Sunday, August 3, 2008

A view from above...Central Park

S and I were biking the Central Park loop the other day when we saw something odd -- a big white sphere sticking out above the treeline. It was like the world's largest 3D kite. We both stopped as it rose, wondering what the heck it was until we saw the gondola below it. It was a balloon. But not the typical hot air balloon. There was no big gas flame propelling it. It was eerily quiet.

The mysterious balloon.

"That," I said, "is exactly what an evil supervillain would use to launch their attack on this city." S countered that the cops would shoot it out of the sky too quickly if it was part of some evil scheme. Logic, schmogic...I reminded him that the heroes always win anyway. S thought it was some kind of weather experiment. We couldn't figure out exactly where it was so we kept to our original plans.

We continued our bike ride but saw the balloon rise and fall several times on our periphery. It never seemed to go higher than about 500 feet and never stayed in the air very long. The entire time it seemed to be tethered by a long rope. It was truly odd. During our break on the west side's killer hill on the loop, I noticed flashes from the gondola. People taking photos. Surveying? I asked S. He shrugged.

We cut across the loop at 72nd St, and that was when we saw the line of people waiting. We had to see what was going on. As we approached Bethesda fountain we found our answer. Something called Aero Balloon. To celebrate Central Park turning 150 years old this year (Happy Birthday!) the company was offering 10-minute balloon rides that go about 300 feet up (the sign said that was about 21 stories) for $25. It sounded really cool. It also sounded very scary. As someone who is scared of heights watched part with wonder and part with fear.

S of course thought it was the shit and wanted to go up. Truth be told I did to. But I didn't have my camera with me, neither of us had cash and I was probably going to chicken out anyway. Since we've seen it I can't stop thinking about it though. The rides run through August 22. I am hoping to work up the guts to try the ride between now and then. Sure, you can see Central Park from Top of the Rock, but this perspective looks pretty unique. And it would be cool to say I did it. S is going to go back in the next week or so. I might just go with him.

No comments: