5th dimension

Our story begins with the tattoo of our first African rain on the tent roof. The sailor in me says there should be calm after rain and an old Masai gentleman agreed saying, “Tomorrow you will fly.”

We woke up to a dead calm but very dark morning, if you can call 4am morning. Everything had a deja vu quality to it. I kept wondering if I’d taken care of something, or was that yesterday morning.? You can’t just leave your tent at night. We are actually inside a national game reserve and all night long we hear game walking through the camp, sometimes we even step in the evidence. After we convinced ourselves that everything was packed I radioed camp HQ and they sent one of the Masai to escort us to the waiting land cruiser. He smiled, “Today you fly.”

Immediately our darting headlights scared up several rabbits and soon we left the proper track making our own slightly less rutted trail, navigating from blue flag to blue flag hung every so often from a tree, like a ship navigating from buoy to buoy. It would be so easy to get turned around just like at sea.

We shuddered and bounced to another camp and picked up a couple who, it turns out were the birders of big game driving, ticking the box of everything they’ve seen, and now they’ve moved on to your lesser cats. He had a lens so long the camera looked like an afterthought hanging off the end. I, on the other hand, use an iPhone 12 and Emanuel gets us close.

Darting headlights ahead seem to coalesce at the meeting place with several amoeba shaped dark blobs. We’re going to fly. This pre flight orientation was even better than the last one while the balloon envelope continued filling with cold air. This is called a cold air fill.

There are hellacious looking burners used to heat things up a bit.

Marce and I were assigned a cubby and they tied the balloon basket to a land cruiser. Soon our skipper pointed at us and we hopped up into our compartment and after a few healthy burner blasts you could feel her tugging at the land cruiser.

Suddenly we had slipped the surly bonds of earth, as they say. Skipper wanted to stay low to catch the breeze toward the river. I could hear the basket skimming the tall grass. That’s low.

At one point we hit an old rotten tree that turned out to be a very sturdy old tree. A lady in front said, “I told him there was a tree coming.” Soon we gained altitude reveling in the majesty of the Serengeti

Hippo tracks to the river
A bloat of hippos

We watch as the hippos form a line and head down stream.

Floating over our breakfast camp we start our descent to touch down near a herd of wildebeest.

We enjoyed a traditional champagne toast followed by a full English breakfast.


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6 Responses to 5th dimension

  1. Peter Fynn

    Good on you guys. As an ex-Zimbabwean I am so glad you got to do this trip. Africa is such a special place and seeing it from the air in a balloon is awesome. This is good for you as you learn a new life away from Escape Velocity. I’ve been following you ever since you last your mast.

  2. Jim Kennedy

    You seem pretty darn close to the hippos – even if it is a good old fashion Iphone 12. Love your adventures!

  3. David Kent

    You guys look great and like you’re having so much fun.

  4. Diane Sanderbeck

    Wow! Oh, wow! Y’all are living my dream! So glad you got to fly!

  5. danagreyson

    Yay! Glad you got to get in your ballon ride. Terrific views!!!

    I took a ballon ride a long time back over far less exotic (but pretty) Oregon wine country. I remember we too took off at oh-dark-hundred and that no humans heard us as the burners gave their periodic “huff” but dogs did, and barked. Pre-Wayne days. I hope to share a ride with him someday.

    Nice way to end your travels (for now).

    Look forward to your new adventures, too. (Ours continue and ironically enough, we are at this moment aboard a boat we sold over year ago in Portland OR).

    You just never know where you’ll go . . . or go back to!

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