When I last blogged our Goodyear Blimp ride had been delayed due to weather as the Blimp got caught along the Oregon coast and can only fly in non-rainy conditions with very little wind. The weather has frankly not been great and our ride was in jeopardy of being cancelled altogether. We were supposed to go up on Friday but late Wednesday morning they called me and advised the pilots had looked at the weather forecast and it was a no go. They rescheduled again for Saturday. We decided that there was an extremely small chance of this trip actually happening for us so made a fast plan. If we were going to all the expense of taking the ferry over to the mainland and the ride was cancelled our trip would be a total loss. Instead, we shuffled our hotel after a bit of begging and pleading (nonchangeable reservation with an extremely nice hotel staff who after the story was told changed our reservation) and called Mom to see if she could watch Buddy, our dog, for an extra day. We then drove to Bellingham, Washington Thursday afternoon for a day of shopping on Friday. The distance is a short 45 minute drive between Bellingham Washington and Abbotsford, BC so very doable on a short timeframe (good thing our passports are up to date). We had a wonderful couple of days. We bought a bunch of over the counter medications at half the price (even with our poor exchange rate), groceries and some clothing. In order to have any kind of duty free allowance you have to be gone from Canada at least 24 hours and we timed it so we met the requirement. Unfortunately you have to be out longer to bring back alcohol which is a fraction of the price in the USA versus at home - but our mission was accomplished.
We drove to Abbotsford Friday evening and at 2am I woke up to pounding rain and electrical storm. I remember muttering to hubby - this does not bode well for our blimp ride :(. Saturday morning arrived and it was just raining lightly. By 9am there was the odd bit of blue peeking out between the clouds and the rain had stopped. Happily, by the time we arrived for our ride the conditions were fine for the flight. The blimp cabin is very tiny and it ended up being us, another couple and the pilot. I got to sit right next to the pilot and it was one of the coolest things I've ever gotten to do. I am so glad we made it a priority and spent the money to travel to Abbotsford for the ride.
It turns out we were on one of the last rides on this Blimp which is being retired as they have a couple new airships that are more aerodynamic. There is no autopilot on this blimp and in order to get to the ground they have to accelerate and you dive down and up to take off, those being the only scary parts of the ride. The pilot has two pedals that he can let out air to raise or lower the blimp. The steering wheel looks like a wheelchair wheel and is to the side of the chair as you can see in one of these photos. There is a ground crew of 20 that run out and grab the ropes at the front and back of the air ship to get it to the ground. You climb up a small ladder to get on. There are no seat belts and not much to hang on to. The view from up there is incredible.
|Our pilot exiting the aircraft|
|Two extremely happy Blimp passengers|
Once you land you have to immediately get as far away from the blimp as possible as the wind blows it back and forth and you don't want to get hit by the cabin. It was incredible and I feel so fortunate to have won the opportunity for a ride in the blimp and after two delays it actually happened.
Even better, due to the delays and the very large possibility that the ride was not going to happen The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company awarded not only me with 5,000 airmiles as part of our prize but gave hubby 5,000 as well. We now have enough airmiles for about 10 trips between Alberta and BC, or 2 return trips to somewhere in the USA. Pretty great - thanks Goodyear!!
My house is a mess, my dog needs walked, the travel fund is a little lighter, there is loads of laundry to do and we are behind on our business work - but we have some incredible memories from the past couple of days that make it all completely worth it!