grabbing life by the balloons

So as most of you know, we FINALLY made our bucket-list lunch at The French Laundry last week!


As luck would have it, when we secured our 2-month-advance-reservations in December, our lunch was booked the Friday of Valentine’s Day weekend. Even more fortunate for us, the weather in Napa was sublime and Spring-like. Quelle romantique!

Lunch at The French Laundry was nothing short of spectacular. Their nine-course tasting menu was simply extraordinary. Whenever the menu forked into two options, Mo would take one dish and I would take the other, shamelessly swapping dishes mid-course so we both could experience every single dish on the menu. Oh, and the wine pairings! My god. One of the other benefits of eating at one of the top restaurants in the world is the incredible service and attention you are given as a guest. The staff was beyond excellent. We were even able to go into the machine-precise kitchen after our meal to meet the chef and see the ballet of sous-chefs, preps, and waiters in action!


Not only were we able to dine at French Laundry (click here) during our trip, we also were able to have a table at Michael Chiarello’s restaurant Bottega (click here) for Thursday’s Valentine’s dinner, and Bistro Jeanty (click here) for a late reservation on Friday. Saturday we had two amazing tastings at Mumm (click here) & Silenus Vintner (click here) before heading into San Francisco to visit dear friends.

Ah, but there’s more! We stayed at the ultra-romantic Yountville hotel, the Villagio Inn (click here). We can not recommend this hotel highly enough – it was perfect!!! On our first morning we were on our way to their delicious (and complimentary) breakfast buffet when what should rise above the villa rooftops but a hot-air-balloon!



It was magical watching the balloon rise above us, so near you felt like you could touch it! We walked to the end of the path and saw seven balloons floating above the bare vineyards and off to the horizon. I looked at Mo and said “We should do that.” He looked back and said “We should.” So we marched right up to the concierge desk, asked about the balloons, called the phone number they gave us, and booked a flight for the following morning!

What is so surprising to me, is that I’ve always wanted to go for a hot-air-balloon ride but never said anything. Mo had thought about it too, but never said anything. We both just assumed the other wasn’t interested. Yes, when you assume it makes an “ass” out of “u” & “me”.

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Turns out that the balloons launched from the parking lot just above our hotel and we were even able to ride in the balloon we had seen the day before! The balloon’s handle was “Tango”, did I mention how romantic our weekend was?

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Flying in a hot-air-balloon is a singular experience. Just like our meal at The French Laundry. I know I will always remember the air around me as we floated. I know I will always remember that perfect cashew garnish. They are the moments that set apart all other moments. It is experiencing everything around you all at once, being completely present in the moment. It is being completely aware and fulfilled in your senses.

I can tell you – if you have ever wanted to do something – don’t wait. Do it. I don’t care how impossible it may seem, the world is full of miracles and fortune favors the prepared. Life is full of wonder, and your life can be wonderful.


BTW – Mo and I discussed whether a hot-air-balloon ride is appropriate for our blog, given the physical restrictions of many with myositis. Like many of our posts, we encourage you to apply this message to your life – think about what you want, and go after it. It may not be a physical journey you take, but we hope your soul will soar.



2 thoughts on “grabbing life by the balloons

  1. Wow! You two had a really fantastic Valentine’s Day celebration in California. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful things you did with us. Sheila and I went on a baloon ride in Boulder, CO several years ago and it was a great experience. I’m glad we did that then because today I would never be able to step up to get into the gondola.

    • Getting in/out was tricky – I have a fused ankle and had to use a step ladder to manage it (you can see it in the background of our photo together). They said I also could’ve gotten in when the basket was tipped on its side – nothing is impossible!

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