Up Up and Away

Up up and away in my beautiful balloon
Way up in the air in my beautiful balloon
We could float among the stars together, you and I
For we can fly!
                                   The 5th dimension

If you’ve watched television lately, you’ve seen ads for impotence, irregularity, hemorrhoids, athelete’s foot, and worse, and you probably didn’t bother to change the channel. So when I tell you that today’s tale is a little disgusting, I know I’ve got your attention, and you’re leaning forward in your chair.

#1: Sometimes, when I drink beer, wine, or burned coffee, I turn into a human fire hose.
#2: Sometimes, when I eat something that disagrees with me, I just have to sit down.

The reason I mention this is that we just got back from a vacation in California, where we did a bunch of good stuff: A finishing workshop, visits with family, a few shop projects, a few tours, some sight seeing, and the like. And on Sunday, we took a balloon ride!

We spent Saturday with Ella and Travis, and that means Beer.  We toured Padre Stadium in the morning and then headed to the Stone Brewery for lunch and a tour. Stone Brewery is known far and wide for its strong beers. Not just high alcohol content, but a double dose of ingredients, giving their beers lots of flavor. So if there’s something in beer that’s going to make me pee, the Stone Brewery is the place to find out. We each had a beer with lunch and then Travis went to the bar and came back with an armful of samples. “One of each.”

Now I am nothing if not a good sport, but after I’d weighed in on each of them, my kidneys had a good spurt. The floodgates opened and I barely had time to sit down after a visit to the rest room before I had to go again. Shake, rinse and repeat. How embarrassing.

There are times when this cycle takes days to wind down, and if I’m going to be stuck in a balloon basket the next day, then I had to get this under control. So after the brewery tour, I gave my free (beer) sample to Travis and peed yet again before getting into the car. I stuck to water and coke for the rest of the day, though I tempted fate with a chinese beer and sushi for dinner. I was ‘only’ up 3 times that night and had just 1 cup of coffee with breakfast on Sunday. It looked like I had this beat.

On Sunday, we drove out to the balloon rendezvous point and then decided to grab a quick lunch before the ride. Plan A was pizza at a local bar and grill known for it’s selection of – what else? – Stone beers. It looked too crowded, though, and we ended up next door at a dive specializing in Bud Lite. We ordered sandwiches and waited. And waited. Apparently, they don’t serve a lot of food there, and when it finally came, it was pretty bad. We bolted it down and headed back to meet the balloon guy. On the van ride to the launch pad, my stomach started rumbling, which usually means I’ve got to either binge or purge.

Shit. I gotta take a shit. And there’s not going to be a rest room in the balloon.
I started to panic. Maybe I could sneak away during inflation and shit in the woods? Imagine the stories they’d tell: “We went on a balloon ride and Reid shit in his pants!”
This is not good. Please, God, help me out here.

My prayers were answered. The pilot sent us all across the road for a final pit stop before liftoff, and I locked myself in the Rite-Aid men’s room for so long that they sent Mary back in to find me. Problem solved.

The balloon ride itself was great. Very tranquil, and not scary at all. We rode the wind for about an hour at 15 mph, and the pilot had good control over rotation and altitude. It’s a pretty affluent area, and I was astonished at the complexity of the rooflines. The winds are apparently pretty predictable, and the chase vehicle was waiting for us in a clearing about the size of a city block between a development and a freeway. We landed 20 yards from the van.

That was a lot of fun.

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