From the desk of Keely
Love was in the air, literally.
Quitting our jobs, moving, buying a business and finally, a wedding.
Over the years, Damien and I have toyed with the idea of adding a blog to our ever-evolving business plan. We constantly hear from friends, family and passengers, that our day-to-day stories need to be shared. We meet such great people flying these gorgeous South Dakota Black Hills, it’s naturally the next step in our quest to share our story, the story of hot air ballooning, and the incredibly fun people that are drawn to it.
As owners and operators of Black Hills Balloons, Damien and I have taken on many titles. Pilot, Flight Instructor, Small Business Owner, FAA Certified Repairman and more, recently adding the most fun title of all; Husband and Wife.
And so, after just celebrating our one year anniversary, I figured this was the perfect place to start. (you can now finally add “Blogger” to the above mentioned titles…).
Here is our story.
After purchasing a business together, moving to the Black Hills, and a year of planning, our wedding day was finally approaching. I kept calling it a “destination wedding for everyone but us”; knowing most would need to travel, but sharing this beautiful area was part of the plan. We chose April 5th, knowing full-well that South Dakota Spring can be moody, and immediately researched “early April” weather history. Over the last 5 years, temps varied from 14 degrees to 87 degrees. Perfect…?
As April 5th approached, one thing became apparent. I hugged and greeted our arriving guests, happily stating “just wear everything you own to the ceremony”, with a wink. I could see the terror in their eyes. Snow was in the forecast and we weren’t going to budge. You see, Damien and I chose the beautiful and historic Stratobowl as our ceremony site, and it wasn’t going to happen anywhere else.
Quick side note.
The Stratobowl, located just outside Rapid City, is the birthplace of space exploration. In 1935, the Army Air Corps and National Geographic Society launched a manned balloon from this very location, reaching over 72,000 feet. It was the first time human’s saw the curvature of the earth, pre-NASA and man’s first visit to the stratosphere. Since then, there have been many record breaking balloon flights from this spot and it’s a ballooner’s paradise.
The day arrived.
Snow was in the forecast. Guests from Hawaii, California, Florida, Ireland and more, bundled up and arrived to the Stratobowl….and it was stunning. Like a ridiculously happy snow globe, giant flakes swirled around Damien and I while our guests sang, cheered and applauded throughout the ceremony. It was like the snow and cold created this crazy “is this magic!?” mood that consumed everyone. It was fantastic. Each person who braved the weather and our little ceremony in the bowl, seemed to walk away with an attitude of awe. The Black Hills, in all her glory, greeted our guests, and one by one they fell in love.
This is why we love the Black Hills and why we feel privileged to fly here and share this beautiful place with travelers from every corner of the world. On that day at her worst, while snow was falling and temps were in the twenties, she managed to find a place in everyone’s heart. We dare you to visit, meet the locals, take in the views, and not fall in love.
A big thank you to everyone who made our Big Day special and helped make our guests feel at home!