Why You Should Go Up In a Hot Air Balloon At Least Once In Your Life

Why You Should Go Up In a Hot Air Balloon At Least Once In Your Life

It's an experience of a lifetime.
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Not a lot of people get the privilege of riding in a hot air balloon. If you ever get the opportunity, don't pass it up. Trust me! I have now been on three hot hair balloon rides and all three have been amazing. Now this may sound cliche, but my first ever balloon ride was life changing. It caused me to view the world a lot differently, not only literally viewing it from a higher perspective, but it made me realize how beautiful this planet we live on actually is. This is why everyone should go on at least one hot air balloon ride in their lifetime.

What you actually see while you're up in the air is breath taking. At first, you can't help but looking down. No matter how scared you may be of heights, you're safe in a basket, so most of the fear goes away. You can't help but wave to the people that are on the field where you took off. You watch them get smaller, the cars get smaller, everything get smaller as you're flying into the sky. Then, you take in the sky. You're now a part of the sky. Whether you're flying in the morning, afternoon, or evening, the sky is astonishing. My favorite is the morning flights where you watch the sun rise to then light up the earth. Then, you look back down. You see all of the scenery that you have never seen from this point of view before. You may think that it would be the same as flying in an airplane, but it isn't at all. You're much closer to the ground and you get to see all around you, not just through a window. You see house roofs, cars that now appear as toys, depending on the season you see hay bails that look like marshmallows, beautiful creeks and waterfalls from a birds eye view, etc. All I can say is, cherish the moments when you are in the air, it is truly a feeling you can only create when your in the basket.

Then you realize how HUGE the world actually is. It made me realize that there is so much more than the life I live in. You catch a glimpse of a bigger picture of the world that exists. It's a point of view everyone should have at least once in their lives. It's as if you're observing the world. How it works, who and what exists on it, all of the nature that is actually being taken away from us. Weird analogy, but it's kind of like you're an alien that isn't a part of this world and you're just outside of it looking in. The flights give you time to step back (unless you're the pilot). You don't pay attention to the time, you kind of forget about your life, the people in it, all of your troubles, and you just take in the beauty of the earth from a point of view you can't create unless you're in a hot air balloon up in the air.

All of what I just wrote about was going up in a balloon. If you have been on rides before or are deathly afraid of heights, or just want to get more involved with ballooning, a perfect way to still get some of the experience or expand what you've already done, is by balloon crewing. Balloon crewing these past 4 years for me have been amazing. I've met some pretty awesome people that have ended up meaning a lot to me. You're a team that work together to put the balloon up, chase it (unless you're in the basket of course), and take it down. And you have a lot of fun while doing it. Even if you only do it once a year, like me, it's still worth it. I look forward to it every year. I only see some of crew once a year, too. But we're still a strong team and a close family. Also, balloon rallies and festivals are definitely not as cool if you're not a part of them.

To wrap things up, if you ever get a chance, attend Letchworth State Park's Red, White and Blue Balloon Rally that takes place every Memorial Day Weekend. This is where I have flown every year. This park is so beautiful. Not to brag for it or New York, but it is indeed the best State Park in the whole US, AND one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. That definitely isn't a lie. So when you add the beautiful scenery with the balloons that fly over the gorge, it sure is a wonderful sight to see. If you're lucky enough, a balloon ride through the gorge is definitely worth wild. If you're REALLY lucky, you may even land in the gorge. (Trust me, it's amazing).

Cover Image Credit: Taylor Rapp

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If You Give A Girl A Little Brother

You've given her the world.
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I remember back to my childhood, standing at the top of the steps yelling down to my parents "Why did you decide to have another child?" I remember riding in the backseat yelling "Mom, was I not good enough for you?" as my brother threw snow at me .

I remember crying when my mom made us share our first cell phone. I remember playing in a pool at a waterpark, and my dad couldn't play with me because my brother couldn't swim and needed my dad to be with him. I played by myself, thinking "They must have not wanted a girl when they only pay attention to him."

But now, at almost 22, I realized that the best gift God has ever given me was my little brother.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a pain in her ass.

Oh, he'll be annoying. He'll get in the shower just because you said you were going to. He'll start talking every time you do. He'll pull stupid pranks, he'll make you listen to bogus music, he'll make you watch stupid tv shows, he'll smell up the bathroom (and probably smell himself.) and boy, I promise there will be day's you will resent him. But he's just training for living with your husband one day.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a role.

As a big sister, I had somebody copying all my moves. If I did something, so did he. If I didn't eat something, neither did he. If I didn't like somebody neither did he. He was like a little shadow that did everything I did, so I was always motivated to make good choices and make him proud of me.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a rough side.

I wouldn't have done half the things I did if it wasn't for him. Play basketball in the drive way, spend hours on our bikes, spend the summer days in the pool, or down at the park. I wouldn't have learned that it's okay to get in the dirt and have some fun. I wouldn't have played half the made up, imaginary games we played every day. I wouldn't have played with Hot Wheels, or Lincoln Logs, or Leggo's. I would have played with Barbies by myself all day long, and what's the fun in that?

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her the best friend she'll ever have.

In the end, when our parent's both pass away, I won't be alone, because I will have my little brother. When the world gets tough, and everyone turns away from me, he will always be there. No matter where he end's up in life, I know he will drop everything and come running when I'm in need.

For Christmas this year, I bought my brother his first tattoo. We got matching tattoo's on our sides. Our lives our different now, because we're grown up and live on opposite sides of the state. But no matter where we go in life, if we look up, we will be looking at the same sun and moon. We are made up of the same matter, 'made' by the same people, and love each other more than I think we'd like to admit.

Alex is my true other-half.

Give a girl a little brother, and you made her whole.

Cover Image Credit: Abby Engel

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I Took A Trip To Spain And Learned SO Much More Than I Expected To

Did you know that Spaniards have concerts in the mountains?

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My trip to Spain seems like it was ages ago, but it also feels like I got back yesterday. I have always wanted to travel abroad, but I was never really emotionally ready to leave the country without my parents for a long period of time. However, during the summer of 2017, I got the chance to travel to Madrid, Córdoba, Toledo, Sevilla, and Granada, Spain with people that became my best friends.

Going to Spain was at first a big decision for me because I've never really been one that likes to be away from home. I decided that it would be a good way for me to overcome some of that anxiety since college was in my near future, but I was terrified. Of course though, in order to overcome anxiety, you have to experience it first and then learn how to get through it. That's the unfortunate part.

The trip was amazing and so life-changing. We spent two weeks traveling through different parts of the country, visiting museums, and going to school, all while unknowingly learning more about ourselves. The teachers helped us fully immerse ourselves into the Spanish culture, which, if you didn't know, is very different from American culture in so many ways.

The beginning of the trip was when my anxiety was the worst because not only did I have to spend nine hours on a plane, but as soon as we got there I realized that there were no more burgers or sandwiches. The only thing on the menu was croquetas and tortillas de patatas, and when you're jet-lagged and anxious, that's not really what you want.

As the trip went on, though, I got a lot more adapted and the people who I didn't know on the trip instantly became my best friends. I don't know how they couldn't have, given the fact that we snuck into each other's rooms every night in the hotel to tell stories and bond over how crazy it was that we were actually in Spain.

The second half of the trip, we split up into pairs and got to stay with host families, which honestly is the part of this trip that changed me the most. Every morning we would wake up and our mom would have our breakfast of bread and chocolate spread ready for us while she smoked a cigarette, and her daughters would dance to music while getting ready for school. We then would go to a school of our own, walking through downtown Granada to meet up with our teachers.

Besides learning how to speak better Spanish by taking classes at a local school, this trip taught me a lot. I learned that Spaniards really don't like when you speak English in the streets. I learned that they know a lot more about America than we think, and they definitely have their opinions on us. I learned that Spanish people go to concerts in the mountains and eat dinner at 10 p.m., and they wouldn't have it any other way. I learned that it's really hard to translate names of medicine to Spanish pharmacists.

I learned that Americans value hygiene a little more than the people in Spain, but that they have much more simple and loving way of life than we do. I learned that there is so much to see in this world and that we deserve to see it. I learned that it's not about where you are, it's about the company you have around you. I learned that the places that mean the most to you will always be the hardest to leave, but that they will be waiting for you when you come back.

Traveling to Spain brought me a lot of happiness and my family members would argue a new outlook on life too. Looking back on this trip it is hard for me to choose what the best lesson was that I learned, but I believe that it is this: the only person holding you back from doing anything in this world is yourself. So go do it.

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