Sunday, February 27, 2011

Travel Photo of the Day: Hot Air Balloon, Seattle, Washington, USA

The neighborhood of Woodinville, an eastside suburb of Seattle, Washington, is one of the prettiest places in the area, home to wineries such as Columbia and Chateau Ste. Michelle, with its adjacent vineyards and beautifully landscaped grounds, the Red Hook Brewery, and (when the weather is good) an excellent view of volcanic Mount Rainier. I'd often watched a group of brightly colored hot air balloons float peacefully over the landscape at dawn and sunset. One warm Sunday evening in August 2002, two friends and I decided to try it for ourselves and took a hot air balloon ride with Over the Rainbow Balloon Flights over the lush, green fields and vineyards to experience the sweeping views of a part of the city not many tourists visit.

I took this photo from inside the balloon while it was still on the ground being filled with hot air. The flame ignites only periodically, so I was lucky to have snapped it at just the right moment. The day was perfectly clear and as we rose in the balloon, we could see the double summit of ghostly Mount Rainier in the distance which appeared to be floating above the ground on a bluish grey cloud. As the balloon drifted over the Sammamish Valley, we spotted the bright blue peacocks strutting around the grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle, the vast farmlands, the Space Needle in downtown Seattle and breathtaking views of Mount Baker, Lake Union, Lake Washington and Puget Sound. Landing sites are unpredictable when riding in hot air balloons and we ended up touching down softly on a soccer pitch right in the middle of a high school match!

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