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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Expand (07/18/13)

TITLE: Riding The Wind
By darlene thompson


Today, I would expand my horizon. The morning arrived in clear blue skies and a gentle breeze. I stood before my dream ride--a flight in a hot air balloon. On the ground was a flatten quilt pattern balloon called "Patches." The pilot brought out the burner and ignited the flame. With each puff, the envelope expanded. The basket ropes were tightened and the weights evenly distributed and attached to the filled envelope. The multi-colored balloon shimmered in the August sun.

The pilot called for us to come aboard. He opened the flame. A swooshed belched into the atmosphere and the balloon slowly ascended. Up, up, we traveled for several thousand feet. Below, the mountains draped themselves with the bluish tint of the Blue Ridge, rivers doffed their white caps, and the pastures danced in emerald green. We watched the shadow of our balloon reflect against the land below. It seemed like we were chasing our own shadow. The pilot leveled off and we descended to about 500 feet. Our ride felt like we were sitting in a rocking chair floating on a cloud.

As we sailed along, conversations from below floated to our ears. Little did the people realize their voices carried their messages upward. We heard every word! In a nearby field, cows discovered us and mooed loudly as they retreated to a nearby barn. Birds flew by with a quizzical look as if to say, "where are your wings?" The pilot maneuvered us to a peach tree where we grabbed the golden bounty and laughed with delight as our chins dripped in sweet peach juice.

After about an hour, the wind died down. As we cleared a small hill, a sudden gust swept us away from our landing point. The balloon spun toward a vineyard. The pilot pulled on the lines to move the balloon back to the field. Our mouths fell open as a man yelled, "Get away from my vineyard!" His booming voice was bad enough but in his hands he held a shotgun. Our pilot screamed back, "I have to go with the wind. I doing the best I can!" Finally, with several more tugs on the lines, our pilot landed the balloon in a field away from our unfriendly neighbor. The chase truck sped toward us. Quickly, we packed up the envelope, basket and jumped into the chase truck.

Riding the wind fulfilled my dream. As John Gillespie Magee said, "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth, Put out my hand and touched the face of God."

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This article has been read 329 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Judith Gayle Smith07/26/13
Yummy descriptions! I felt I was there with you.

A wee bit of red ink - proofread carefully as there are those watching . . .

Thank you for billowing my imagination.
Brenda Rice 07/26/13
Very interesting entry. I like the quote at the end. My maiden name is Gillespie.
Virgil Youngblood 07/27/13
I liked the title and the story did not disappoint. Thanks for sharing such an interesting memory.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/27/13
This is a great story. You really made me feel like I was floating up there with you. My only suggestion would be to start out with the ending. A man waving a shotgun at a hot air balloon would be a real grabber! Then you could go back and reminisce about starting the day and the ride. You have a knack for creating suspense. I found my jaw dropping at the thought that someone would be so mean. Thankfully, there are wonderful people who help us through those bumpy rides. Though many have used the expand my horizon phrase this week, you took it literally and it made me chuckle. I think it was a clever take on the topic. Well done.
Theresa Santy 07/30/13
Loved the title, loved the story. What an exciting ride!
lynn gipson 08/01/13
Congratulations on your 3rd place win! You are on your way!

Blessings, Lynn
C D Swanson 08/01/13
God Bless~
C D Swanson 08/01/13
Congratulations and God Bless
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/01/13
Congratulations for ranking 3 in your level and 17 overall!! (The highest rankings can be found on the message boards)