Here we are, back from the desert! Nowhere was an incredible adventure that we are happy and proud to have experienced. We had an awesome time in the desert, and made many great friends.
Balloonwise, we had what I think we can call a mitigated success. That is a long story.
For the first few days, we dug holes in the ground, to set up all the anchors we needed and a nice landing pad. We made way more holes than we needed, and most were way too big, because we had no clue of how to make anchors properly. Fortunately, Aqua gave us good advice on how to do that, which put us on the right track and finally allowed us to have good anchors we could rely on.
All in all, it took us quite some time to have a launchpad with which we felt confident, and we were ready to inflate the balloon at the end of Monday afternoon.
From Inflation to Ready
Inflation was very fast (5-10 minutes), but closing and attaching it properly proved to be tricky. We thought we had a good idea of how to do that, but it turned out that our method did not work properly with the pressure and movements of an inflated balloon. Had we not gone with double security on everything, we might have lost the balloon even before its first real flight! The trick was to keep the system rather simple: zip-ties to close it (with the neck vertically folded). Then to attach it: fold the bottom of the neck up, around a loop of rope, and zip-tie around the fold, so that the rope loop is trapped inside that newly created balloon neck loop. If people ask me, I might draw a schema of that one day, but I’m afraid we did not think of taking pictures of that.
Once this was done, we added another “security” rope loop around the neck a bit higher up, with a zip-tie below it to prevent it from slipping. As you can see in the picture, everything we did, including inflation, prior to having the balloon properly attached, were done within a safety net, properly anchored to the ground. You’re never too cautious with things that want to fly away! Especially if you only have one shot.
Up, Up, It Flies!
On Tuesday morning, we were ready and eager to fly the balloon, and start taking pictures. We were very happy with the behaviour of the balloon with the light breeze that we had, it went almost vertical, and we took some glorious pictures on that day.
Life is Tough
At the end of Tuesday, as celebrations for the beginning of the festival were happening, the wind started to blow more seriously. We had to land the balloon in emergency, with the help of a few good souls (thanks again to them: Aqua, Sam, Tessa, I think there were others but cannot remember, please correct me). The conditions were as hectic as can be: very strong wind, and the whole festival dancing and cheering around our landing pad! We nevertheless managed to secure the balloon down on the pad, and protect it under a tarp. At that moment, having nothing more to do, we just went partying with the others, attending the melting of the Nowhere bell by Dave and friends (and that was great!).
A few hours later, I came to the landing pad to check that everything was all right. But all I could find were two big chunks of pink-red latex on the ground. A friend was gone. Balloon was gone.
We had a simple, intimate burial ceremony with close friends on Wednesday evening.