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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 68: 1 December

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysPassepartout and myself and Jake the pilot - burly, moustachioed and, like everyone else in Aspen, aged between 22 and 35 - are squeezed into the 4-foot-square wicker and leather-padded basket of The Unicorn. Clem and the BBC New York film crew are in The Rat.

We have to ascend at this ungodly hour before the land warms up and starts giving off thermals which disturb the air current. Hot air balloons do not, it appears, like hot air.

I feel rather silly standing in this little basket on the ground, like a piece of forgotten shopping, whilst each flame of propane swells the shroud above my head.

Then, quite suddenly, without a lot of fuss and bother, we're rising majestically above the car park, above the hotel, above the neat, clean-as-a-new-pin streets, above the substantial Victorian bulk of Wheeler Opera House, above the Aspen Fresh Fish Co. and The Great Divide Music Store and the eye-catching old bandstand in Paepcke Park. Over Highway 82 and Hyman Avenue and Pepi's Hideaway and suddenly the town is in miniature and there are shouts from the occupants of the other balloon for me to stand up and be photographed and I'm not sure if my knees will support me.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 68
  • Date: 1 December
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Aspen - Colorado
  • Book page no: 224

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