Somehow, I just feel happy in the Yakima Valley. I love the fields of mint (I wanted to go roll in one once but a mean looking dog quickly squelched that fantasy). I love the hop yards (made that word up but I think it is a good one), I love the wineries, the sunshine, and the orchards. I love the fact that the whole area was once flooded by a giant ice age dam break releasing water all the way from Montana. While passing through this summer en route to Glacier, we learned that Prosser has a hot air balloon rally the last weekend of September. In fact, their 23rd annual hot air balloon rally, which means we already missed 22 of them. And I Think I love hot air balloons, too.
We hadn't used our airstream since a trip to Glacier National Park at the end of July. It turns out we hadn't really unpacked it either. Which was good because I couldn't bring myself to do meal planning, shopping, and packing during the work week leading up to the trip. So we lived off what we had adding to the adventure. I threw in the following items: some juice boxes, a can of evaporation milk (for coffee), marshmallows, baby food, jar of pasta sauce, pasta. And we hardly used any of it, going out to restaurants instead...a brewpub of my husbands choice and a Mexican restaurant of mine. And what turned out to be my son's favorite breakfast stop ever: a restaurant adjacent to a roller skating rink. The rink wasn't open for skating, but he took a few joyful laps around it in his shoes just because he could. We left our home at 6:00 pm Friday night. At 7:30 pm I crawled on the back seat to feed my daughter some baby food. My son was already bored in the darkness, and kept shouting "I command that you turn the light on." My daughter cried in between every bite of food. And did I mention it is HARD to feed a 9 month old baby in the dark. I momentarily wished I were home on the couch instead.
We arrived at the Beach RV park at Benton City, WA well after 10 pm. Ironic to arrive at the Beach after heading away from the salt water for 4 and a half hours. My son needed to go to the bathroom (our trailer bathroom being a Reno project for the future), so we walked off to find one. And could not. The RV park is adjacent to many homes and trailer houses, and it's a good thing they don't shoot to kill in Benton City because I wandered through the yards of many of them, trying doors on outbuildings hoping they would be, well, outhouses. It was dark, and The Beach was not particularly well-marked. A kind soul told us the way to the bathrooms, on the opposite end of the RV park from where we entered.
The Balloon Rally is good family fun that starts at 5:45 AM. The balloons lift off at 6:45. It is a hobby for the dedicated because it requires not only getting up early but the support of a crew that doesn't get to ride. I am guessing they take turns riding. But you can watch the balloons get filled and stand as close as you want. I ran into one of the organizers of the event at ahem, Willow Crest Winery who told me it costs 700 dollars to be a sponsor and that you get a free balloon ride. He also encouraged me to take the family to Nightglow that evening.
We went to Nightglow, where balloons don't lift off but are lovely to look at illuminated like nightlights. They flickered on and off to the tunes of the same music played at sporting events. In fact, the Announcer MUST have been playing from the compilation Jock Jams. The whole thing had a small town, yet oddly professional feel to it. It was held in the football field of Prosser High School (Go Mustangs!), but not just anyone is allowed on that field next to that much propane. It is the only event in the history of my family that we arrived to one and a half hours early so we caught the steel drum band pre show. It was akin to waiting for darkness to fall for a fireworks show. Kids were so tired they sat quietly in our laps for the balloon spectacular, and I am certain that I will be able to count on one hand the number of times that happens. So we sat back and enjoyed it. Whooomp (There it is).