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It is hard to believe a year has passed since our memorable trip to France as a writing group. Looking through the photos today brought back so many happy memories.

Our respite at Chateau du Pin was beyond our wildest imaginations.We traveled by many modes of transportation: plane, train, boat, hot air balloon, on foot, bus, and by car.

One of the most memorable moments was our trip in the hot air balloon over the Loire Valley.We watched with eager excitement as the balloon was slowly inflated and righted itself, preparing for the venture aloft on the grounds of Chateau du Pin. Seven of the moms from our group climbed into the large basket affixed to the balloon as two attendants made sure all systems were go, then the loud “whoosh” of the engine slowly lifted us into the air.

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photo (5)The view was amazing, and we could see for miles as our eyes scanned the countryside below. As the balloon glided high over land, we were able to see other chateaus, vineyards, backyard gardens, sunflower fields and clusters of tiny villages. Chateau du Pin started to shrink in size as we floated away and over the Loire River. Farm animals scattered in all directions as the balloon passed overhead.

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One of the moms drew our attention to a special rainbow that appeared in the sky above.It was a very touching experience.

As our special balloon ride came to an end, the attendant instructed us to assume the “crash position.” We huddled down on our haunches, and a short time later, the basket knocked down against the ground in a private field. Other attendants from the balloon company met us in the field. We all helped the attendants fold up the extremely large balloon into a pouch specially fitted for the silken fabric.

We all piled into the Range Rover with balloon and basket in tow for the 30 minute drive back to the Chateau du Pin. Upon our arrival, a champagne toast was celebrated and certificates were passed out from the attendants to the moms in our group who survived the adventurous ride. It was an experience of a lifetime!

~Monica Sleap September 22, 2013

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