*Good idea to fill your morning before visiting Wineries and tasting.
Visiting Napa is usually fulfilled with winery tours and drinking wine, however if you’re ready early in the AM to get your day started, but not keen on drinking before noon, you may want to consider a hot air balloon ride. They typically meet just before sunrise in an up-valley location.
*Don’t worry about falling out
The basket that you ride in is actually fairly deep and doesn’t really sway as your flying above Napa’s vineyards and homes, so don’t worry that you are going to fall out.
*Where the wind blows
It’s true that you are mostly at the mercy of nature pushing you around the skies, but don’t underestimate the control of the balloon pilot. Yes, that’s right, the person navigating your balloon is a pilot, and a skilled one at that. You’ll be amazed at how much control they do have of that hot air floating vessel.
*Loud, but the colder the quieter (layer clothing)
Riding in a hot air balloon can be pretty loud, and not as quiet and serene as you may have originally thought. The flame thrower right above your head (go light on the hairspray) that heats the air is loud. It is an intermittent noise. The pilot turns it on and off to control the height of the balloon. But it is distracting. If you plan on asking an important question (like, will you marry me?), maybe you could work out a signal with the pilot ahead of time, to make sure there aren’t any necessary interruptions. Usually this is best done as early in the experience as possible (only if you’re sure it’s a yes), so you can enjoy the ride with new thoughts and dreams. If it’s cold, then the air doesn’t have to be heated up as much to stay afloat. That’s why flights are done early in the morning. Napa can have a 40 degree temperature swing from night to day (this is partly why the grapes grow so well here). That means that a cold morning will provide for a great hot air balloon ride, but if it heats up quickly, you’re in for a shorter louder experience. Bring layers of clothes so your comfortable in these temperature variances.
*Pickup in Vans
When your done with your ride, the pilot will radio to the pickup van your location. The vans are large capacity vans, nothing fancy. If your concerned about being picked up in an old van, checkup with the company to find out about the entire experience before you book.
Some balloon rides include shuttling your party and all the other balloon riders from that morning to a restaurant for a breakfast and an opportunity to sell you addition souvenirs of your experience. Typically a morning full of hot air balloons includes about eleven balloons in total.
*Bring a Camera – zoom lens.
You’ll definitely want to bring your camera with you for this tour. If you have a zoom lens, bring it along as well. You can easily make a dramatic photo by taking multiple photos of the view and “stitch” them together using one of these software programs.
Stitch Photos Tutorial
List of Tools for making Panoramics
If you have a pair of binoculars, bring them along, maybe the place you’re staying at will have a pair to let you borrow, ask before you leave.
*Use restroom beforehand
You’ll want to use the restroom before you leave, there is no “John” on board.
If you get motion sickness on boats or helicopters, you may want to be prepared with your favorite modality to combat the motion sickness, but this experience is different from those and typically people do not get motion sick. Now a fear of heights will be compounded in a small basket rising high above the earth. Hot air balloons typically fly between 500 and 3000 feet up.
*People can hear you
A word of caution, just because you’re in the sky doesn’t mean that those that are in eyesight can’t hear you, so use caution. You can also expect an audience during your landing. While you would expect the locals to be used to balloon landings, it’s always an exciting event, especially for kids. You’ll typically be landing in a park of sorts, and neighborhood kids will come out to watch the landing and packaging up of the balloons. Be prepared for an audience.
Balloons above the Valley
Napa Valley Balloons
Napa Valley Drifters
Napa Valley Aloft
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