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Sunday, April 27, 2014

2014 "Balloons Over Paradise"

2014 "Balloons Over Paradise"


2014 "Balloons Over Paradise"

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 10:01 AM PDT

Hot air balloons are fun to watch as they float across the sky, but there is a lot of work that goes into getting these majestic air ships off the ground. I saw this first hand at the third annual "Balloons over Paradise" in Immokalee, Florida on April 26th and 27th, 2014. The festival is sponsored by the Seminole Casino and included the balloon flights as well as a host of other activities.
For this festival the process begins for some even before the sun rises. Once on site the crew unloads the basket the hook up the propane. The balloon itself is packed in a bag and must be carefully spread out (Photo 1). At first the basket is set on its side and attached to the balloon. Fans are used to fill the sheath of the balloon with air (Photo 2) .A couple members of the crew hold the opening of the balloon wide until the balloon takes shape .
Propane is then used to heat the air and the balloon quickly rises (Photo 3). It only takes a few quick bursts of flame to heat the air. Even from fifteen or twenty feet away the heat is palpable. In the dark the flames are readily visible and light the balloons from within. At last the balloon is ready for flight (Photo 4).
Not all the balloons will take flight this day, though. A few of the bigger, more elaborate balloons stay tethered to the ground. They are here just for visitors' enjoyment. A couple more are those of major sponsors and another is to be used for "tethered rides". This is where visitors take a quick ride straight up and back down.
On some of the tethered balloons a crew member keeps these tethered balloons upright by holding a rope attached to the top of the balloon. This person moves making sure the balloon does not lean with the wind (Photo 5).
For those that do take off, they rise one or two at a time in a haphazard progression, following the lead balloon (Photo 6 and 7). That first balloon is known as the hare and the remaining ships are the hounds. The hare will way out a large fabric 'X' and send the hounds the coordinates via radio. The hounds will then try to drop a marker as close to the center of the 'X' as possible hoping to win a cash prize. No easy feat as the balloons are subject to the whims of the wind and are not as easily maneuvered as a car. Visitors get to watch as the balloons fill the air.
The balloons will then land, be deflated and packed back up. Many of them return to do it all over again.

Story and photos by Robert Wilder Jr

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C2E2 - Day 2

Posted: 26 Apr 2014 11:38 PM PDT

The second full day of C2E2 in downtown Chicago started off with a bang. Photo shoots, panels and costumes galore! Here are a few highlights from the day spent at McCormick Place.

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Historic high wind in San Pedro, CA

Posted: 26 Apr 2014 06:13 PM PDT

Came across this VERY old coastal tree that had been uprooted by historical high winds in Pt Fermin Park, San Pedro, CA today.

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Eve of the Canonization

Posted: 26 Apr 2014 02:54 PM PDT

Saint Peter's Square and its environs prepares for the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. The Piazza is set, the images of the new saints welcome the pilgrims and the crowds have come. A dry run for tomorrow's big day!

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Ice Fishing at sunset in the Arctic

Posted: 26 Apr 2014 02:02 PM PDT

Out on Kotzebue Sound in Alaska ice fishing for Sheefish. It's a little after 11pm and the sun is setting.

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Festival of Fiestas

Posted: 26 Apr 2014 11:42 AM PDT

An annual festivity held in the Philippine capital Manila, contingents from all over Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao gather, April 26, 2014, as they participate at Aliwan Fiesta 2014 that promote country's tourism through bazaar of native products, street dancing competition, float parade and beauty pageant. The street dance competition showcase the champions in street dancing of different festivals in the Philippines like the Sinulog Festival of Cebu, Panagbenga Festival of Baguio, Halamanan Festival of Bulacan, Kalivungan Festival of North Cotabato and Bato Art Festival of Isabela.

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Olympic National Park

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 09:42 PM PDT

From amazing peaks to rain forests to enchanting beaches, Olympic National Park is the perfect paradise to escape in. Shi Shi beach on the coast is unlike any other place whether you're there for the day or setting up camp on the beach.

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Fire on Ferry in Los Cristianos, Spain

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 04:58 PM PDT

This evening there was a fire on a ferry from Los Cristianos to La Gomera. I took the attached picture when the ferry had returned to Los Cristianos

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Ice Fishing in the Arctic

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 03:17 PM PDT

Out on Kotzebue Sound Ice Fishing for Sheefish.

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Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 12:31 PM PDT

Vatnajokull National Park in Iceland was established in 2008 and is the largest national park in Europe. Perhaps the crown jewel of this park is the glacial lagoon called Jokulsarlon, which is easily accessible along the Ring Road. My wife and I were lucky to have several opportunities to visit this spectacular site when we lived in Iceland. Lighting and weather conditions as well as iceberg distribution were different every time we visited. It is possible in the summer to take a boat ride out among the icebergs. If you are interested in photography plan to spend some time here when you visit.

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