Brian emailed this picture to me last Thursday morning. Said, “Balloons over Reno this morning. To see th full spectacle go to Rancho San Rafael at daybreak tomorrow or Sunday.”

What the heck is daybreak? Sunrise this past week has been about the time that I get up, about six-thirty. Carol talked to one of her ladyfriends who said we should go at 5am. I opted to go when I got up on Saturday morning. Does Carol want to go with me?  Look for her in the pictures. (Oh, by the way, Brian took his picture at 8:50am.)

Rancho San Rafael is a large open space near the University of Nevada on North McCarran Boulevard… maybe ten miles from my house, but easy to get to.

I woke up Saturday morning and looked around. Still dark. I looked at the clock: six-ten. Might as well get up. I did my morning routine and coffeemaking and was in the car heading east on I-80 just as the sun was coming over the mountain square into my eyes. Exit North onto McCarran and go four or five miles as the boulevard gradually bends around to the East. (As you’ll find out when you visit, McCarran ultimately circles Reno.)

Oops, the car in front of me slowed abruptly and we’re being funneled into one lane of traffic.

Here I am in a line of stop-and-go cars on McCarran.

It looks like the balloons are waking up. Parked cars line McCarran on the other side, people sitting on top of SUVs or in camp chairs on the upslope of the hill. Looks like they have been here for quite a while.

A little further along the road…

I have no idea what I’m doing, where I can park or where the action is or will be. I’m glad the traffic is forced to move slowly and I can grab a couple shots with my iPhone. All I know is that I know nothing, but if I turn onto Virginia, take a U and get back onto McCarran heading west, I’ll either get lucky or learn something I can apply Sunday morning.

On Virginia at McCarran, waiting and ready to turn back.

Shortly after turning back onto McCarran, I spied a gap in the cars that my little car could back into and over a curb cut, proving that luck can trump knowledge and skill some rare times. Meanwhile, balloons start to rise into the perfect sky.

The red car is my GTI.
ReMax Real Estate gets the jump, but check out the brown stagecoach.


There’s the black Darth Vader taking some air.
Pretty soon, they’ll all be up…


There’s Smokey the Bear, bottom left.


Pepsi can over there on the right.

I don’t know what the “race” part of the Balloon Race is. I’ll study up for next year and be better prepared. In any case, this many hot air balloons in one place is pretty impressive.

Here they go, across McCarran and up over the hills…
I stop at the bank on my way home, and see the balloons on the horizon, about five miles away.





3 thoughts on “balloons!

  1. Thank you for sharing. Wow, what a beautiful sight. Not only did you have enormous luck, but you had the right car to take advantage of it.

    Jerry gave me “us” a hot air balloon ride one year for Christmas. I have a certificate to prove it. We noticed when the balloon pilot turned on the flame, to keep us airborne, the noise made dogs on the ground bark.

    Looks like life in Reno is agreeing with you.


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