6:30 a.m. Good morning, Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s time to fly!
“Good” and “morning” don’t usually go in the same sentence when you’re a night owl. That’s until you throw “hot-air balloon ride” into the mix. Then you have yourself a perfect morning.
Our JourneyxJourney 2017 Ford Escape arrived in a quaint neighborhood just outside Denver, right as the sun began to rise over the Rocky Mountain skyline. Surrounded by picturesque homes in every direction, this was not where you’d expect to see a ginormous hot air balloon take off.
Unless your neighbor is a balloonist. In which case, seeing a backyard balloon launch is not so rare after all.
We pulled in the driveway just as the balloon was pulled out. We were right on time to meet the
A Whole New World
Scotty Spencer runs the
The lucky passengers? JourneyxJourney!
Emily, my JxJ co-captain and partner in crime, had been on a hot air balloon once before. I had not. I was the newbie.
And I was pumped.
Every ounce of my being burst with anticipation. There were even a few moments I literally jumped for joy. Okay, maybe more than a few. I had full-blown regressed to six-year-old-child waiting for Santa to shimmy down the chimney on Christmas Eve, and I was perfectly okay with that. This was better than any gift under the tree (sorry mom and dad!).
Ten minutes later, the “Olympic Spirit Balloon” was erect and ready to fly. Before climbing into the cozy wicker basket with Scotty and Emily, I asked what to expect as a first-timer.
Scotty smiled. “A hot air balloon is the best way to see the planet,” he replied, “You have a perspective on the world like none you’ll ever have any other way. Now get in.”
Scotty took his first ride when he was 14. From that point on, he was hooked. Early in his career, he dabbled in a few different flying gigs until he ultimately landed back in the balloon business. 45 years of experience later, he’s never looked back (or down for that matter). His years as a pilot have taken him on many unexpected journeys. One of them is his journey with
“I reached out to a [
The balloons are spectacular, don’t get me wrong. But you can tell right off the bat, it’s Scotty’s fiery passion for ballooning and the brand that fuels this team to new heights. He takes his persona as an “aerial ambassador” for the brand to heart. Once onboard one of the
Luckily for the JourneyxJourney crew, we were able to share new memories with our extended Coke family. And lucky for me, I was able to cross an item off my
Coca-Cola Bucket List
It was almost a year ago to this very day, we first learned about Scotty and the
Just under “Find the Secret Formula,” I jotted down, “Fly in a Coke Balloon.” One has since been checked off. The other, may never.
Fortunately, the idea of JourneyxJourney began floating around at about the same time as the balloon team discovery of epic proportions occurred. There was no question about it. If this road trip was going to happen, flying in the Coke Balloon team had to happen on it.
350 days later, it did.
Love at First Flight
“One of the things that’s most exciting about a first ride is to see the thrill and expressions on their faces. And as we lift off the ground, their lives seem to slip into slow motion as we drift off in the sky,” said Scotty. “I love that moment of wonder that comes with seeing the world in such a way the first time, there’s nothing like it.”
He was generally speaking, yet his words described the moment perfectly… rising with the sun, overlooking the stunning Colorado landscape.
There truly is nothing like it.
We didn’t speak and that said it all. We drifted further and further away from reality and into serenity with every passing moment. If there was a care in the word it was forgotten.
“This is what it means to float on cloud nine,” I thought quietly.
From the very beginning, our JourneyxJourney mission was to find and tell new
In Scotty’s words, his job is to “create memories.”
Job well done.