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The Best Places to Ride a Hot Air Balloon in the USA

Flying in a hot air balloon is truly a magical experience that everyone should enjoy. Nestled safely in the wicker basket, floating gracefully hundreds of feet above the earth, the quietness is deafening and the views are spectacular. Hot air balloons use a heat source,…

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Flying in a hot air balloon is truly a magical experience that everyone should enjoy. Nestled safely in the wicker basket, floating gracefully hundreds of feet above the earth, the quietness is deafening and the views are spectacular. Hot air balloons use a heat source, usually a large torch to warm up the air inside the balloon and off you go.   The pilots masterfully use wind currents to move and change direction by altering elevations to find different flows.

It’s all pretty rudimentary and amazing at the same time, how these massive balloons and their pilots can navigate as well as they can. Without an actual motor, these pilots are so skilled it continuously amazes me.

If you are not a fan of heights then maybe this isn’t for you, but for us daredevils, it is the ultimate experience.

I compiled a list of some of the best hot air balloon organizations and businesses in the country, so float away friends and find your freedom hundreds of feet in the sky.

 rainbow ryders

Rainbow Ryders

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque is home of the world famous Balloon Fiesta, a gathering of thousands of balloon enthusiasts every October. Rainbow Ryders is a FAA certified organization that operates 300 days a year and flies along the Rio Grande River. They have baskets that fit up to 12 people, so bring the whole family and experience the majesty of flight.

 lady hattan

Napa Valley Balloons

Napa Valley, CA

What better vantage point to soak in the magnificence that is the Napa Valley Wine region than with Napa Valley Balloons. Their beautiful balloons will drift above some of the world’s best vineyards and the guides will keep you informed the entire trip. Book an all day tour with them that includes wine tasting, guided bike tours and dinner at the acclaimed restaurant Etoile.

 arizona balloon safaris

Arizona Balloon Safaris

Cave Creek, AZ

Fly through the stunning Sonoran Desert just north of Phoenix. I would take the sunrise tour where the balloon flies just feet above the ground and you can see wildlife and the world famous Sonoran Cacti. Their balloons also get as high as 5,000 feet where you can see for miles and in the distance you can spot the Grand Canyon.

 country traveler

Vista Balloon Adventures

Newberg, OR

Located just a mere 40 miles outside of Portland, Vista Balloon will show you the splendor of the Willamette Valley and even give you a “splash and dash.” This is when they literally touch the basket down to the Willamette River for a quick second. Finish the tour with brunch and mimosas, a real hipster way to end anything.

 travel ur world

Asheville Hot Air Balloons

Asheville, NC

Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, Asheville is an artist community and the guided tours showcase the area’s gorgeousness.   The launching points change daily according to the wind and weather, so each tour is unique.  

balloons over letchworth 

Balloons Over Letchworth

Castile, NY

Float high above the Letchworth State Park and view over 20 wonderful waterfalls and humongous gorges that are over 600 feet. The Letchworth State Park is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East, so where better than up in a hot air balloon to see the majesty.   They operate tours from April to October, so catch a ride when you can.

 tahoe accomidations

Lake Tahoe Balloons

Lake Tahoe, CA

Lake Tahoe is one of America’s most beautiful places and the largest alpine lake in the country, so a balloon is perfect to check out the entire lake. Spend hours in the thin and crisp mountain air as you glide above the California and Nevada border. They fly every morning, so book a trip soon to soar with the birds and see the heavens while still on earth.

 

Hot air Balloons are a magical experience and I hope you get to enjoy it soon.

 

 

Photos courtesy of eskipaper, rainbowryders, ladyhattan, scottsdaletodo, countrytravelonline, travelurworld, balloonsoverletchworth, tahoe accomidations

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Guides

Society’s Lack of Boundaries Exposed in this Controversial Photo Series

The lack of boundaries felt by women in our society is at a dangerous level and this edgy photo series shows how women feel every day.

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The lack of boundaries felt by women in our society is at a dangerous level and this edgy photo series shows how women feel every day.  Pittsburgh-based photographer Allaire Bartel was recently inspired by the theme of a conference she attended and made a very controversial photo series.  Women feel victimized and oppressed every day of their lives and that is a huge problem, it’s 2017, what gives?

Bartel explains on her website, “I was particularly determined to express the idea that oppression of women does not just occur in extremely isolated incidents (violent rape and physical abuse) but can also be felt in lesser forms during the day to day.”

 

These photos how your average female professional navigating the oversexed and oppressed world she lives in.  The pics are of her attempting to do the everyday type of things like commuting to work in a city or going to a yoga class that most males take for granted.

 

“The concept of male entitlement is represented by male arms and hands performing a variety of actions that are overwhelming intrusive on her body and her life,” she wrote. “In each situation, she maintains a blank expression, a visual choice that demonstrates how conditioned we as women have become to accept this atmosphere as excusable and even normal.”

The male representation is shown as grabbing hands and lunging body parts, and it is way too real.  Thinking about how this photo series shows how women are treated daily should shed light on this often overlooked subject.  

Imagine walking down the street and getting groped out of the darkness, that is what “cat-calling” must feel like.  Men never have to feel like they are being objectified like women do each and every day.

 

Surviving in a male-dominated world must be difficult and it’s time we level the playing field and try our best to live in a world where everyone is equal.

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Destinations

A Quiet Bethlehem This 2020 Christmas Celebration

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Sans the influx of tourists in the historical birthplace of Christ, a quiet Bethlehem community gets to experience a renewal in faith over a boom in business.

Prior to the pandemic, the Palestinian city located in occupied West Bank was always filled with visiting tourists who wanted to experience walking in the land of Jesus Christ’s official birthplace. In the past, those who wanted to visit the Church of the Nativity were forced to maneuver through the crowds teeming the streets of Bethlehem. This year, however, a quiet Bethlehem becomes largely part of the massive lockdown and quarantine restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Nevertheless, the absence of tourists is an opportunity for renewal, says Father Rami Asakrieh, the parish priest of Bethlehem. “Sometimes there are more than half million people who arrive in this period to visit the Nativity Church,” he recounts.

During the days leading to Christmas, however, the Church of the Nativity has been so silent, devoid of the yearly visiting faithful who traditionally visited Bethlehem from all over the world. A quiet Bethlehem, then, is a new thing for the community as locals are used to the noisy throng of commuters and visitors who annually arrived during the holiday season.

Armenian prayers are recited by four (4) monks below the Grotto of the Nativity, echoing through the typically crowded vicinity. Even during this year’s Christmas Eve, the most essential part of the celebration, the church was closed to the public. The lack of yearly visits from Palestinian authority representatives starkly reiterated the difference of this year’s celebration, as well.

“It has never happened before,” contemplates Asakrieh, as he mentions that the only times that the church was forced to close its doors were during periods of uprisings and Palestinian intifadas that were done in protest against Israel’s continued occupation.

“I think that this Christmas is different because people are not busy with the external manifestations of the feast,” the priest shares, referring to the customary purchasing of gifts and the conduct of extravagant get-togethers that have long been linked to Christmas celebrations.  “Now (people) have the time, and they are obligated, to concentrate on the essential… the theological spirit of Christmas,” he expressed. “Less business, but more religion,” Asakrieh continues.

During the days leading up to Christmas, the chapel of Saint Catherine, a small one that is next to the Church of the Nativity was made open to the local Bethlehem public. Amid a distinctively quiet Bethlehem atmosphere, many of the local faithful turned up as they donned their Sunday’s best.

One of them was Nicolas al-Zoghbi who mentions that the usual joy of the Christmas season was replaced by the overall feeling of depression. He shares that his son is among those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. “We hope the Lord will destroy corona, just get rid of it so we can return to our previous life,” states al-Zoghbi who is now in his 70s.

The city’s economy is hugely reliant on the annual influx of visitors who purchase items like rosaries and other Nativity-based trinkets from the shops and stands that pepper the place. Thus, a quiet Bethlehem during this holiday season signifies a highly decreased income for those who rely on the earnings that used to be generated from these yearly tourist visits.

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Featured

9 of the Best Places to Visit in Florida

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Florida is a hotspot for Americans traveling domestically and for international travelers as well. It’s home to some of the biggest theme parks like Universal Studios and Disney World. 

Plus, it offers some of the most incredible beaches in North America. How can you be that? But the most amazing thing about Florida is that there isn’t just one or two cities that have something to offer.

In fact, there are multiple cities that are great for vacation, and there’s something for everyone. On that note, take a look at this list of the best places to visit in Florida:

1. Miami

Everyone knows that Miami is one of the best places to visit in Florida. It’s one of the top hotspots for vacationers looking to live it up with their hair down.

If you want to sit on a beautiful beach, Miami’s got it. If you want fine dining, Miami’s got it. When you’re trying to figure out where to go in Florida, Miami is the answer.

This city is known for being flashy, and if you want to do a big vacation, this is the place to go all out.

2. Orlando

Orlando is another one of the best places to visit in Florida. How can anyone say no to Disney World and SeaWorld? If you’re looking for the ultimate vacation, Orlando is the spot.

With all the theme parks and water parks that this city offers, you’ll never get bored. Even if you’re not into big parks, they also offer fun activities at Universal CityWalk.

Also, Orlando isn’t just for little kids. This is also a great place for a group of teenage or college kids to visit for a fun getaway.

3. Naples 

When you’re thinking about visiting Florida, don’t forget about Naples. It’s one of Florida’s gulf coast cities, and it’s located in an upscale region. It’s adorned with a nice stretch of beachfront that accompanied by elaborate houses and luxurious resorts.

When you and your lover want to get away, this is the place to go. Not to mention, the beaches in Naples offer some of the best in the entire state. The warm waters provide a nice soothing feel that vacationers can’t deny.

Also, if you want to do something out of the box, check out the best Florida helicopter rides to book an exciting excursion!

4. Tampa

There may not be much sand and water in Tampa, but it’s still one of the best places to go in Florida. It’s filled with famous attractions like Busch Gardens and the Tampa Zoo at Lowry Park.

If you have children, they’ll also love visiting the Tampa Aquarium and taking a walk through the Big Cat Rescue. When you’re not in the mood for the big theme parks of Orlando, Tampa is an awesome alternative.

5. Key West

Key West sits at the southern tip of Florida, and it provides visitors with an island feel. It’s one of the best places to visit in Florida because of its beautiful water. It’s the perfect alternative for travelers who want the experience of an island getaway without leaving the country.

However, if you do decide to take an international trip, Key West is one of the main cruise ship ports for cruise lovers. You can always spend a few days in Key West, hop on the ship, and come back. It provides the perfect getaway.

6. Fort Myers

When you’re thinking about visiting Florida, Fort Myers might not be one of the first places you think about. however, it shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s known as the River District, and it provides travelers and residents with a lot to do.

There is plenty of dining, shopping, and sightseeing. Plus, Fort Myers is home to the IMAG History and Science Center which allows visitors to experience the city in 3D virtual reality.

This town is also situated on the shores of Estero Island, which is slightly separated from the mainland. It’s a hotspot for honeymooners and celebrities.

7. Sanibel Island

If you don’t know where to go in Florida, check out Sanibel Island. It’s just off the West coast of Florida and it’s home to many high-end resorts. There are also numerous water activities for visitors to get into, as well as incredible shopping boutiques and galleries for guests to enjoy.

Although this city is popular amongst tourists, it’s not as famous as some of the other cities in Florida. So if you want a nice getaway that’s not too crowded with tourists, this is it.

8. Pensacola

Pensacola is known for its awesome beaches and laid back, down-home environment. This is an area that many college students like to visit on the weekends or for a spring break vacation. It’s also a nice escape for the surrounding Florida towns that don’t have a beach.

If you’re a local resident, Pensacola is the perfect place to go for a weekend beach vacay.

9. Daytona Beach

Chances are you’ve heard about the Daytona 500 NASCAR race that’s held every year in Daytona. But outside of the big races, many people decide to go to Daytona for the beaches. It too is a hot spot for spring breakers and other visitors who want a fun time.

Daytona Beach spans over 23 miles of the Atlantic ocean, and it’s accompanied by a pier filled with games, restaurants, and amusement park rides.

The Best Places to Visit in Florida

If you didn’t know before, now you know that visiting Florida is a smart choice. It works well for couples who want to get away, a girl’s trip, and a family trip. This list of the best places to visit in Florida has something for everyone.

If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to read more of our blog posts. We cover content relating to different destinations, the best ways to travel, food, and much more. You’ll love it!

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