What a wonderful decision that was! Not only did we get to say #TeamCap all the time, but they invited us out with them to crew with the balloon on Saturday! (This is not necessarily typical for the sponsor to do.) We figured the best way to join them was on Saturday morning for the fly in and competition. So we tried to go to bed early (not easy when your life revolves around a taproom) and we successfully got up early at about 4:30am. We met them out on the field and drove out to our starting point just south west of Howell, along with all the other balloonists.
After a half hour of watching the wind direction, analyzing the map, and knocking on doors to ask permission to use their yard as a launch site, we finally found our launch location. Mike and I did what we could to help get the balloon out and blown up and ready to take off. And just before it was time to head up, Ron, the pilot, motioned me to come in from taking pictures of the thing and told Mike and I both to hop in! We were like “Wait, what?! I thought we were just helping and hanging out in the chase van!” Nope, they had other plans, they were going to let us go up in the balloon!
Mike helping the balloon inflate
Mike and I were thrilled! This was such a great surprise for us! They had been planning on doing this and we had no idea! We figured they would just want to focus on the competition and not try to mess with us. (But as it turns out, we are lucky charms, because Captain America got 5th place this weekend!)
Up, up, and away!
The flight was amazing! Being up in a hot air balloon is so peaceful. Pictures and videos don’t do it justice.
After a successful flight, we landed among other balloons in yet another large yard and helped pack it up. After that, Ron, Mike, and Mike (Mike & Mike = the rest of the crew [yes, there were 3 Mikes in one van!) started getting into the back of the van and bringing out picnic baskets and a small table. They set up the table and table cloth and started setting out champagne glasses. We were just watching in awe and wonder because we had no idea what was going on. Then they brought out the champagne and said that it is tradition after every flight to have a champagne toast in celebration of a successful flight and as a gift to the property owner who let them land. Not only did they bring champagne, but they had purchased beer from Eternity the night before! So we toasted with champagne glasses full of Eternity beer around 9am (mine was full of Night Glow Black Lager)! What a great way to start our day!
A toast with good beer and great people!
We took the crew out to the Crepe Studio for brunch and had such a great time chatting with them and getting to know them better. Now Mike and I had to go to work (ha, that’s what happens when you own a brewery). But after work, we went right back to ballonfest and crewed with them that evening for the balloon launch and balloon night glow. We got to be on the field for the balloon glow! It was incredible, beautiful, and so much fun! This Captain America crew is such a great group to be with.
What do you think we did after the balloon glow was packed up?! (Which by the way is hard to do because it is DARK on the field!) (No one thinks about that part of the program because everyone else just heads out after the balloons stop twinkling!) Anyway, once we got it all together we headed to Eternity Brewing of course! We met some of our other friends and family for a beer before it was time to call it a night.
What an incredible weekend. We are so proud of the Captain America Team – 5th place this year! And we are so grateful that we could spend the weekend with these amazing people. They are so kind and thoughtful and fun to hang out with.
Watch for Captain America next year if you missed him this year! We already requested to be their sponsors again!
- Dayna Tran