Adventure Bill's Great Pacific Exploration travel blog

Balloons alight and ready for flight

Yours truly in the gondola and ready for flight (the flying type...

Contrasts of clouds, colors in the sky, clouds against the mountains, and...

Three balloons aloft

End of the ride - passengers helped deflate and fold the balloon

Rising son and multi-colored sky


FOBTs,

First of all, please go back to yesterday and see the last two photos I uploaded this morning. I think you will like them.

Speaking of photos, the reason I have been complaining of late about trouble uploading pictures is twofold. One, the two pictures I just added to the update of the 7th took over 20 minutes to successfully upload. At this juncture, I can only have a chance of doing two pictures at a time, and at 20 minutes per session, that adds up to a lot of time. A secondary problem tied to this is that sometimes the uploading session "bombs" and I have to start the process all over again. Nonetheless, I persist because I like sharing about this trip.

The second item may potentially be a bit more insidious. Whether it is associated with using WiFi or not, I don't know. From time to time my update session is interrupted with a screen that has a sideways smile (like this :) and some verbiage that there has been a computer error and some data regarding this error will be collected and when finished my computer will be restarted. There is no indication of who is doing this, and what little IT type knowledge I have tells me it is suspicious and that restarting the computer could imbed some possible malicious code, virus, or whatever. So, whenever this happens, I have to do a hard shutdown to avoid whatever could happen next. Now you know why I've mentioned the difficulty of uploading pictures, and I'll stop complaining.

Today's adventure was hot air ballooning. Before I get into that, I want to share a several observations I made this morning. First, given that I was picked up at 0415, I am surprised that I was conscious enough to be aware of anything. Second, I realized that I was the only non-Asian person on the bus. Third, the chief spokesperson on the bus spoke in both English and Japanese. If you react in surprise not realizing that I spoke Japanese, I don't. Then, how did I know the guy was speaking Japanese? Because at the end of his talk, he used the word Arigato, and if I did not kill the spelling, it means thank you in that language.

The latter point got me thinking that while in Australia, especially in the northern part of the country (Darwin and Cairns), I have seen a great many Asian tourists. Of course, this makes sense given the geographic proximity of this part of Australia to many Asian countries. I've met people from Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, but I'm not certain if some of the people are from the PRC (People's Republic of China, aka Red China). The impression of this morning is how dependent this part of Australia is on tourism from these countries, and what an opportunity for all of them to see cultural and country differences between where ever they are from and that of Australia. The key for me is that it also gives both the tourists and the native Australians the opportunity to see that they are all people first and citizens of whatever countries second. I hope they recognize this unique situation and can benefit from their circumstance.

As mentioned before, this morning I went hot air ballooning. Prior to this adventure, I went on one such trip in Sedona, Arizona, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as I did this one. If everyone is quiet in the gondola, you can hear an amazing amount of sounds from the ground, such as dogs barking, doors opening and closing, people talking (even parts of what they are saying depending upon your altitude and how well they can speak), wind rustling through trees, etc. Since the balloon lift off took place at 0-dark-30 (between 0530 and 0600...well before sunrise), I saw a panorama of the sky gradually lightening up with the rising sun coupled with lingering ground mist. There will be two pictures that I will post that capture far better what I am attempting to describe.

You will also see two pictures of the other balloons, one really cool one with them alight while it's still dark and the other with them on the horizon and a great looking sky and mist laden ground behind them.

I did find some things out about balloons. Fully packaged, meaning all wrapped up for their next use, they typically weigh about 400 kgs. (or around 850-900 pounds) not including the weight of the passenger carrying gondola. When inflated, they can have up to 1.2 tons of displaced air inside them. Anyway, it proved to be a wonderful experience and I hope you will enjoy the pictures once I get them uploaded. I actually took two half hour balloon rides, and as the first one was slowly coming to an end, we were skimming over a field of weeds and plants. Somewhat to my surprise, as the balloonist kept using the burners going in order to skim closer to the dirt track, we saw lots of wallabies running to and fro in the field. Apparently, the noise from the burners frightened them.

If you have never taken a hot air balloon ride, I would recommend doing one. It's an unusual experience. Just understand that most rides take place really early in the morning to take advantage of cooler conditions and/or wind conditions.

The rest of today is going to be devoted to resting, getting some walking in for exercise, catching some rays, and probably doing laundry. So, thanks for reading.

P.S. According to my friend, Mike, the Seven Natural Wonders of the world are: Aurora Borealis; Harbor of Rio de Janeiro; Grand Canyon; Great Barrier Reef; Mount Everest; Paricutin; and Niagara Falls. Paricutin is a cinder cone volcano in Michoacán, Mexico. Mike, thanks for the research.

Mike also researched Batman Park in Melbourne. Below are his findings. I kind of thought it had nothing to do with the comic character.

“Batman Park is an urban park, located on the northern bank of the Yarra River in central Melbourne. Batman Park is a small open grassed space with paths and planted Eucalyptus trees. The park was established in 1982 through the conversion of a disused freight train rail yard and was named after one of the founders of Melbourne, John Batman with historical associations as a landing place of the Schooner Rebecca and nearby settlement at Batman's Hill. The site was originally part of the Wurundjeri nation's territory prior to European settlement."

Yea, laundry is finished. Tomorrow will be devoted to relaxing, taking a long walk through Cairns to see if I missed something of note (and hopefully get a few new pictures). On 10 April (9 April for you) I leave for Brisbane, which will be my last stop before meeting Eileen in Sydney. Hope all is well with you. Thanks for reading.

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