Found the Balloons
South Branch of the Raritan
by Bob Rancan
Saturday, July 27, 2019
We found a good flow of water in the South Branch of the Raritan (3.02 at Stanton gauge) and 22 paddlers had a beautiful run from Clinton to Stanton Station. Several people did some swimming at our lunch stop and we took a later break to engage in some lively throw rope practice at a nice flowing spot further down river. We even got a quick look at a mature Bald Eagle. Four Mohawk Canoe Club members joined us and everything went like clockwork. About 15 of us then drove back to the east to Whitehouse where we set up for a sumptuous picnic and awaited the Saturday evening balloon launch from the NJ Festival of Ballooning at nearby Solberg Airport. Three more members joined us for the picnic/viewing. However, like last year, the balloons were drifting away from us about a mile or two to the east. Another case of all dressed up and nowhere to go. When I left and drove in the direction of Branchburg I came across many balloons flying just overhead. I parked and watched one land in a restaurant parking lot and deflate. Later on, on Rattlesnake Bridge Road, I saw three others being deflated and picked up by their crews.
Over the years, I've found it's a matter of dumb luck if we get some free peeks at the flight. Some years, too much wind and/or rain and they don't fly; other years, they head away from your vantage point. But, it's free and the food everyone brings to the picnic makes it all worthwhile. Thanks to all who participated.