked up to the balloon-ride ticket booth, gazed up at the enormous contraption, and with no fanfare or ruckus quickly turned around and said "I changed my mind, mommy."
No worries, we're Prairie geeks members, so I wasn't out any cash. I thought maybe we'd try again later. Sure enough, last Sunday he announced he was going to "really do it this time." We marched right back into the park, walked up to that ticket booth, and this time made it all the way into an odd, donut-looking metal balloon basket. I was trying to be nonchalant to keep from spooking him, even though frankly - being a balloon first-timer - I was a bit scared as well.
As soon as the balloonist latched the gate and announced it was time, I realized Steven was no longer at my side. I turned to find him swiftly marching right back to the exit door without one word to me. I managed to persuade him back, then sat him down on the floor so he couldn't see out (the basket wall was a solid three feet up before you could see over the edge through netting). The balloonist announced that it was going to be a bit bumpy for a few seconds, then I heard a loud, yet little, voice coming up from the floor saying, "I don't want to go up!!", which drew several uncomfortable chuckles from the other passengers. So I sat next to him and told him it would be fine.
Once we got over the first few bumps, it was a smooth and fast ride up 400 feet. You can see Steven's furrowed and worried brow during our ascent:
At full height, we finally convinced him to stand up and look around. And let me tell you, he was a changed little boy after he saw how everything looked like a miniture version of itself. It was a wonderous land of matchbox cars! He gleefully exclaimed he could see our house, and "grandma's house!," and "grandma's car!" - which of course we couldn't, but it was fun for him anyway.
It wasn't long before he was poking his head through the basket of the balloon. I'd say his fear had subsided.
When we finally touched down, the first thing he said as we walked away was "I wanna do that again!"
Sometimes all it takes is for someone to sit next to you and tell you everything will be all right. Along with no other choice.