No Place Like Home

Nov 12, 2013 5:31 PM by Jeanette Trompeter

No Place Like Home: Hot air ballooning over Central Coast

Ever feel like you're being buried? By work, by obligations, by your own thoughts? You know what can help? Rising above it all. And I mean that in a literal sense. Because getting up, up and away (from it all) can make quite a difference.

There's a certain magic that happens by simply getting out among nature at sunrise. Add a big beautiful balloon to the mix, the magic light of early morning, and well...it takes to a whole new level.

John Warren loves sharing the beauty of the Paso Robles landscape from a vantage point few ever experience. A pilot for more than 40 years he took his first balloon ride a decade or so ago and was hooked. Now he owns Let's Go Ballooning and shares the experience with people like John Riley and Tera Yeo who came down from Folsom to get up up and away for John's Birthday. "He's hard to buy gifts for, so I figured an experience is better than a gift." said Tara as she surprised him with this experience.

Fortunately, I got to tag along on their birthday adventure. "Alright, I'm going to warm this up slowly and we're going to go for a ride." says John as he starts heating the air already fanned into the big beautiful balloon.

As a bit of a recovering adrenaline junkie, I've done my share of airborne adventures, but this is unlike any of them. It is as peaceful as it gets, because you are floating more than flying as you rise above the ground below. "All we control is altitude." says John as we float over trees, down near vineyards and up high over it all for a nice panoramic view of the Paso Robles landscape. "The lateral movement all depends on what direction the breezes are coming from." he says.

Direction is determined largely by mother nature. We simply catch a ride on the wind currents by rising, or drifting and descending into those that are heading the direction we want to go. It's like catching a wave of wind. "The control we have is infinite." John explains. "You can literally, if the movements not there, you can literally just sit in the top of a tree. You know we've picked walnuts out of the top of a tree before, and that's pretty wild if you think about it."

There's an amazing calm to the experience. They only sounds are the occasional flames that keep you airborne, and those coming from the waking world below. "The fact there's no breeze. No sense of motion and you can get so close to everything and you can hear everything." John reflects on the magic of ballooning. "You know the idea you can hear the birds chirping or the frogs croaking...." If the wind is right you can get close enough to see the where the sounds are coming from. We never saw them but kept hearing the coyotes who were clearly seeing and hearing us every time John fired up the flames to keep us airborne.

Warren flies primarily around the Templeton gap, and is up almost daily when the weather is right. But every day is different, he says, depending on the way the winds are moving, where the sun is rising, and how the scenery's changing. But it is always spectacular when you can rise above and simply go with the flow.

To book a ride or know more about John's business, Let's Go Ballooning, click here.

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JEANETTE TROMPETER

Follow Jeanette Trompeter's blog "JT's Little Corner of the World."