Nebraska (cont'd)


According to legend, on the summer solstice, Carhenge was the scene of a strange ceremony. To assure a good harvest, fertile liverstock and low gasoline prices, the people of the Nebraska plains inflated dozens of huge yellow and white balloons. A man was chosen to have all of these balloons attached to him, and sent soaring into the sky as a sacrifice to the spirits of Carhenge....


When I arrived at the Carhenge parking lot at4 AM on Sunday, the wind was calm. Dennis and Liz drove up with the helium tanks, and the Friends of Carhenge volunteers began to arrive. We set up lights and started the inflation.



For a while, the inflation went well. Then, just before dawn, the wind began to pick up.





The balloons began to bounce and drum against each other in the wind with a hollow booming sound. Several burst from contact with tree branches, or with the radio antennas of cars in the visitor parking lot. The crew struggled to finish inflating the balloons and get them attached to my harness -- the yellow and white balloon cluster seemed to almost be alive, bucking and bouncing in the wind.



Then, over a period of five minutes or so, the winds calmed. The sun went behind a thin layer of weird, sepia-colored cloulds. We released a balloon to verify that the winds aloft were similarly slowing, which they seemed to be. I got into my harness and had the crew walk me out toward Carhenge.