We are still at Arizona City with our friends Jim and Connie. They have managed to keep us pretty busy. In fact, they had volunteered to help out a friend with his balloon at a display in Phoenix last week and invited us along. It’s about an hour and a quarter drive from here so we left around 2 pm to meet the rest of the crew at Red Robin for an early supper. It turned out that the balloon show was to be in a huge field beside a new mall and it was to start around 5 and go to 9 that evening with the balloons lighting up the sky.
The dinner was great and the crew was made up of volunteers all around our age. I guess we are the only age bracket that is willing and has the time, or maybe we all are bored with retirement enough to volunteer for anything. There were 16 of us, which I thought was plenty. We all traipsed over to the field where our host Colin was waiting with his truck and trailer. Of course Dale ad Jim were the first guys into the truck to haul out the equipment to get started.
We stretched out a large tarp for the balloon to lie on to keep it clean and dry. Then out came the balloon itself to be placed in a long line and then spread out across the tarp. This thing when inflated is very big, constructed of parachute silk so it took up a lot of room. All around us in the field were similar operations. Along the road to the stores a carnival was set up with kiddie rides and all the usual booths selling goods and food. The crowds started to come and watch the show.
Meanwhile we have our basket with its propane heaters and our big fan ready to go. But Colin doesn’t want to fill up too soon because it’s very costly to keep it in the air. We are among the 15 or so balloons for display and all are tethered. A couple of balloon companies are giving tethered rides to customers so they are the first ones up.
Now its getting dark and the balloons light up when the heater is turned on. There are hundreds of families there with kids all running around with a spun sugar highs. The traffic is speeding by us on two sides with the usual sirens and lights. It’s a powerful sight. ?It’s our turn next and Colin fires up the fan, and his balloon begins to fill up. It isn’t a typical balloon shape but the head of a huge beaver. He stands 10 stories high and holds 132,000 cubic feet of hot air. He is nearly 700 lbs and he was proudly built by Cameron Balloons. At first he is so big and close it is hard to see what he is. But moving back we observe his magnificent face.
The crowds are all taking pictures of all the sights. There are balloons shaped like butterflies, pumpkins Spiderman, happy faces and others. Our crew is busy hooking up the basket and getting ready for the hot air. Finally, Bud E. Beaver is up in the sky, quite a sight to behold.
After an appropriate time and allowing all the people to walk around and take pictures, the balloons start to deflate. Ours was last up so we are last down. And now the real work starts. I have been having dizzy spells with my recurring middle ear infection so I have been taking it easy till now. But the Beaver has landed and somehow we need to get all that air out of him so he will become, once again, a long line of twisted silk tied at intervals. It takes the whole crew trying every which way to accomplish this. One fellow lies down in front of the folders and rolls over and over trying to move the air out. After about an hour of struggling we have it done. I head back to the car to lie down while the remaining crew help put it back in the trailer. And of course Jim, Connie and Dale are there to the last, though they all admitted it was a lot of work.
The next day everyone was limping around moaning. I just kept getting up, getting dizzy and falling down; same old, same old.