Montague Balloon Fair
Thought for today: Philippians 4:8 ..Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things..
Disclaimer: There is no assurance that any resource or activity I've found or described will be as 'accessible' as you might need. Information or links may be out of date. Use the information at your own risk and be sure to check with your health care professional for exercise advice.
Montague is a very small town east of Yreka in Siskiyou County. Every year about the 3rd weekend in September they hold a hot air balloon festival. Generally, there are about 8 balloons that launch, sometimes more. And that's just about perfect as everyone can wander around the launch area and observe how teams of friends get a huge hot air balloon into the air. Launching a balloon is really quite a process.
Here are some additional directions once you get to Montague. For Cars: Follow Montague Rd to the 'T' intersection at Montague Grenada Rd/11th Street and turn left, take first left on Scobie Street and follow the signs for Car Parking.
Event staff do allow persons with handicap placards or license plates to park very near the balloon launch site. The whole area is flat with mowed dry grass. Some people even bring mobility scooters or electric mobility devices to tootle around, all of which are allowed. This is a very disability-friendly event.
The launch field is level and well mowed. Most wheelchairs and all terrain rolling walkers should be manageable across the field. I had no problem with Big Red. Organizers may provide a small seating area or you can bring a lawn chair. Otherwise, a person can remain on the edge near the street and still see everything. In fact it is sometimes more scenic to be back a ways when several balloons rise at once.
This particular year we got up early to attend the Friday morning launch (September 22, 2017). Typically, Friday is the day for the local schools, senior center and townspeople to come and enjoy. They were supposed to do the 'dawn patrol' ( a dawn balloon launch) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but this particular Friday they didn't do that activity. Never mind, it was wonderful morning, and perfectly gorgeous weather with practically no breeze.
We skipped breakfast and headed over to Montague, arriving about 6:30 AM. It was light enough to see that each balloon had a territory marked out for set up. In talking to the balloon teamers, a balloon can be set up with as little as 4 people, though clearly more people was better and most of the balloons had plenty of volunteer help.
First, each team unrolled huge tarps and spread them out. Then the actual balloon was unrolled and laid out on the tarps. Each balloon had a long rope attached to the very top end and one person would go out and stand at the end of the rope to hold the balloon in place as 3 other people would fill the balloon with air. You can walk all around each balloon as it fills, and they are really beautiful!
The air team would have two people holding the front of the balloon open while a third person ran a fan that blew air into the balloon. At a certain point the balloon would be filled enough that it looked fairly round and now the rope person would earn their keep by holding the balloon as stable as possible.
The air team would make sure the basket was properly attached would sort of tip the basket so that the the person in the basket could fire up the propane burner and start heating the air in the balloon. The tricky part here is to avoid setting the balloon on fire! At a certain degree of fill, everyone would yell for the rope person to let go and the balloon would sort of wobble into a vertical position.
Then, the person whose balloon was carrying the American Flag would take off first, with a little ceremony for the occasion. Once the lead balloon was up, up and away, the others would follow in no particular order.
This year the event had the added attraction of the Smokey Bear Balloon. It was HUGE! Everyone was so excited - and Smokey was there too to see 'his' balloon launch!
About 10AM folks started to leave as the balloons drifted off, so we adjourned back to Yreka where we ate a fabulous breakfast at Black Bear Diner. Black Bear's was able to provide me with a gluten-free option. Hooray! I must say, though, that the building is somewhat congested for getting in and out if a person uses a wheelchair. It's do-able, but I suggest avoiding peak times.
You can certainly attend all 3 days, and if you've never been to a balloon fair, I recommend that. This year we only attended the Friday activities as I planned to see some other recreational locations for suitability for wheelchair and rollator users.
This is ranching country, with a broad valley area and the view of Mount Shasta to the south and forests east, west and north. For amateur photographers like me, this was a perfect venue. Did I mention you should bring your own chair? Yes, you should. Locals also host a breakfast for attendees (as a fundraiser). Saturday is the big day, with an 8AM car show and parade in Montague (which is about 12 short blocks long) and a BBQ fundraiser in the evening.
After breakfast we headed out to explore more of the area, which I'll cover in the reviews of Juanita Lake Campground, Tree of Heaven Campground, and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
*There are lots (and lots, and lots) of places yet to be reviewed for wheelchair accessibility and I am unlikely to get to them all. So that others may find some new places, I've compiled a draft list of locations that may be wheelchair accessible. These are POSSIBILITIES, no certainties. Some places may be complete duds. ATTENTION: this is a ROUGH draft list - mostly for my own use, so if you use this draft list, lower your expectations and do your homework! DRAFT SISKIYOU COUNTY ACCESSIBLE RECREATION LIST