Virginia (cont'd)




The sounds of the crowd and the festival announcer grew faint as I drifted higher into the clear afternoon sky. I floated along with Jan for a while, enjoying alternating views of the Owl and the Pussycat.



I watched my GPS carefully. We were to the northeast, or at some altitudes, straight east toward the ridge and the potential Homeland Security incident. On the other hand, I was moving quite slowly, so there was time to fly and land before the ridge, as long as the wind didn't change. I found the altitude that seemed to have the most northbound component, about 60 degrees, and leveled out. On this line, I'd be able to fly four or five miles before crossing the river and heading over the ridge.
















It was a pleasantly warm afternoon. The Shenandoah Valley was rich green with grass and trees, broken here and there by the golden yellow of autumn foliage. My balloons carried me to the northeast, off of Long Branch and over the surrounding farms.



To my relief, the wind continued to shift as I flew, until I was headed straight north, and then northwest. Finally convinced that I would be staying in the valley and not be meeting the F-16s, I settled back to enjoy the marvelous scenery.




Dropping down low, I eventually found a narrow layer of wind that took me back south. I stayed in it almost to the northern edge of Long Branch before it petered out. There I met some of the hot-air balloons who had launched after than me, and flew along for a while in their company, headed northwest again.