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Hot air ballooning in Oregon

Floating around under a multi-colored balloon isn't the first thing you think of when you're talking about outdoor Oregon adventures, but why not?

From farms, orchards, rivers, forests and mountains, Oregon has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.

Most rides begin in the early morning when winds are at their calmest and the temperature of the hot air that lifts the balloon is easiest to control.

Drifting silently over the landscape is a perfect way to forget that all-day hike or that strenuous climb, and it's a far cry from that damp hunting expedition through the wilds.

There are dozens of companies online, and the easiest way to catch the wind is to find someone close to home. You can find a balloon in nearly every part of the state.

Oregon Hot Air Balloon Rides offer connections to balloon pilots in more than 80 Oregon cities. For information, check its Web site at www.oregonhotairballoonrides.com/, or call 1-800-877-7553.

If riding isn't your thing, you can learn to fly your own balloon, race it or find a festival where you can show it off. The Balloon Federation of America (www.bfa.net/) has a growing Web site with the information you need.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com.