Because I wrote a story about my ride on the blimp, I have been receiving emails on my website from people asking how to get a ride on the blimp. You need to contact them directly, their info is on the Goodyear Blimp website. I am not affiliated with them and I cannot provide info on how to get a ride.
Today, I, along with my friends Gordon, Lenny, Ashley, Jessie, and Pam were extremely fortunate to go up in the Goodyear blimp. It was the 2nd time Pam and I went up in the blimp, and it was a little different from our 1st time. It was the first time for the others. I requested that Matt be our pilot again, and my wish was once again granted by the Goodyear staff.
I posted an another Goodyear blimp photo album with the pictures I took today. I am also going to get the pictures everyone else took, and I will add them to my album when I get them.
We all had a phenomenal time. That’s one of Gordon’s favorite words and it is a great description of our blimp ride experience.
For me, having the experience of going up in the Goodyear blimp one time was a dream come true, and one that I never expected to have. To be able to have a second ride was truly unexpected. The second trip is due to the extreme generosity of the Pompano Beach Goodyear blimp staff, Doug and Donna. The way this came about is my friend Pam told me that she contacted the Goodyear blimp base in Pompano Beach and told them about me and that one of my wishes is to ride on the blimp. She explained that we don’t know how much longer I will be alive due to my health condition. Doug and Donna who review blimp ride requests were so inspired and touched by the story she told them about me, that they provided me with not only a ride for me and a guest, but they said I could have all 6 seats on the blimp for my ride so I could share it with others.
There were so many people I wanted to invite to share the ride, but I knew I had to select only 5 people. Pam and her husband Jeff were my first choice. I asked mom but she was going to be out of town. I then thought of Nona, Gordon, and Lenny who I know donates so much time and energy to make our local Relay For Life event successful. Nona said she has gone up before so I should invite someone else who has not had that experience. I called Gordon next, and of course he was SO EXCITED. I called Lenny next and it happened that the day I asked him was his birthday… what a great birthday present. I also invited my friend Sue Arnold who owns and operates Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, she is always working hard with her animals and doesn’t make time for fun for herself. So, I had my 6 people. Our flight was supposed to be at 1:00 p.m. The morning of the flight, Lenny called me that he was sick and Sue called to say that unexpectedly she had to teach a wildlife class to children. Also, the weather was questionable, it looked like rain. So when I spoke with Donna at the blimp base, we decided that since it looked like the flight would be cancelled due to rain, and 2 people couldn’t make it, we would reschedule.
Well, if you have ever tried to get 6 people together at a certain date and time you know how challenging it can be. I chose the new date based on when most of could go, especially Sue, since I really wanted her to have some fun and do something she would enjoy. So the new date and time was set for June 13th. However, Gordon was going to be away on vacation, and Lenny said he could not make it on that day. So I gave those seats to my mom and sister, who were thrilled to go with us. I still felt really bad that I had asked Gordon and Lenny and I couldn’t keep my word for them to go up, I know they were disappointed. After a few days, I thought perhaps I could find out what organizations have certificates for blimp rides and I could participate in their auction and make a donation for the certificate. Donna gave me a list of who has certificates, so I made about 6 phone calls and everyone on the list said it was already taken and not available any longer. I then found out that the Florida Humane Society, where I volunteer my time and also donate money, had a certificate and I was able to make a generous donation and acquire the certificate, so I did. The certificate was for 2 people to get a ride in the blimp. I was able to keep my word to Gordon and Lenny for them to have a blimp ride.
I was so happy, it was beyond words. I called Lenny and we met for breakfast and I told him that I have a certificate for him and Gordon to go up in the blimp. He was so excited, he was at a loss for words, I don’t think he believed me at first. Lenny told me he was happy that his seat and Gordon’s for the first ride went to my mom and sister, he didn’t expect an opportunity for a blimp ride. He said it wasn’t so much as him having the ride, but to be sharing it with me. Then as we finished breakfast I was telling him how I’m trying to find things to do here that are interesting. He told me about Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, and we drove up there to explore it. That was unexpected and we had a great time. I will write a blog about it soon. A few days later, I called Gordon and met with him and Nona, during our conversation on a different subject, I told Gordon that I had a certificate for him and Lenny to go up in the blimp. He was also at a loss for words, I loved seeing the expression on his face when I slipped it in to the conversation we were having.
I let Donna at Goodyear know that I acquired the certificate and she told me that if the flight is on a weekday, then instead of only having a flight for the 2 seats, we could have all 6 seats. Boy, was that unexpected!!! She said during the week the schedule is not as full as on the weekends. It seems not many people want to take off during the week. Really, for a blimp ride??? If I was working, I would take some time off to do that, especially if 6 people, rather than 2 people could have this amazing experience. This picture of Pam and me is one of my favorite photos from our 2nd blimp ride.
Donna had given me some dates in July for our ride, and since Gordon was going to be away again for a week in July it was difficult to get the timing planned. I didn’t want to move the date to late July since my health is getting worse, pain is increasing, etc., and if possible, since Goodyear was letting us have all 6 seats, I wanted to go up with everyone. So after meeting with Gordon on Monday, I went by the blimp base to ask Donna if there are any June openings. She told me she had just received a cancellation for the next day at 10:00 a.m. Really… that was no coincidence was it??? I called Lenny, Gordon, and Pam and they were able to make it. So once again, I thought of others who give so much of themselves because that is who I want to join us. I asked two people and they sadly were unable to clear their schedules, I know they were really disappointed. So I put on my thinking cap again and decided to invite Ashley and Jessie who are our American Cancer Society Relay for Life staff partners. Their dedication and love for our event is beyond words. Our Relay is successful in part due to Ashley and Jessie, and of course in large part to Nona, Gordon, Lenny, Karen, and so many others. This year our Relay raised about $111,000.00. Anyway both Ashley and Jessie were so excited as well and were able to take time away from their jobs. Pam also joined us on this trip. We had a great group of friends, and we had a really good time together.
Goodyear granted my request that Matt be our pilot again. Matt is a great guy, so is the rest of the crew, but I want to add a special story here about Matt. I hope when he reads this he knows how special I think he is. If you have been reading my blogs you know that Sue Arnold, owner of Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center went on the first blimp ride with us. She really loved it and is still talking about her experience. In fact, she tells me that when she has classes with the children at the center when they see the blimp fly over, they don’t want to do the class anymore, they just sit or lay on the ground and look up at the blimp. After our blimp ride, when Sue was still at the blimp base, I told Matt and Donna about Sue’s place and what types of animals she has, how dedicated and caring she is, etc. She went out to her car and got some pamphlets and gave them out. Matt said he would go there sometime, that it sounds like an interesting place to visit. A few days after our blimp ride, I went by the base again to say hi and thank them again for the opportunity to ride the blimp. Donna told me that Matt was going to Sue’s on Sunday, as we were talking Matt came by the desk and I was able to say hi to him as well. Sunday afternoon, Sue called me all excited. She told me that Matt and his girlfriend came there and spent over 2 hours.
Sue gave them the tour and she let Matt pet a serval, and also hold Zeke, a capuchin monkey. Sue said Zeke doesn’t like many people, and seldom goes to anyone. However, he took to Matt and even tried crawling into his shirt. When I saw Matt for this blimp ride, he told me that when he handed Zeke back to the handler, Zeke reached back to Matt for him to hold him again. I asked Matt what it felt like to hold Zeke, he said “Like a soft but very smelly kitten except with big arms and thumbs! He has such a human face!” Matt’s also going to volunteer and help Sue at the wildlife rehabilitation center. When the blimp’s near Sue’s place he is going to make sure to fly over it so if there’s a class the children can have a great view of the blimp. That’s pretty special.
Tuesday morning, we all arrived for our ride on the Spirit of Innovation. I loved seeing how excited everyone was about this experience. After watching the video, we were escorted out to the blimp pad, the blimp was coming in from the prior flight so we got to watch it land. Matt gave us our instructions on how to board and he kept us in a line and safe until the blimp was secured. When it was our turn, we all boarded the blimp, got seated, and put our headphones on.
When we took off, the blimp climbed more steeply than on our previous flight, it was really thrilling. The sky was not quite as clear as last time, but we still could see pretty far. We did see two storms in the distance, one over the ocean, and one over land but it was not heading towards us. It is still fascinating seeing a storm from up in the sky.
Since we flew north again, Lenny and Gordon loved seeing where they live and the Deerfield Beach scenery. We saw a few nurse sharks, a sea turtle, a stingray, and reefs. A red Coast Guard helicopter flew past us during the beginning of our flight. I sat mostly towards the back of the blimp this time so the others could sit in the front and middle seats. Lenny had a really good camera with him so he was designated as the official photographer. His pictures will be added to mine, I’ll bet you can tell the difference, his will be a higher resolution. I posted about 244 pictures, I think he took about 300 or 400 pictures. We saw the waves breaking off the reef. You might notice, the water is not as clear and blue as in the pictures from the other ride.
Lenny pointed out his house in Deerfield Beach, and Matt took the blimp down to a lower altitude and flew so that the shadow of the blimp was directly over Lenny’s house. He was thrilled. I will add that photo here when I get Lenny’s pictures.
Matt also told everyone the story of the blimp whale, which I wrote about in my previous blimp ride story. Once again, everyone laughed at the story. It’s hard to believe some people really believe there is a blimp whale. We let Lenny sit in the co-pilot seat for most of the ride back to the base so he could take great pictures of the landscape, since he had the best camera. Gordon was co-pilot for the landing.
Last ride, I sat in the co-pilot seat for the takeoff and landing, this time I sat in the back seat. I liked sitting in the back of the blimp for the landing because I got to see it from a different perspective, which was very interesting. As I was looking around, and towards the front of the gondola, I noticed that I could see Matt, and Gordon who was the co-pilot, in the rear view mirror. I thought it would make an interesting picture… there are several in my photo album.
It warmed my heart watching everyone have a great time, and seeing the smiles on their faces brought me so much joy. I’m so happy I was able to share this experience with them. How much better was it for us all to have this experience and make this memory, rather than just Gordon and Lenny doing it by themselves. Thank you once more Doug, Donna, and the Pompano Beach, Florida, Goodyear blimp company and staff for providing us all with this exceptional, extraordinary experience. The two blimp rides I took with my friends, and my mom and sister, will live long in their memory, even after I’m gone. When they think of me, I hope they remember the wonderful time we had in the blimp. My spirit will be flying free and it may be close to the blimp. As many of you know when I pass on, I am going to be cremated and my ashes scattered from my friend Scott’s hot air balloon in Albuquerque.
Instead of just sitting around, since I’m restless and really want to be on the road again traveling, and knowing that it’s not physically possible, I’m trying to find things to do in the area. I’m volunteering some time at the Florida Humane Society, my job(?) is playing with the little dogs that are waiting for a home. That’s fun, I just sit and love the dogs and get joy when they change from being shy and not wanting to be held to voluntarily coming over to me to be petted.
If you have any suggestions, or ideas, please let me know. Perhaps a boat ride on the Intracoastal Waterway, a helicopter ride, exploring some local historical houses??? I know that dreams and wishes come true, that the sky’s the limit, and almost anything’s possible, if it’s supposed to happen.
Well, that’s about it for now… I have several more stories to write and I hope to get to it soon. I came to the library to write this blog, its taken me almost 5 hours, I enjoy writing and sharing my adventures and stories. Today I added photo albums with other things I’ve done recently, such as touring part of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Koreshan State Historical Park, and the Rock Camp send off for children with cancer… boy was that an emotional experience for me, lots of emotions both happy and sad. I’ll write the posts soon. I also want to return to Gumbo Limbo since we did not get to walk the entire nature center when we were there. Gumbo Limbo is a wonderful place to spend a peaceful, educational, few hours.