Hot Air Ballooning: Tuesdays with Donna, A Little Southern Comfort

The paddleboat Natchez, on the Mississippi Riv...
The paddleboat Natchez, on the Mississippi River from the East Bank of New Orleans, with the Crescent City Connection Bridges. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This past weekend, Hubby and I attended the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race held in Natchez, Mississippi. We went with great expectations, and a little naivety at assuming we would see balloons flying during our entire stay. Turns out, the art of ballooning is a very intricate matter. It was Sunday before any of the balloons were able to fly so there was a little bit of Southern patience going on. It turned out to be a very educational weekend. Balloons need nearly perfect weather before they will lift off, and our weather just was not cooperating. A cool front was determined to wreak havoc on our stay in Natchez and the winds were fierce.

We had decided to drive in to Natchez a day early to orient ourselves with the historic little town and to spend some alone time since we’d have company for the remainder of the weekend. Balloon lift-off on Friday morning was cancelled due to fog, and then the rains began. The weather cleared enough Friday evening that we were able to experience the “Balloon Glow” down by the riverfront. Some of the balloons were raised and in the night, the light from the flames produced a glowing effect. Standing on the riverfront walk, we were able to see two balloons on our side of the river and three across the river in Louisiana. Along with a beautiful sunset, it was IMG_4166magnificent to see.

This was the first time that we have attended such an event and we’ve always wanted to go to Natchez so it ended up being a great four days. We were blessed to stay at a wonderful Bed and Breakfast Inn complete with superb Southern cooking and hospitality.

Hope Farm is the oldest B&B in Natchez and has a wonderful history. Ms. Ethel, owner and proprietor of Hope Farm, gave us a tour of the house Saturday morning after breakfast. She is just the sweetest lady and the epitome of Southern hospitality. In other words, she is Natchez. I will be writing more on Ms. Ethel and Hope Farm next week. This week is all about the balloons.

Sunday morning dawned with beautiful weather and we were down by the riverfront at 7:15 am for the scheduled 7:30 am flight time. We quickly learned that you have to constantly check the skies in all directions to discover where the balloons are launching from. Being able to determine which way the wind is blowing is also helpful. As Hubby always points out when I open the front gates at home, I couldn’t tell which way the wind is blowing if it reached out and poked me!

Everyone was standing around and of course, speculating when and where the balloons would come when Hubby reached over and knocked me in the shoulder and shouted, “Look, there’s one!” It would seem he garnered half the riverfront’s spectators with his actions and everyone thought he was kidding. But, sure enough. There was one balloon and it was so tiny. BUT, IT WAS A BALLOON! And, imagine all of our excitement. Then, a second balloon appeared. We quickly learned what chasing the balloons was all about and we hopped in the car and ended up in the Kmart parking lot with balloons flying above us. It was a wonderful and exciting experience. The beautiful and colorful balloons had a beautiful, clear, blue sky as a backdrop. I hope you enjoy the photos. I invite you  back next week for a post on Hope Farm, the wonderful Bed and Breakfast we stayed at in Natchez. IMG_4281IMG_4326IMG_4325IMG_4319IMG_4306IMG_4300IMG_4293IMG_4304IMG_4328