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A Story in Photos: Where do the balloons go after they leave the park?

Thousands will descend on Cook Park each morning this weekend to watch the hot air balloons set sail on the morning breeze during the Tigard Festival of Balloons, but few people see where the balloons go once they leave the park.

To find out, The Times' editor-in-chief, Miles Vance, took his camera along with him inside one of the balloons to document what where the balloons go after rising over the last hill above Cook Park.

For more photos from the festival, check out our photo gallery.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Before the balloon can fly, there's the setup. Here, volunteers hold open the envelope of pilot Brann Smith's balloon, the Sundancer, helping to inflate it with hot air before Friday's launch.

TIMES PHOTO: GEOFF PURSINGER - The inside of Brann Smith's balloon is a bit different from other pilots. His balloon, Sundancer, flew from Cook Park to Woodburn on Friday morning

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Pilot Brann Smith (center) burns propane to send hot air into the Sundancer prior to its Friday morning takeoff at the 2015 Tigard Festival of Balloons.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Takeoff! Vance snapped this shop from a few stories up. As the Sundancer launches, other balloons inflate and prepare for their flights.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - It doesn't take long for the sky to be filled with the brightly colored balloons. In all, about 20 balloons will launch from Cook Park each morning during the festival.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Vance caught this photo of early morning Mt. Hood, which shimmers in the distance.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - The balloon 'Redemption' floats over the Willamette Valley south of Tualatin. Balloons have specific sites they can (and can't) land on, so pilots sometimes float for miles looking for a safe place to touch down.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - The Willamette River can be seen in the top left corner of this photo, as the Sundancer continues to climb near Champoeg State Park.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE -  A startled deer gazes skyward at the Sundancer as it floats over open fields in Marion County.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - The Willamette River shines in the Friday morning sun as pilot Brann Smith descends the balloon for a closer look.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - It turned out to be a MUCH closer look. Here, the Sundancer balloon is reflected in the Willamette River as it descends for a 'splash and dash' â€' a piloting term for when the balloon skims across the surface of the river.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - A Willamette Valley field shows its geometric pattern outside of Donald.

TIMES PHOTO: MILES VANCE - The Sundancer's shadow is cast over a field in Woodburn as it descends for a landing.

TIMES PHOTO: GEOFF PURSINGER - Meanwhile, on the ground, Sundancer's volunteer crew chases the balloon from the road. Pilots rely on crew to help set up and take down the balloon.

TIMES PHOTO: GEOFF PURSINGER - Chasing balloons is often just as fun as being in them, and much more challenging. Crew must navigate roads and fields, keeping their eyes to the sky to catch up with the balloon when it touches down.

TIMES PHOTO: GEOFF PURSINGER - Landed! After touching down in a large open area in Woodburn, Smith's crew works to disassemble the balloon for the long ride back to Tigard.


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