Weekend Adventure: Hot Air Balloon Over Napa
After a work trip in SF, we took the scenic route home and spent a weekend in Napa. With only a couple days to explore the vast lands of California wine country, we expected our eyes to be much bigger than our wine glasses. Whether you call it tastebud fatigue or something else, everyone's sitting sideways after the third or fourth tasting room, and that doesn't include the cabs we planned to pair at all the restaurants on our wish list. So, for this trip, we agreed to scratch one item off the bucket list and see the valley from a new perspective: a hot air balloon.
With 6 a.m. reveille we were just groggy enough without uncorking to climb into a wicker basket and float 3,000 feet above the vineyards. They're barren and brown this time of year, but the hills are green from winter rain and the patchwork of perfectly farmed and framed land pops with electric yellow mustard fields. Without looking down, we could see all the way out to San Francisco. The pilot navigates the balloon with a quick ascent or descent to catch air streams that gently push us in the direction of a grassy park where we land.
On certain days, the pilot explains, when the wind blows in just the right direction, you pass through the bacon layer, and catch wafts of breakfast cooking in Yountville. If you've ever dreamt of flying, floating weightless just high enough above ground to catch a bird's eye view of world below, this is the closest we've come to it in real life.