Thursday, October 24, 2013

Phun With Flames!

Seems like whenever we visit our place in Illinois, the pyromaniacs in us come out and we find excuses to stoke a fire in our yard.  We've got a "burn pile" where wood discards from construction projects, fallen branches and leaves make an excuse to have a fire.  At our last visit in July, my RAGBRAI buddies revealed the way-cool Chinese Lanterns, and after nearly a week's search, we finally found and nearly bought-out the supply of an Iowa store (they might be slightly illegal in Illinois...), but again, we've never "pulled the trigger" to send one off...

Tonight, our last night in the Midwest, we had to make an excuse, as we hadn't yet lit the burn pile this trip either.  Melinda had a dinner at a local restaurant with many of her nursing buddies, some of which she hadn't seen in 15 years!  All told, over 15 former co-workers got together at a local Italian place where they spent over 3 hours yakking!  When we got home we looked at each other, and decided it was time to send off one of these little hot-air balloons. 

We walked out into a clearing west of our house - it seemed dead calm, opened the balloon and lit the little wax-covered piece of cardboard.  In a matter of 20 seconds or so it became semi-buoyant and seconds later lifted off from my fingertips.  Interestingly, it went up about 80 feet and then took off towards the east in the undetectable-from-the-ground breeze.  We watched it for about a minute before it disappeared below the tree line from our location. 

We debated why in the world they could be found illegal - what's the worst that could happen sending flaming balloons into the sky?!  It turns out that except for a bit of wire, all parts are biodegradable, and, if sent up while it is calm and the piece of cardboard burns till it goes out, by the time it falls to earth from a couple thousand feet up it should be cool.  We just won't get permission from authorities to send them off - easier to get forgiveness than permission, right?  At a few bucks each, a fun thing to do next time we have company over!

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