Snapshots from the Fourth of July Weekend: Eyes to the Skies

hot air balloon

“Are you really going to wake up to go?” The Husband asked late Friday night. “I hope so,” I replied. The next morning, I woke up at 4:45AM, got ready (I was tired, so it wasn’t a pretty process) and kissed him good-bye before heading out the door to drive to Lisle – a town about 20+ miles from me. I wanted to see what this Eyes to the Skies festival was all about. I mean, I knew it was all about launching hot air balloons, but I wanted to see it for myself after hearing about it for so many years. I was pretty excited about it, and although it’s been well over a week & I think I’m still trying to catch up on sleep from waking up so early on this particular morning. Kidding. (I think.)

I arrived in the area around 6AM, which was half an hour later than the 5:30 balloon launch time. Oh well. It didn’t help that parking for this festival is messy. When the carnival is up and running, there are shuttles that go from the festival to the remote parking lots. However, at this time of morning there weren’t any shuttles running and the small lot adjacent to the festival was full, so I ended up parking in downtown Lisle, which was about a 10-15 minute walk to the festival. Not a bad walk. Luckily, it was a beautiful morning.

This was one of my first views once I got to the festival area:

hot air balloons at the Eyes to the Skies festival in Lisle 2017

I want a ride!!!!

hot air balloon at Lisle's Eyes to the Skies festival in Lisle 2017

And then I walked closer.

hot air balloon at Lisle's Eyes to the Skies festival in Lisle 2017


hot air balloon at Lisle's Eyes to the Skies festival in Lisle 2017


hot air balloon at Lisle's Eyes to the Skies festival in Lisle 2017

Loved this festival and was hoping to make it back again over the weekend, but I couldn’t make it work. But I’ll definitely keep it in mind for next year!

On a random note, have you ever heard of Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS)? It’s a term that I think Eric Kim has come up with describing how people become obsessed about gear rather than focusing on the photography. It’s something that is always on the back of my mind when I shoot, so I try to travel light. On this morning, I had my camera with a 24 mm lens. Nothing else. But dear me, there were guys out at this festival strapped with two cameras on them with one of bodies equipped with an 800mm lens. I keep wondering if they all got the shot they wanted. I wouldn’t bring this whole issue up because hey, I understand that what you shoot with is a personal thing. HOWEVER, a lot of these male photographers – all at separate times – and their gazillion pound lenses would step into my shot to get their picture. There were a good number of female photographers – or at least women with cameras – out Saturday morning. NONE of them stepped in front of me. Again, I shouldn’t complain, but come on guys….what gives? As far as I know, none of them were National Geographic photographers – and if there was an NG photographer at the festival, I’m sure she got the shot. 😉


Did I say that I will have to think about coming back next year? Scratch that because I’m definitely going to have to come back next year just for the festival food:

carnival food at Eyes to the skies

On the way out, I did see a table with mini donuts from a place called Cinnamon Station. I stood in line and took a few pictures.



Cinnamon Station donuts at Eyes to the Skies festival in Lisle

The woman running the table was so nice and told me to take as many pictures as I wanted.


She even made her sons pose for me, ha ha.

The donuts were awesome by the way. I made the mistake of saving some for home – The Kid ate them as soon as came through the door. Oh well. More donuts next year.

Lessons for next year:

  • Be on the park grounds at 5:30AM. (You might get parking in one of the lots this early!)
  • Get a ticket to ride on one of the hot air balloons!
  • Rent an 800 mm lens. Ha ha, just kidding.

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