Back when my wife and I were first married, we lived for a time in New Mexico, just outside Albuquerque. Out there, the air temperature gets much cooler at night because of the lower humidity levels. This makes for really good sleeping weather, but it is also conducive to an activity called ballooning. Most mornings on our way to work, especially from spring to fall, it was common to witness several balloons being filled with hot air from their burners, ready to take to the skies. The cooler air temperature is good for hot air balloons. The heated air inside the balloon makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the capsule of the balloon.
Every year, Albuquerque plays host to the International Balloon Festival, where there are literally hundreds of balloons taking to the air during a week-long event. It truly is a spectacular event to watch. We in the Finger Lakes have our very own balloon festivals, and they’re not nearly as far away to visit. The New York State Festival of Balloons is held every year in Dansville on Labor Day weekend, and the Annual Letchworth Red, White & Blue Balloon Rally takes place over and near Letchworth State Park (see page 56).
Another festival on the east side of the Finger Lakes Region is the Jamesville Balloon Festival, which runs from June 28 to 30. These festivals are great family events where there are not only balloons, but great food, vendors and music as well (see page 22).
Keep in mind that there may be other balloon festivals and even private balloon rides available in the area. I know there is at least one winery that will offer adventure for their visitors through a hot air balloon ride. And there are numerous hot air balloon
private enterprises where you can get a unique perspective of the region from on high. A birds-eye view of the many lakes, rivers and ponds can truly be an inspiring experience.
With that thought in mind, I want to relate how a friend and mentor, Sue Hand, along with her friend Peggy Davidson, used the inspiration of a river to create spectacular paintings. She and friends, over a period of five years, paddled the entire North Branch of the Susquehanna River, from Cooperstown, New York, to Northumberland, Pennsylvania. Sue is quite a prolific artist, and my family and I were excited to see her opening reception recently.
That kind of dedication can inspire those who are creative to make something beautiful, whether it be a painting, a song, a poem – anything – because of the beauty of the water that flows through the Finger Lakes and the intereresting perspective one can get up, up and away in a beautiful balloon.
by Mark Stash