UPDATE: After I wrote this article, I decided to book a flight with the company I mention below, it was a total nightmare, and  I wanted to share my experience to hopefully save others from going through the same thing.

I initially got in touch with the owner in May 2022 to set up a flight for early August of that year. The plan was to surprise my wife for our wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate during the first week of August, so we couldn't fly, which I totally understood.

Then, on September 1st, they said we could go up if another group canceled that weekend - but I didn't hear back so that group must not have cancelled. I got one more text on September 11th and was asked if we could go up the very next day, but I couldn't because I was coaching youth football. After that, communication just stopped.

I wasn't sure when hot-air balloon season was, but I assumed the balloons were put away for the winter, and I figured I'd hear from the company in the Spring to reschedule. Well, Spring came and went, and I never heard anything.

Finally, on August 22nd, 2023, I reached out to ask for a refund. It had been 448 days since I first tried to book that anniversary flight. Now, it's been 91 days since I requested the refund, and I still haven't gotten it. Honestly, at this point, I doubt I ever will.

Scheduling a hot-air balloon flight isn't as easy as picking a timeslot and showing up. I understand there are multiple factors that determine whether or not to fly. The frustrating part of my experience was the lack of communication. I felt like we were forgotten once  the dates I selected were rained out.

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One of my buddies sent me the picture you see above. I get a bunch of texts from friends and coworkers whenever there's a balloon in the sky. They all knew how pumped I was about surprising my wife with a great gift, and being true friends, they couldn't resist poking fun at how terribly it all turned out.

Original Article: 

I have to be at work by 6:00 AM each morning, which is kind of early, so I was surprised to see a hot air balloon floating high above town as I drove into downtown Rochester this morning. It was a great sight to see as I started my day.

Now, you probably see these balloons floating high up in the sky all throughout the spring, summer, and fall, and maybe you’ve wondered if it’s possible for you to go on one.

Every time I see one of these balloons, I think back to the time I went for a ride. A real-estate agent gifted me a hot-air balloon ride as a housewarming present when I closed on my first home – pretty cool gift, right?!?  It was an incredible flight. The views were amazing and the ride was super smooth – landing was a little bumpy, but it wasn’t too bad.

If you’ve ever wanted to go up in a hot-air balloon or maybe you want to gift a ride to someone for their birthday, anniversary, or some other special occasion you need to contact the company that operates these balloons, Lesmeister Balloon Company. They are based right here in Rochester and sell two and four-passenger rides in the Rochester area and all-around southeast Minnesota. You can get more information on rates and find out how to book a flight by emailing: flitemeister@gmail.com or calling 507-280-0480.

Places in Rochester with Free Stuff for you on your Birthday

It's your BIG day and although you may not always want to celebrate adding another number to your age, there are several places in Rochester and throughout Minnesota that do want to celebrate your big day. Check out the list and start making a plan to visit all of these on your next birthday.

Gallery Credit: Jessica On The Radio

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