"Jeremy, I need you awake at 4:30 a.m. and out of the hotel shortly after." Yup, that's what everyone wants to hear on DAY 1 of their trip to Phoenix. Unfortunately, that's the reality of a travel broadcast but the reason was acceptable: "You're going on a hot air balloon ride to watch the sun rise over the desert." Deal!
With it still pitch black outside, I wondered how long the experience with Rainbow Ryders would take. I realized there needed to be time to unload the balloons (there were at least six going up that morning), get them upright and ultimately airborne.
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It was a chilly morning, though for a Canadian I was happy to be able to wear shorts outside that early in the morning. For the American guests, they were bundled up as though it was the middle of winter. (Wimps!) Very quickly, the group of strangers chatted and snapped selfies as the balloons filled up. It seemed only right to get to know each other since we would be in such close quarters for the hour flight. Many of the folks were from out of town. A couple locals were with family members who were visiting the Phoenix area. But when I found out that one family was from Minnesota -- so close to Canada -- we had an instant bond.