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A few weeks ago, my wife and I had the pleasure to travel to southern California. As I was on summer break for professional school and she had some off-days to spare, it was a great time for us to visit a few friends and explore the region. We particularly booked a few days at a vineyard in Temecula and the experience was pretty awesome.
Personally, I am not that much of a wine person (I'm more of a beer and IPA fellow), but the wines that I tried out at the tasting impressed me quite a bit. The ones that I particularly liked were the Gewurztraminer and Grenache.
The overall atmosphere at the vineyard was very peaceful and calm. When we were not tasting wine or exploring the town of Temecula, we would just walk around the vineyard and admire the work put into growing the grapevines.
But the biggest highlight of our trip was going on a hot air balloon at around 5 in the morning. Waking up at 4 was challenging enough, but that was a joke compared to my (and also my wife's) fear of heights. I always get that feeling of dread whenever I look down from afar and well... riding in a basket 3,000 feet (914 meters) above the ground would definitely amplify that.
My anxiety built up as the balloon went higher and higher. The sleepy me was basically scared awake at this point. However, we were all treated to these wonderful views:
The morning fog blanketed the trees and houses as the peaks of the mountains towered over. As our ride went on, the rising sun gave us a whole different view of the landscape. The scattered fog and low clouds shielded parts of Temecula from the sun, covering the ground with large patches of shadows (3rd photo).
As the balloon landed back on the ground, I felt pretty relieved. I thought that the balloon ride would be a one-and-done sort of deal. However, a part of me actually wanted to experience those great views from above again in spite of my fear of heights. The ride was as, if not more so, breathtaking as it was scary. Part of me wondered what sort of other views could I get if I float 3,000 ft high in other places.
Bonus: Here's a crappy five second video of me trying to record a hummingbird. It was a first for me and I have to say, hummingbirds are quite nimble.