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by Dahlia Jayaram

The Gre at Balloon Adventure Heterocera Riding The Winds Through Every Second Life Continent

The Great Balloon Adventure

Heterocera Riding The Winds Through Every Second Life Continent

by Dahlia Jayaram

©2010 by Dahlia Jayaram All Rights Reserved Book design by Dahlia Jayaram

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Jayaram, Dahlia, 2008– The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera p. cm. ISBN-13:000-0-00000-000 ISBN-13:000-0-00000 1. Second Life, hot air balloon, ballooning, travel, adventure, exploring. 2. Second Life–In travel. NC1429.M1557J 2010 741.5’6973-dc4

200910052 Read my published books online at Visit my general blog at:

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera is Dahlia’s second book in a series of travel adventures by hot air balloon. This adventure begins in Second Life’s first and earliest sims and follows a route of discovery from the oldest continent of Sansara to the newest continent of Necera. Follow along as Dahlia flies in every Second Life continent. Along the way, she explores and reports on some of her more interesting encounters with people, places and things that make our Second Life worth seeing and living in.


001 A Prel ude t o H et er ocer a 007 Week 7 : A L and of Tr avel er s, Tr ains & M or e 02 1 Week 8 : View s F r om Out t a This Wor l d 05 2 Week 9 : H et er oc er a’s H igh Ground 06 9 Week 1 0 : F rom Top s t o Bot t om s 08 6 Week 1 1 : C om p l et ing H et erocer a 10 2 Maps: The Pl an & The R esul t 10 4 Tim eline A t A Gl anc e: Char t ing P r ogr ess 10 6 Dahlia’s Top 1 0 F avourit es 10 8 An Open L et t er t o t he L inden Fam il y 10 9 About t he A ut hor


A Prelude to Heterocera S FA R A S I K N O W ,

I had only been to Second Life’s second oldest continent of Heterocera twice before departing on my big balloon adventure. Most recently, I had clicked on a log-in screen that took me to the offshore oil rig, ANWR, that rests between Heterocera and the first mainland continent of Sansara. From there, I hopped aboard a ship that ferried me to the southern shore of Heterocera, where a shuttle took me by rail to the retail square of Ozzland in Calleta, the Rail Mall and Hoboland Infohub.


Opposite page: Dahlia flies over the Rail Mall retail train station in the southern sim of Calleta. The station set the stage for much of what Heterocera is known for: rail travel. Right: A pair of brilliant red stilettos grabbed Dahlia’s attention across from Ozzland in Calleta.

I spent the better part of a day poking around Calleta because there was so much to see. In Ozzland there were shops for fashion, landscaping, gadgets, crafts and fine art. Luckily, I met the creator of Ozzland while on my very first visit. He was able to tell me about anything and everything there was to know about his property and even some about the continent in general. It was like crib notes.

art community. The owner was always looking for new artists to show their work in the galleries and suggested that if I knew any artists, to be sure to tell them about Ozzland. I agreed.

In truth, however, I was secretly having a hard time concentrating on our conversation, because out of the corner of my eye I had spied a huge—and I do mean HUGE!— pair of ruby red stilettos in front Ozzland had just turned two years of a nearby shoe shop called Mz. old and had developed quite a Shoes. The shoes were so big that following of supporters from the I could climb into one to use as

my bed. Art, uh-huh; shoes, YES!

I know for a fact, that if there was shoe shopping in cave man times, Mmm…shopping. My instinctive, cave women would be lining up inner drive to shop had been trig- and elbowing themselves into the gered by the sight of those big, best prime position to go ga-ga at red shoes. Most women underthe latest in lizard or leopard skin stand and accept that we are the moccasin or mammoth fur boot “gatherers” in the “hunter/gath- of the season. Make no mistake: erer” equation of evolution. And our love of shoes is in our DNA. 1

Above: What better way to greet and make an impression on a female tourist in a new land than to welcome her with shoes? I love Heterocera already, Dahlia thought.

My general flight plan for traveling around Second Life’s continents was to use airports as check points. I had already made a map to use as a rough guide, but after seeing the shoes at Mz. Shoes, I considered for a moment about how much more fun it might be to use shoe shops instead.

Above: Using a variety of map and notecard information gathered from advance research, Dahlia put together a general flight plan and mapped out the course on a modified version of one of the more recent world maps. The course used airports and airstrips on each continent as check points where she could stop at to verify their continued existence or removal. Heterocera was the second continent. 2

The only thing, I thought to myself, is that I’d never finish the tour and I’d probably go broke! There’d be too many shoe shops to stop at and too many temptations on my charge card. I’d be safer to stick with airports, I sighed begrudgingly.

Before beginning my journey, I had seen two airports named on a map for Heterocera: Pruetti Flughafen and Yaknetistan airports, both on the southeastern side of the continent. Later, while flying through Sansara, however, I came across another map that indicated four total airports in Heterocera, with one further up the eastern coast and one in the northwestern quadrant. Unfortunately the dots where unnamed on the map, so I only knew their general location and to keep a lookout for them as I traveled. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

The maps could even have been out of date, but it was better than nothing. I might have found out the names of the remaining two airports, had I remembered I had an updated airport map only weeks old, thanks to the regular efforts of Zack84 Burton, over at the Kazenojin Executive Airport in Gray, Sansara.

all out on the rail, enjoying the freedom and adventurous thrill of hobo life. I hoped to meet some during my travels, in hope that they’d have valuable travel information, tips, and stories to share. Heterocera’s transportation map showed an extensive assortment of roads and rail lines to travel along. I was happy to see this, because at times I liked to take small excursions away from where I landed and know that I could easily find my way back from sight-seeing using a path I had just traveled.

I walked out of Mz. Shoes with my hand still clutching my Lindens and walked a few blocks north of Ozzland through the Rail Mall to the Hoboland Infohub. It offered a After seeing the From what I could wealth of resources to resisee based on the shoes at Mz. Shoes, dents, including general SL map, links to Hot I considered for a there were three inSpots, essential fohubs in Heteromoment about how user tips, maps cera, at Calleta, and freebies. The Nyles Swamp and much more fun it only thing was, Iris Moth. And everything was might be to use there were five pretty scattered points of interest at shoe shops instead between a campthe Volunteer site and dock, Headquarters, the [as my guide]. making the effort Highest Point on a little time consuming and a bit the Mainland, the Crater, and the like a hunt too. Plus, I felt like I Great Northern Wall. Free Dove, was picking through other people’s a site marked for new citizens was things, but perhaps that is all part the only other place I knew of that of the hobo experience. I had ever been before on the continent. So all-in-all, I was excited to Speaking of hobos, I actually had know that I had a lot of exploring yet to see any. Perhaps they were ahead and ready for the adventure! The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Above: A general flight path was established for Heterocera, beginning at the southern coast after flying north past the offshore oil rig platform ANWR that is located between Heterocera and the first mainland continent of Sansara. From the southern coast, the flight route would fly counter-clockwise, passing by a variety of better known locations, but remaining flexible to see new things as they were discovered. 3


A L a n d o f Tr a v e l e r s , Tr a i n s & M o r e H I L E I WA S I N S A N S A R A ,

I had picked up a passenger, Johnny Mikado. Together, we left the northern coast of Sansara and flew past the offshore oil rig, ANWR, which rested halfway between the two mainland continents in a sim-wide channel of water. Johnny was intrigued by trains, so I was keen to take him to the Rail Mall and Hobo Railroad Infohub where trains were aplenty.

W Opposite page: Dahlia’s balloon flies north from the offshore oil rig of ANWR to the southern coast of Heterocera. Above: Passenger Johnny Mikado and Dahlia wait at the terminal station for a shuttle train to take Dahlia into Calleta where the Rail Mall and the Hoboland Infohub offered plenty of sights to explore. Right: On her second day, Dahlia launched from the Rail Mall train station to begin exploring Heterocera by air.

We flew over the southern coastline of the continent where a rail line station was located. From there, the tracks pointed due north, directly into Calleta where the Rail Mall, Hoboland and the retail shops of Ozzland awaited.

from the littered camp that served as its infohub.

At the hub, plenty of free maps, info, and gear could be gathered for new and experienced travelers alike. But what I wanted to do most was to make certain that the I flew over them all, pointing shuttle was still running, because them out to Johnny as we passed Johnny said he had taken it earby and continued to fly north as lier and it seemed to not be oper- good view out the front winfar as Imperial, where a giant ating. I hoped it was, and wanted dow—except that it was now the marble tower stood that was so to be certain for myself. back window. It didn’t seem to tall it rose up to touch the clouds. matter however, the shuttle’s We waited a moment and it ardoors closed and we were on our I used the tower as my turnrived. That was a good sign, so we way—another good sign that it around point and flew back to boarded and took a seat. Johnny still worked. From the Rail Mall, Hoboland where I set the balloon was lucky; he was allowed to stand it was only a block or so before down on a shoreline pier across at the driver’s position and get the we stopped at Ozzland, and then

from there, another couple of blocks to the terminal station at the southern coast. We disembarked at the station and chatted a while about trains and exploring. I was relieved that the shuttle was working and glad that I could show Johnny as well. 5

I passed him a few landmarks to places I knew had more rail lines and trains, then we parted—him off to explore the landmarks and me to take the shuttle back to where my balloon was still parked on the pier across from the Hobo Railroad Infohub. From there, I lifted off, crossing over the Rail Mall train station, and headed southeast for the Aztecha Sky Temple in Columbia. There, a levitating structure had been erected. In it were the notes of Tiberius Frost, master of a ship that had crashed on the coast, then discovered the structure already there.

The notion of crashing into unseen structures was unsettling. It made me want to go back to the Hobo Railroad Infohub to take another look around to see if there were any additional supplies or information that might help me, so I back-tracked to the hub and looked around.

I didn’t find anything I thought would provide any clues, but, I did find some builder’s tools and diagrams that could be useful for anyone interested to learn those skills. I called my friend Alina, who had recently begun building things herself, but she already had what I’d discovered. We scoured together a little more until we deWith food and water supplies cided we had thoroughly picked dwindling, he believed he had un- through it all. locked the mystery of the structure and acted on his assumptions. His Satisfied I had scoured the hub as detailed journal was left behind in much as possible, I climbed into hope that future explorers would the balloon and flew back past learn from his work and either Columbia until a beautiful red join him if he was successful or train in Tuliptree caught my eye. carry on his work if he had failed. Wanting to inspect if more closely, I landed across the tracks from it As for me, I had my own discov- at the Virtual Rail Consortium and eries awaiting me in my balloon. I hopped out to walk over to it. It looked up in the sky, trying to de- was an impressive high prim train, tect any visible or invisible float- available for purchase, but far too ing structures that might disable big and expensive for me. Not my craft. I didn’t want to end up only that, but I imagined entire shipwrecked like Tiberius Frost sims shut down as it entered, using and his crew. up all available prims as it did. 6

Opposite page: On Dahlia’s first day in Heterocera, she and passenger Johnny Mikado flew north, straight past the southern coast of the continent, to a tall tower in Imperial that rose up to the clouds. They returned back to land at the Hoboland Infohub to investigate if the shuttle train was working. Above left: After taking the shuttle train south

I trekked back across the rails to the consortium to read the signs out on the lawn. There, you could touch a sign to join the consortium, get a free resource kit for your train and learn a tip for enabling your personal train to ride the rails through the Calleta rail yard where the Rail Mall was. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Apparently, adding the letters “SLRR” in front of the name of your train would enable the station manager to set the rails there as non-phantom so you could pass. I wasn’t clear on whether this was an automated task or if a person had to be there to do it for you, however.

to the terminal rail station, Dahlia and Johnny Mikado waited for a new shuttle to take Dahlia back into Calleta where her balloon was parked on a pier near the Hoboland Infohub. Above right: The shuttle made stops in Calleta where the retail district of Ozzland, then the Rail Mall and the Hoboland Infohub.

Toward the back end of the red locomotive was the Tuliptree Rail Station where residents could catch an outbound train. And although it was at the end of the rail line, the opportunity to continue traveling didn’t stop there. Just steps away from the platform, a touchsign would call for a ferry boat to

take passengers to Bhaga Station along the waterway.

quickly scurried up the slope to hop in before it departed.

I was just about to touch the sign to call for a boat when I heard the distinctive rumble of a train and looked back over my shoulder to see a small black locomotive arriving at the Tuliptree station. I

It was small, with only enough room for two passengers in the steam engine. And as it pulled out of the station, I almost had to laugh, because as I passed the big red retail engine, my train looked 7

Making a statement: A towering Rail Mall office tower dominates the southern Heterocera skyline in Calleta, as if to reinforce rail’s unquestionable presence on the continent. Below the tower is the Calleta rail yard and the Hoboland Infohub.

From station to station: The Rail Mall station in Calleta is a replica of a real life station.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera



The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

like a miniature model train next to it. It also had virtually no details on it compared to the big red train, but hey, I was getting a free ride, so I wasn’t complaining. The train took me back east through Columbia and north past the Calleta Rail Yard. Not far from there, the rail line diverged in two northerly directions, one going east and the other west. My train stayed west, rolling up a hill past Dutch windmills and a woman racing to catch up to and jump into my train. She caught the train, but only rode a few seconds before jumping back off. Perhaps my locomotive wasn’t going fast enough for her, because only seconds after she jumped off, Opposite page: Dahlia spots a beautiful red locomotive while flying over Tuliptree. Top left: At the Virtual Rail Consortium in Tuliptree, Dahlia reads a sign describing how to successfully drive personal trains through the Calleta Rail Yard. Top right: Only steps away from the Tuliptree Rail Station is a touch-sign for calling a boat to ride to Bhaga Station. Bottom right: Dwarfed in comparison to the big red train, a small locomotive arrives at Tuliptree Station that passengers can ride for free to other stations along the rail line. Bottom left: Dahlia rides through Columbia on her way back east to the Calleta Rail Yard. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


she roared up behind me in a subway car, horn blaring and bumping into the back of my train until she overtook me, literally running through me and my train, because—if I hadn’t mentioned it before—there was only one set of tracks for us to both be on at the same time. Anyway, she and her big subway car passed right through me and my train like one of us was a ghost. It gives me indigestion just to think about it now. I continued on my train until it stopped at Neumoegen Station. I hopped off there to look at a company called Salmaru that gave away dozens of well-made, free Top left: North of the Calleta Rail Yard, the free train service veered toward the northwest, passing some scenic Dutch windmills and a resident chasing after the train hoping to catch a ride. Top right: Disembarking at Neumoegen Station, Dahlia could see a map that showed her trek from Tuliptree, through Calleta, to Neumoegen and other points north. Bottom right: Next to Neumoegen Station, a vehicle shop named Salmaru offered dozens of well-made military vehicles and other assorted gadgets for free. Bottom left: Near Salmaru, another shop offered a free train engine that Dahlia rode back to where she started at Tuliptree station. Opposite page: The Fly Drive & Sail shop in Busiris offered an extensive selection of all kinds of vehicles for sale. 12

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

military vehicles and assorted items. I pulled out my shopping bag and started stuffing it with all kinds of tanks, jeeps, motorcycles, construction vehicles and other fun looking gadgets. I thought the jeeps would be especially fun to drive around on the roads in Heterocera and off-road too. A company next to Salmaru, M’s R&D, offered a free locomotive. Although it sold more highly detailed locomotive engines, it’s freebie was even more cheaply manufactured than the black engine that had brought me to Neumoegen. Nevertheless, I needed another engine to take me back to Tuliptree unless I wanted to wait for the train that brought me here to pass by again, so I took and unloaded the freebie, then rode it all the way back to Tuliptree where my trusty balloon awaited me.

inspect this area called Onespace Rockumentary. Strewn about the ground were all kinds of strange and interesting creations: a clock with hands made up of Linden figurines, giant spinning records that made up a tower, a wishing well where wishes were guaranteed to come true, a giant Linden figure that had a bolt of electricity passing through him after being sent out by a giant car battery, a fenced-in football field with life-sized Linden figurines spinning on their backs like tops, perpetually playing like foosball athletes, and much more.

I sat down on the bleachers of Noobley Statdium for a moment to watch the football match in progress. A sign above the pitch read: “This game started on THU Above: A trolley car drives south past Zale on its way to the Busiris Airport. Opposite page: Onespace Rockumentary in Zale was full of all March 19, 2009 at 05:56.04 and is kinds of unique experiments partially or completely finished by owner Pavl Duke. estimated to end sometime in late Once back in Tuliptree, I took off ship than an the airport it was subway cars passing right next to going to stop, but I couldn’t help 2011-ish, possibly on a Friday.” in the balloon, and flew east past built to resemble. It’s runways me and jets buzzing the top of being drawn to them. I decided to The score was already 141,073 to Hyles Swamp Infohub and other and taxiways were covered with my balloon, so I lifted off again go see just how big the giants were 141, 585. I wondered how many properties until I reached the parked planes and other vehicles. and flew north past a ghetto city compared to my balloon, so I de- more goals could possibly be scored. eastern seaboard and the Fly Drive And as if to drive home the point the airport serves, then up the scended for a closer look. Whatever it might become, I was & Sail shop in Busiris. that Heterocera was the continent coast looking for less congestion. sure it would be an SL record. of trains, even railroad tracks ran Beside the cartoon characters was Busiris was jam-packed with all over each of the runways. As I approached Zale, a couple of a replica of the Stonehenge rocks. The entire property was in mokind of vehicles, so much so that giant cartoon characters caught It looked like a perfect landing tion of one kind or another. An the entire surface of the property I managed to find a small patch my eye and a giant swimming circle to set my balloon down in, occasional loose football player was a virtual parking lot that of green grass to land on next to pink rubber duck circled in the so I dropped in to the center of the flew past in an uncontrolled spin, looked more like an auto dealer- the terminal building, but I had sea just offshore. At first I wasn’t circle of stones and hopped out to big propellers spun at the ends of 14

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


“Forgive us our sims” was prominently displayed. I could see why: along the side was a row of shotguns propped up against the wall. giant horizontal poles as if to provide power to the football match; an illuminated green snake-like wiggly worm with the face of the famous American President Abraham Lincoln on it jerked around in the air, Linden figurines ticked off the seconds and hours on a clock.

guns propped up against the wall. This must be an American church, I considered, quickly looking around over my shoulder, hoping that no gun was pointed at me too. All I could see was a robot playing piano, accompanied by a choir of pleasantly smiling and styrofoamheaded looking figures.

which included: “1. Egypt is not a great place – be thankful I don’t make you go there. 2. Sculpties and Flexiprims, though cool, are not Gods. Perhaps I’d be safer somewhere else, 3. Don’t have an Alt called “God” I mused, quickly and deliberately or anything, cos that’s just annoy- sneaking back out the front door ing. 4. Take a day off to clean your I was certain the property would keyboard/mouse once a week. either blow up or take down the 5. Call your folks now and then, entire power grid at any moment. ok? The owner here either has a great 6. Lure Noobies not into combat sense of humour or has surely gone sims. mad, I thought. 7. Partnering costs 25 Linden, so show some respect. All the motion made me want a 8. Non-Transfer means what it moment of peace and quiet, so I says. got up and walked next door to 9. Bears are not great witnesses. the Hopeful E-mission, a church 10. Other people will have cool that sat over the water next to the stuff too – Deal with it.” shore. Out front, a mannequin wearing a sandwich board sign Sounded like decent advice to me, I outside announced “Billy Bob thought. Must all come from expeNeck’s Hour of Bein’ Good Mon- rience of the owner too. days @ 6PM SLT.” It looked entirely irreverent and entertaining I walked further in, past the rows at the same time, so I went in to of pews. Above alter area, arched take a look around. over a video screen, the words “Forgive us our sims” was promiJust inside the doorway, a sign nently displayed. I could see why: listed “The Ten Suggestments” along the side was a row of shot-


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Opposite page, top: Dahlia set the balloon down right in the center of a Stonehenge rock formation at Onespace Rockumentary in Zale for a look around, including the giant cartoon characters. Opposite page, bottom: On the grounds at Onespace Rockumentary a football game had been in-play since March 19, 2009. Little Linden figurines spun around like tops on their backs in an attempt to score goals

before anyone came and noticed me. I thought perhaps I’d take my chances with all the things in motion over at Onespace Rockumentary afterall. Better to be taken out by a Linden than a bullet, I concluded, not fully convinced. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

which now were already over 140,000 for each team. Above: A mannequin outside of The Hopeful E-mission in Zale displayed information about an event the church had each Monday night. Top left: A rack of shotguns lined the wall inside The Hopeful E-mission with a mindful message above the alter. Bottom left: A sign in the entrance of The Hopeful E-mission listed “The Ten Suggestments.�

As I returned to Onespace Rockumentary, I noticed owner Pavl Duke had arrived, so I asked if he could tell me about what inspired him to make all his unusual things and if there was any significance to them. He said he just liked to tinker with

whatever caught his imagination at the moment and that there was no particular significance attached to any of the projects. I felt relieved, as I glanced over at the giant Linden, watching volts of electricity surge perpetually through his body. 17

I asked Pavl if he could tell me about what inspired him to make all his unusual things and if there was any significance to them. He said he just liked to tinker and that there was no particular significance attached to any of the projects. I felt relieved, as I glanced over at the giant Linden, watching volts of electricity surge perpetually through his body. Pavl introduced me to his friend, Aleks Piers, who was with him. She noticed I had sailed and written about it in an earlier book, so we traded stories of our sailing exploits and for me, how it led to my current balloon adventure.

Home in Vashti and fell out of the balloon due to a full parcel. “These things happen,” I explained to them. “It’s an inevitable part of the flying experience in SL, I’m afraid.”

Dusting ourselves off, we loaded They were both curious to know back into the balloon and rewhat it was like to fly in a balloon, grouped. Once airborne, I never so I suggested they join me for a spotted the Volunteer Headquardemonstration ride to see for ters and overshot it, so when I themselves. They heartily agreed, realized my mistake, I turned so we all piled into the balloon around in Menophra to make anwhich was still parked nearby in other pass. My friend, Madeline the middle of the Stonehenge McMahon, called during that time, rock formation. interested to join us, so I flew her in to take the last available space We lifted off and flew west toward in the balloon. I finally had my the I knew the Second Life Vol- second full basket full of passenunteer Headquarters was nearby, gers on the adventure! so we lifted off and flew west toward it. A few moments after lift- Before we could reach the Volunoff we hit turbulence above Mikey’s teer Headquarters, we came upon 18

a carnival that sat out on a long rectangular pier at an old English styled property in Bella. It looked interesting and both Pavl and Aleks liked it, so we decided to land to try out the rides. The rides were a lot of fun. There was a beautifully detailed and illuminated ferris wheel, a couple of children’s carousels, a big spinning ride called “Freak Out” a fortune telling booth and a few more amusements. We tried them

out and got thoroughly dizzy. It was worth the stop and I wanted to come back for more another time too, not only to play at the carnival, but to also explore the little old English styled retail shops that lined the waterway.

in Iris, where the Iris Moth Infohub was. I decided since it was so close, I’d divert our plan toward there to see what it looked like. Moments later, we were next to the Iris Infohub, looking down on it from neighbouring Istar.

Pavl had to leave for other duties, so we said our goodbyes as Aleks, Madeline and i all climbed back into the balloon to continue our journey. I looked on my map and noticed a lot of people were nearby

The infohub was an impressive collection of Asian-red pillars nailed to large brown crossing beams and raised slightly off the ground by a set of footings. Surrounding it and even extending

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

outward through other properties was a series of wooden plank walkways over the sea. It looked like a great place to go for a walk or hang out, except that it was so busy.

another. I was glad I stayed in Istar where I could giggle at the sight of others struggling for a change.

The day was getting late, so instead of continuing on to search We looked down into the temple for the Volunteer Headquarters, where, directly in the center, a we decided to land back in Belle landing zone was rapidly filling near the carnival and call it a day. up with newly arriving people Despite having six crashes or disstacking up all over each other. I ruptions during our flight, the imagined some were not interested day had been entertaining and into move and others who were, formative. And the commaraderie couldn’t due to lag of one kind or very appreciated too!

Opposite page, top: Dahlia stands near the feet of the giant cartoon characters at Onespace Rockumentary in Zale. Opposite page, bottom: A giant Linden figurine receives a volt of electricity generated from an equally giant car battery. Above left: Dahlia travels west looking for the Second Life Volunteer Headquarters with passengers Pavl Duke, Aleks Piers and Madeline McMahon. Above right: A carnival on the pier in Belle looked too fun and inviting to pass up.


The next morning, I strapped on my parachute and butt pillow before climbing into my balloon. Yesterday had been an unusually disastrous day for crashes and I wanted to be prepared for more of the same today since I was still in the region. I lifted off from the wooden walkway over the water in Bella and quickly rose up to appreciate the views of its old English shopping houses and carnival on the pier. I wanted to explore longer there, but I was also eager to find the SL Volunteer Headquarters after having missed it the day before. As Bella and the Iris Infohub slowly slowly shrank behind me in the west, the ground rose up out of the waters to become foothills in the east. It wasn’t long before a towering wall of paintings began to emerge on the horizon in Nessus, where TMA – A Jewish Neighborhood and Yeshivas or hara’ayon – a place of Jewish education resided. Here, they had a Bnei Noach and counter missionary section. You could also learn about Judaism, Jewish history and everything else Jewish you wanted to know. But for me, all I wanted to know was where that blasted volunteer 20

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

headquarters was, so I pressed on, passing a variety of homes and businesses, including a famous real life architectural building from the middle east that looked like a giant sail. This place, however, appeared to be a private residence, so I kept moving eastward toward some green dots I saw on my big map. It must be near here, I thought to myself, feeling ever-so-close. Below me on the railroad tracks, a red trolley car passed by that caught my attention. When in doubt, follow the public transportation line, I reminded myself. WEEK 8: VIEWS FROM OUTTA THIS WORLD

I followed the red trolley until I arrived at those green dots on my map. They were residents making use of the E-Tek Sandbox in Tenera. I kept an eye on a trio of women talking on one end as they unpacked their treasures, and a guy pulling out large homes Opposite page: The Asian-influenced style of Iris Moth Infohub sat in the landing area inside the Iris Infohub, it was easy to conclude it at the other end, mindful not to above the water in Iris. Above: Judging from the pile-up of bodies was a popular place…whether you could move or not. drift into his path in case he unpacked a giant castle or warehouse passionate heart immediately jump- her, but she didn’t respond. I bet While I was on my feet, I decided in front of me. ed into high gear, and I dropped she wore hearing aids—or needed to walk over to the other side of the balloon down to the ground them at least. Next thing I knew, the tracks where a large Italianate Another figure also caught my eye, and ran over and see if she needed she disappeared. Perhaps my wild, complex with many white marble an elderly woman with a cane any help. wind-blown hair and strange butt columns and an aqueduct was. walking alongside the railroad pillow had frightened her away. This looked like an official buildtracks. Fearing she would get run I noticed she was Portuguese, so I Honestly, I wouldn’t blame her if ing, and indeed it was. It was the over by a passing train, my com- slipped on my translator to greet I did. I needed a good shower. SL Volunteer Headquarters! The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

I scoped out the grounds. There was also an auditorium and other areas for large public gatherings, yet I was all alone, except for one other preoccupied visitor. I walked around, looking for information such as when I could expect it to be more busy. Unfortunately, I only found a web link to a general description about volunteering; no person was listed to contact, no weekly facility hours posted. What a shame, I thought. It’s tough to be a volunteer when you can’t even find out sufficient information about it. I left a little disappointed about how little information was provided here and considered that I’d have to get information about it another way sometime. I decided to head back to the balloon to continue on. But before I could climb in, I heard the distinctive beating of roar of helicopter blades. Looking up, I saw one approaching from the east, flying low over the railroad tracks and heading my way. I had seen these helicopters before and took them to be touring copters, similar to the tour trains I’d seen pass by— only these toured by air. Since I hadn’t climbed into my balloon, I decided this would be as good a time as any to see for 21

Above left: Dahlia flies wearing a parachute and a butt pillow, the latter to soften landings in case the parachute doesn’t deploy. Above right: Dahlia passes by the temple at TMA – A Jewish Neighborhood and Yeshivas or hara’ayon – a place of Jewish education, in Nessus. Here, they have a Bnei Noach and counter missionary section. You can also learn about Judaism, Jewish history and everything else Jewish you wanted to know. Opposite page: Across the railroad tracks from the E-Tek Sandbox in Tenera is the SL Volunteer Headquarters.

myself exactly where one of these helicopters would take me. As it flew by, I hopped in and got comfortable in the single-rider seat— just me, my parachute and my trusty butt pillow, graciously donated to me by my friend Bear Morgwain. After having been dumped into the lake by the Linden touring balloon in Sansara, I wasn’t going to trust this helicopter too much. This looked like fun; I could let the helicopter fly on its automated course while I concen-


trated on the sights. I snapped pictures as we flew west, then north. It was was a relief to be flying without having to constantly be looking all around and overhead for whatever skybox you might run into. I flew the helicopter all the way to its turnaround point in Foxglove, then decided to let it take me back to where I got on at Tenera. I had flown about half way back when, in Zeuzera, the helicopter seemed to hit a turbulent bump, perhaps at a sim border. It jolted

me in my seat and for a moment it seemed everything would continue on as normal. That’s when I noticed the helicopter was beginning to go into a slow roll and not level back out.

A few seconds later, the helicopter began to drift off course, not following the railroad tracks any more. I knew I was in serious trouble when we passed right through a hillside and I could see a water surface under it, then back out to the real world again. Not only that, but I sensed the helicopter was slowly excellerating too. *@#Sh*t! I screamed, not sure whether to eject or hold on for dear life.

I stuck my hands out on either side of the cabin to brace myself from falling to one side or the other. It was almost like being in a carnival ride, but with no certain outcome guaranteed. This isn’t going to end well, I thought to myself, as I watched the world I pulled open my world map to rotating outside the window. get a sense of where we were

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Above left: A sculpture at the SL Volunteer Headquarters depicts a scrawny Sampson toppling the pillars of a temple. Dahlia was curious what its relevance and connection was to being a volunteer or a Linden Lab employee was, if any. Perhaps to run for cover? Top right: A red trolley train passes by the Dravis Kingdom Memory building in Velox, a building inspired by a real life one in the middle east. Bottom right: Dahlia spotted an elderly Portuguese woman wandering along the railroad tracks near the SL Volunteer Headquarters and offered to help, but may have frightened the poor woman away with her wild, wind-blown hair and flying gear. Opposite page: A tour helicopter flies by the a giant metallic sculpture that holds up the roof of the Tenera Rail Station.


going. I was now flying a few sims northeast of Zeuzera, picking up speed as we continued our slow barrel rolls, alternately passing through low-level hills and buildings and back out again. Curiously, my title bar location remained fixed in Zeuzera, even as my map showed me in other sims and my coordinates continued to change. Now, I’ve been in enough accidents to know that sometimes what you see is not necessarily what is really happening. There have been times that my body has actually been somewhere my eyes or map has told me I was not. So I decided to do a little experiment—for the sake of this book, and, of course, for science.

title bar of my monitor too, watching the first two numbers rise as the third one dropped lower. Soon, my run-away helicopter and I had flown out of control, out passed named sims and into that unknown, unmapped part of the universe. I was curious if I might end up trapped in a dark corner the universe, same as I saw happen to my run-away tour balloon from the hidden lakes region. I decided to call my Tiny Empires friend, Bear, to see if I could recruit her for my experiment.

[9:21] Dahlia: Hello Bear? Do you have a moment? I was wondering if you can see on the map where I am. [9:21] Bear: Where are you now? [9:22] Dahlia: My sim still says I continued to watch my trajecZeuzera, however, my coorditory on the big map as I crossed nates read (flashing by) at 760,000 through northeastern Heterocera, x 127,000 x -91 and counting. picking up speed as I passed from [9:23] Bear: Well, you are way one sim to another. Soon, I was outside normal coordinates. flying past the shores of the conti- [9:23] Dahlia: You’re telling me, nent, over blue water and indelol. I’m looking to see if there pendent sims. I watched as River might be a graveyard of run-away Island, Second Campus East, the vehicles stacked up in a corner Elite Islands, Oregon State Cam- somewhere, lol. When I open my pus, and College Life all passed big map, I’m completely out there by almost faster than their sim away from everything, but if I adnames could rez on my map. just to see the world, the map is moving, so I know I must be too. I watched my coordinates on the [9:27] Bear: You are in the same

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Above left: An automated helicopter takes Dahlia past some familiar real life buildings in Lappet. Above right: An impressive Japanese home sits up on a hillside in Agirus. Opposite page, top left: Dahlia’s tour helicopter hits turbulence, begins to roll and fly through both terrain and buildings. Opposite page, top right: The helicopter reaches the outer limits of the named sims, still rolling and picking up speed. Opposite page, bottom right: The tour helicopter continues flying into the growing darkness of an uncharted, unnamed universe. Opposite page, bottom left: The helicopter reaches coordinates of 10 million x 16 million x -500 before Dahlia bails out. 26

place. Must have been where you are 6 meters away. like if I went in a submarine left the normal world. [9:31] Dahlia: Ha… can you deeeep down...nothing but blank [9:27] Dahlia: May I send you the pinch me yet? blue screen. TP to see where you land? [9:32] Bear: Well, you should be [9:28] Bear: Sure, now is a good in front of me. That was very interesting, for sure, I time. [9:32] Dahlia: ahah! Curious, yes? thought, as I continued flying [9:28] Dahlia: through the blank Ok…maybe be fly- You never know what you’re going to get blue space around ing before you tp, me. I pondered just in case (and butt or where you’re really going to go when whether I should pillow too). continue or not. I you get on one. Now that’s adventure! [9:30] Bear: Well decided I’d come you are close. this far, why not [9:30] Dahlia: Really…wow. My coordinates now at over give it a little more time. Perhaps [9:30] Bear: I am in Zeuzera. 2 million x 2 million x -153 the answer was near. [9:30] Bear Morgwain: 8,8,84 [9:33] Bear: woow [9:30] Dahlia: Can you locate me? What do you see? Twenty-five minutes later, I was [9:31] Bear: My radar says you [9:34] Dahlia: Only blue screen, still waiting, wondering just how

much longer it might take. I really wanted to know what the coordinates of the corner of the universe might be. I decided to look for a second independent verification on my coordinates. I called my long-time partner in crime, Alina. [10:00] Dahlia: I’m doing an experiment now…I’m WAAAY off grid in a run-away helicopter. Coordinates: 3 million+ x 6 million+ x -300+ [10:00] Alina: Breaking a whole grid now? [10:01] Dahlia: lol…breaking… The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

something! [10:01] Alina: Did you get pushed away? [10:02] Dahlia: Yes, crossing a sim, I think. It started to drift off course, then slowly excellerated under and through the landscape…out, beyond the continent, then flew across the grid, picking up more and more speed. My coordinates are flashing by faster than I can read. [10:03] Alina: Take photos :) [10:03] Dahlia: I took while I could see. Then off grid it got progressively darker, like being in the depths of the ocean. Now only a blue screen. But my coordinates still racing. If I open the big map, it is moving, so I know I am too. [10:05] Dahlia: My sim still says Zeuzera, so I TP’d someone and they said I should be right in front of them in that sim according to their radar, but I was not. Zeuzera is where my coordinate sim is named, but all the numbers are flying by. [10:06] Alina: Going up? Try to tp back. [10:07] Dahlia: Yeah, the first 2 number sets are going up. The third is going in negative numbers higher. I wanted to see if I might get stuck in some corner of the universe…maybe a vehicle graveyard pile-up. [10:07] Alina: Is it an accident or The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Above left: Crumbi Junction sits where rail lines from the north, south and west all converge, making it the perfect location for passengers to transfer from one line to another. Above right: A rail line map shows the extensive coverage that the SLRR offers passengers who want to take automated rail tours or even operate their own rail vehicles. Opposite page: A large, crescent-shaped rock formation next to Crumbi Junction rail station protects an illuminated fantasy nature area. 28

intentional? Incredibly, my coordinates Incredibly, my coordinates [10:08] Dahlia: No, who were now over 10 million x 16 would want to do this? were now over 10 million million x -500. [10:08] Alina: How did it hapx 16 million x -500. pen? I had ridden this run-away au[10:08] Dahlia: You’ve seen tomated helicopter almost an when boats and things hit a sim happened to my helicopter. It hour without it coming to rest, so border and go flying astray, started rolling after crossing into I decided it was time to bail out. I right? a sim that hadn’t drawn itself yet, tugged on my parachute and butt [10:08] Alina: Yes, flying people and I went through a mountain pillow to make certain they were too. tumbling, and eventually out of nice and tight, and pressed the [10:08] Dahlia: I think that is what the continent completely. eject button to land in another sim.

The black TP screen came up and I watched the green progress bar for about five minutes until it cancelled out. Nothing happened. I was still strapped into my helicopter. I tried to eject to my home instead. Another five minutes of green progress bar and then‌ nothing again. Still riding the automated helicopter ride from hell. To successfully get out, I finally The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


had to log out and back in to where I had last been reported to be—in Zeuzera. What a bizarre trip! I was almost ready to swear off automated tour vehicles from now on, if it weren’t for the adventure component: you never really know where you’re going to go or what you’re getting yourself into when you take one. Now that’s an adventure! How could I possibly pass that up? Having returned to Zeuzera where my tour helicopter first went crazy, I had to go back to where I had originally jumped in the helicopter, back in Tenera. Once I arrived there, I wanted to savor the moment a while. It felt good to be back on terra firma again after tumbling for so long in the out-of-control copter. So before I got back into the balloon, I decided to take a little walk first. I walked east to see a small railroad station in Crumbi called Crumbi Junction. It sat where the railroad tracks from the north, Right: At Lutra, as in a surprisingly many places, a vehicle would be encountered floating some hundred or more meters up in the sky. Opposite page: Dahlia encountered a cute little airplane in Tenera that sported the same colours as her balloon. 30

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Above left: Andiana City in Dubia was easy to see from afar, thanks to the Andiana Space Needle that rose high over the city. Once closer, one could see that the city was abuzz with movement from all manner of land and air vehicles. Above right: Dahlia spotted a flying saucer circling the perimeter of the city and followed it into town, until she encountered a scene right out of War of the Worlds, where land-walking alien ships shot-up everything with their powerful death rays.


south and west all converged, making it an easy transfer point for passengers wanting to change from one line to another. I, however, was going to pilot my own vehicle this time, so I unpacked my balloon on the patio. Once ready, I lit up the burner and rose up to get reacquainted with the world around me from a higher vantage point.

luminated garden full of flowers, a willow tree and a wishing well. Waterfalls streamed down from the rocks overhead to the flowers sparkling with the light of a thousand fireflies. I wished I could grab a handful of the flowers and put them in a vase for later, but settled for dipping down into it for a picture or two.

see something more than a blank blue backdrop of uncharted sky.

ble or not. Instead, I was ready to enjoy my independence for a while and fly my own balloon.

I turned the burner on and rose back up, mindful not to get run over by any new unpredictable tour helicopter going by. I did see, however, a nice plane flying nearby and went to take a look, because we were both sporting the same colours of plum and pink.

I followed the road tracks north to see where they would lead me. I flew through Lutra where a green trolley car floated, suspended over over a shopping district, then Market Town’s prefab shops in Ben, Polia, and toward Andiana City in Eager to get back on track after Dubia where the Andiana Space I hadn’t noticed before, but right my little helicopter-gone-awry ex- If I hadn’t just gotten out of a bad Needle towered high into the sky. next to Crumbi Junction to the cursion to the extreme ends of the situation with that tour helicopter, south was a dark rocky rise that earth, I rose back up for the blue I would have liked to try out the As I came closer to Andiana City, blocked my view of a beautiful, il- skies of Heterocera. It was time to plane to see if it we were compati- I started noticing how abuzz with The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

activity it was. Cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, subways, helicopters, planes and even a guy mowing the grass were all busily moving about down below.

alien vehicles walked the earth and tary jets would drop parachutes of shot at everything around them. new men and vehicles to refortify As I watched, a battle raged below their supplies. me. The aliens were blasting their Then I saw the So there I was, pounding divets into its metal bodies. Severed Next, I saw a flyin half, strewn hull while bullets ricocheted off all around ing saucer circle about in the around the wreckage of me. I don’t know what the heck I was doing, perimeter of the flaming cars city. Curious as to but whatever it was, there I was, doing it. and debris, it where it was going, was a grotesque I started to trail it, and as I watched, death rays while an army shot back scene. I was shocked, mortified it passed right by an incredible with guns and tanks. Helicopters and even outraged to see such a sight, a scene right out of the film repeatedly approached the aliens scene of utter horror, chaos and War of the Worlds, where the tall and got shot down, then big mili- destruction. It was more than I The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

could bear to see. I don’t know what came over me, but in that very moment, without even thinking, I piloted my balloon down over top of one of the aliens and—screaming like some wild woman—jumped out of my basket, onto its metal back with whatever tool I happened to grab from the balloon.

Above left: The flying saucer passed over the land-bound alien ship that was shooting a flame at one of the railroad tracks, while human vehicles passed by seemingly unfazed by this unique spectacle. Above right: The alien land ship seemed intent on destroying the railroad by persistently shooting it’s long flame at it. It occurred to Dahlia that were this anywhere else, people might not care as much, but this…this was Heterocera where the railroad played such a large part of it’s core identity. Surely someone would object and come to fight this invasion!

As it turned out, I had grabbed a jack hammer from work I had done back at home the night before. Don’t ask; it’s a long story. 33

Above: Dahlia watched as a helicopter approached one of the alien ships. Next thing she knew, one alien shot down the helicopter and nearby army infantry and tanks began to shoot at the aliens!

So there I was, pounding divets into its metal hull while bullets ricocheted off all around me. I don’t know what the heck I was doing, but whatever it was, there I was, doing it. I must have jack hammered for about 20 minutes with no noticeable effect on the alien before I 34

gave up. Maybe I did some good; I don’t know. What I did know is that I missed out on an offer to go to a gallery exhibit, a dance, an offer to help out my Tiny Empire friend, and to get a Midnight Mania freebie while I was busy pounding away on the head of that alien. I had surely gone mad. Perhaps I just needed to take out

my pent-up post-run-away helicopter incident frustration on someone or something. Taking my leave of the alien, I flew back up into the air to survey Andania City more. It sure was a-buzz with all kinds of vehicles. I followed them with my eyes to see where they went and if

Left: Unable to restrain herself, Dahlia steered her balloon down overtop the alien, grabbed the nearest tool in her balloon, and with a mighty yell jumped out of the balloon basket and onto the back of the alien ship to beat on it! Above: When Dahlia realized she had grabbed a hand jack hammer, she turned it on and began trying to break open the hull of the alien ship as bullets fired from the nearby army ricocheted off the alien ship all around her.

any flew off the sim like my tour balloon did. Every one of them seemed to stay their course easily, which I found reassuring.

tion above. I looked up to notice the tail end of a giant gorilla climbing the space needle high above. King Kong, I thought. This place is full of cinema characters! While I watched one vehicle pass Flying around the ape was a small by the Andania Space Needle, a bi-plane. I suspected there would large black spot caught my atten- soon be a confrontation between

the two of them eventually too. I knew a balloon would be too easy to swat down, so I decided to sit this fight out. Besides, I was weary after fighting the aliens. I decided to fly over to the edge of town to recoup at a nearby cinema, the Uptown, in Cycnia. 35

Above: Dahlia spotted a giant ape climbing up the Andiana Space Needle in Dubia, and a small bi-plane buzzing around nearby. Right: Dahlia flew over for a closer look at the ape and saw that the it seemed content to stay right where he was without disturbing anyone, but she was certain that the encroaching bi-plane would have something to say about that sooner or later.


“Naked and Scared” the marquee read. I wondered what horrors awaited me inside this cinema. I entered cautiously but was pleasantly surprised to find that the The Uptown provided a luxurious haven away from the toils of battling giant cinema beasts. And instead of a horror show, I was

pleased to find a charming romantic film that I watched over and over again until I fell into a comfortable, deep sleep. When I woke again the next morning, I was neither naked nor scared, and in fact, I was fully refreshed and ready to go again…if only my achy joints would agree! The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

I drug my leaden feet out the front doors and squinted into the harsh morning light. Andiana City was already in full swing, bustling as if it had never stopped. I heard about cities like these; half the time, its residents were asleep at the wheel. I knew The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

I’d better continue be careful. The city was a dangerous place. Out front was a bus stop. I decided that before I left Andiana City, I should at least go around it once, so when the bus arrived, I boarded and looked out it’s

Above: Dahlia spent the night recuperating in the Uptown Theatre in Cycnia where a nice machinima film, Naked and Scared, played repeatedly. The next morning, Dahlia unpacked a new balloon and took off from in front of the cinema for points northward, neither naked nor scared.



The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

smoggy windows. All manner of land and air vehicles passed by as we drove around city blocks, over rail lines and under overhead roadways.

feverish pace, turning out a car about every 30 seconds or so. I didn’t want to get in the way, so I decided to head back to my originating bus stop and continue my balloon trip.

When I spotted subway cars coming out every few moments from a factory, I hopped out to investigate. It belonged to Heavily Scripted Industries, maker of the shuttle subway car seen in man places all over Second Life. There were seven workers working at a

It gave additional historical and While walking back, I made a contact information about the small diversion to see what the project and sounded like a very landscape looked like on the “The Arbor Project has been work- nobel, beneficial cause for making north side of town—the direction ing in SL for several years, collect- the in-world environment better. I would be heading in my balloon. ing cheap potential advertising land I wished there were more organiOn a patch of open land, a small and then making it available to zations like this—such as one for tombstone-sized plaque caught neighbours of adjoining parcels for a removing property ban lines!

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

my eye just next to the city border, so I went to take a closer look. It belonged to The Arbor Project, an organization that restores cut ad lands and makes them available to neighboring land owners. A notecard delivered from the plaque read:

symbolic amount of L$1 or no cost. The Landscape project was launched in November of 2008 with the goal of beautifying the bigger parcels as they transition to new owners.”

Above left: Dahlia takes a Union Pacific engine down the tracks from Andiana City, Dubia, into Schizura. Above right: Dahlia stopped at the Schizura rail station to talk with Rainey Halderman, partner of the owner and developer of Heavily Scripted Technologies, Andiana City and the touring helicopter service that tumbled Dahlia into the vast unknown a couple of days earlier. Opposite page: Dahlia visits Heavily Scripted Technologies, where one new subway car is cranked out about every 30 seconds, perhaps just fast enough to replace the ones that go flying off-grid. 39

Above left: An audio tour takes visitors through the Robot Factory in Cycnia, past walls banked with electronic monitoring equipment and even piles of wasted parts in the trash dumpsters.

Once back at the Uptown, I unpacked my balloon on the cinema roof and eased up into the morning sky. I didn’t get but a couple of parcels, however, before I noticed a robot factory. I can’t miss this, I thought, so I set the balloon back down across the railroad tracks from it’s entrance.

Above right: Newly-made robots emerge out of large assembly machines and receive a bright burst of light rays that apparently ship them off via teleportation to distant places.

and out in the completed form; parts of robot limbs jutted out of the top of rusty waste cans. At the entrance was a server that provided information, music and an audio tour for the viewer, and at the reception desk, a cigar-smoking, liquor-drinking robot went about muttering things for which I didn’t understand. I wondered Along the walls were all kinds of if his condition had anything to electronic meters, contraptions and do with a certain sexy robot girl gadgets; a conveyor belt took he had a picture of, framed on his unassembled parts in a machine cluttered desk.


I stepped back out of the Robot Factory and looked down the railroad tracks. A station looked to be a few parcels away, so I walked to it. There, at Schizura Station, I met Rainey Halderman, partner of Jer Straaf who owned Andiana City and Heavy Scripted Technologies that produced the touring subway cars and helicopter service.

Opposite page: A cigar-chomping, liquor-drinking robot goes on and on, lamenting something about work, life, or perhaps the lady robot seen framed on his desk.

more importantly I told her how tragic my helicopter ride was, just in case the information was valuable to them. She thanked me and alluded to some of the technical difficulties touring vehicles encounter when crossing sim borders and said she hoped that the next viewer updates would help reduce those issues.

Sandbox of the Yak in Bedstraw and continued my trek north. I passed low over some freight ships in Tessellata as they prepared to depart from the bay on voyages of their own, then followed the coastline around the tip of the peninsula in Vicina and back into Schizura where a tiny gypsy wagon owned by Serain Sterling parked on the beach at I thanked Rainey too, wished her the base of the volcano. I guided I told Rainey how much I enjoyed a good day, then unpacked a new the balloon down to where I my time in Andiana City, but balloon in the neighbouring could land it in the soft sand of The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

the beach, then hopped out to take a look around. The wagon was empty of people, but inside was a round table with tarot cards on it. I wished Serain was there; I would have loved to see what she would have predicted about my near future, especially where the balloon voyage was concerned. Rising back into the skies, I passed a dinosaur grazing in the bay waters and flew north along the coast up to Scotoptery, where the Second Life Coast Guard (SLCG) had a training center at Shepard’s Point Station. Outside was a small, unmarked landing strip for flying vehicles, and on top of the station was a heliport. In the water were a variety of Coast Guard watercraft and a lighthouse along the docks next to the station. Inside the station were lobbies on two floors surrounded by team member offices, including station commander and SLCG Public Affairs Officer, Jamie Czavicevic. There was also a training room with a presentation screen and desks for trainees and informative posters that showed and explained the vehicles they use, as well as an interesting poster about the history of their particular lighthouse, the only one ever named after a real life female lighthouse keeper. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Slow-going vessels: Dahlia flew low over the bow of a steaming cargo ship as it left port in Tessellata.

The gypsy life: Dahlia followed the shoreline around the tip of a peninsula in Vicina and Schizura, past retail shops and a gypsy wagon owned by Serain Sterling that rested at the base of a billowing volcano.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Well equipped: The Second Life Coast Guard (SLCG) at Shepard’s Point in Scotoptery, was well stocked with vehicles and quite possibly with crew too.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Training Centre: The Second Life Coast Guard (SLCG) at Shepard’s Point in Scotoptery provided facilities for crew recruitment, orientation and training.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Tallest tree ever?: In Lythria, Dahlia came across what was the tallest tree she had ever seen. It reminded her of the story Jack and the Beanstalk, but without all the giant curly vines and leaves.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

View from above: The tree in Lythra topped out at over 700m and was completely unadorned except for teleport platforms at that and the 300m level.

Continuing on a northwesterly trajectory from the tree, I eased the balloon back under the cloud ceiling just in time to spot two hot air balloons on the ground at Mother’s Den in Wainscot. This, I learned, was home to Flanders Field Airport. What also caught my attention was that there were four more open spots available for landing balloons. This was exciting to me, because I had never seen so much landing room provided to balloons before. I had to investigate further. There was a single, very short runway and taxiway, flanked on three sides by a hanger, a Terra sales shop and a two story main terminal. The terminal lobby sold retail products for Terra balloons and NovaTech, so I wasn’t sure if it was a retail shop or a public airport. I also hadn’t read of this airport on any of the maps or notecards I had, so I didn’t know if it was a public or private airport. Fortunately, the owner, Mot Mann arrived while I was there and informed me that the airport was for public use and had been there for two years. Right: In Mother’s Den, Wainscot, Flanders Field Airport had been a public-use airport for two years but not on the radar screen of the SL Airport Map Info Center…until Dahlia came along. 48

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

I was surprised by this news. I asked if it had been registered publicly yet and told him of Zack84 Burton’s service to list public-use airports at the SL Airport Map Info Center. He was unaware of the service, so I passed him a display kiosk map that delivered all the information for him and fu-

ture users. He thought that was pretty cool and thanked me. I felt really happy to know I could help and be informative. Some of what I find is actually useful! While I was there, I asked him if he had ever seen the giant tree a couple of sims over. He wasn’t

familar with that either, so I flew him over to it, reminding him to adjust his viewing distance so he could see it far enough away in the distance and get it all in sight at once. When he did, he was astounded by the sight. “Wow,” he said. Two gold stars for me today, I thought with a smile.

We had to part ways from there, but I hope he took time to look around his neighbourhood more the next time he took off from his airport. There was plenty to see, and I knew there was certainly going to be plenty more for me to discover soon too. Firing up the balloon in Wainscot, I took off and flew over Heterocera’s eastern ocean in Haworth, took pictures of a second balloon in Snout, dropped down to talk with a resident camping at the Little River property in Rivulet and continued flying westward until a giant rainbow caught my eye arching over a small township and community park in Ear. This rainbow was even bigger and better than the one I saw at Smithers Bluff and Berthould Pass in Sansara. This one in Earwas all one perfectly blended rainbow and was—it is safe to say—a mega-rainbow that looked to arched the full length of a sim. “Now THAT’S what I’m talking about,” I cheered aloud, pumping a fist in the air. “That is a rainbow!” Left: Dahlia spots an incredibly large and well-defined rainbow arching over the village community of Ear in northern Heterocera. Following spread: Two more shots of the balloon as it approaches and flies up toward the top of the rainbow.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera



The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

It took me a while to get there from the time I first spotted it far away. When I finally arrived, I had to rise up into the lower level of cloud cover just to reach the top of it. I couldn’t stop smiling. This was the rainbow of my Second Life dreams. Don’t laugh, but I loved it so much that I spent the next two hours and 66 shots photographing it with my balloon. Believe me, I had a lot of photo editing to do later! WEEK 9: HETEROCERA’S HIGH GROUND

I had just seen perhaps the best, most towering rainbow ever. And earlier, I had seen a tree that rivaled the fabled Jack and the Bean Stalk one. But I had yet to even reach the heights of Heterocera’s highest ground. That was soon to change. But first, I had a club in the clouds and a little city to see. Near the rainbow, a club in the clouds of Engrailed beckoned me with multiple green resident dots on my map. I went in that direction to see what all the activity was about and found an expansive Cloud Nine floating high off the ground with people meeting in a Right: A couple dance in a bubble that followed a course around club Cloud Nine in Engrail. 52

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common bar/lounge like atmosphere and dancing on the floor, on clouds and even in transparent bubble that floated along a course in the air around the club. Owned and operated by an Australian and Brit, I noticed it was a busy place not only early in the day for me, but also anytime. From Cloud Nine, I flew due north, all the way to the coast to see if anything exciting could be found. Nothing caught my eye, so I turned back south to see what Pug City was all about. I half expected it to be a tiny city due to it’s name, but as I approached, it became increasingly apparent that it was anything but “pug.” Pug City was one of the few cities I had come across during my travels so far. A compact urban downtown, it was full of high-rise buildings and streets, but was mostly devoid of people and their possessions. Visitors, however, were allowed to rez their vehicles and drive around. Not only that, but if you love graffiti and want to leave your own mark on one of the building walls, just call the owner and let him know; he’d Left: Pug City was a commercial and retail community built for driving, skate boarding and leaving your mark in the form of graffiti—all compliments of the owner. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


add it to the growing the collection scattered all about the city! The mountains of Heterocera were in easy view from Pug City, and only a short flight up to the top of the highest peak of over 350 meters. I checked my map and determined that Castle Bella in Campion was on the highest point of the continent. I could see Castle Bella was in for a little neighbourly competition for bragging rights, however, because while Castle Bella was firmly built on the ground on the peak of the mountain ridge, it’s next door neighbour had built it’s house raised up on a scaffold to be slightly higher. Not to be outdone, an even more distant neighbour—one further down the mountainside, in fact— had built a teeny tiny little room higher up than either Castle Bella or it’s scaffolding neighbour. It almost seemed comical, because when I looked up even higher, the sky was littered with innumerate skyboxes, as if they were Right and opposite page: In Campion and surrounding areas, neighbours seemed to be trying to “one-up” each other by having the highest vantage point, in order to earn the title “king of the mountain.” The sky clutter was both comical and deplorable at the same time. 54

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


In or out?: An observatory telescope at Spiritual Mountain Retreat in Campanula tempted visitors in with retail products, but kept them out with a copious number of ban lines that encircled and zig-zagged throughout the property.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Mountainside simplicity: Secret Spa in Arches provided an easy-access runway for a plane, then ushered visitors past the rural charm of grazing cattle to the spa where a massage table with at view-to-die-for looked out over southern Heterocera.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Left: Atop one of the mountain peaks was a free paragliding station at Suzi’s Sky Music Stage in Ochreous.

seeing through. It was such a peaceful show and the chair was so comfortable that I watched until I drifted off to sleep, perhaps dreaming of a distant, future adventure for myself. The next morning, I woke up and wiped the drool off my chin, unsure where I was. I wasn’t in the observatory chair any longer. And I wasn’t even on the floor next to the chair. I was back home. Perhaps it had all been a dream, I thought. But I checked my LMs and sure enough, I had one for the Terra shop next door to the observatory. I flew back and found my balloon waiting for me.

all vying for the title as well. I didn’t bother to waste my time flying into the thinnest air to see which residence was highest. I just decided that to earn the title of highest residence on Hetero58

This time, I walked to the front door to see if I could enter the observatory and sit in the observatory chair again, but found myself locked out of the building. Perplexed, I tried the window again to see if that was accessible. It was, and after I was inside, I looked around for the telescope. It was on cera, the foundation of your home balloon shop, so I flew over and window of the observatory, and another level above me. However had to be built on the ground. landed on it’s rooftop. It shared a sat down at the lens of the teleI found it the night before, I have A couple of properties over, along landing platform with a wonder- scope. To my surprise, worked. I no idea, but now it wouldn’t allow the spine of the mountain top at ful observatory that had a telecould see the planets moving in me to sit on the chair under it. I Spiritual Mountain Retreat in scope pointing skyward. I hopped the lens! This was the first work- noticed too, for the first time, ban Campanula had a Terra hot air off the Terra rooftop, through the ing telescope I had the pleasure of lines blocked part of the room as I The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

tried to cross it too. I came to the conclusion that although the observatory sold an AV flight product and a space ship interior space inside it, and Terra balloons in a shop only steps away from the observatory door, it must also be part private residence. Because— after all—who would put up ban lines around a commercial retail enterprise? You wouldn’t want to keep your potential customers out, now would you?

tors, potential customers and passers-by to navigate over/around/ through the area, and unable to land/take off at the Terra balloon shop. Even your ban line extends vertically up through the sky where there should be no need for such an obstruction.

I tried to parachute out, but to no avail. I ended up descending the inside of the vertical ban line shaft, bouncing off the walls down the length of it until I was So, back I went to my balloon eventually thrown out and left to where it was still waiting for me drift northwest across multiple on the runway. I fired up the sims while stuck in a flying posiburner and as I took off, I saw tion with an parachute open. I that I was inside a ban line box. I finally had to teleport to Secret was totally puzzled, because I Spa, a property near the observadidn’t run into any ban lines the tory that had a private airstrip sitday before when I landed there. I uated along the southern ledge of decided to just fly straight up and the mountainside in Arches. out of the box, but after flying up about 200 meters, I found that I Secret Spa certainly seemed to be was boxed in at the top too. How a well-kept secret because it was completely weird, I thought. empty. But I considered that to be to my advantage; I could explore I decided to send a message to it without disturbing anyone. I Jonny Rolls, owner of Spiritual chose this place to teleport to beMountain Retreat observatory cause I noticed on my map that it and the Terra shop: had a small runway running parallel along the ridge of the mounHello Jonny, I was visiting your ob- tainside. I hoped that if it had a servatory and Terra shop yesterday runway then I’d be able to launch and today. I just wanted to mention my balloon from there too, and that your ban lines around the prop- sure enough, once I landed I saw erty makes it very difficult for visi- that I indeed had that privilege.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

With this assurance, I felt more like hopping out and taking time to explore the property. On the slope just below the runway was a small herd of cows

grazing peacefully in a pasture and from there, a rooftop with a staircase that led down into the spa. There was a few common rooms and then a smaller end room with a massage table that

Above: Dahlia paraglided down the southern face of Heterocera’s highest mountain to Euclidia Station where she fell through a gap between the railroad tracks and the railway station, then down a steep ravine. She found one of the Arbor Project marker there and called a friend of the station owner to see it. 59

had windows opening out to the most spectacular view that looked out over the valley below. Wow, this is certainly an idyllic view for a massage, I thought as I peered out the window. From the window I could see a long winding pathway that lead further down the mountain to what looked like more of the spa campground. I knew that if I went down there, I’d have to hike all the way back up, so, being the lazy person I am, I decided just to go back up to my balloon and save the rest of my tour of Secret Spa for a return visit. Back at the balloon, I fired up the blower and rose to the peak of the mountaintop again where I could have a great view of the spine of the mountain running from east to west. Perched atop one of the peaks in Ochreous was a stonehenge-like arrangement of boulders and a paraglider landing pad nearby, so I landed to check it out. The place was called Suzi’s Sky Music Stage. It offered paraglider instructions, a slideshow of gliding shots and even a free paraglider itself. I had never tried a paraglider yet, so I was eager to try. Apparently, from a slide show, and teleport touch pads to other 60

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notable locations, you could paraglide to certain points of interest after leaping from the takeoff pad, areas such as the Great Northern Wall, and supporting business establishments like Solace Coffee House, Mr. Simple’s Mountain Retreat, Emerald Retreat, Fox Ridge Shrine and the Clanis Landing Site.

excited to embrace the adventure that was sure to come. My maiden paragliding flight lasted much less time than I anticipated, however. After leaping from the takeoff pad, I immediately flew into the next door neighbour’s ban lines and got stuck, trapped like a fly caught in a spider’s web. My maiden voyage time: 1.5 seconds.

again. This time, took off in a different direction and buzzed about for almost five minutes until I landed about halfway down the mountain in front of Euclidia Railway Station.

I crossed the railway tracks to walk onto the station platform, and as I did, I slipped through a gap between the tracks and the I could barely contain my excite- I didn’t let this minor set-back station floor, then tumbled down ment. I strapped on my paraglider deter me, however. I gathered my a steep ravine for quite a distance and ran off the edge of the cliff, sail together and climbed back up before coming to a stop on a narfull of adrenaline and bravado, to the take-off pad and tried row ledge. It took me a moment to gather myself and find out where I had fallen to. As I looked about, I noticed a marker on the ledge next to me. It belonged to the Arbor Project and was the same kind of marker I saw in Cycnia next to Andiana City. This little sliver of land obviously had been an old section of a larger sim that had been abandoned and needed to be rejoined with it’s parent property.

Left: Dahlia watches as resident traveler, Israel Schnute, prepares to take his new trolley south past Euclidia Station. Above: Dahlia and Israel Schnute talk as he drives his trolley south along the rail line toward Calleta. She notices a space ship circles his head and that every time he speaks, an old-fashioned Smith-Corona typewriter appears for him to type on. She looked down at her t-shirt and wondered if he noticed she had only one eye in the middle of her chest. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

I looked further out and saw a man, Toby Lancaster, standing within shouting distance. I noticed he had some relationship to the property or the owner, Bree Birke, so I called to ask if I was correct that he knew her, and if so, that there was gap between her station and the railway. Also,

I strapped on my paraglider and ran off the edge of the cliff, full of adrenaline and bravado, excited to embrace the adventure that was sure to come. My maiden paragliding flight lasted much less time than I anticipated, however: 1.5 seconds. if they were interested, they might be able to close the gap by calling the Arbor Project and possibly getting that small sliver of land cheaply or even for free. Toby was very appreciative of that and invited me to meet Bree at Nitida Ridge for live music later.

tion. I walked over and admired it for a moment, then asked if I could hitch a ride with him. He welcomed me and introduced himself as Israel Schnute. He said he had just purchased this yellow trolley and was excited to try it out for the first time.

For the moment, however, I had made my way back up to Euclidia Station and was watching passengers disembark from a train that had just stopped. As I watched, sure enough, one of the passengers fell through the gap between the station and the tracks. I felt sorry for the other passenger, but relieved at the same time to know I wasn’t the only clumsy one around. Still, I was even more surprised that the gap hadn’t been reported before now.

I gulped and squirmed in my chair slightly. I had just crashlanded a paraglider, tumbled down a ravine, got flung out of an enclosed ban line, and had recently gone on the tour helicopter ride from hell. I wondered what if I had just gotten myself into another “terror ride.”

Fortunately, Israel drove well and the border crossings seemed to be handling his trolley. We discussed our experiences with these technical “pleasures” as we rode along, One of the passengers who had heading south toward Hoboland just disembarked was preparing and Calleta. I noticed that a space another train—a yellow passen- ship circled his head and that as ger trolley—for departing the sta- he talked, an old-fashioned 61

Smith-Corona typewriter appeared for him to type on. Feeling self-conscious, I looked down at my t-shirt and wondered if he had noticed I had an eye in the middle of my chest—on the face of a cartoon character on my shirt, that is! We traveled all the way to Oculea, the sim just before entering Calleta, where at Solo’s Steam Engine Service he wanted to stop to appreciate the train-building craftsmanship of Solonia Stenvaag who manufactured reproduction quality copies of historical steam engines that could run on the SLRR. Good timing was on our side, because Solonia was actually there at the shop when we arrived. I had the chance to speak with her and she told me that she had built 20 engines since starting in August 2009. Building required a lot of graphics and CAD work, she explained, but the results were worth it, I could see. She was in the process of trying to get them to run on all SL tracks, but admitted it required complicated scripts. My excursion to Oculea had taken me a long way from where I last used my balloon in Ochreous, so I teleported back to the mountaintop paragliding pad at 62

Suzi’s Sky Music Stage. where I could resume my travels by hot air balloon. Once I arrived back to where I left off, I heated up the balloon and gently eased it off the mountaintop, mindful of where my paraglider got stuck in the nextdoor neighbour’s tangle of ban lines. Flying west along the spine of the mountain ridge, I was surprised to find an airport runway hanging off the edge of one of the peaks like a diving board in Lapara. It was Lapara Airport, and hadn’t been mentioned on any of my maps. I dropped down and landed on beside the runway, where I disembark and go into a small terminal building under it’s control tower. Just had a staircase leading down to a small check-in counter and seating so it was definitely was a public runway, not one attached to a private residence or business. Another flight of stairs took me one more level lower in the building, where I was able to Above Right: Dahlia and Israel Schnute stop at Solo’s Steam Engine Service in Oculea where Solonia Stenvaag manufactures highquality reproductions of historical steam engines. Below Right: Dahlia admires one of the detailed steam engines in Solo’s shop. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Above left: Lapara Airport in Lapara had a runway that hung off the peak of the mountain like a diving board. Above right: Underneath the Lapara Airport runway poured a waterfall, and during its steep plunge, a fine mist rose, creating a rainbow midway down the mountain. Opposite page: Dahlia stands at the foot of the rainbow, wondering why there was no pot of gold. 64

board what looked like a mining cart. I drove it out and down a near-vertical drop of the mountainside to another level where a big waterfall gushed out from under the building high overhead, down to a ledge about a quarter of the way down from the top where I could stand and enjoy the water. A fine mist rose where the

water hit the ledge and cascaded further down the mountain, resulting in a small rainbow that arched from one side of the waterfall to the other. This rainbow was small enough that I was able to stand at the base of it. Then it hit me. Wasn’t there supposed to be a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? Maybe I wasn’t Irish enough.

Nevertheless, the Lapara water- called her in and we boarded the fall and rainbow made for a deballoon together on the runway at lightful place to relax and look out Lapara Airport and took off. over the valley far below. Since I didn’t know what to expect After a brief rest to enjoy the view, ahead in my journey, I decided to it was time for me to resume my back-track and show Lila a couple flying. It was about that time that of the incredible sights I had alLila Wardark called, asking if she ready come across. At least this, I could join me in the air too, so I thought, would make her time The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

more worth it, rather than dealing with the shock and time wasted running into property ban lines and finding places to unpack new balloons. I decided to fly back east along the spine of the mountain, past the incredible, if not slightly amusing display of homes all trying to be “the highest” in Campion, and to the giant rainbow at Ear. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

We talked the entire way about flying, places discovered, interesting sights seen, other travel destinations, how people use their properties and our Second Life experience in general. We also took time to take some good pictures of ourselves flying near the rainbow too. Lila wasn’t seeing it very well, and I saw that it was

taking extra time to appear today, so I sent her a few pictures I took. She sent me some too, and I noticed that she was seeing it about as well as I was, however.

the Cloud Nine club and Pug City again, until I reached Shops at the Top of the World in Ranunculus. Here, a small slice of suburban convenience seemed to be on display. The Shops had a variety of By then, it was time for Lila to go consumer-oriented businesses and on to other things, so I bid her a support, such as a small mall of good day and turned the balloon retail shops, a pharmacy and docnorthwesterly, flying myself past tor’s office, a coffee shop, an out-

door stage for live music events, a watch shop, police and fire department, travel agency Bubba’s Giant Palm Tree Store, and most notably, a 50s-style diner called the Silver King Grill. But that wasn’t all. It had freebie boxes lined up along its bus route, and a 20-gold coin gift hunt going 65

Sharing a rainbow: Dahlia back-tracks to take passenger Lila Wardark to Ear, site of the most spectacular rainbow she had seen during her travels.

Undercover: Dahlia flies under club Cloud Nine on her way to the northwestern corner of the continent of Heterocera.

on too that took visitors around or full properties, or simply having the neighbourhood. It was a great a complete system failure that way to see the interesting things would require me to relog and they had to offer. It also occurred find a place to unpack a new balto me that hunts seemed to be be- loon close to where I crashed. coming increasingly more popu- Fortunately, in Heterocera, my lar in SL recently, average daily flight or perhaps I was disruptions had From Spector to just finally becombeen relatively mild ing more aware of Siona, I was about at about three or the things “out four. But as Week to land on my ass there” to do. Ten rolled around, 32 times in the that kind of luxury From Shops at the was going to soon “Top of the World,” next seven days. change. My paraI flew turned the chute and butt pilcorner from my westward flight low were about to get a workout. around the smoke stacks of a From Spector to Siona, I was power plant at the “tip” of the about to land on my ass 32 times world—at least the furthest in the next seven days. northwestern tip of Heterocera— and turned southward to see what In this leg of the trip I would fly the western side of the continent due south from Fillip through the had to offer. northwestern quadrant of the continent, then up over the mountain WEEK 10: FROM TOPS TO BOTTOMS range that lay ahead of HeteroFrom my lack of mentioning it cera’s “crater,”—a lake surrounded much before now, you might for- by a donut of land that sat in anget that ballooning isn’t all care- other ring of water that was in free sight-seeing with the breeze turn cradled by the rest of the in your hair and no hard work. continental land. I would circle Aside from the spectacular spills the inner ring and back out to the of a paraglider or a runaway tour western side of the continent again. balloon or helicopter, my average day would see me running into a It took me three days to reach the property ban line and getting western shore of the inner ring of stuck or ejected from my balloon water in Moneta. By then, I had from trying to cross into no-access been knocked from my basket or The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Above and opposite page: Found at the northwestern tip of Heterocera, the Silver King Grill and Shops at the Top of the World in Ranunculus, as well as a power plant-turned-retail space in Fillip, marked the end of Dahlia’s westward path before she headed south along the western side of the continent.

crashed six times. Fortunately, my safety gear was working fabulously and I was getting good at fluffing my pillow back up after falls too. In Morrison I had been ejected from a property before I even

knew what happened. One second I was just flying along, minding my own business and the next I was on my butt pillow down on the ground. I figured out what happened eventually. I cruised right into ban lines that hadn’t

rezzed in time before I reached them. This is a regular problem, because even if you’re going slow enough, we all know there are days and computers that simply don’t rez fast enough to see things in real-time. What compounds 69


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this problem is people who put out “no tolerance” barriers such as ban lines or security sensors that ejected innocent passerbys.

out warning. This is due to your ban lines did not rez fast enough as I was passing by. It would be helpful if you didn't set your parcel to immediately eject people as they cross into After I was ejected, I felt compelled your property, especially overhead in to write Wireless Abode, owner of the sky. Please adjust your access to this property, since I never got a allow people time to pass by…at warning or was given the oppor- least offer some warning or time for tuntity to change my course before them to change their direction. This being unceremoniously dropped would be the more acceptable and from the sky. friendly way to promote a better experience in SL. Thank you for conHello Wireless, I was flying past sidering. your property in Morrison today when I found myself ejected with- ~ Dahlia Jayaram The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Ok, what’s done was done and I could do no more except to fluff up my butt pillow and keep on moving. And that’s just what I did…until I crashed riding a tour dragonfly about five minutes later in Tridens, a property not too far away. A sign near the dragonfly boasted that it had “given 183 tours since 2009.08.02.” I wondered how many of those 183 ended up in crashes like mine.

mountain range and back down the other side with only a couple of set-backs around some castles in Epilais and Moth.

I might have been better off if I had stayed up high above the clouds instead of following the contour of the land after passing the summit, because when I arrived in Moneta where I anticipated the next airport to be, I couldn’t find it. Eventually, I Another dusting-off and butt pil- looked up and there it was, right low fluffing, and I was on my way over my head. Thankfully, this again. I made it up over the high wasn’t a lesson having to do with

Opposite page: Nearing the crater in the center of Heterocera, Dahlia discovered that Moneta Airport in Moneta was attached to a tall, vertical post like a diving board high above a ground-level amusement park, called The Unknown Theme Park. Above left: While on the ground at The Unknown Theme Park, Dahlia contemplated taking another tour balloon. Above right: Having weighed the pros and cons, Dahlia opted for a plate of fish and chips instead of another unpredictable ride on a tour balloon.

Newton’s apple. If any part of that airport on a platform had fallen, there wouldn’t have been 71

any of me left to tell the story! On ground level was a wonderful amusement park called The Unknown Theme Park. It was full of rides and had a couple of screens in more than one cinema, all with many popular mainstream films to watch.

Then, I spotted it. Cue up the music theme to the film “Jaws,” because there, only steps away was…that’s right…another tour balloon. My god. I thought. Dare I…again? I felt like I should go, but I had just survived six flight disruptions, including a crash

with a tour dragonfly. I decided to make an official flight proclamation right there stating that: no explorer should have to suffer taking more than one tour vehicle ride per day. And so from this day forth, it became law by executive order—by me, myself and I.

I was so happy with my decision that I decided to celebrate. Just next to the balloon was a residence and inside it was a little girl’s pink princess canopy bed. I ran and jumped on the mattress and began jumping up and down on it, laughing in delight.

curve of the lake’s shore to the east side until I arrived at Nicky’s Boat Yard Water Park. There, you could pick up a free life jacket and enjoy a free boat ride. There was even a free bumper boat is that could be very fun for a group of people.

It was a blast—not only because it was entertaining, but because this was exactly the thing my mom never allowed me to do when I was little. So now that I’m a bigger adult who never had the chance to get it out of her system, I can damage my own bed worse (or someone else’s in this case).

Above: Dahlia celebrated by jumping up and down on the mattress of a child’s pink princess canopy bed at The Unknown Amusement Park after declaring that “no explorer should have to suffer taking more than one tour vehicle ride per day.” Opposite page: Nairb’s Boat Club in Solariam sat over the outer ring of water which surrounded the donut of land that contained the crater lake. To it’s north, the central continent rose up to an arching range of it’s highest mountain peaks. 72

I grabbed a life vest and slung it on, then let my balloon drift out to the center of the lake. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. I expected “the crater” to be a little more exciting, perhaps more natural and rugged. Instead, I felt like I was simply out at the neighbourhood lake. Oh well, perhaps in time a new volcano peak would Jumping on the bed was a good rise out of it and give “the crater” outlet, but it worked up my apsomething more worth sticking petite too, so I went back out to it’s name on the map as a point of the amusement park and found a interest. fish and chips stall to order from. Mmm…fish, mmm…chips. It had So I circled the inner circle of the been a while. crater’s west and southern sides, then swung out over the outer ring After a hearty meal, I went back of water that contained the donut to the Moneta Airport high over- of land surrounding the crater head. The balloon was ready to lake. The entire area was simply go, so I lifted off and began to fly covered by an assorted mix of east over the outer ring of water regular looking small homes and that surrounded the donut of land retail buildings; there was nothing that, in turn, formed the Hetero- particularly notable about any of cera’s central crater lake. them. What was notable was that I had crashed eleven times by the I flew over the northern edge of time I finished my tour of the crater the crater lake and followed the lake and surrounding area. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

I was worn out from all my crashes, so I kept on the lookout for anyplace that looked like it would be a good landing site to take a break at. Finally, at Nairb’s Boat Club in Solariam, I found a public boat dock where I could land and unpack a new balloon if I needed to for any reason. While I was landing, a man jumped into my balloon basket without asking or even saying hello. He was suddenly just there, sitting in the wrong position with his legs sticking through my basket. I get this a lot from residents who have been around less than a month, like he was. No matter, his ride lasted all of about three seconds as I settled in for my landing anyway. I introduced myself and we chatted a little, but his English was poor and my German even worse. Even with my translator on, he was slow to reply, preoccupied as he was to call over one of his other German friends who spoke no English at all. I climbed back in to offer them a ride, but after about five minutes of waiting and prodding them to get in, I gave up and took took off without them to look for another spot where I could be without being bothered. I had spotted an74

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other place up the side of the mountain that had caught my interest, a retail train station in Taeniatum that belonged to Mick Huet, the guy who I had seen testing his trolley while back near Onespace Rockumentary in Zale. I headed in that direction, but before I arrived, I came across a giant chess board in Solariam where The SL Chess and Sudoku Club resided. The giant chess floor lay suspended above ground just outside of the club for tournaments. Inside, they had seating for players to sit at tables with smaller chess boards while larger chess boards hung on the walls behind them along with what I assumed were the luminaries of the sport. If a picture of Spatzsky hanging over your shoulder watching your every move didn’t inspire or intimidate you, I don’t know what would. In all, it looked like a great environment to play in for anyone who loved the game. I, however, was not one of them, so I appreciated it and continued on my way, rising in elevation as I continued going northward up the foothills of the mountain. Opposite page: Dahlia arrived in Solariam where The SL Chess and Sudoku Club resided. Outside the club, a championship tournament chessboard levitated grandly above the ground. Above: Inside The SL Chess and Sudoku Club were player’s seating and chess boards, while large pictures of the grand masters of the sport hung on the walls. If a huge portrait of Spatzsky hanging over your shoulder watching your every move didn’t inspire or intimidate you while you played, Dahlia didn’t know what would. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Taeniatum and Mick Huet’s retail train shop, The H8 Motors Company, was just behind The SL 75

Above left: The H8 Motor Company in Taeniatum manufactured highly detailed reproductions of a variety of rail vehicles. Above left: Inside the H8 Motor Company, an impressive collection of display models awaited smiling customers and fans alike. Opposite page: In Dicycla, Aqualux billed itself as SL’s premier Lifestyle Center. It offered conference facilities for rent, water attractions, luxury residences, dancing, and an art gallery, Demago. Just steps away, an eight-pad heliport landing strip provided easy access for the jet-setters to arrive at. outside.


Chess and Sudoku Club, on the other side of the tracks, as it were. This is in no way to suggest that train loving was of any lower status in the hobby world, however. As much as a grand master’s chess moves were a work of art, Mark and his partner’s trains were “art in motion.”

Treffpunkt Scuba Diver’s Meeting Point in Sponsa. This interested me because recently I had been considering if my next adventure should take place under water since I had been above and on top of it thus far. I had also wanted to find out where SL’s most notable scuba diving locations were too so I could go see From there, I flew due west, right the underwater scenery. overtop the railroad tracks, for a couple of sims, then angled south- Little did I know it, but I was west in the direction of Moneta about to go diving myself, beAirport again. While crossing cause as I crossed into the Treffover the water as I approached punkt parcel, my balloon evaporated the airport, I noticed Taucher.Net and I plunged into the water,

parachute and all. It seems that the parcel was full, according to my warning indicator. Now I had a soggy butt pillow…head’s were going to roll! I sent a message off to the owner, Aemsn Aabye, expressing my interest in his group and wanting to know more. I planned on leuering him in gently, then WHAM! off with his head. I wondered how people could put on all their scuba gear when the parcel was full.

loon too, so I tossed my wet pillow down on the floor of the basket and squeezed the water out of it while I lifted off.

I continued my southwesterly trajectory until I spied a long, black strip of asphalt that had eight helipad markings on it. It was right next door to a sophisticated building complex with three tall blue glass office towers. Aqualux, in Dicycla, billed itself as “SL’s premier Lifestyle Center.” It offered Fortunately, Aemsn’s next door conference facilities for rent, water neighbour’s parcel wasn’t full and attractions, luxury residences, dancallowed me to unpack a new bal- ing, and an art gallery called The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Demago. The eight-pad heliport landing strip surely provided an easy access place for the jet-setters to arrive at when coming to their conferences. This was no place for a simpleton like me; I just flew a balloon. And at the moment, thanks to my recent dunking at the scuba place, I was leaving a trail of water behind me as I walked through the conference center. So I walked back to my balloon and climbed in, mindful to give another good squeeze to my pillow as I stepped down on the basket’s wicker floor. On my departure I split the two tallest Aqualux office towers like a croquette ball going through a wicket. If I had been higher class, I might have said polo. Caya Corvale joined me as a passenger in Ermenia as I was flying westward toward what I saw on my map was called the Northern Wall. I could only imagine this would be something comparable to the Great Wall of China. Even from Ermenia, we could see it looming high on the western horizon above the valley where we were still climbing out of the Left: Two giant gorillas hold up the Spini Railway Station platform with the tops of their heads. 78

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crater region. Mindful of the height parachute would deploy. and my young passenger, I passed Caya a parachute. She took off straight up into the sky, and while she did that, I tried While still on our approach to the to wear my personalized mini PeNorthern Wall, I spied what gasus peddle-blimp to scout for a looked like two giant gorillas half place where I could unpack a new way up the steep embankment balloon. It required unpacking, that the Wall rested atop. I had not wearing, however, so instead, seen single giant gorillas before I grabbed a fistfull of handheld but never two at once, so I headed carnival balloons and floated toward it to check it out. As we around to look. While still in came closer and entered Spini, we Spini, I found Rescue Japan a could see that their heads served couple of parcels over where I as the surface that the Spini Rail- could set out a new balloon. side viewing platform rested upon as it stuck out from the hillside. Rescue Japan had a beautiful traditional Japanese temple on it and It looked like a perfect place to an interesting entry arch for visiland the balloon, so I did, but as tors to walk under when disemsoon as we got out, the balloon barking from the rail line. There disappeared due to a triggerwere kanjii markings on the happy auto parcel return. archway and a date that looked to possibly relate to when the Atomic Caya had never used a parachute bomb was dropped on Hiroshima before, so since we were safely on or Nagasaki, but I was only specthe ground and not in an emerulating at that point. I would have gency situation, I suggested she to fly in my friend Tatsuhiko give it a test run. I told her to be Zuta to ask for a translation later. careful of skyboxes overhead, but to fly up as high as she wanted Satisfied that I had a new place to and then free-fall until she launch from, I let my handfull of reached about 300 meters, when balloons carry me higher into the she should then say “pull� and the sky, and just as I did, Caya came floating down past me in her deAbove left: In Spini, Dahlia flew up with a ployed parachute. I was able to handfull of balloons while travel partner click my camera just in time beCaya Corvale floated down during her first fore she exited the viewfinder. trial-run of using a parachute. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Hillside temple: Built on the steep mountainside along the railway line and just below the Great Northern Wall, Rescue Japan harkened to a date in 1944 when times were even more uncertain than property ban lines and full parcels.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Dangerous ends: Arianne’s Tower at the northernmost end of Heterocera’s Great Northern Wall in Spini contained a security sensor ready to send “violators” away if they strayed too near.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Caya landed safely and I was happy to know that her first parachute jump was a good one. We parted soon after that, Caya on to another location, and me back to Rescue Japan to launch my balloon. Rising up over Rescue Japan, I guided the balloon higher up the mountainside until I pulled even with the top of the Great Northern Wall. I was at the very northernmost tip of it and looked straight down it’s flat walkway on top toward the south. It was indeed big and long, possibly even immense—I’ll give them that— however, it’s construction seemed nothing more than a pile of rocks made into a big, thick wall. Perhaps Peruvian-esque in it’s Machu Picchu style of fitting irregularly matching stones together. But “Great”? Well, I wasn’t quite sold on that word to describe it. Of course, some people would probably say the same about my book “The Great Balloon Adventure.” “Great” is an expression definitely defined by the eye of the beholder’s own criteria. Not to overlook the moment, I have to add that if you travel to the northern tip of the Great Right: Victor Komparu’s monument to himself in Cabera rose up so high that it could be seen from great distances. 82

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Northern Wall, be sure to avoid the tall tower next to it, Arianne’s Tower, because her security sensor will kick you out. Believe me, I lost my own balloon and landed on my still squishy butt pillow just to bring you this public service announcement. I unpacked a new balloon back at Rescue Japan, now appreciating all the more how it might have gotten it’s name. Taking off and rising back up to the top of the wall, I flew south along the western side of the wall for a while. Ahead of me, I saw an incredibly tall, slender tower or obilisque. It was so skinny that from a distance it looked like a pencil, but as I pulled up alongside of it’s base in Cabera, I discovered it was at least as wide as my balloon.

something at the top. I mean, who would build such a thing and not make it worth all that effort if it was just a flat spot, way up there? Was there a pointy top, a statue, a bird’s nest perhaps? I couldn’t help myself, I had to go find out to see if there was anything up there worth writing about. I looked at the “About Land” to read that this structure was Victor Komparu’s monument to himself and that, according to him, “Not all art is visual, and not all creative people are artists. Creativity comes in a lot of flavours and shapes.” Well! I thought the timing of that statement was pretty good, especially considering what my thinking was about the Great Northern Wall only minutes earlier.

I lit up the balloon’s burner, and I looked upwards into the sky to watched the altimeter as I rose: where it pierced the clouds and 200, 300, 400 meters and still disappeared into a tiny point far climbing…500, 600, 700…I was off in the distance. I wondered beginning to wonder at what altiwhy someone would build such a tude would I have to pull out the tall thing. Many of the tall, slen- air mask? Finally, at just under der towers I saw like this ended 730 meters, I reached the top of up being parachute towers, but I the monument where, sure enough, couldn’t find any teleporter to go there was a statue of Victor Komup with at the base of this tower. paru, standing as an abnormally I imagined that there must be light, black-backed jackal, holding a sword and a lit torch for all Left: Victor Komparu’s super-tall monument to himself in Cabera topped out at just under the world to see—well, anyone who happened to be that high up, 730 meters high. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera



The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

that is. From the looks of it, not even a bird had squatted there.

Well, it certainly got my attention, but this was one school bus I had no intention of riding to another lesson on.

I let my balloon descend straight back down the monument, nearly to the ground of Cabera, because Behind the driveway launch of just a couple of parcels away from the bus, a space ship had arrived the monument, I had noticed a and was casting a bright pink short yellow school bus that peri- light down onto a shipping conodically flew up into tainer on the the air. I was curiFor a $L5000 ground. I wonous if it was another dered what the atdonation, you traction could be, so malfunctioning tour vehicle or not. hopped out of the could buy a FUF Iballoon to look. As I reached Tree and they ground, I saw it The place was would plant a real take off from a Pinks Spiral Unsmall turn-out at derground, and inlife tree in San the walkway atop side the shipping the Great Northern Francisco, USA. container were items Wall. It’s mini-dribelonging to the veway was only as long as the bus owner, Tickled Pink. It appeared and a small canopied wall attached she might be a clothing designer, to a platform was next to it. because on an old tableshe lay a book that offered instructions on The canopy read “S.L. Transhow to make clothes. I took a portation Corp.” and had a copy, although I had no intention framed picture of Jezabel’s Jazz of becoming a clothes designer. Club mounted to it. Also, on a One never knows what the future mini-billboard atop the canopy, might bring. another sign read “Devil’s Golf Course” and could be clicked to I climbed back into the balloon deliver a landmark. I grabbed and took off, heading west for the one, just as the school bus next to coastline. I hadn’t given it nearly the sign shot up into the air and enough attention out in that didisappeared, only to be replaced a rection, so I wanted to swing out few moments later by a new bus. there to say I’d not forgotten it. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Above: A school bus periodically launched up into the air from a short turn-out from atop the top of the Great Northern Wall in Cabera.

It was a foggy morning, however, and especially in Chiara it seemed no matter what elevation I flew at, the view was obscured by the glow of the sun in the fog. It was pretty though; I liked it, as long as I didn’t crash into a skybox or something. I tugged on the strap

Opposite page: A space ship lights up a shipping container where a free guide to making clothes by resident Tickled Pink is offered.

of my parachute, checking. The sky finally cleared as I entered Siona, where a large tract of natural land stretched out before me. Having seen a monument, a great wall, temple and convention center, I was happy to see something natural for a change of pace.

Well, maybe after just one more built structure—an outdoor toilet. I spotted one in a forested area and eased the balloon down to spend a moment adding a little “fertilizer” of my own to the compost heap that lay under the outhouse. It was a relief that was! 85

Later, with my business done, I took a walk around. What at first seemed to be a forest turned out to be much more. It was land belonging to Friends of the Urban Forest & Permaculture Project where for a $L5000 donation, you could buy a FUF Tree and they would plant a real life tree in San Francisco, USA.

Sure enough, not even five minutes passed before I had my first tent maurader who first came lurking around in the shadows, peeping into my tent and checking out my balloon. After hopping in and trying to steal it, but not having the key, he left at the first whiff of other estrogen nearby. By then, there was already another lurker at my tent doorstep—doing what, I had no idea. I just pretended to be asleep and lay very still while clutching my big stick with a very tense grip.

Their group, FUF Land, (Friends of the Urban Forest) was founded by Jeska Linden and could be joined to stay abreast to news on events, new things to see, and more places to hang out. I thought it sounded like a wonderful endeavour and suggested to the king of my Tiny Empires group that we could take up a collection and have a tree planted with our name associated with it. I took a stroll through the woods surrounding the FUF property and discovered tips on how to compost, and a multi-platformed treehouse-cum-meeting area that was decorated with a wide assortment of artwork.

Above: The sky was aglow with the reflection of the sun off the water and fog in Chiara. Beautiful, but difficult to see hidden dangers.

that features free activities such as swimming, canoeing, white water rafting, horseback riding, scuba diving, cave diving, fishing, indian and gypsy camps, a crashed space ship, hot springs, animation shop, swimming gear, and general relaxing among nature,

Opposite page: A wonderful nature park at Lake Gnoma offered interesting things to do, like a mini zepplin you could tour with.

Sansara. I peddled the Gnoma version around the lake, then all the way out of the park, following the road south.

coming camp fire and an even more welcoming tent with a sleeping bag and pillow.

I landed and carefully looked After a while, I got tired of ped- around, checking for owners. dling and it was getting late, so I The camp seemed available, so I WEEK 11: COMPLETING HETEROCERA looked around for a place where I grabbed a long stick to hold off Further away in the woods surcould unpack my hot air balloon. tent invaders with and settled rounding the FUF, I crossed past I liked that it had a mini-derriga- I found a little campsite along the into the sleeping bag, feeling the the property line and found my- ble to fly—the same kind that I banks of a small stream in Alcis wear of the day in my bones. A self at Lake Gnoma, in Gnoma. peddled to fly up to the Pegasus that looked accommodating. It parachute and a butt pillow can Lake Gnoma is a wilderness park Zepplin back in Mondrian, had an open space to land, a wel- only go so far, after all. 86

A few minutes later, the first maurader returned, presumably after striking out with the nearby source of estrogen. Having an unwanted come back is never a good sign. I could feel it coming as soon as I sensed he was back. Sure enough, he decided it was time to try chatting me up: [5:08] zas Enyo: hi baby [5:08] zas Enyo: are you ok? [5:08] Dahlia Jayaram: erm? oh, hi [5:08] Dahlia Jayaram: yes, just taking a nap, thank you [5:09] zas Enyo: can i help u? [5:09] Dahlia Jayaram: No, I’m fine, thanks [5:10] zas Enyo: do u like go to warm place? [5:10] Dahlia Jayaram: No, no, this is quite good for me. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


[5:11] zas Enyo: please [5:11] Dahlia Jayaram: I will lift off in my balloon shortly. [5:12] zas Enyo: please [5:12] Dahlia Jayaram: Thanks, but it's ok. [5:13] zas Enyo: please send me 1 balloon [5:13] Dahlia Jayaram: It cost $L2000 [5:14] zas Enyo: please i need 1 [5:14] Dahlia Jayaram: ok, one moment [5:15] zas Enyo: look????? [5:15] zas Enyo: what [5:17] zas Enyo: why u do that [5:17] zas Enyo: u wan kill me [5:17] zas Enyo: thank u The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

[5:17] Dahlia Jayaram: You wanted the free balloon, yes? That is my free balloon. I had looked into my inventory and passed him a single handheld party balloon that would lift him up into the sky—right where I wanted him—high and away. He struggled with the balloon a while then left after my message that I didn’t take kindly to his advances or whining finally sank into his skull. Thankfully, the ever-silent maurader number two apparently got the same message by observing my interaction with

number one, because after a brief question with a translator which I was too sleepy to recall, he soon slinked off as well. At last, sleep would be mine.

ing things incorrectly, and sure enough, both were still there.

I called down to the fellow, Nazratem Markova, to see if he was familiar with the area. He The next morning came before I wasn’t, unfortunately, but like me knew it. I’d overslept, the sun was he was out exploring too, so we high, and got a late start. wished each other a safe journey and continued on our separate I had only flown about three or ways, him heading northeast and four parcels away from my take- me looking down over my basket off, still groggy and wiping the at the neighbourhood properties. sleep from my eyes when I thought I saw a winged man As for the crooked building, it going along the roadside near a was named the Tokos Theatre crooked building. I blinked a few Pagoda. It was a round building times just to be sure I wasn’t see- made up of five glass levels that

Opposite page: A small campsite in Alcis provided a good overnight stop, despite the presence of tent mauraders. Above left: A second tent maurader stands outside Dahlia’s tent, presumably weighing his chances against the big stick she was carrying in her hand as she slept. Above right: The first tent maurader begged for a balloon, so Dahlia gave him one—one well suited to his style of childish whining and begging.


Above: Dahlia got style points from a panel of judges for her landing on the outdoor back deck at Ll-animations Main Store at Omega Gardens in Crameri. Right: Ll-animations was located in a nice little peninsular neighbourhood in Crameri, west Heterocera, that would be wonderful for a stroll or drive. Dahlia noticed, however, that the neglected roadways needed more funds allocated to removing the large tufts of grass that grew all over them.

progressively decreased in size as it went up. A ring connected the floor of one level to the top of the next level and thin vertical bars held up each ring. Even though each level was a little offset from the one below it, giving it a modern Leaning Tower of Pisa look, it was quite nice—or perhaps precisely because of that characteristic. It had a quirky charm. 90

Out in the side yard, an interesting stone wall covered in patches of green moss had a big, ancient looking face carved into it. It looked pretty fierce, especially the large black hole that served as its wide-open mouth. I thought for sure this would lead to a passageway or another location, but from what I could tell, it didn’t. Too bad, I thought, thinking it was a The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

missed opportunity to create a cool teleporter or a walkway to another location either up in the sky or underground. Across the road from Tokos Theatre Pagoda was Ll-animations Main Store at Omega Gardens where unique avatar animations were sold. Some of their selections included animations for dance, ballet, ice and roller skating, skiing ski couples-skates, gymnastics, swimming, combat sword fighting karate, boxing, gunfight, and a nice variety of walk, run, sit, and stand gestures.

Top: Across the road from Ll-animations in Crameri, Dahlia shares a chat with resident Nazratem Markova as she flies past an interesting glass building named the Tokos Theatre Pagoda. Above: In the side yard of Tokos Theatre Pagoda was an interesting rock wall with a face carved into it. She thought its dark, open mouth would be a passageway to an interesting place, but no, it was just a stone wall there too. A missed opportunity for something cool! The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Outside of their building was a large wooden deck where they held dances. But for me, I used it to land on while I went to check out the neighbourhood. As I landed, a panel of judges held up score cards to give me style points for my landing. Based on their scores, it looked like I still had room for improvement. Perhaps if I had more text message votes from the audience I would have scored better! But no matter; at least I was “still in the game� until next week. I loaded back up and took off, noting the nice homes around the roadside that curved along the shape of the peninsula. This 91

looked like a very peaceful place to come, I felt, but the roads could use a little attention, as thick tufts of grass were growing up through the road asphalt. Perhaps more money would be allocated to landscaping in another year’s budget. But for now, the grass didn’t deter from the casual charm of the neighbourhood.

westward location on the continent and home of The Free Dove shop in Sylvina. The Free Dove is one of Second Life’s more prominent freebie shops to residents and a great place to collect wardrobe and other items when first starting out. I had hoped to take a photo of it, but there was no sign outside the shop. The only one I could see was inside From there, I flew south over the shop and the lighting was too Nates Combat Zone in Notha, dark to capture it, so we continwhere an underwater city hid the ued on faster than I anticipated, terrible secret of alien ships being but that was fine too. spawned and then destroyed by bolts of electricity. Soon, John and I flew past a truck’s flatbed trailer levitating Next door, Nate’s Detention Fa- around 80 meters up in the sky in cility seemed to be the place for a Hecta and joked about all the lock-up, except it had two wonstrange things one can see just derful spiral water slides out back. floating around in the sky, defiant Perhaps it was one of those VIP of the real life laws of gravity. detention facilities. I had to try a Second Life is a like living in a slide and enjoyed it’s refreshing unique crossroads where the nearride. I discovered though, that weightlessness physics of space and when you dropped into the pool, natural real life gravity of being you actually dropped all the way in an atmosphere come together. down under the property where the combat zone was. Now how’s We passed another Uptown cinthat for a breach in security? ema as the sky became dark with nightfall and the looming presJohnMichael Tobias called to ask ence of heavy rainstorm clouds in for a ride. I checked his credentials Saiku, Bhima. “Zeitgeist: Addento make sure he wasn’t a criminal, dum” was the film and we wonand satisfied that he wasn’t escap- dered aloud what it must be about. ing Nate’s, I let him join me as I All I could think was it meant drifted southwest to my furthest adding on to a fast attack, but later. 92

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Opposite page: In Saiku, Bhima, the skies grew dark as night fell and a heavy rainstorm popped up, causing Dahlia to fall from the balloon. Next door resident, Demian Arbizu, came to see what the commotion was about

But our attention quickly turned to the storm ahead of us as lightning and a heavy rain began. I accidentally slipped out of the balloon basket and quickly yelled “PULL” to deploy my chute, landing safely below. JohnMichael threw me a line and pulled me back aboard as we discussed my accident and the rain. I was happy I let him come! The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

when he overheard Dahlia yell “PULL!” for her parachute, and her following discussion with passenger JohnMichael Tobias as she climbed back into the balloon. Above left: Resident Demian Arbizu hovers near the balloon

I read about the land and learned that the Japanese word “saiku” meant generically “craftsmanship,” and translated literally as “delicate workmanship.” “In other words, to craft something is to make it smaller and fashion it delicately,” as the owner put it. Well, the work on this parcel certainly bore out that philosophy.

Just then, next door neighbour, Demian Arbizu, called out to see if we were alright after hearing our commotion. We introduced ourselves and found that he was not only the resident of the house next to Saiku, but also the owner of the cinema we had just been talking about. Since he was there, I asked what “Zeitgeist: Adden-

while chatting after Dahlia’s spill during the thunderstorm in Saiku, Bhima. Above right: At the Town of Lyche in Apoda, Dahlia and JohnMichael Tobias appreciated a 1923 Model T built by Tumansky Heavy Industries.

dum” was. Demian said “its an expose of the current economic system and an anticipation of a future system of social design based on technology.” Wow, a bit too heady for me, but I could appreciate its appropriateness for life in a virtual world. Demian also turned out to have an art gallery called Arbizu’s PsychEye

Galleria across the parking lot from the cinema. Both the cinema and gallery shows changed regularly, so he encouraged us to visit frequently. We agreed. After our talking for a while, we thanked Demian for his hospitality and flew a short distance north to the town of Lyche in Apoda 93

where another locomotive maker’s shop resided. Two trains occupied two parallel tracks; one train shuttled from one end of the parcel to other side periodically. Not only that, but it had the very first 1923 Model T from Tumansky Heavy Industries I had ever seen. This looked like the perfect kind of car to go driving around Heterocera in. It didn’t look like it could go fast or be too sensitive to drive. But then again, it was stationary. Unfortunately, only the driver had the keys for this vehicle too, so I’d have to wait to see before I could know for sure. It sure was cute though. I flew eastward until I crashed due to a full parcel belonging to Abramelin Wolfe from Animations & Gadgets By Abranimations in Lebeda. I’d already had difficulty getting around one of her stores during “The Great Sailing Adventure” and wasn’t surprised that this shop would be any different. But Abranimations had nothing on Sky Mark Properties in Christat. I unpacked a new balloon in Right: Sky Mark Properties in Christat certainly left its “mark” on the Heterocera skyline with a big scar-of-a-wall, created from its blight of rental apartment units. 94

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nearby at West Shore Beach in Pryeri where I had an excellent view of the sky-high vertically stacked rental apartments owned and operated by Sky Mark. They certainly left their “mark” on the Heterocera skyline with a big scar-of-a-wall, created from its blight of rental apartment units that rose from the ground skyward as high as the eye could see. Thankfully, I wasn’t going westward at this time and didn’t have to worry about getting past the “Sky’s Mark.” Instead, I was going to fly north as I continued my zigzag route across the continent. And was I ever happy I did fly north! Because in Loepa I came across the International House Of Style, where in January 2007 owner Oryx Tempel set out to make ethnic clothing available to everyone. It has since become her dream to create a living museum of cultural clothing from societies large and small around the world. Her shop offered a variety of styles for men and women from all corners of the globe and were a nice change of pace from what we usually see. Another interesting thing about IHOS was that it’s earnings went Top: Dahlia passes by a small, stationary balloon suspended high in the air in Pruni. 95

toward a charity, Heifer International, which reports to have raised L$226,434 since 2006 to help end hunger world-wide by paying for animals and trees for villagers in multiple locations. A cool thing about your in-world donation is that you are given the choice of which animal or item you would like your money to go to by clicking on a selection of appropriate signs in the shop. 96

Another thing is that if you want, you can send a photo of yourself to the owner wearing the clothes you bought to see if she would like to use it as the sales poster or package displayed in the retail shop.

stop me from getting into my balloon with it on and taking off to fly while wearing it (besides, who would be seeing my feet anyway?).

purposes. I would consider that my donation of Heifer International charity. I never received a reply, however, so that made me consider that perhaps the same thing might A few days later, I took some pic- happen to donations for Heifer tures of me wearing my two new International too. Perhaps it is I loved my new fashions so much purchases and posted a couple of better to call Heifer direct if you that I had to try on my favourite, a my best shots to my Flickr account want to donate! green sari, right then and there. I then sent a message to the owner didn’t have any good, matching offering to offer her the shot she Leaving Loepa flying high both shoes to wear with it, but it didn’t liked best to use for her marketing literally and figuratively (with my

new sari on), I flew north and east, where my navigation took me through some tricky areas that caught me by surprise. I had ejections or system malfunctions in Rosieri twice, then single times in Notata, Jodis, Sociaria, and Steinbok. I really gave my butt pillow a workout along this stretch of the trip and was happy to have it, no matter how silly it made me look at times. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

When I reached Didugua, I was met by a menacing thunderstorm full of heavy rain and fierce lightning. This rainstorm was even worse than the one I had recently experienced back in Bhima. It blew in so quickly and had so much big and frequent lightning that I had to ditch my balloon and run for shelter in a garden as fast as I could, for fear that the balloon might get struck and explode like The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Opposite page left: The International House of Style in Loepa creates fashions more attune to eastern consumers and claims to help raise money for a charity it has donation options for in the shop. Opposite page right: While taking off

from Pryeri West Shore Beach in southern Heterocera, the flame from balloon burner illuminates Dahlia’s back and provides a good look at two of her regular items of gear: her parachute and her butt pillow. A reserve helium tank is always

aboard too. Above: The balloon is grounded when heavy rains and a fierce lightning storm erupts in Didugua, causing Dahlia to land and run for cover in a garden. 97

a mini Hindenburg. I sat on the ground for over an hour waiting for it to pass before I dared continue on my way.

tour of Heterocera today. Next stop, Jeogeot!”

A few moments later, a ZigZag Axon called, indicating that he After the storm blew past, I flew had heard of my flight past the south out of Didugua and quickly radio station: found myself in familiar territory. The impressively tall marble [10:21] ZigZag Axon: Angeloctower, Cerridwen’s Cauldron, racy Xue just saw your balloon fly rose up ahead of me, just as it did past her window a few minutes on my first day entering Hetero- ago, she’s IMed Second Life cera when I called it the Imperial Christians to let everyone know; Tower. Then came Neumoegen they think that’s really cool indeed Station, where I discovered the :-) Just thought I should let you excitingly generous selection of know your fame is spreading ;-) free vehicles at Salmaru and col- [10:22] Dahlia Jayaram: wow, lected a little freebie train at the thank you so much! next door neighbour company of [10:23] Dahlia Jayaram: I just M’s R&D. From there, I had rid- finished my second continent den back to Tuliptree where I moments ago! 2 down; 7 to go! ;D had come from, then continued my travels by balloon from there. A few minutes later, another listener, Ellen Dressler, called to say Leaving Neumoegen, I crossed that she had ballooned tow years into Oculea again and was just earlier with Sean Schmidt when about to fly over the Hoboland he built one of the first hot air Infohub when I got a call from Balloons in SL. I thought that Angelocracy Xue. She had spotted was pretty cool and she thought it me fly by her high-rise office was cool that “someone was flytower where she was working as ing again.” I didn’t mention to a radio DJ and wanted to compli- her how busy the skies were these ment me on my balloon. days with people flying, but welcomed her to come fly with me When I realized she was live on sometime and she seemed excited the air at that very moment, I told to join in the fun. It occurred to her to “give a shout out to Hete- me just then to ask what exactly rocera from me! I’m finishing my Angelocracy Xue said about me, 98

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

so I asked and Ellen was kind enough to share the text to me:

As I flew south over the rail yard in Calleta, I wondered how I should celebrate this latest achievement, completing my tour of Second Life’s second continent. I looked down at Calleta passing by below, thinking, and as I did, my eyes drifted from the trains below, to my beautiful new sari blowing in the breeze, then down into my basket, where on my feet I still sported a pair of dusty black vintage Converse sneakers.

station in Cecropia. Lucky for me, there was a small patch of grass right between the station and Mz. Shoes itself. It was almost as if by divine planning that I was expected to land there.

[10:17] Angelocracy Xue: Dahlia Jayaram just flew by my building in a balloon, you should check out her profile, she seems very interesting Once landed and disembarked [10:18] CaseyBrielle Deed: That’s from my balloon, I hadn’t far to sooo cool walk to get my reward: a green [10:24] ZigZag Axon: I just menpair of sandals that perfectly tioned it to her she says: matched the colour of my sari. It [10:24] ZigZag Axon: [10:22] was almost as if this was the way Dahlia Jayaram: wow, thank you so much! ZigZag Axon called to say: “Angelocracy Xue [10:24] ZigZag Axon: [10:23] Dahlia Jayaram: I just finished my just saw your balloon fly past her window a second continent moments ago! few minutes ago, she’s IMed Second Life [10:24] ZigZag Axon: [10:23] Dahlia Jayaram: 2 down; 7 to go! Christians to let everyone know; they think ;D [10:25] ZigZag Axon: Now that’s that’s really cool indeed :-) Just thought I some amazing challenge indeed :-) should let you know your fame is spreading ;-)” [10:25] ZigZag Axon: Thanks Angelocracy :-) [10:25] CaseyBrielle Deed: Very It was then that I remembered it was meant to be from the very intelligent. how I planned to celebrate: with beginning. I walked out of Mz. that shoe shopping spree at Mz. Shoes in my new sandals and sari I thanked Ellen for sharing that Shoes I’d promised to save my with a big smile on my face, happy to me and added: “Oh, how nice! money for if I didn’t find any with my purchases and happy I thanked him without even know- other shoe shop I liked better with my accomplishment. ing what he said, like: ‘Some crazy while exploring the continent. lady in a balloon just drifted by Well, it looked like that day had I enjoyed exploring Heterocera by our station’ LOL” come and today was pay day! air. It was a fun place to fly, full of entertaining options for travel, I looked for a place to land near but especially for it’s trains. I knew Above left: Dahlia enters Oculea where where I first entered the contiI’d be back again to spend more Hoboland Infohub and the Rail Mall signal nent at the shuttle train terminal time on the roadways and rails. nearing the end of her tour of Heterocera. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Touch-down in Cecropia: Dahlia touches down after 34 days spent to complete her tour of Heterocera—34 out of a total 76 consecutive days flown since the first of January.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Celebrating the achievement: Dahlia shows off a pair of new sandals she purchased to celebrate her completion of the Heterocera stage of the balloon adventure. “It just goes to show there is a shoe for every occasion,� she said with a smile.

MAPS: THE PLAN Right: A look at the general pre-flight route plan shows the intention to fly near to and around some key points of interest.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

MAPS: THE RESULT Left: The actual flight path as completed followed the general planned flight route and modified as needed to take in additional points of interest in as they were encountered.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Timeline At A Glance: Charting Dahlia’s Prog JANUARY one √D SANSARA


1 January 2010

The Ivory Tower of Primitives Governor Linden’s Mansion The Particle Lab/Learning Center The Vehicle Lab/Learning Center Kazenojin Executive Airport DarkWood Cathedral Bay City Airport Orientation Island Vehicle Park Abbotts Aerodrome Giant SL Handprint Icon Helen Keller Monument YadNi’s Junkyard Kanin Mountain Skiing & Sledding Anton Airstrip Zeppelin Service Zermatt Ice Skating Lake Chalet Linden Cloudmont High Country Smithers Bluff Rainbow Cherished: Romantic River Shops Teslin Meadow Preserve Tour Pegasus Zeppelin St Michel ~ the Jule Verne Museum Shelter Island Balloon Tour Bitch Fight Arena Aztral’s Airport The First Church of Atheism Knowledge Park Linden Village & Offices Help Island Public Orientation Island Knowledge Port Explorers Info Centre Mahulu Volcano New Citizens Incorporated, Kuula Gruppman Technologies Corporate ANWR Offshore Oil Rig Platform

1 Feb. / 11 Feb. (42 Days) FLYING DAYS MISSED



Natoma to Shermerville (N. Central to NW Sansara) WEEK 2 SIM COVERAGE

Shermerville to Mondrian (NW to SE Sansara) WEEK 3 SIM COVERAGE

Mondrian to Hibdon (SE to E. Central Sansara) WEEK 4 SIM COVERAGE

Hibdon to Pooley (E. Central to NE. Central Sansara) WEEK 5 SIM COVERAGE

Pooley to Lozi (NE. Central Sansara) WEEK 6 SIM COVERAGE

Lozi to Calleta, Heterocera (NE. Central Sansara to S. Heterocera) GUEST PASSENGERS

Alina Graf, Lie Rang, Nya Silverfall, Natalia Silverfall, 1 Shermerville passenger, Ms SecretSpy, DawidDawid Dawid, Cyanidekissesxx Draconia, BackHome Soon, Erin Riler, Tatsuhiko Zuka, Rikki Reichmann, Eric Christensen, Narcissus Mint, Ara Enzo, Johnny Mikado 104








22 Feb. / 16 March 2010 (34 Days) FLYING DAYS MISSED



Cecropia to Nessus (S. Central to E. Central Heterocera) WEEK 8 SIM COVERAGE

Nessus to Engrailed (E. Central to N. Heterocera) WEEK 9 SIM COVERAGE

Engrailed to Moneta (N. to W. Heterocera) WEEK 10 SIM COVERAGE

Moneta to Cecropia (W. to S. Central Heterocera) GUEST PASSENGERS

Johnny Mikado, Aleks Piers, Pavl Duke, Madeline McMahon, Mot Mann. Lila Wardark, Caya Corvale, JohnMichael Tobias



Calleta Train Station Hoboland Railroad Infohub Cerridwen's Cauldron Tuliptree Train Station Neumoegen Train Station Busiris Airport Onespace Rockumentary Hopeful EMission Bella Carnival TMA - A Jewish Neighborhood SL Volunteer HQ Andiana City Cycnia & Euclidia Arbor Project SL Coast Guard Training Center Lythria Tall Tree Flanders Field Airport Ear Community Park Rainbow Cloud Nine Club Pug City Continent’s Highest Point, Campion Lapara Airport Arches Paraglider Slope Solo’s Steam Engine Service Moneta Airport The Unknown Theme Park The SL Chess and Sudoku Club H8 Motor Company Great Northern Wall Lord Victor Monument Friends of the Urban Forest & Permaculture Project Lake Gnoma Saiku Rainstorm Sky Mark Properties International House Of Style Didugua Thunderstorm Lightning Mz. Shoes



18 March 2010


19 March 2010

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

ress On The Calendar, Continent-By-Continent APRIL









15 April 2010

1 May 2010

Throughout June, 2010





30 April 2010

23 May 2010










17 July 2010

15 August 2010

2 September 2010



18 July 2010


18 August 2010


19 August 2010

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera


Dahlia’s Top 10 Favourite Big People, Places,




Take THAT, You Alien!

Tour Helicopter Gone Wild

Chasing the Rainbow

Guns, tanks, helicopters didn’t stop it. Why did I think my little hand-held jack hammer would? Who cares…I was saving the world!

I rode in a free tour helicopter, but ended up taking the ride of my life all the way out into the uncharted world. Got my money’s worth!

This was the largest rainbow I had seen. As a result, I spent nearly two hours to take 66 shots of it and my balloon together.




When Lightning Strikes

A Basket Full of Bravery

I had to set the balloon down for an hour while a terrible lightning storm raged around me? It was the most I’d ever seen!

Pavl Duke, Madeline McMahon and Aleks Piers joined me for a wild ride both at the carnival and in the balloon! The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

Things Or Moments While Traveling In Heterocera [10:17] Angelocracy Xue: Dahlia Jayaram just flew by my building in a balloon, you should check out her profile, she seems very interesting [10:18] CaseyBrielle Deed: That’s sooo cool [10:25] ZigZag Axon: Now that's some amazing challenge indeed :-) [10:25] ZigZag Axon: Thanks Angelocracy :-) [10:25] CaseyBrielle Deed: Very intelligent [10:34] BackHome Soon: Imagine if you'd been ballooning au naturel? [10:34] Bear Morgwain: wow... how famous you are getting [11:07] Dahlia Jayaram: Oh, how nice! I thanked him without even knowing what he said, like: "Some crazy lady in a balloon just drifted by our station" LOL OTHELO


A Shout-Out To Radio Listeners

150 Freebie Vehicle Shopping!

Angelocracy complimented my balloon as I flew by, so I said to give a shout-out to all his Heterocera listeners from me.

Salmaru Weapon Services at Neumoengen Train Station offered a bounty of free vehicles and gadgets. What a bargain find!




All Aboard!

World’s Tallest Tree

Jumping On The Bed

This guy had just purchased a trolley and was testing it out, so he let me ride down the line with him in style.

Like the book Jack & The Bean Stalk, this tree rose up high above the clouds for a spectacular view of the sky.

When I was little, mom said not to, so I waited until I was an adult to do it. Now the springs are bent worse! But it was so much fun.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera



Dear Jack, Happy new year to you. I have two items of interest I would like to share with you, to see if you or any other Linden family member may have any interest in them. > First, the results of my 5-continent sailing adventure. > Second, the beginning of a new adventure to fly by hot air balloon to/around/through each of Second Life’s 9 continents, flying in order from the oldest to the newest continents to explore many of the interesting sights and people seen along the way. THE SAILING JOURNEY We met briefly at a Blake Sea town hall meeting in August 2009. I had asked for your thoughts from a Linden Lab viewpoint toward exploring the possibility of working toward ensuring an open waterway around each of Second Life continents and you had favorable comments toward the idea. I have since completed a sailing trip around the five continents that are linked together by a common waterway and published a book covering that adventure at: Excerpts from the book also appear in four concurrent issues of ICON magazine, from October 2009 until January 2010. Near the last page of the book, I included a letter written to the Linden family at large so those who I met along the way may read a little about the result of my endeavor to initiate some form of dialog about working toward an open waterway. I hope you’ll take a moment to read it too, and to let other Linden members know of it as well. During my trip, I asked residents if they were interested in having an open waterway around each continent and their response was overwhelmingly in support of it. I passed the results in the form of a petition to Blondin and Keira Linden back in October. I have since sent follow-up messages to Blondin once each month thereafter, without receiving any reply from either he or Keira, so I’m of the impression that they are not interested to pursue any dialog on the topic.

none at all, as I’m sure you can understand. Perhaps if Blondin and Keira are not the appropriate Lindens to engage in this topic, as I was told they were—and as Blondin himself directed me—you might be able to steer me in the appropriate direction toward who would be best to receive such information and what I should expect in return by way of response. THE BALLOON JOURNEY With the sailing adventure completed, I have moved forward with a new adventure: to fly by hot air balloon throughout the entire nine continents of Second Life. While the sailing adventure took seven weeks to circumnavigate five continents, I expect the hot air balloon journey to take at least three months—this is with flying at least a couple hours on average each day. The journey is already underway, having begun January 1, 2010. You can track my progress on my blog at: and in potential future issues of ICON magazine, which are available both in-world as well as on HISTORICAL MARKER FOR SL’s OLDEST SIM As part of the balloon expedition, I was wondering if perhaps the opportunity existed to have a public design contest to create a historical marker in Natoma to indicate it as one of the first and oldest sims in all of Second Life. I thought perhaps it could be incorporated into the festivities surrounding the annual Second Life birthday events. As SL gets older, people may have increased interest to know of its roots, and as of yet all historical information is scattered around, rather than being centrally located. We could bring them all together in a venue surrounding such a memorial marker. I have ideas for this and would be interested to discuss them with you if you or others in the Linden family have interest. I’m wondering if any of the Lindens may be interested to know of the balloon endeavour, or to spread news of it in any particular fashion, such as in Blue Linden’s travel blog or via other notices. The journey will continue regardless of publicity; I was just interested in sharing a good thing with you and others, should there be any interest in it. Thanks for reading and best to you in 2010.

I'm writing you because you had expressed an interest, and I would be happy to receive any thoughts you may have in reply—for, against or disinterested—any comment would be appreciated more than receiving


Dahlia Jayaram 10 January 2010

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dahlia Jayaram began her Second Life in October, 2008. Part of her first few months were spent searching for the most beautiful and natural islands in SL. That endeavour led her to Crossing Currents Island, which she now shares with her partner, Lie Rang, developing and promoting island lifestyle products for MnM Designs. After sailing around five of Second Life’s continents in late 2009, Dahlia wanted to have a travel adventure that would include all nine continents (which became ten just before completion of this book). Thus, the Great Balloon Adventure was born and launched January 1, 2010. Travel from the oldest continent of Sansara through the youngest continent of Zindra would result in a book for each of the nine continents, published at

“We’re a world of travelers. Some people use the map while others fly by the seat of their pants. Let’s at least hope they’re clean pants. You know what mom always said about ‘what if you get in a accident?’“

What will be your adventure?

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera  

This book is the second in a series covering Dahlia Jayaram's hot air balloon adventure as she explores each of Second Life's ten virtual co...

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Heterocera  

This book is the second in a series covering Dahlia Jayaram's hot air balloon adventure as she explores each of Second Life's ten virtual co...