Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 23, 2013

Mark Maynard: Up, up and away: 01/24/13

Mark Maynard
The Independent

ASHLAND — It was a weak moment, to be sure.

Weak, yet somewhat adventuresome, too.

I signed up for a hot air balloon ride for me and my wife for an upcoming trip to Phoenix.

It may not exactly be “extreme sports” but getting me up on anything higher than a stepladder is a big deal.

I have a little bit of acrophobia or, in layman terms, fear of heights.

I don’t know if it’s really a fear because I just don’t climb — like not even to the top of the aforementioned stepladder.

I always admire the guys who work from great heights without even blinking. The roofers, firefighters, construction workers, etc., have my utmost admiration when it comes to battling heights.

When I have a leaky roof, it’s not me climbing up there to fix it. Most of the time it has been my father-in-law who patches things up or I call on my construction and roofing friends to lend me a hand. It’s worth the cost for me to stay off the ladder.

My wife understands the weakness (Hey, even Superman had Kryptonite) and has never pressured me to do anything when it comes to climbing or heights.

That’s why she was a little surprised — and also thrilled — w hen I texted her we would be taking a balloon ride over Phoenix. We’d talked about the adventure, but the cost (and my phobia) probably didn’t give her confidence it would happen.

I just know it’s something she has talked about for a long time, as long as I can remember. It’s kind of a “bucket list” item (not that she really has a list).

The thought of traveling 1,000 feet in the air for 60 to 90 minutes is a little intimidating, I must admit. But it will be like a dream flight for her.

It’s also one of those things you say you’ll do someday, but really never know you never.

Well, we’re going to do it and it should be quite the journey in the multicolored floating machine. Hopefully, I can keep my eyes open or don’t freak up from fear.

When I was making the reservations, I asked the woman on the other end of the phone a lot of questions about it.

She recognized a little uneasiness.

“I’m sensing a little fear of heights here?” she said.

“Uh, well, yes,” I admitted.

“Oh, don’t worry! You will have the best time you ever had! You’ll be fine! We’ve never lost anybody before,” she assured.

“Uh, well, OK, I guess.”

With that, the weak moment continued as I reached the point of no return — giving the company my credit card information.

My guess is, my stomach will be churning a little when the balloon begins its ascent into the desert skies. But, when it’s all said and done, I’ll figure it’s going to be one of those unforgettable life moments for me and my wife.

I’m just hoping for a safe landing.

Up, up and away ...

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.