222 years ago, in 1783, a chicken, a sheep and a rooster made the first ascent in a hot air balloon. King Louis XVI thought it would be a good idea to use condemned criminals as the first human pilots, but Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis Francois d'Arlandes got him to change his mind and let them try it out. They lit up the disgusting mix of burning straw and stinking manure in an attached burning pot and off they went.
They landed in a French vineyard, and while the farmers were debating whether to immediately surrender or first make a half-hearted pitchfork charge, the two pilots had the wit and foresight to produce bottles of champagne, a tradition which continues unabated to the present day.
Nothing much happened of note for the next 222 years. Then, on 30 October, 2005, a chicken named Phred and his courageous Faithful Companion made a dawn ascent for a 90-minute uncontrolled flight over the cold Sedona, Arizona desert and flew a distance of 8.5 miles.
I was petrified in terror for the entire flight, but I tried not to show and outward signs of panic for the benefit of the women passengers, who chattered happily during the entire ordeal. The flight was followed with a champagne and strawberry breakfast and an Irish ballooning toast.
The hiking here is good. We're heading on an easy hike six miles up a canyon later this morning and then hitting the Municipal tennis courts in the afternoon before continuing our Halloween journey.
Here are a few Sedona snapshots.