Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic 2011

Anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes knows that I’m not an ‘early morning’ person.  Conversely, anyone who knows me also knows that I’m willing to get up at just about any time of day for a great photographic opportunity.  This past weekend, my desire to capture some great shots outweighed my dislike of early mornings… my alarm clock went off at 2:15am, and I was on the road by 2:30am, heading to Windsor CA for the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic.  

The schedule for the day showed that the “Dawn Patrol” started at 5am.. so I had to hit the road early.  I made it to Windsor around 4:45am and started checking things out.  There were vendor booths set up, fresh apple fritters, breakfast stuff, munchies and other knick-knacks for sale.  People huddled up in blankets, kids napping, and people sipping their coffee.. soon enough, the 4 balloons who were participating in the “Dawn Patrol” started to inflate.  Hearing the burners fire up (and feeling the heat from them) was exciting and got the adrenaline going .. then the secondary burner that illuminated the balloons kicked in and lit up the balloons in the pre-dawn sky like Christmas lights.

After the Dawn Patrol cleared the field, dozens of other balloon teams filled the field and started getting ready for their lift off.   Over the next couple hours, I witnessed numerous balloons fight the breeze and sail away into the cool morning air.. This was my second time seeing a hot air balloon event like this in person, and it was just as fun to watch as the first time was.

Windsor Hot Air Balloon Classic 2011 collage

Collage of balloons

It was challenging to get out of bed and on the road so early, but it was absolutely worth it! I strongly suggest it to anyone who gets the chance to go to one of these kinds of events!