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Great Balloon Adve n t ur e Riding The Winds Through Every Second Life Continent

B lake Se a & Island Communities by Dahlia Jayaram

Heading for open waters: Dahlia Jayaram (foreground) and her co-pilot, MsPaddles Ninetails (background), prepare to lift off from the dock at Susie’s Little Ferry Service in Pelvoux, Satori, on their way to the Blake Sea. Blake Sea was named after the legendary yacht racer and environmentalist Sir Peter Blake.


Great Balloon Adve n tur e Riding The Winds Through Every Second Life Continent

Blake Sea & Islan d Com m un i t i e s by Dahlia Jayaram

©2011 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 ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities 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.M1558J 2011 741.5’6973-B5

201010055 Read Dahlia’s published books online at Visit Dahlia’s weekly travel progress blog at:

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities is Dahlia’s fifth book in a series of adventures by hot air balloon. The 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 Nescera. 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.


003 01 1 03 3 05 3 08 4

Prelude: H ig h Exp ect at ions Week 2 3 : S out her n S ur p rises Week 2 4 : Nor t h b y N or t heast Week 2 4 : D own & Out , A L ig ht M ay S t il l S hine Dahlia’s Bal l oon S kins: Who’s Banner s You M i g h t H a v e S een Fl y By

08 6 Maps: The P lan & The R esul t 08 8 Addendum: An Up dat e on t he Fat e of t he N ew Eng l and Vil l ag e S im s

09 0 09 2 09 4 09 5

Tim eline A t A Gl anc e: C hart ing P r og ress Dahlia’s Top 1 0 F avourit es An Open L et t er To t he L inden F am il y About The A ut hor

A P R E L U D E TO B L A K E S E A & I S L A N D C O M M U N I T I E S

High Expectations



was moving much slower than I usually would be to prepare my hot air balloon for take-off. My slow pace wasn’t so much because I didn’t want to leave—because I’ve always been eager to avoid being in Satori. Today, it was more because I was savouring the moment of knowing that my friend, Susie Chaffe, was back in business in Pelvoux where I was about to launch my balloon for the next stage of The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities.

Opposite page: Dahlia and her co-pilot, MsPaddles Ninetails, lift off from the dock at Susie’s Little Ferry Service in Pelvoux, Satori, on their way to the Blake Sea. Above: Dahlia and MsPaddles Ninetails visited with Susie Chaffe before taking off from Pelvoux.

If you are unfamiliar with my earlier tour of Satori, Susie’s Little Ferry Service headquarters in Pelvoux was the start and finish location of my Satori expedition. By the time I had made it back to Susie’s location a couple of weeks after departing, I arrived to find Susie’s beach stripped completely bare of its buildings, dock and landscaping—everything, in fact, save for a small boat set up on blocks and a sign in front of it stating: “Susie’s Little Ferry Service is Temporarily Closed. Be Back Soon.” This was a startling development I wasn’t prepared for.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Discovering Susie’s property in this condition without an advance warning or hint was quite a shock to me. At the time, I could feel it in my throat and chest. It gave me quite a fright about what may have happened to Susie. After landing and finally absorbing what I saw, I wrote Susie a notecard and mailed it to her. Some days later Susie replied, reassuring me that the ferry service would be back up and running after the Lindens completed a round of rolling restarts for sim upgrades that had been wrecking havoc on her fleet of ferries.

Above: A map sketches out Dahlia’s intended flight plan from the dock at Susie’s Little Ferry Service in Pelvoux, Satori, to and around the Blake Sea & Island Community region.

For me, leaving Susie’s for the Blake Sea wouldn’t have been the same without first knowing that she was well and would soon be back in business again. Once that

happened, all would be right again with the world and I would feel better about continuing on my journey. So I waited. And some weeks later—today, with 3

Above: Using a variety of map and notecard information gathered from advance research, Dahlia put together a general flight plan and mapped out her route on a modified version of one of the more recent world maps. The route used airports and airstrips on each continent as check points where she could stop to verify their continued existence or removal. BS&IC was the fifth region in her adventure. 4

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

With Susie’s island back in order I was assured that my flight into Blake Sea would be blessed with good karma. Susie joining me on her beach while I prepared for my launch— I was relishing the moment and the thought that everything was in back the way it should be. With this, I was assured that my flight into Blake Sea would be blessed with good karma. Above left: The balloon entered the westernmost Blake Sea at Windlass. There, an island with an outdoor party deck filled with water was the source of a waterfall that would spill over the deck’s edge to hide the entrance to a cavernous grotto. Above right: Upon landing on the party deck of the home in Windlass, the two explorers discovered a pool water half as deep as their passenger basket was tall. Opposite page, left: Spotted below while flying high in the clouds, Siren’s Isle was easily recognized, thanks to the beached wreckage of Governor Linden’s large plane. Right: From Blake Sea Canondale the explorers could see what was for Dahlia a new airport they would soon come to know better: Honah Lee Field at Honah Lee Surf island would later reveal itself as the southwesternmost airport in the region.

My co-pilot, MsPaddles Ninetails— who also goes by the nickname Jackie—was with us too, and I had great plans for her. I wanted her to pilot the balloon as much as she felt comfortable to. With the wide open spaces of Blake Sea, I felt confident she would enjoy having the opportunity to pilot and get more accustomed to maneuvering the balloon. My plan for the first day of flying was to depart Pelvoux and fly east along the northeastern shoreline of Satori to enter Blake Sea. From there, we would continue flying 5


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

until we reached Honah Lee Field airport in Honah Lee Surf. In the days following that, we would weave our way in a counter-clockwise direction through the splayed finger-like tendrils of the region’s sims until we exited out the northwestern aspect of Blake Sea and into the Nautilus continental airspace.

Now ready to depart, Jackie and I gave Susie our last well-wishes on her on-going efforts to secure her ferry lines during the continuing rounds of sim upgrades, and Susie wished us well on our adventure. With all our well-wishing complete, I fired up the hot air balloon and we lifted up into the morning air over the channel

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

of water that separated the northern coastline of Satori from the southern coast of the Nautilus’ great island, Nautilus City. Jackie and I flew some 16 sims eastward between the two continents easily without incident. While still coasting past Satori’s north coastline, I noticed not only

Above left: While hovering over Blake Sea Canondale, Dahlia’s co-pilot, MsPaddles Ninetails (Jackie), fell overboard and then the balloon—with Dahlia in it—also crashed into the sea. Dahlia immediately found herself treading water; the nearest land was a small islet within swimming distance. Above left to right, top to bottom: Dahlia swam to the islet where she was relieved to see welcoming signs to the Blake Sea posted. After the exhilaration of reading the welcoming signs wore off, Dahlia unsuccessfully tried to get the attention of passing sailboats for a ride to shore. Realizing she’d have to swim on to Honah Lee Field to launch a new balloon, Dahlia set out for the airfield. Meanwhile, Jackie arrived at the islet Dahlia just left and waited for Dahlia to return to the small islet in the balloon to rescue her. Once both were back in the balloon, the two flew back to Honah Lee Airfield to land and conclude their prelude to the next big adventure, Blake Sea & Island Communities. 7

one, but two new airports that I hadn’t seen only weeks before: the S+RKlein Airport in Ushas and the New Horizons International Airport near Anson. Not only that, but while passing the new JBT International Airport, I didn’t see the WWII British airstrip that was once next door to it. As we drifted into the Blake Sea Windlass area, a small private plane flew nearby and then out of curiosity turned back to circle around us a few times. We also began to see scattered islands immediately ahead, dotting the horizon further in the distance. “It’s Blake Sea—at last!” I cheered aloud to Jackie. We descended to see the nearest island in Windlass and set the balloon down on its outdoor party deck—a deck that not only had a wet bar on it, but also in it. The bar sat in a pool of water that rose half as high as the balloon’s basket when we landed. The water drained off the deck, pouring over one edge to create waterfall that obscured the entrance to a small cave-like lagoon. It looked like a good place to get out of the summer sun and heat. We helped ourselves to a fruity cocktail and with a clink of our glasses celebrated our arrival to the Blake Sea. 8

My spirits soared as high as a balloon ever could, knowing we would now be flying in beautiful, open skies during this stage of the voyage. I had been waiting for flying this stage for a long time now—almost a year! We lit up the balloon’s burner and took to the skies again. We continued our eastern trek, playfully flying high up into the clouds and then back down under them as if without a care in the world. While high up in the clouds, I spotted and pointed out Sirens Isle to Jackie, a small islet where Governor Linden’s large turbo prop sea bi-plane had come to rest after a disastrous crash. Next, we crossed into Blake Cannonade—a known pirate zone— so we began to look for any suspicious looking ships or activities around us. Moments later, Jackie fell out into the water and had to reboot. I waited, then somehow I too fell out while taking pictures of a nearby tiny islet in Blake Sea Indian. After a while, Jackie still hadn’t resurfaced, so I reluctantly swam over to the islet to relative safety. Once I arrived, I crawled up onto the grassy sandbar and saw that it was only about the size of a closet. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

A few minutes later I staggered, exhausted, onto the Honah Lee Surf beach north of the airport. But I wasted no time to unpack a fresh balloon, fire up the burner, and fly back to rescue Jackie. “Wow, that was some crash!” I called out to her as I approached. We were both quite stunned by how quickly we found ourselves in the water when it happened. There was virtually no time to react. Jackie agreed as she got into the basket. Then we flew back to Honah Lee Field and landed on a dock adjacent to the beach, happy to be on dry land once again. Left: After surviving their crash in Blake Sea Canondale, Dahlia and Jackie arrived at Honah Lee Field in Honah Lee Surf. Above: Dahlia and Jackie disembarked at Honah Lee Field beach, where they found an effigy of M. Linden skewered and roasting on a stake over an open campfire on the airport beach.

We hopped out and walked over to the beach to where some sling back chairs rested cozily around Three signs were driven into the back into the sea again and began a campfire. Above the fire, the sand, welcoming people to Blake swimming south to nearby body of M. Linden was tied to Sea and also to inform them to Honah Lee Field in Honah Lee and skewered on a stake that not click on passing boats, as it Surf. All this sea water was going to revolved around in circles like a might disrupt their movement ruin my hair, I thought. roticery. Looks like as good a place during races. as any to stay for dinner, I thought. I swam a few meters out when Just as I read this, I saw three sail- Jackie’s voice called out to me. I The campfire seating area looked boats off in the distance, apparstopped and turned to look back welcoming enough to stay for the ently racing. I began to jump up over my shoulder. Jackie was night before we started our Blake and down, trying to get their at- standing back on the islet I had Sea adventure in earnest—as if it tention, hoping they would come just left. I waved and called out hadn’t already started out with an pick me up and take me over to to her, motioning for her to stay adventure! So we settled in for the airport nearby. But they were there. “I’ll go launch a balloon the night and began dreaming of too far away. They didn’t see me and come back to pick you up!” what the new day would bring. A and didn’t stop, so I had to wade I shouted. future of high expectations. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities



Southern Surprises



after daybreak in early December. My co-pilot, Jackie, was already awake and off doing other things, so I began to prepare for the day’s launch. I knew that further east some islands had already experienced snow, but at Honah Lee Field the air was still tropical and warm, so I felt comfortable to continue wearing my summer beach wear.

I walked from the beach on the north side of the island over to the airport terminal and facilities to look around. As I did, I saw two men conversing out on the tarmac while a fighter jet taxied along the runway. One of the men talking wore either a flight jumper or maintenance overalls, and the other man wore a white pilot’s uniform. Above: Dahlia enjoyed being a passenger in Gossem Hinterland’s zepplin while they scouted out airports nearest to Honah Lee Field. Opposite page: After flying south to see the southern sims of Honah Lee, Hinterland doubled back to fly north past Honah Lee Field on his way to visit Hollywood and Foliage airports.

I waited for the high-pitched jet engine sound to diminish after it taxied and took off, then gave the gentlemen a few moments more to talk before I approached them to ask if they could advise me on which direction I should fly my balloon out of the airport to avoid

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

the flight path of arriving and departing planes. The man in the white pilot uniform, Gossem Hinterland, suggested I fly north from the heliport landing pad for the best scenic view. I let him know that I planned to fly north eventually, but first needed to fly south to stop at Honah Lee Airport (not realizing that it too had been called Honah Lee Field). Hinterland said that Honah Lee Field where we now were was the southernmost airport in the area. I was confused and taken aback by this comment. In fact, I was actually a little incredulous.

Above: While at Honah Lee Field airport, Dahlia approached Angus Chrome (center) and Gossem Hinterland (right) to ask for directions how best to fly out of the airport.

I asked if he was certain, because I knew I had been to an airport further south from where we now were more than once in the past. He reassured me there wasn’t. I didn’t know what more to say about it then, other than to thank

him for telling me this news. I already had the plan to go see for myself anyway, so time would tell. I mentioned to Hinterland I was flying my balloon through all of the Blake Sea & Island Commu11

nity region as part of my balloon adventure. When he heard that, he let me know that he too flew a blimp and was in the process of considering to open a new blimp tour service based out of Honah Lee Field in Honah Lee Surf. This was exciting news to me, because one of things that inspired me to begin my travel adventures was when I tried to follow the advertised route of the Inter Island Transport blimp service in the Blake Sea region. I let Hinterland know about the old blimp service and wondered aloud if it still existed or not. He wasn’t familiar with it, so I told him that blimps arrived and departed from Foliage Airport, and if he was interested I could show him exactly where from. He was interested, and suggested he first fly me south to show me there were no other airports south of Honah Lee Surf, then fly me back north to Foliage. I thought that was a grand idea, not only because I liked blimps, but also because I could then sight-see without having to pilot my own balloon. I liked chauffeurs. So we took off from Honah Lee Field and flew south. Within minutes we neared Honah Lee Bay where I looked down from 12

Above: Dahlia piloted her balloon around the bluff in Honah Lee Bay where Honah Lee Field originally was. Now the vacant parcel was only marked by a real estate vacancy box.

the blimp to see a crescent-shaped bay where I was sure Honah Lee Field used to be. I almost didn’t recognize it, because the land curved inward where once there was a large rectangular slab of concrete pavement with hangers that covered the natural shoreline. Now, on a grassy field below, there only rested a single real es-

tate agent’s box from Hollywood Real Estate company. I shook my head in disbelief, but was thankful I had been braced in advance with the news that Honah Lee Field was no longer there.

the undisputed southernmost airport in the area. Continuing north, we entered the Blake Sea sims, and followed a dotted line of islands that were home to small residences and two brick and mortar forts—including Fort We turned back, flying north past Sumter, a fort that immediately the new Honah Lee Field airport, looked bulky and out of place which I now accepted as being among the more commonplace

tropical beach homes, boat decks, and palm trees. Soon, Hinterland had us high over Hollywood Airport in Santa Catalina. “This is by far the busiest airport around” he said as we circled around it the neighbouring Starboard Yacht Club. I agreed, thinking back on all the

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Rest stop: Sailor’s Rest provides a perfectly placed location for travelers to stop at and take a break. For Dahlia, it provided a place to change into winter clothes and stop for an overnight visit.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


times I’d been to both. I was sure he was right; it was definitely a well-visited area, perfectly located in the central open space of the region. Hinterland turned the blimp eastward, curling around the northern side of Hollywood Airport. Within moments we were closing in on Foliage Airport. I immediately began looking for the platform that IIT blimps arrived and departed from, but the landscape seemed to have changed somewhat since I had last been there. The airport terminal and runway were still the same as the last time I had seen them, which helped establish a recognizable orientation for me. But I could see that the dock blimps used to arrive and depart from was no longer there. Instead, an art gallery rested along the shore in that general area. Hinterland brought the blimp in for a landing with an expert touch. We both hopped out and surveyed the area, talking more about the former blimp taxi service routes and the one he was setting up back at Honah Lee Field. After a few minutes with our survey complete, we climbed aboard Hinterland’s blimp and headed back to Honah Lee Field, where 14

he again landed the blimp with the soft touch of a seasoned pilot. Back on the ground, we thanked each other for the time flying together, then went our separate ways. For me, that meant preparing myself and the balloon for my first day devoted entirely to flying in the Blake Sea & Island Community region. I was eager to lift off and make it official, so I excitedly hurried my preparations and took off without haste. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities is underway! I thought to myself, as cheerfully as a singing bird.

Right: Maysha Xenga enjoyed the view of her first hot air balloon ride with Dahlia as they flew from Honah Lee Field airport in Honah Lee Surf, north toward Fort Sumter. Below: Dahlia set her hot air balloon down right in the middle of Fort Sumter’s inner courtyard—a strategic surprise she believed no one would have expected, considering all the cannons faced out toward sea. Opposite page: Honah Lee Field was busy early in the morning with a second departing hot air balloon and a chinook helicopter that was also waiting to land as Dahlia and her passenger prepared to launch the balloon for a flight north and east.

Once up in the air, I hooked the balloon around the northeastern corner of Honah Lee Field and headed south along its eastern side. Within moments I was flying along the western edge of the long, high bluff that divided the southern Honah Lee estate properties into east and west. There were about four private beach homes and no commercial businesses on each side of the bluff. At the southern tip of the island an old and weathered single-room church stood alongside the unmoving blades of an equally old windmill. The lack of movement from the windmill reflected my The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

feeling about how this once vibrant area now felt so desolate. What had once been a thriving, bustling airport was now an empty parcel of grass within view of an equally still church windmill. I curled the balloon around the apex of the bluff and headed north, back up the eastern side of the island. As I did, I saw residents Dell Wilberg and Emma Swansong relaxing on comfortable deck chairs behind their home. I called out, asking if they were familiar with the old Honah Lee airport and if so, if they knew when it might have left the area. Dell replied, saying the airport had left the area about a year earlier. I was really surprised to hear that, because it seemed like I had been there only a few months earlier—“like yesterday,” as people often say. I thanked him and kept flying north, passing the remaining beach homes and waters that separated Honah Lee island from another familiar location I was closing in on: Sailor’s Rest. Sailor’s Rest was a welcome sight. I hadn’t been there in months, but like today, I was always happy whenever I arrived there because I knew I could stop to take a breather and prepare myself for The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


Right: Nya Silverfall, Timo Gufler and Maysha Xenga joined Dahlia on a trip that departed from the deck of the SS Galaxy, flew eastward over snow-covered islands, and eventually landed at Sailors Cove. Below: Stretching across three sims, the SS Galaxy, Second Life’s largest passenger cruise ship was full of activities for visitors to enjoy. It even had a blimp shuttle service to take visitors from the ship’s helipad to Nautilus City harbor in Nautilus, Lost Lake in the Snowlands region of Sansara, and Avignon Turtle Sanctuary & Wildlife Reserve. Opposite page: The beautiful Cape Elizabeth lighthouse stood tall over its home and provided a distinctive landmark for travelers to navigate safely by.

the next stage of whatever journey I was taking. In the past I had always been sailing, but today, as I touched down softly on the back patio area behind the main building on the island, it was ballooning.

throwing on whatever my hands grabbed first. I ended up wearing a mix-n-matched collection of sweaters, boots, scarves and gloves. It didn’t matter to me; at least I was getting warm again.

It had snowed at Sailor’s Rest and I was still in my bikini top and beach shorts. I was both cold and looking out of place. I was so cold, in fact, that smoke came out of my mouth as I breathed. Shivering, I hurried to dig into my gear and pull out some winter clothes,

Sailor’s Rest offered visitors a nicely stocked bar and seating area, a free sailboat, and both group join boards and landmarks for popular sailing groups and locations. For me, I only needed a place to get a meal and good night’s rest— a sailor’s rest, if you will—for a balloonist. I pulled up a sofa and made myself comfortable for the night. Laying back, I smiled, knowing tomorrow would be another day of flying in the beautiful region. When I awoke the following morning, I poked my head out from my blanket like a turtle. My breath was met once again with frigid air. I shuttered at the thought of having to leave the warmth of my cosy shelter. But the thought of what beautiful sights awaited me gave me strength enough to swing my feet off the sofa and into a sitting position—still rolled up in my blanket like a toasty burrito. Eventually, I unwrapped myself to unpack a balloon. I decided I’d eat along the way, hoping to be in


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Like a big hug: The crescent shaped bay of Sailors Cove stretched out like welcoming arms to surround Dahlia and her basket full of adventurous passengers as they arrived after a day of flying.

warmer climes by then—or at least be warmed by my balloon’s burner while I ate. I launched the balloon and headed north to take a closer look at the forts I had seen earlier while on my blimp tour with captain Hinterland. Within minutes I was approaching Blake Shore where the first of the forts— Fort Sumter—sat, heavy with cannons and thick, fortified walls.

look around. The double doors to the building were locked, so I couldn’t get in. Instead, I walked out of the courtyard through the front gate where I looked over a wanted poster for a pirate and other informational bulletins that hung for visitors to read about the fighting group they could join. It was all more than I wanted to read myself, but for those who were truly interested, I’m sure it To me, I considered this fort no- wouldn’t be nearly enough. For ticeably out-of-place on a small is- them, the “about land” profile land out in the middle of the sea. offered a highly detailed and It stood in stark contrast to other lengthy description of the island. more traditional island structures: wooden or stucco beach bungaMore exciting for me, however, lows and make-shift huts or tents. was a wooden plank suspended Curiously, the fort wasn’t near the by ropes that hung from a tall port entrance of any city; it was tree nearby. I’m a sucker for a simply sitting out on a tiny island good swing, it seems, because I all by itself—protecting what, I gladly hopped onto the plank and couldn’t tell. began swinging back and forth while I watched a soldier— Since Fort Sumter’s cannons were Cooper Convair—on the beach. poised to fire out into the sea, I felt He was busy and I didn’t want to emboldened enough to drop the disturb him. I couldn’t help but to balloon down out of the sky and think, however, that perhaps after onto the grassy, inner courtyard he saw my balloon land in the of the fort. I bet they never concenter courtyard, he was rethinksidered they might be attacked ing Fort Sumter’s lack of protecfrom the sky! As every good tion from the sky. I suppressed a strategist knows, the element of giggle while thinking about it. surprise is in their favour, and mine was no exception. Eventually, Convair left the island and I was alone at what some After landing, I hopped out to would probably call “Blake Sea’s The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

most fortified fort.” But with nobody there to protect it, all I had to do was shimmy up the rope that held the swing and walk along the tree branches, then hop over Fort Sumter’s wall to where a cozy bed would take care of me for an overnight stay. Perhaps doing this made me a scallywag. After a very comfortable sleep, I was up early the next morning. I

didn’t want to be caught in the general’s bed—either alone or with some stranger I hadn’t planned on—so I gathered up my belongings and headed back to the beach outside. A new friend, Maysha Xenga, asked me the day before if she could fly with me sometime, so when I noticed she was in-world I called to let her know I would

Above: While preparing to depart Sailors Cove, Dahlia noticed a well-attended event taking place. After looking around for clues, she found a box indicating the event was a memorial to celebrate the life of Delinda Dyrssen, a well known and much loved figure in the Sailors Cove community. 19

be flying. In the meantime, I set sail from Fort Sumter to return to Honah Lee Field. The airfield wasn’t far away and made for a better launch site than the courtyard of Fort Sumter. Once back at Honah Lee Field, I unpacked my balloon and prepared for lift-off. By the time I was ready, Maysha had arrived and we were good to go. Angus Chrome, whom I had met the other day was there too, preparing a hot air balloon of his own nearby. He lifted off before us and we hurried to follow, because hovering overhead, waiting for us to depart, was an incoming chinook helicopter, that lit up our balloon with its headlight.

I turned the balloon eastward to view the islands immediately east in Holly Kai Three and Newport Bay, then flew straight south toward my next big landmark, the SS Galaxy passenger line cruise ship. When I say it was my next “big” landmark, I really mean it, because the Galaxy was the largest ship in all of Second Life, extending over three sims in length.

The SS Galaxy boasted a slew of stylish amenities including but not limited to passenger cabins that could be rented by the day or week, a dance ballroom, swimming pools both in and out of doors, a gymnasium and sauna, a beauty parlour, a large dining hall, wedding facilities, shopping, and more. The amenities were so Lifting off, I piloted the balloon extensive that if you went you north in the wake of the now dis- should expect to spend a lengthy Above: Dahlia slowly eased her balloon up and over the Sailors Cove ampitheatre filed with residents while she tried to figure out what the event was all about. tant Angus Chrome. Having al- amount of time to discover everyready seen this area the day before, thing the ship had to offer. Once we cleared the ship’s aft We passed a lighthouse at Cape decided to set the balloon down I could point out some of the sights section, I turned the balloon east- Elizabeth island, landing briefly on the landing zone dock where to Maysha, such as Fort Sumter Maysha and I landed on the for- ward to fly on a course heading on its front lawn to secure a land- all the touch signs were for inforand another fort in nearby Diego. ward observation deck to look for Sailors Cove. The air began to mark, then continued on our way mation, just in case anyone might around. While we were there, I grow cold again as we cruised over through Plum Gut, and Fishers Is- be interested to gather some. Eventually, we arrived alongside called to invite two more friends islands that had accumulated snow land before arriving at the picturHollywood Airport, talking about to ride along with us. After Nya on the ground. Everyone agreed, esque harbour of Sailors Cove. I eased the balloon into place how it was possibly the busiest Silverfall and Timo Gufler arit was unique and pretty to see without any incident at all and airport in all of Second Life and rived, we took off again, flying islands now covered with white This small community island was everyone hopped out. Much to definitely located in one of the low along the ship’s starboard snow and icicles that we were such a beautiful sight with all of my relief, it was a perfect flight best places for planes flying in side to get a great view of the ship normally accustomed to seeing its snow that I was really happy I with no unexpected flying disasfrom every direction in the reas we drifted northward and beige sand on. To me, it looked could share it with a full basket of ters to mar the experience. Everygion. Planes were everywhere. talked about the amenities. like white sand and crystals. friends. Arriving at the village, I one arrived safe, saw some great 20

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

scenery, and had a wonderful time along the way. What more could a host pilot ask for? It had to be one of my most rewarding flights to share with passengers. Not long after we landed, everyone said their goodbyes, then went on to enjoy their day. As for me, I sat on a park bench at the entrance of the dock for another hour to update my flight notes and then to read a newspaper that was left on the park bench. Surprisingly, Hitler had made the front page; inside, adverts displayed films playing in the cinema, including: James Stuart in Take Her, She’s Mine. It seemed the outside world hadn’t changed much since then. Today remained just as full of complicated issues and surprises. The next day when I went back to Sailors Cove to launch, I found it bustling with people. It seemed I had arrived while a big event was taking place on stage not far from the welcome landing zone dock. I counted at least 20 people who gathered to talk, dance, jump high into the air, and carry large, yellow bananas.

Above: Sailors Cove was a delightful little port village with a variety of nautical-themed shops and services, as well as a thriving community that supported it—as was evidenced by the well attended memorial event that took place for Delinda Dyrssen as Dahlia flew by. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

I paused while I tried to recall if it was international banana day or something, but I was at a loss for an explanation. While I slowly el21


Opposite page top and bottom left: Dahlia flew out from Fishers Island northward to circle around Race Rock Island, a well known lighthouse landmark for sailors to navigate by. While circling around it, a flurry of snow began to fall—Dahlia’s first in the balloon. Opposite page top and bottom right: Dahlia headed south from Race Rock Island through Hay Harbor, the next waterway over from Fishers Island. Flying in low over the water on the east side of Fishers Island, Dahlia spotted for the very first time the statue of a sailor turning the wheel that would have belonged to a large schooner. Right: Fishers Island Yacht Club is to the south in Clipper Bay, across the bay from Fishers Island. There, Dahlia met Sailors Cove harbor captain, ChippyAnn Kamm who provided more insight about the memorial event taking place at Sailors Cove.

evated the balloon into the air, I looked around for clues. Eventually, I saw a box on the ground near the stage. The box cover read that there was a two-day memorial event for a resident named Delinda Dyrssen…and it looked as if I had come upon it in full swing. Inside the box, information included a note card about Dyrssen and a website link to the National Kidney Foundation where residents could donate money in her name.

I flew the balloon northeasterly, toward Race Rock Island, a lighthouse that sat on a pedestal base out in the water. It was adorned with white Christmas trees, a wreath, and icicles that hung from a snow-packed roof. I used the lighthouse as my turning point to head back south—and as I did, a brief flurry of snowflakes drifted down from the sky…my first snowfall while in the balloon!

I headed back south through Hay Harbor, drifting over homes to People were allowed to use to a the east of Sailors Cove. These microphone on stage to share re- homes were also covered in a thick membrances they had of Delinda. blanket of wintery snow and I had never met or known of her, looked equally cold and beautiful but judging by the size of the at the same time. As I neared the crowd, a lot of others had. Despite eastern side of Fishers Island, I the circumstances, it was refresh- spotted for the first time a statue ing to see a place that attracted a of a sailor out on a small islet in large gathering. I didn’t want to the harbour—a sailor in his long intrude, however, so I quietly raincoat and hat, who gripped a eased the balloon up and into the spoked wheel that most likely air as I gently flew by, looking would have belonged to a large down on the spectacle. sailing schooner. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Passing the statue, I skimmed the balloon low over the water as I continued south until I reached the Fisher Island Yacht Club in Clipper Bay. Once there, I set the balloon down on the wooden walkway that lead to the clubhouse from the docks.

The clubhouse had all the warmth and charm of a cozy home, but had open-post walls and no doors to allow visitors free entry. A welcoming crackle and pop from a fireplace inside looked inviting, so I decided I would go warm up a while. But before I made it to

the door, harbor captain, ChippyAnn Kamm, joined me outside on the deck of the yacht club. I thought perhaps I was intruding, but she welcomed me. I mentioned that I had taken off earlier from Sailors Cove across the bay from 23

Above: Warmer climes returned as Dahlia arrived at Cut Water, an island that marked the turning point to fly into the southernmost islands of the region. The public facility island provided a large, sandy beach with sling-back chairs to relax on, a stage for music and dancing, docks for visitors to park their boats at, and more. Right: Small, personal-sized residential islands dotted the seascape from Cut Water (seen at top right) east to St. Martin (foreground, bottom left).

where we now stood and that I had seen the impressive memorial event underway. I asked if she knew how many people had been there to participate. She reported having counted 53 residents on Fishers Island and another 15 on Sailors Cove in the time she was there—and that it never had less than 20 visitors at any moment.

quite loved within the sailing community.”

We talked a little longer, then ChippyAnn had to be on her way. She encouraged me to check out the natural ice skating pond on another small island next door that also belonged to the yacht club. So after she left, I paddled over to take a look. It had a nice “She sure was popular!” I exsized ice skating pond on it, free claimed. “Yes, I didn’t know her ice skates, as well as a small hut to well, but many people knew her,” sit in to warm up in if it got to be ChippyAnn replied. “She was too cold. Also outside and perfect 24

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

for picture taking was a snowman and a sleigh—both of which I helped myself to—just in case I wanted to make a future winter greeting card. Once I was satisfied with my exploration of the skating area, I

Above: St. Martin’s horseshoe shaped island provided the southernmost island’s only airstrip, and as such, became a relatively The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

went back to the club to warm myself in front of the cozy fireplace I had looked forward to spending some time in front of earlier. Settling in, I consulted my map to see what direction I was to go next. South to the Caribbean islands appeared to be the answer,

busy place. Inset: St. Martin also provided a small open air hut with a dj table and—better yet—a hammock for a certain weary traveler. 25

so after I warmed up sufficiently, I re-inflated my balloon out on the boardwalk and took off.

there, I could look around in all directions, and after I was satisfied I’d seen all there was to see, I turned the balloon back around Before I went south, however, I to head south-southwest. As I did, wanted to take one more look at a passenger balloon full of people the eastern residential islands, just rose up nearby me, taking its octo make sure I didn’t miss anycupants to the southernmost isthing. I allowed my balloon to land in the area. It was nice to see drift in a northeasterly fashion another balloon full of people also through Cat’s Paw until I reached enjoying the crisp winter air over a high bluff of the island. From these scenic islands. 26

I cruised back through Cat’s Paw, past the yacht club in Clipper Bay, and wiggled my way along, following the waterways between islands in Quoddy Head. Passing over Vineland Lewis Rock, I arrived at Bartlett Narrows, a waterway that could take me straight south into the Caribbean islands. As I traveled through the narrows, the weather became more

familiar to me. The balmy humidity was enough that I could finally wiggle out of my winter clothes and strip down to my skivvies. By the time I arrived at Cut Water Island, I was both in the tropics again and out of my winter clothes.

well as a stage for bands to play on. Not only that, but for boating travelers, a long wooden dock had multiple stalls available to park their boats at. I touched down on the beach just long enough to collect a landmark before rising back up again. I was keen to see the many islands that dotted the warm water ahead like sparkling jewels.

Cut Water’s welcoming public beach at had plenty of sling-back chairs and towels to lounge on, as Continuing east from Cut Water,

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Opposite page left: While Dahlia prepared the balloon for her morning departure from St. Martin’s airstrip, residents Dirk Mocha and JenJen Baily prepared to take off in a coast guard helicopter. Above: Dahlia watched from the boardwalk in St. Martin as two sea planes landed at the same moment—one on the sandy airstrip and one in the narrow bay waters. Right: Palm trees in Bimini were festively decorated in beautiful lights to celebrate the winter holidays—a sight Dahlia appreciated seeing as she flew by. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


Right: Racoon Cay had a small island with white sand, bamboo and palm trees, a hut, a shaded place to relax to enjoy the sun and sea, and a fantastic sailing yacht. This pretty much summed up the treasure to be found at the end of many people’s rainbow.

I passed through Haiti and Port au Prince, where I enjoyed the view of small private bungalows. I watched first one motor boat and later another drive by and smiled to myself. It wasn’t a hard stretch for me to feel quite at home here in this environment. After Port au Prince, I crested over palm trees on a raised ridge and unexpectedly spotted the runway of an airstrip on the horse-shoe shaped island of St. Martin. It was here that I thought perhaps a sea plane headquarters might be, but I could tell that this wasn’t the place I remembered from my earlier travels. I had never seen this runway before. On the eastern side of the island was a very short paved runway that had sand blown over on it. Perhaps as a reminder and testament to it’s tricky landing requirements, the remnants of a small, single engine plane that had crashed at the end of the runway still remained, half buried in the sand. On the western side of the island, a couple of planes were parked on the beach near a tiki 28

hut, and a weathered wooden walkway hugged the shoreline as it lead out to where a small sea plane was tied to the post of a dock.

was an unexpected pleasure to find this place, and—looking at both my watch and the available hammock swinging between two posts under the roof of the hut— I decided this might be the best I eased my balloon over the top of place for me to stop for the day the palm trees and down past the since I saw no other resting areas sandy parking area, then landed on my map in this area. gently on the wooden walkway. It I retired my balloon for the day

and climbed onto the hammock where I read over my notes. The warm sea breeze gently rocked the hammock and comforted me as I worked. Somewhere along the way, I slipped off into my Caribbean dreamland.

Blake Sea—enjoying the wind in my face, blowing through my hair, and passing big, fluffy, white clouds that floated by in a brilliantly blue sky. My smile was as bright as the sun as I floated effortlessly forward without a simcrossing-care in the world. I dreamed that I was soaring high After a few moments of this flyover the open sea—presumably ing bliss, I looked down to see The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

the water off, but it was much to far away to grab as I slipped by in my balloon. My HOME! I gasped, forgetting momentarily that I didn’t even have a home there.

Above: After passing through Racoon Cay, a swarm of bees chased Dahlia all the way through Tiga before she finally outran them.

where I was and noticed I was being towed by a rope attached to a speed boat. Driving the boat was my MnM Designs partner, Lie Rang. She waved up to me cheerfully, smiling broadly with teeth as white as those shown on toothpaste commercials— even through the blonde hair that was being swept back across her face by the blowing wind. I smiled back, knowing I was in good hands.

I looked out for visual clues to see where we were and realized she was pulling my balloon around Lenora where my little garden gallery for travel photography, books, and a map that tracked the progress of my balloon journey was. I thought that was unusual, because we didn’t have any spare navigatable water around the Lenora sim. Lenora had land that went right up to the off-grid sea.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Just then, a skybox home slowly passed by right at my eye level. It was directly over my little gallery parcel. Hey…I don’t have a skybox here, I thought to myself, partly taken aback by this development. I peered inside as we began to fly by and saw a claw foot bathtub overfilling with water and running over it’s edge. Instinctively, I reached out with my hand to turn

with expert skill. I was impressed.

I continued to watch as the crew disembarked from their planes. As it turned out, each plane had a crew of two, and they all stood I woke with a start. together on the tarmac talking while munching on chocolate chip I was back, rocking on the outcookies. I smiled, thinking how door hammock at St. Martin. that was a very novel way to celeThank goodness I didn’t put my brate a successful outing. I know hand in the tub full of water, I I should have approached them to thought to myself. I might have talk a while, but for some strange peed on the hammock. reason I felt the need to get into the air very soon myself, so I finIt was still very early in St. Martin. ished my preparations to lift off. Dawn hadn’t arrived yet, but I was fully awake, so I decided to Soon it was my turn; I climbed prepare myself for an early depar- aboard my balloon and within ture. I was moving slowly, how- moments I was back in the air ever, and before I was ready to go, heading southeast to St. Barts and a coast guard helicopter roared to Kokomo where I watched a dollife on the short runway across phin leaping out of the water. I the lagoon from me. In it were pi- then headed west through Anlots Dirk Mocha and JenJen Baily guilla, Racoon Cay, Tiga and Bigetting ready to take off to an un- mini…all the way to Martinique. known destination, perhaps even to Along the way I saw the typical rescue someone. variety of small islands just perfect in size to accommodate modest Not long after, two large twin sized homes and a boat dock. They engine turbo prop American air were all the kind of properties I force sea planes landed simultaalways thought I’d love have for neously at St. Martin’s. One plane myself—if only I were rich enough. landed on the short airstrip at the same moment the other plane While I passed through Raccoon landed in the narrow inlet waters. Cay and Tiga, one of the homes Despite the short and tight space, was apparently infested with both pilots landed their planes bees, because as soon as I passed 29

Left: As the day’s light began to fade while flying through the southernmost islands of the Island Communities, Dahlia passed a patient man who was still fishing in Bimini. Above: Dahlia reached Martinique after night fell. A beautiful full moon presented itself over the off-grid sea. This night was one of the few times in which Dahlia chose to fly after dark, confident that this night there would be little to no interfering air traffic in the sky to contend with—except maybe Santa’s sleigh. 30

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

into that airspace, four or five of those bees flew up to the balloon and chased until I outran them. Later, as the sun set and night descended, I wondered if I should continue flying—not only because it increased my risk to have a mid-air collision with a plane, but also because it was Christmas Eve and I might be mistaken for Santa flying by—or worse—an elf. I

decided to risk it at least until I could find a suitable landing site. In time, I arrived in Martinique, then turned northward to Guadeloupe where, tucked away in the northwestern corner of the sim and facing the off-grid sea, I discovered a simple dock for public boats. There, I could land the balloon and relax at a table, have a drink at the outdoor tiki bar, or— as would be my choice—settle in

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

to make my bed for the night on a park bench that looked out toward the moon-illuminated western offgrid waters. Ok…after a shot of rum or two. I was literally alone in my own little corner of the world. If only I could have seen three sims to the northwest, I would have noticed that I was directly across from the SS Galaxy cruise ship.

Above: The small island of Guadeloupe in the northwestern corner of the southern islands provided a public marina where Dahlia could safely land for an overnight stay. Left: Guadeloupe was peaceful and quiet, but being as it was also Christmas Eve, spending the night there without others to celebrate with was a little lonely. At least there was a bar! 31


North By Northeast


T W A S E A R LY C H R I S T M A S M O R N I N G , B U T

already Guadeloupe Island was warm and balmy. For some, it might seem like an unusual way to experience Christmas, but for me it was the only thing I’d ever known. I also knew I would soon be flying back north into wintery temperatures again, so I prepared my winter clothing in advance, then took to the sky from the hospitable little island after a toast to the holiday with a shot glass of fine Jamaican rum from the bar.

I flew eastward through Bulia, then set my course to fly north past Cut Water and through Bartlett Narrows again. I arrived back in Quoddy Head and the Plum Gut islands where winter temperatures greeted me and sandy beaches were still under a white blanket of snow.

Opposite page: After overnighting Christmas Eve on a park bench while dockside at Guadeloupe Island, Dahlia prepared to fly north along the eastern islands toward the northern island communities. Above: Dahlia flew eastward from Guadeloupe to Bulia, where she would then turn to fly north.

homes on the western Plum Gut islands, while on the eastern side of the channel I enjoyed seeing Bull Rock lighthouse—a landmark building that perched neatly at waters edge on its own little square of masoned stone that elevated it over the sea.

As I coasted along the open waterBetween Flat Hammock and way I spotted two rows of illumiPlum Gut a start/finish line for nated markers leading northward one of the sailing race courses in the water below. I followed them stretched. The waterway was further into Bull Rock where the wide and clear between Plum Gut weather began to turn overcast and and Flat Hammock along Sailors even colder. Soon, snow began Cove, so while I bundled up in my coming down in Bull Rock and in winter clothes, I coasted lazily, Big Break—my second experience enjoying the beautiful view of of flying in snow.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Above: Dahlia flew north from the Caribbean islands up the sea lane that separated the Plum Island Estates (foreground) from and Flat Hammock and Sailors Cove (background). This open stretch of water played host to a popular sailboat race course.

Eventually, despite poor visibility, the rows of lights led me to where they terminated at the Aurora Sea Plane Base on Grand Manan. I was glad to reach the Base because de-

spite the layers of winter clothes I had already prepared and put on earlier, I was still cold. I needed a place to stop and regroup to reassess my choice of fashions! 33

Above: Dahlia flew north up an open waterway, flanked by Flat Hammock and Sailors Cove. The open water was an ideal place for racing sailboats while in a scenic area. Residents got a great view

I hopped out of the balloon basket and entered the seaplane base headquarters. Inside was a ticket counter and convenient landmark and group join signs for a variety of island activities, communities, and flying destinations. I noted a couple were out of date, but the majority were still current.

of races from their front or back decks too. Right: At the northernmost aspect of the same open waterway in Bull Rock, temperatures grew colder and snow began to fall from an increasingly overcast sky.

the sea plane base, I was back in the balloon again to continue my northward trek past more cold and snowy islands.

layers. Swallowtail was a little island that had a cute, open-walled shelter, adorned with strings of holiday lights, a small Christmas tree, and three penguins that At Swallowtail and Timber Wolf walked around in circles out in islands, I reached the northern the snow dressed in holiday hats. edge of this section of snowy isInside—if you could call it that— lands. I noticed that the weather was a cozy fireplace and some ahead was more clear and warmer, seating. It appeared to be open to After putting on additional layers so I dropped down onto a boat the public, although a photo of of clothing and warming up at dock at Swallowtail to shed my two residents rested on a table.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Following a runway of floating lights on the sea surface, Dahlia flew back out of the falling snow and re-discovered the Aurora Sea Plane Base on Grand Manan island, which she had been unable to locate via conventional keyword searches online prior to her departure for Blake Sea & Island Communities.

I decided I shouldn’t stay too long in case I was intruding on private property. I crawled back into the balloon and lifted off to fly north over Blake Sea Aegean. As I flew, small boats circled irratically below me, their skippers learning how to control demo sailboats from the nearby Trudeau yacht shop at Isla de Jacqinda. The sight brought back fond memories for me about my many The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

visits to ride the Trudeau demo boats. I liked sailing them but was kept so busy watching instruments and trying to see past the raised bow of the boat that I could never get a good view around me to avoid colliding into unseen moving traffic or even an occasional shore. Worse yet, I never got to fully relax long enough to enjoy any sight-seeing. Because of this, I never felt quite comfortable enough to buy one. Instead, I enjoyed

coming back every now and then to sail the 30-minute timed Leetle Cat demo boat. Someone once suggested on my blog that I might have enjoyed my Great Sailing Adventure more if I had used a sailboat made “by any of SL’s respected sailboat builders.” I considered it a valid presumption and one that I didn’t mind to answer. I had a variety of reasons why I didn’t use one from the 35

Below: A small open-air shelter in Swallowtail provided wonderful view of the Blake Sea Aegean waters, as well as a break point in which Dahlia could stop at to change out of winter weather clothes and back into her summer skivvies. Right: A short dock at a shelter in Swallowtail provided just enough room to land on so Dahlia could slip out of her winter wear and prepar to fly across warmer Blake Sea Aegean waters, and over small sailboats to the Trudeau yacht maker’s retail shop. Opposite page, far right: The Isla de Jacquinda served as the main retail shop for Trudeau boats. It featured a dock where you could launch a demo Leetle Cat sailboat to take out and practice with.


mentioned builders, the foremost being that a wind-aided sailboat simply wouldn’t have been able to make the kind of voyage I had planned due to size and the need to be driven by the wind.

be interested, the complete answer is still on my blog at: www.dahliasweet/

The same sensibility of my sail boat answer was also true with my hot air balloon for this voyage. I needed to be able to pilot my I had a specific route and direcboat in specific directions and into tion I wanted to follow, so I areas unrelated to which way the needed to self-guide the balloon wind might be blowing. I had rather than allow the wind to places to go; I couldn’t wait around take me wherever it wanted. For to see if the wind would ever purists, this would be blasphemy, change. That was just the tip of but that’s ok with me. My voyage my answer; for those who might wasn’t about going wherever the

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

For purists, this would be blasphemy, but…my voyage wasn’t about going wherever the winds wanted to take me; it was about me taking the balloon where I wanted to go. winds wanted to take me; it was about me taking the balloon to where I wanted to go. But now I was closing in on Isla de Jacquinda. As I neared the southern edge, I leaned over the basket’s edge to get a good look around. The Trudeau boat retail shop appeared to still have the same boats I had seen for the past two years—all wonderfully made, rich in detail, and with sign boards that explained the history and heritage of some boats—a feature and courtesy I particulary appreciated.

and wide that tall-masted sailboats could pass through them with ease. Knowing boats could pass through the arches gave me an idea. The openings looked just about big enough to accommodate a hot air balloon. I wondered: could mine squeeze through? I decided to call the owner, Transparent Banshee, to ask permission to attempt a daredevil maneuver to find out. Transparent gave me his blessing and even showed me a

picture of how the former Inter Island Transit blimp used to pass through the narrower of the two openings. That was exciting, impressive, and reassuring to me, but I wasn’t certain if my balloon was as short vertically as the zepplins were. With Transparent’s approval, I decided to give it a try. And to be sure that I could prove I did it, I made sure I had witnesses. Jackie flew alongside me in the balloon while Roberto Highfield videotaped the stunt. While Roberto filmed, Jackie and I took off from Greenhouse, then began our approach toward the narrower, western overpass. I

I angled the balloon northwest to fly into Mare Nostrum, where an impressively large stone aqueduct rose high above the water and stretched out into the sea from its connection to the nearby island of Greenhouse—a nature area with an immense atrium on it. The elevated aqueduct delivered water to Greenhouse via a trough that passed over three different overpasses, two of them so large The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


slowed the balloon as we approached so I could carefully line up our entry. To clear the overhang, I brought the balloon basket down to kiss the water as we squeezed through. We made it with a little room to spare, and I cheered as we emerged out the other side of the bridge. Next, I looped the balloon back up and overtop the aqueduct to drop down in front of the second overpass. Although this opening was wider, it wasn’t quite as high as the first opening, due to a panel of decorative masonry that displayed the profile of a famous Italian architect, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, for whom the architecture was inspired by and dedicated to. As I moved the balloon forward, I told Jackie to hold her breath, then submerged the basket fully underwater as we entered the opening. Moments later, I quickly brought it back up and out of the water as we passed to the opposite side. Water streamed out of the basket as we rose into the air and flew back to the top of the aqueduct where we landed on the center overpass. It was an exhilarating ride and I was so excited to have made it without any significant difficulty. 38

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Left: An impressively large stone aqueduct in Mare Nostrum provided water for nearby Greenhouse. It also commanded spectacular views in all directions of neighbouring islands, Blake Sea Agean, and the many boaters who preferred the eastern waters of Second Life. Above: Mare Nostrum’s high stone aqueduct archways gave rise to the idea for a daredevil flying stunt in the balloon: to see if Dahlia could pass it through the two largest overpasses. In earlier years, slightly less tall Inter Island Transit zepplins passed through the archway as part of their normal passenger route. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


Top: A shy whale swam past the blimp while it flew near the water’s surface in Mare Nostrum. Bottom: Dahlia and Maysha Xenga celebrated their successful arrival at Foliage Airport with a dance and a big beer from the bar. 40

Roberto called out: “Dahlia, where are you?” I told him that I was on top of the aqueduct. Due to lag—or because he was still in Greenhouse while I was in Mare Nostrum—he had lost track of me and missed the entire stunt. I suggested he come to Mare Nostrum and watch as I tried it again.

excellent work. Rob placed the a good day, then took some movideo on the internet for all to see. ments to update my flight notes. As I did, Maysha Xenga came to Both Rob and Jackie had to move join me. She asked about the stunt, on to other pursuits, so I thanked so I decided to show her instead them for joining me and bid them of talking about it. We flew the

same twisting pattern through the narrow archway, back over the aqueduct, and through the larger overpass again. Third time is a charm as they say, I thought, and this time was no different.

And so we did. After repeating the stunt—flying under both overpasses and landing back atop the aqueduct—I called out to see if Roberto got it. He said he had, but that lag continued to create some disruptions. I appreciated Rob’s efforts and didn’t want to keep him. I was hopeful that whatever he got would be sufficient to show I had indeed passed successfully through each underpass. In the days that followed, Rob called to tell me that despite the jerky nature of the filming due to lag, he was able to salvage the most important parts to serve as proof of my stunt. I don’t know which I was more thankful for: having a video showing me successfully pass through the overpass, or not having to risk flying for another filming session that might show me crashing the balloon and having to swim for safety. As it was, I was satisfied and thankful for Rob’s hard and

Left: Dahlia and passenger Maysha Xenga took off from Foliage Airport and flew through the search lights over to neighbouring Greenhouse. Above: Flying northeast, Dahlia and Maysha flew over Greenhouse, a wonderful nature-oriented island that featured a

large botanic garden atrium, an art gallery, a coffee house, a flower field, scenic sitting areas, and more. Plants in Greenhouse received water via a station in neighbouring Mare Nostrum that pumped water along a trough high up on a massive, stone aqueduct. 41

Above: North of Greenouse on a small island at Oasis Retreat in Balboa Bay, Dahlia spotted what she thought might be the shortest airstrip ever made in Second Life. Above right: Not far from the Boston Harbor lighthouse in Boston Light, a statue that humans could sit under while waiting to meet mer-people hung out over the water to entice visitors from the deep to come closer. Opposite page: On the day we passed through Boston Light, the only creature surfacing near the mer-statue was a large whale which sprayed Dahlia and her passenger Maysha Xenga as they passed nearby. This whale experience was much more fun and exciting than waiting for the shy whale in Mar Menor, but both were unique. 42

Now with all the stunt flying at Mare Nostrum finished for the day, I pointed out some of the sights of Mare Nostrum and Greenhouse to Maysha. I also mentioned that if she was ever interested to try a free sailing boat demo ride, that she could take one back at the Trudeau shop.

allow Maysha to get out and take a look around. She oogled and ah’ed over the wonderfully built sailing boats for a while, and once she was satisfied with her visit, we lifted off and flew back west again, passing the southern side of Greenhouse until we arrived at Foliage Airport.

the sounds of a bustling activity. I always liked hearing the sounds there. Even when alone, the terminal still seemed so alive, so vibrant with the activities of the day.

We took our time to examine the destination posters, ticket counter, and wet bar. Being as there was no staff to serve us, Maysha went Since it was nearby, I decided to I brought the hot air balloon to behind the bar and poured each fly her back over to see for herself rest on its grassy runway, then of us a big glass of beer from the and to grab a landmark. Once we hopped out to have a look around. tap to celebrate our safe arrival arrived, I eased the balloon down Its art deco era terminal building and to wish our continued good onto one of the wooden docks to was empty inside, but teeming with flying experience. It wasn’t long

before we punctuated the celebration with a dance too. After drinking our fill, we decided to overnight there in the terminal— as travelers often do. The next morning, we took off and headed back northeast over Greenhouse and into Balboa Bay where a tiny islet I had never noticed before called Oasis Retreat possibly had the shortest airfield runway I had ever seen. Aside from that and a refueling gas tank, it was empty.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

I set the balloon down long enough to get a landmark for it, then we continued our trek northward to Boston Light. There, I pointed out the historic Boston Harbour lighthouse to Maysha, as well as a statue where humans could sit at to meet mer-people as they surfaced from the depths of the sea. We hovered a while to see if any would appear, but weren’t lucky enough to witness any. We did, however, see a large whale as it breached right next to the balloon basket and sprayed us in a shower of sea mist. “Wow, that was so cool!” we both screamed in delight. Martha's Vineyard was within eyesight, so we flew a little further north until we reached a dock on the island where we could take a break. Maysha hopped out to explore the island while I changed out of my whale-drenched clothes and updated my flight notes. By the time she returned, I was ready to head off again. The balloon rose up, but remained low in altitude while we approached three of my very favourite properties in all of Second Life: Point of Pines, Lands End and Billingsgate. As we arrived along the cusp of Point of Pines and Lands End, I let the balloon hover quietly while The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


I took pictures. Perhaps being stationary for too long revealed a puncture in the balloon fabric, because after a while we abruptly found ourselves crashing down to the ground. Dusting the snow off of ourselves, I saw we were not far from my friend, Sudane Erato’s, home in Lands End, so I suggested we hike over to her place to get in from the cold and regroup. As we trudged through the deep snow in Sudane’s back yard garden and around to the front of the house, I called Sudane to let her know we were arriving and to ask if we could come in for some of the delicious roast pork she always had waiting for guests on her kitchen table. She said we were most welcome, so we knocked the snow off our boots before entering, then went inside to warm up and sample some of Sudane’s wine and sumptuous cooking. Because it is so cozy, it is always difficult to leave the comfort of Sudane’s home. But I wanted to show Maysha the long stretch of beach that reached out into the easternmost sea in Second Life like a long, hooked finger to end at Jeremy Point in Billingsgate. Left: Martha’s Vineyard didn’t have any grapes or orchards, but it did have some nice homes on it. 44

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

For some reason, I never tire of the beauty offered by the remote simplicity of this lonely stretch of sand. With Sudane’s beachfront home way off in the distance, the immense water and landscape stretching back to it and the vast sky behind it made the home look like a tiny doll house by comparison. In the end, Billingsgate and Lands End was just too good for me to leave, so I overnighted there and the next morning re-launched my balloon from the tip of sand at Jeremy Point. Once up in the air, I angled the balloon northwesterly to fly back across the waters of the open bay until I reached Tuckernuck, where I then turned northward above the seaside home and the waves coming ashore. The next island northward also had a home on it, but the one north of that was completely bare, save for the tiny figures of two residents standing out on snow-covered Monhegan Island. I assumed they must be a couple considering a real estate investment, so I didn’t want to disturb Right: Dahlia and passenger Maysha Xenga look west from the sandy fingertip beach of Jeremy Point in Billingsgate—Second Life’s easternmost mainland sim located among the New England islands. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


Sunrise over Point of Pines, Lands End and Billingsgate: Dahlia took off early in the morning sunrise to continue her journey through the Second Life New England islands.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

High overhead: Dahlia flies northwesterly, crossing the bay in front of Sudane Erato’s home in Lands End, on her way to Tuckernuck and the northernmost sims of the Island Communities.

Tucked away in Tuckernuck: Braced against bitter sea winds that drove cold sea waves ashore, this home in Tuckernuck appeared to be hibernating through the lonely winter months until the return of Spring.

Above: A boat in Truro waited out the winter weather in dry dock. Right: Not far from Truro, another sailboat also waited for warmer weather while moored in a cove at Montauk Point.

them—even though they appeared stranded without a boat or a plane to get off the island. In hindsight, I probably should have offered, but at the time I was preoccupied with the fact that my navigation map didn’t match the arrangement of sims I was flying through. I had my nose half in the map and half out, comparing the differences between it and the landscape below. I flew a couple more sims westward to Bay View, noting that they too were uninhabited islands, empty of everything except snow. Perhaps this was the equivalent of the arctic ice cap; I didn’t know. I’d have to ask someone someday. One thing was for sure: I’d have to do some new survey work and remake my map.

For now, however, I turned the balloon around in Goose Cove to head back south past the raised drawbridge of Cape Poge’s two islands. I noticed that its western island now displayed a lonely “for sale” sign in the frozen soil. More signs of tough times, I thought, as I drifted by. Seems to be a lot of that going around these days. Whoever thought pixels could cost so much? I crossed through Winter Island, then turned west in Marblehead and dropped the balloon down to skim low over the cold New England water. Slowly, I drifted in between wooden docks that reached out from Nantucket Village. Once I arrived at the village, I eased the balloon into the square, landing at the intersection of Main and Union Streets.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

The village square was a location where artists are allowed to exhibit their work, and from April until November 2010, I had the pleasure of displaying my own inworld photos taken during The Great Sailing Adventure. It was an exhibition that had unexpectedly lasted much longer than its origi-

nal one month engagement, but I was pleased and honoured to be welcomed and allowed to show my work there—and by extension to show my enthusiasm for the spirit of freedom and adventure that I considered an inherent part of the sailing experience. While visiting today, however,

another exhibit was there—a watercolour show that waited to be collected after its last day ended the day before on December 31. Oh my goodness, I thought to myself. I had been so consumed by the day’s travels that I almost forgot today was the first day of the 49

Clockwise from top left: A pair of residents stand out on the barren Monhegan Island. A draw bridge that connected Cape Poge’s two islands remained in an open position, perhaps frozen in place due to winter temperatures. A thick blanket of snow covered a property in Marblehead. A sight-seeing viewer on Marblehead stood at-the-ready for anyone wanting to take in a great view of the New England islands.

new year. Looking back on my day, it seemed fitting that I spent it flying on the exact day I began my hot air balloon adventure one year earlier in Sansara. I was now midway through what I expected would be my 10-continent journey, and—if all went well—I might even be able to finish the last continent by this time next year! When I began my hot air balloon journey and endeavour, I never expected it would take this long and still have so much more left to complete. I had estimated that I could see it all within less than a year’s time. Today had been a good day of flying, however. I loved being in this part of Second Life’s world so much and couldn’t think of a better open sim region to travel through to start off the new year. And since I had arrived in a civilized town, I decided to stay overnight while I stocked up on provisions and prepared for an early departure the next morning. 50

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Flying into port: Dahlia arrived in sleepy Nantucket Village—one of only two villages in the entire Blake Sea & Island Communities.


Down & Out, A Light May Still Shine



Nantucket Village. As beautiful as New England might be, I couldn’t for the life of me come to grips over how people could live in such cold conditions. One one hand, I hated to leave the comfort of my toasty burrow, but on the other hand I was eager to get out to see more of what I considered to be some of Second Life’s most scenic and charming properties. So, after polishing off a hearty breakfast, I stepped out into the morning chill to prepare for an early lift-off. As I walked into the village square, I encountered Laure Levenque and Mervyn Rees standing near the docks.

Above: After overnighting in Nantucket Village, Dahlia flew west to see the other New England Village islands, wondering if it could be the last time she might see them. Opposite page: Dahlia lifted off outside of the public theatre in Mystic, a popular part of Nantucket Village where residents congregate to have public meetings and to enjoy cultural events.

Laure asked if I had heard anything about the possible closing of Nantucket Village and all the New England Village sims due to reported financial difficulties. Surprised to hear this, I said I hadn’t. Was it just gossip, or was it true, I wondered. Laure told me she heard the sims had not paid their tier payments for months and risked being re-

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

moved from the grid even as early as by the end of this day, but that no one seemed to know for sure what was really happening. She was out looking for anyone who might know better and asked if I knew anyone who might be closer to the story and able to provide more information. I suggested my friend Sudane Erato, who was often my source Above: Before lifting off the day after staying overnight in Nantucket Village, Dahlia met of historical and current informa- Laure Levenque and Mervyn Rees in the village square. They were trying to find people who tion about the New England re- might know about SL New England Village’s potential closure so they could help explore gion and perhaps the best person ways residents could contribute to save it from extinction. to ask. I suggested Laure try her vited me to a group he and Laure England sims that could be in for more information. formed, called “Petition to save jeopardy. I was glad to join so I SLNE.” It was designed to keep could stay abreast on whatever Mervyn, who had been testing interested people up-to-date on developments came to light in the out a sign he had just made, inrecent news about the seven New days ahead. I wished them luck 53

and looked forward to whatever information they could share as they learned more, then I went to find a place to launch the balloon. Just off the village square near the public amphitheater in Mystic, I unpacked my balloon and prepared for lift-off. Wow, I thought. I could possibly be taking some of the last photos of Nantucket Village before it disappears. The thought of this made lifting off directly in front of the “SL New England� sign that hung over the entrance

Above: An older map seen on the wall at the Aurora Sea Plane base a few days earlier told the story: the New England landscape was constantly evolving. Sims highlighted in yellow were currently in danger of being reclaimed by the sea; those in red had already vanished. One (in green) had even been submerged and later re-emerged again. Left: The public ampitheatre in Mystic was quiet in the morning as Dahlia took off, but would later be busy with residents meeting eager to discuss what they could do to save the seven New England Village sims. 54

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to the amphitheater all the more meaningful to me as I passed it. As I began to drift west further into Mystic, I looked back on Nantucket Village wondering if this might be the last time I saw it. I hated to go, but I had a journey to continue. Whatever happens is going to happen whether I’m here or not, I thought to myself, sadly. Besides, whatever happened to Nantucket might also happen to each of the New England Village sims which included Sag Harbor, Watch Hill, Mystic, New England, Block Island, and Boston Light. I’d best take photos of each, I thought, increasingly alarmed by the magnitude of the situation. I passed the end of Nantucket Village’s boardwalk on the less traveled western edge of town, where a wooden deck offered information and a landmark for the SS Galaxy. Near that deck was one of my favourite village amenities, a blue and white pedal boat that waited to take visitors out on free rides all over the New England region. To my amazement at the time, I had once taken this pedal boat as far away as six sims. It was such an enjoyable ride that I looked forward to visit more distant

Above: Dahlia flew west out of Nantucket Village wondering if it might be the last she would see it. She decided it was important to see and photograph all the sims that were in jeopardy of being reclaimed while a solution to save them was being explored by the greater community at large.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


Ever-changing: New England’s appearance changed with the seasons, as did the entire region; new islands emerged from the sea and were reclaimed by it again in what seemed a new kind of virtual season— the ability of residents to pay for their tier.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Keeping a light on: Lighthouses in Greenport and Sag Harbor kept watch on the western edge of the New England Village islands.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Opposite page: Leafless trees on Plum Island (foreground) and Saltaire (background) waited patiently for Spring to return. Far left: An octagonal lighthouse in Greenport stood watch over the western front of the New England Village islands. Left: As Dahlia flew by the window of a small home in Bearskin Neck, she spotted a delicately decorated Christmas tree that adorned the top of a table inside. Below: The weather quickly changed and became cloudy in Bearskin Neck, so Dahlia flew east to stay out ahead of the advancing weather front.

New England islands, and to see just how far I could take it.

scape look so perfectly balanced. Nowhere here would you find a mega mall or a towering sky scraper. If you did, the authenticity of the region would be spoiled.

is. Surprisingly, the only property that did not allow others to cross into it belonged to the owner/ I flew past the art museum in manager of the New England western Mystic and up to Sag Village properties, Gayle Caberet. Harbor, enjoying the view of It was a glaring difference that homes along the way. It was the Likewise, all the sims and proper- stood out in the face of what was adherence to a standard style that ties remained open for travelers otherwise respectfully observed made the New England landto pass through—all but one, that by everyone else. I wondered why.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


I flew along Sag Harbor’s border, slightly disgusted that the leader of the now suffering sims didn’t adhere to the rule other residents had to respect. I had to put that feeling behind me, however. I didn’t know all the facts or circumstances involved in her situation, and besides, there was too much beauty in this area to allow myself to be bogged down by situations I didn’t fully understand. Next to Sag Harbor was a threestory octagonal lighthouse in Greenport—the tallest structure in the western New England Islands region. Its beacon—along with another beacon from a short lighthouse on the very western edge of Sag Harbor—circled, shining brightly day and night. Practical for travelers and also symbolic in a way, I thought, considering how the entire region could surely use a lighthouse right about now to help navigate out of the mess they were in financially and Top right: The Boston Light lighthouse remained vigilant day and night, keeping a light on in New England’s southernmost region. Without it, New England would be cut off from the main grid, as Boston Light was the single connection between the New England sims and the warmer climes of Balboa and on into the Blake Sea region.

Smart idea: From above, the island of Balboa South could be seen in the shape of a dolphin, and the dorsal fin of the dolphin was a tall stone watch tower. Only those who flew overhead would have known its secret! Dahlia thought it should be renamed “Dolphin Island” however.

Bottom right: Dahlia dropped down onto a stone look-out tower in Balboa South to get a closer look at the island. 60

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Above: Dahlia landed at a small landing strip on the tiny island of Balboa Point, unsure if it was a public facility or a private residence. The “about land” information didn’t provide any clues, but located only a stones throw away were two additional islands, both with heliport landing and boat dock facilities. With that in mind, she thought the chances were good that her landing site at Balboa Point was part of a public facility.

managerially. Only time would tell what the outcome would be. I lingered in Greenport a while, admiring the snow-dusted trees and shallow landscaping, then drifted over to Bearskin Neck where the tiniest of homes showed some of the biggest Christmas spirit of all: through one of its windows a small, decorated Christmas tree adorned the top of a plain, wooden table. The weather was changing rapidly, The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

however. Clouds began to pop up, so I decided to move on and flew eastward to get out ahead of the advancing weather front. I made a little “s” curve, taking in the sights in Saltaire, Plum Island, and Buzzards Bay, then headed southeast, to cross back over the eastern side of Nantucket Village and south into New England. It seemed awkward for me to admit even to myself, but I had never really noticed New England 61

before, probably because the bulk of the village lay more conveniently together over in Nantucket. New England had a little yacht club of its own—aptly named the New England Yacht Club— although its presence was far overshadowed by the boats and dock located in Nantucket. South I continued, flying low over the New England shops and back into the last of the snow-covered northern islands, Block Island and Boston Light with its historic Boston Harbor lighthouse. Leaving Boston Light, I reached the first of the Balboa sims and turned southwest, feeling the humidity and temperatures rise once more. The islands were showing green, grassy growth again, and I was happy to shed my winter clothes as I drifted through the Pacific-inspired islands of Balboa Vista, Balboa Key, Balboa Beach, Balboa Island, and Balboa Covem.

Above and above right: Dahlia unexpectedly stumbled upon a very unique sight in Santa Rosa: “tugby,” a rugby-style game played by tug boats on water. Two opposing teams lined up on opposite ends, then a big floating basin of coal would be rezzed in the center to try to push over the opposing team’s goal line. Right and opposite page: Tug boats would race to the center where the basin of coal was placed and try to push it over a goal line defended by their opponents.

closely, I realized it was in the shape of a dolphin.

fect landing pad for my balloon.

I admired the view of nearby How unique! I thought. What’s islands for a few minutes, then more, its dorsal fin was made out lifted back up into the air, thinkof a rocky projection with a ing ahead about where I could I intended to head over to Holly round stone floor on top. Stone land for the evening. I was about Kai Estates to see its “Art in the stairs led up to a look-out landing to veer off toward Hollywood Garden” display area, a delightful and appeared to be just the right Airport when I caught a glimpse arboretum, but something curious size to be a landing platform for of what looked like a three-island about the closer Balboa South the balloon. So you know I had to complex of heliport and marina island caught my eye first. As I try it! After lowering my balloon parking spaces. I decided to check began to study the island more down, it indeed served as a perthem out first and if they didn’t 62

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Above: Santa Cruz was the only property Dahlia found that still had a golf course on it, and even so, the course was considerably smaller than another course which she was told was the most popular course only a year earlier.

work out, I’d call it a day back at Hollywood Airport nearby. When I arrived at Balboa Point, I discovered each of the three islands there had heliports as well as boat docks and even a small, dirt runway at the northernmost island. The island with the airstrip on it was called Balboa Point ASE Zeltplatz und Segeln. A German flag flew atop a small circular tiki

hut raised up on stilts above the ground, but otherwise, it seemed like it might be available for public use. Deciding to risk it, I threaded my balloon between the two southern islands and landed on the northern island.

large map of Nautilus City in it. After a brief look around, I decided it was here that I would end my day, and found refuge in one of two camping tents that lay under some shade trees.

After a good overnight sleep, dawn The island airfield was deserted broke early the next day. The sky at the moment, but there were a was clear, so it looked like it would variety of planes and helicopters be a great day for flying. I cleaned present, as well as a station with a up and sat on a park bench under

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

a tree at the far end of the runway He throttled up and taxied over while going over my notes and to the end of the runway where preparing my flight map. I was still sitting. As the plane swung around to face the far end After a while, a pilot wearing a of the runway, I saw his name flight suit walked over to me. I was painted on the fuselage near greeted him with a smile and a the pilot’s cockpit window. Nuggy hello. He replied in kind, and (Bob) Negulesco, it said. That’s a then asked a question in a foreign funny name for a German, I thought language—German, I suspected. to myself, thinking it didn’t appear I fumbled for my translator, but German at all. by the time I had it ready, he had already climbed in the cockpit of Nuggy revved up the engine of his vintage WWII fighter. It his fighter and took off, flying roared to life as he strapped in. south then looping back around 63

Above: Smugglers Retreat was ringed around all four sides by a collection of impressively large and detailed yachts, together surrounding a central meeting venue for events. Right: Just south of Smugglers Retreat was South Beach Marina & Yacht Club, a stylish yacht club and retail space that sold upscale boats and furniture.

to do one last fly-by over the airfield before heading toward the east side of Hollywood Airport. His plane kept climbing and eventually disappeared out of sight. I watched until I was satisfied he wasn’t going to return, then began unpacking a balloon for my own departure. Once I was ready, I elevated quickly and began moving to the southwest. I wanted to swing by the Santa Barbara Sailing Acad64

emy, then fly north into a series of sims that projected up along the northwestern aspect of the region. As I arrived near Santa Barbara, I noticed an interesting sight in neighbouring Santa Rosa. There appeared to be some sort of playing field similar to a football field, only made on the surface of the water. A fence marked the field’s perimeter and within it were tugboats chasing after and bouncing off of each other like they were

bumper cars at an amusement park. Sometimes they all piled up along the side or in a corner; other times they’d be dashing all about. I didn’t quite understand why they would be doing that.

I shouted down to Clay, excited to see him entirely by chance. He looked up and shouted his greeting back up to me. It had been a long time since we had met in person and I didn’t want to waste the opportunity, so I landed the balloon on the walkway out front of the Port Royale building, jumped out, and gave him a hug.

Eventually I figured it out. The boats were playing a game called “Tugby,” where two teams of boats would try to push a container of coal down the field and into their opponent’s goal. It was like playing rugby on water. So if you like rugby and have a tug boat, you too could play Tugby. After watching a while, I turned northward and drifted over a golf course in Santa Cruz. I remembered there once had been what I was told was “Second Life’s most popular golf course” in Holly Kai, I believe, but I didn’t see it this time around. The Santa Cruz golf course was the only one I had spotted so far and it was considerably smaller than the size of the Holly Kai one. I guess in this case, size wasn’t everything—except that it had more staying power!

Above: While passing South Beach Marina & Yacht Club, Dahlia noticed her friend, Clay Ellison inside the building. She called out to him and then landed the balloon outside to greet him. She learned that he had a shop there that sold his impressive and colourful line of Cigaretto speed boats. She also learned he had just been named “One of SL’s Sexiest Men.”

Eventually I made my way to the northernmost sims, including Smugglers Retreat, which had tremendously large, multi-decked and expensive yachts lining the edges of the sim. It looked like the place that the rich and famous might park their boats. In the center of the sim floated an enterI continued north, passing the tainment venue perfect for relaxmodest looking Port Arthur ing and dancing, with a stage for Resort and its rentable villas, then music groups to play on. I circled soon after passed the more posh Smugglers Retreat, then headed South Beach Marina & Yacht Club south on my return trip back to at Port Royale. Hollywood Airport. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

While passing on the opposite side of South Beach Marina and Yacht Club at Pot Royale from the way I had flown on my way north, I looked down into the club building and to my surprise, saw my friend Clay Ellison. Clay was the property owner of a set of residential islands in Morea, a sim in the far southeastern Caribbean islands that had since been reclaimed by the rising sea. It was the start and finish location for my voyage in The Great Sailing Adventure.

As it turned out, two rows of the stylish motorboats docked outside of the building were his creations. Clay sold his line of Cigaretto speed boats from that location, as well as others. Together, we caught up on each other’s news, including the fact that Clay was about to rush off to a photoshoot for a magazine where he was named “One of SL’s Sexiest Men.” I was excited for him and gave him my enthusiastic congratulations. Clay took the news in his everpresent fashion: “Its an honor, but I just don’t see it,” he would say. Some days later, I told his wife, Dolci Woodget, what he had said, and Dolci replied about his modesty: “That’s what makes him even sexier.” I couldn’t argue with that. Clay needed to rush off to his photoshoot, so we said our goodbyes and I climbed back into the 65

balloon, then lifted off to continue my trek south, re-passing the Port Arthur Yacht Club, then a delightful little Mediterranean style white stucco house in Balboa Pacific that I would have loved to have as my own.

Above: The Santa Barbara Sailing Academy in Santa Barbara looked more like a World Fair exposition structure than it did a yacht club, but it had been around for a long time and very successfully provided yachting information and service to residents. Above right: Dahlia in‌Hollywood and not Bollywood? YES! And to prove it, this snapshot shows the intrepid explorer flying over the Hollywood hill signboard in her balloon. Below right: Nestled into the Hollywood bay and within swimming distance to the Santa Barbara Sailing Academy, Starboards Yacht Club had historically been one of Second Life’s most centrally located and best represented yacht clubs in the sailing scene. Far right: At Hollywood Airport in Santa Catalina, a large twin engine turbo prop plane took off while a smaller skywriting plane flew nearby, practicing maneuvers and letting out streams of coloured smoke. The airport was rarely, if ever quiet, making it one of the busiest and most used and airports in all of Second Life. 66

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Not far from the house, I came back to the Sailing Academy in Santa Barbara, which—with its four geodesic dome structures— looked to me more like a modern World’s Fair exposition structure than it did a sailing dock.

crested its peak to cross over the bay it rose up from, I chuckled, knowing that I could now say I had been to Hollywood, and not only Bollywood.

Airport. As usual, it was busy with a wide assortment of planes taxiing, taking off, or landing.

Buzzing around the airport was a skywriter that left trails of differFloating in the mouth of the bay, ent coloured smoke as it flew by. Starboards Yacht Club rested like There wasn’t a show going on at Across the waterway from the a barge, one of the constant fixthe time, but even so, it was still Sailing Academy was a golf club- tures I and countless other resientertaining to watch as I eased house—perhaps the last remain- dents—particularly boaters—had my balloon down and onto the ing evidence of the Holly Kai golf come to recognize and welcome. tarmac on the far northeastern course. Next to the clubhouse rose side. Once I landed, I climbed out a high ridge of land, the HollyLooking south past the Hollyof the basket and watched a little wood hill, complete with its fawood hill and Starboards landlonger. I hadn’t flown planes mous Hollywood lettering. As I marks lay the vast Hollywood much, so I wondered what it was like to control the motion of one. Hollywood Airport’s facilities were comprised mainly of hangers for planes, but it did have a small building used for instructional purposes and map reading. I walked over to check it out and was pleased to see a newly redesigned world-wide airport map that showed each the most up-todate locations of Second Life’s active airports on each continent.

Above: After landing at Hollywood Airport, Dahlia took time out to watch a stunt pilot practicing maneuvers overhead and releasing a trail of different coloured smoke. In the distance, a small building shared updated maps of Second Life’s airports to travelers. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

What was just as good was that the map was also free to the public to take a copy. I was sure to take one for myself, because I knew that I would especially be needing more information on where to find airports on the next leg of my journey in Nautilus. 67

The building also had a selection of tables and chairs to sit at where you could watch a large screen tv that played instructional videos about flying. I sat and watched a little but was easily distracted by in- or out-bound planes whenever they taxied outside past the window.

Above left: Dahlia landed at Hollywood Airport and watched the skywriting plane continue with its exciting airshow maneuvers. Left: A large, regularly updated and free to copy map in a building at Hollywood Airport showed the location of every public-use airport in almost all the major continental regions. Above: An old advert posted on the side of a wall at the Hollywood Airport supported proof of Dahlia’s claim that an airport existed in Honah Lee. Just check out the expansive gray area above the four islands on the lower right. That was where the old Honah Lee Field airport was in Honah Lee Bay!


While I was walking, however, I noticed an old sign on the side of a building advertising the Honah Lee Estates. I could tell that it was old because I could distinctly make out the image of the original Honah Lee Field airport on it, exactly where I remembered it being. I’ll have to call Captain Eventually, my eyelids became Hinterland,I thought. He might heavy and I retired for the day— find this interesting. If nothing else, after finding a set of chairs on the at least I would feel somewhat back balcony that I could pull to- vindicated in that I knew what I gether to make a little bed out of. was talking about earlier when I told him it existed. When morning came, I awoke, finding myself on the floor under Now, after preparing the balloon my jacket. Apparently, I hadn’t on the northwestern corner of slept well on the chairs facing one Hollywood Airport, I was rising another and moved to the floor up in the balloon, but flew low to sometime in the middle of the skim over the water’s surface for night. I stretched and massaged fear of having a collision with an my achy joints and pressure points in- or out-bound plane while while watching a ferry boat pass- crossing from west to east along ing by to the west of the airport. the northern edge of the airport. After a while, I was ready to unpack a new balloon and walked out to the taxiway in front. It was already busy with people and planes coming and going. I didn’t see any heliport pads suitable for me to launch my balloon from, so I walked behind the buildings on the western side of the airport to unpack a balloon near the airport’s iconic revolving globe sign. It looked unobtrusive there.

Once I cleared the airport, I then elevated another 25 meters up to enjoy a view of yachts anchored in the deep waters of the SYC Luxury Yacht Basin, which consisted of Holly Kai One, Two, and Three. In the southwestern corner of Holly Kai Three I spotted a small, vacant island and wondered if it was for residential purposes or not. It

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

seemed uncharacteristic for any island in the area to be completely uninhabited or unused, especially one so close to great facilities. So I flew over to check it out. When I arrived, I discovered a small alcove beach open to the sea on the south and surrounded on the other three sides by low-laying hills. The beach had three towels to sunbathe on laid out under two beach umbrellas. Aside from that, there wasn’t anything more on the island. I looked at the “about land” information and discovered the island was named Bettie Page Island. Not only that, but it was also designated as a clothing optional island. I was very surprised to read that. I had never thought of the Blake Sea community as one that would encourage nudity. Besides that, I couldn’t help but to wonder how many plane and boat crashes might have occurred due to pilots being distracted by the sight of a naked body laying out on the beach. I wondered if the coast guard might have any statistics on such a thing and decided in the future I’d have to ask. It would be an entertaining statistic if nothing else. To the east lay another island in Newport Bay. On it was a small,

Above: Just east of Hollywood Airport, Dahlia was surprised to find that the Bettie Page Island in Holly Kai Three had a nude beach on it. She couldn’t help but to wonder how many crashes of boats and planes the sight of nude sunbathers may have caused.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


While I looked around, a young couple boarded their sailboat and launched into the bay. As they passed through the protective arms surrounding of the harbour, the boat immediately sank like a rock up to the flag on its mast. I stayed long enough to watch Above: Within eyesight to the east of Bettie Page Island was the Waypoint Yacht Club in Newport Bay. By yacht club standards, Waypoint Yacht Club was incredibly understated, with hardly more than a single-room wooden plank shack and a few docking spaces alongside a them bounce back above the surboardwalk. Top right: A young couple boarded and launched their boat at Waypoint while Dahlia looked around. Bottom right: The young face, drenched and happy to have couple only made it as far as the edge of the harbour before their boat sank like a rock up to the flag on their mast. survived. I couldn’t help but to one-room wooden clap-board looked about as extravagant as a Fortunately, the club building did wonder if anyone sold an animabuilding that served as the info tool shed out on a barren stretch have a small dock that welcomed tion of a sailor furiously bailing centre for the Waypoint Yacht of grass. It wouldn’t be a stretch boats to stop at, and some touch water out of the hull of a ship, Club. Compared to most yacht for one to imagine that perhaps signs for information. Inside the because if anyone ever needed it, clubs, Waypoint was rather unas- this might be considered the shack were instructional signs this couple surely would. Perhaps suming and easy to miss. The poor man’s yacht club, however, mostly written in what I believed future boats should have that anim club’s tiny shack of a building I couldn’t say for certain. to be Japanese. built in to their menus. 70

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Above far left: Flying south from Newport Bay, Dahlia realized she had entered pirate territory, as was evidenced by the variety of pirate flags flying, such as this one in Blake Roatan and Blake Coast (inset). Above center: One pirate strong-hold in Blake Cove was a tiny islet with a slender stone turret tower that contained cannons. Above right: A pirate fort in Blake Coast still smoldered after an apparent fight. Below far left: With one eye still looking back toward the pirate territory she had just passed through—half expecting an ambush—Dahlia arrived in Blake Sea Arabian where there was the start/finish line of a sailing course. She was also in sight of her return to Honah Lee Field in Honah Lee Surf. Left: Dahlia arrived back at Honah Lee Field, completing her full circle of the Blake Sea & Island Communities region. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


Above left: Dahlia followed a fishing or tug boat, Cora Ann, from Honah Lee Field into Blake Sea Hawser and other sims while enjoying the sight of boats and landmarks along the way. Above center: Entering Blake Sea Sirens Isle, Dahlia got a second, now departing view of Governor Linden’s downed bi-plane while another sailor also took a closer look. Above right: When the boat Cora Ann came to rest, Dahlia spied off in the distance what she considered to be Blake Sea’s most iconic landmark, Crows Nest lighthouse. Right: Topping out at 85 meters above the surface of the water, Crows Nest lighthouse was Blake Sea’s tallest structure, making it visible from great distances for travelers. Opposite page: Sea gulls circled Crows Nest lighthouse while both wind and waves whipped at the towering stone and concrete outcropping.

Satisfied that the couple survived their ordeal, I lifted off in the balloon and charged south. I knew I didn’t have far to go before I could reach my destination of Honah Lee Surf to complete my circle around the Blake Sea & Island Community region.

scan the area more vigilantly, concerned that I could encounter any number of surprises at any time. I slipped by islands in Roatan, Blake Cove and Blake Coast, as quietly as my balloon would allow. To my good fortunate, no pirates caught wind of me or emerged.

As I drifted south-southwest, I suddenly realized after spotting a couple of different pirate flags that I had crossed into pirate territory. Knowing this, I began to

While in Blake Coast, I spotted black smoke billowing out of a wooden pirate fort and came to the conclusion that perhaps all the pirates in this territory had been


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


run out after a battle. It looked as though I had timed my passage perfectly to avoid any trouble. As soon as I passed into Blake Sea Arabian, I sighed a deep sigh of relief. I had made it safely out of pirate territory and back into friendly waters again. I looked back over my shoulder one last time to make certain no last moment surprise caught me off-guard as I arrived at the start/ finish line of the “Twisted� boating race route. My eyes followed the long, yellow start/finish line from the end where I was, down to the opposite end. I discovered that the line pointed directly to Honah Lee Field airstrip in the distance. At last, I smiled, realizing my destination was within eyesight once again and awaiting my return. I suddenly felt a surge of elation about my progress. I had avoided any and all potential catastrophes during my day of flying: no midair collisions passing the runways at Hollywood Airport; no nude sunbathers to distract my attenRight: While hovering above the water near Crows Nest lighthouse, Dahlia scanned underwater to see if there were any hidden secrets. In an incredible stroke of luck, a mermaid swam by at that very moment and Dahlia snapped her photograph. 74

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Far top left: Dahlia locked her camera’s sight on the mermaid as she quickly swam away, and just as she clicked one last picture, the mermaid lept out of the water, making both of her shots of the mermaid two strokes of incredible luck. Left: While Dahlia changed her balloon skin and measured the height of the lighthouse, a skywriting plane circled her and the lighthouse, leaving a trail of blue smoke behind. Far bottom left: In another fortunate coincidence, resident Laure Levenque spotted Dahlia’s balloon hovering near the lighthouse and called out to her. Laure was able to alert Dahlia of a meeting coming later in the evening to discuss Nantucket Village. Below: A sailboat went airborn soon after passing Dahlia while she hovered near the Crows Nest lighthouse.

tion and cause me to crash; no pirates to ambush me; and no full parcels or border crossings to complicate my flight. I was a very happy pilot! My burner roared to life as I accelerated for the airstrip, wanting to waste no time or risk any lastmoment surprises from pirates hiding nearby. Within minutes I was on approach to Honah Lee Airfield and descended to glide the balloon into place on the heliport. I threw my arms up in a triumphant “Yay,” knowing I had come full circle, successfully returning to my official starting location for the region. Done, but not yet finished. I still had to fly out. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


Top right: Dahlia landed at the Crows Nest lighthouse to take a break and update her flight notes and map. Far top right: While taking her break at the lighthouse, Dahlia noticed Imnot Lowtide standing on top of it, possibly preparing to jump to his death. Dahlia cried out for him to reconsider and he came down safely. Bottom right: After returning safely to ground level, Imnot Lowtide looked around the site, and noticed a commemorative plaque dedicated to some of the earliest builders of the Blake Sea region. Far bottom right: As Dahlia’s good fortunes of the day continued, her friend Timo Gufler and Pure Caramel arrived at the lighthouse and accepted a ride back to Timo’s home in Divirian, Nautilus.

Having completed the loop, as they say, didn’t mean that I was satisfied I had seen everything. There was one last section of Blake Sea that still had yet to be charted for me: the Blake Sea sims northwest of Honah Lee Surf, including Nantucket Yacht Club and perhaps the most iconic landmark of the entire region: Blake Sea Crows Nest lighthouse. Once I had cleared those areas, I would be satisfied enough to say that I’d seen the vast majority of key essentials in the region. These sights I would see while on my way exiting out of Blake Sea and into Nautilus airspace. Still standing in my balloon basket on the heliport pad at Honah 76

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Lee Field, I looked at my watch and contemplated. I wondered if I still had time to complete this last section of open-sea survey, and if I did, where I would end my journey for the night?

and begin chugging its way north and then west. After a few minutes of assessing my options and watching the Cora Ann’s smoke dissipate as it trailed behind, I decided to make a go of it and answer the last part of my question I thought for a moment while later. I considered that if all else watching the captain of a smokey failed, I could always head back tug boat, the Cora Ann, pull away to Honah Lee Field or to Hollyfrom a nearby dock at the airstrip wood Airport.

Above: While on their way from Crows Nest to Nantucket Yacht Club, the balloonists passed by a floating public viewing stand in Haggerty. 78

So I restarted the balloon’s burner and lifted off once more—this time heading northwest out over the open sea, following the Cora Ann past the tiny Blake Sea Indian islet with its three signs that welcomed visitors to the Blake Sea region, and past Sirens Isle where Governor Linden’s plane still lay in ruins upon its shore. Planes passed high over me on their way to distant locations and boats passed under me, frolicking on the water. It was quite a sight; it was almost as if I were on a saAbove: Soon after touching down amid big flakes of falling snow at the Nantucket Yacht fari watching all the indigenous Club in Blake Sea Nantucket, Dahlia and passengers Timo Gufler, Pure Caramel and Maysha vehicular animals in their natural Xenga, met Julia Cerea, owner of the yacht club and notable pirate. habitat—forgetting for a moment that I too was one of them. my first experience as a sailor and “Fancy meeting you here, Laure... adventure traveler. For me, Blake what are you doing here?” I When the Cora Ann stopped to Sea would lose its magic aura im- shouted down from my balloon. drift near Sirens Isle a while I mediately if Crows Nest lightLaure told me she had come by spotted on the distant horizon the house ceased to exist. with friends to enjoy the lightgiant lighthouse in Blake Sea house, and I let her know I was on Crows Nest. It sent out its beaI flew over to Crows Nest while what I expected to be my last day con, as if calling to me. Of all the reliving my nostalgic memories. of flying through the region—the landmarks in the Blake Sea, this My arrival at the lighthouse was fifth of ten planned. was the single-most sight that like returning to an old friend epitomized the region for me. whom I just wanted to wrap my We talked at length about the arms around and hug. Unable to latest Second Life New England Crows Nest was the first major actually do that, I hovered nearby (SLNE) news and Laure told me landmark I encountered in the instead, enjoying the majestic another public meeting would be region after setting sail from sight of it when I heard faintly taking place later in the day if I Nantucket Yacht Club on my over the blowing winds: “Hello wanted to come. I said I’d defiway to find a ship in a fog bank Dahlia! What a wonderful balnitely try to be there and was that apparently didn’t exist any loon you have!” It was the voice hopeful great ideas and solutions longer. It was a significant part of of Laure Levenque. would come forth. Having said The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Left: Dahlia and her passengers passed Spyglass Island on their way to Divirian in Nautilus. There, they would stop for a visit at Timo Gufler’s home before Dahlia returned back to Spyglass to look for bears and complete her Blake Sea & Island Communities adventure. Above: Dahlia and passengers Timo Gufler, Maysha Xenga, and Pure Caramel land on Timo’s Divirian, Nautilus beachfront after a flight from Blake Sea Crows Nest.

roof of the lighthouse, standing dangerously close to the ledge. “Don’t do it! Don’t jump!” I blurted out instinctively, instantly alarmed at the sight. The man, Imnot Lowtide, was silent, looking pensive as if considering what he should do.

other without speaking a word. I hoped my intervention did some good, but I didn’t want to press my luck any further by being the first to talk. Eventually, he turned to walk back toward the lighthouse where he took a moment to pause at a small commemorative plaque placed near its front door. all that, it was time for Laure to and went our separate ways. While there on the heliport, I Eventually, he came safely down It was dedicated to individuals head back to Nantucket Village, Before I continued on, however, I looked up at the lighthouse. At 85 and over to the heliport where he who were responsible for buildand for me to continue flying decided to land on the lighthouse meters above the surface of the stood silently looking at me. We ing and making the lighthouse north to Nantucket Yacht Club— heliport to update my flight notes sea, it now towered high over me. both stood there—him on the possible. It was a nice historical two Nantuckets, two different lo- and to determine my strategy on While I looked, I was startled to concrete landing and me in my tribute that is nice to have on such cations. So we said out goodbyes how I should finish my day. see a man in a tuxedo atop the balloon basket—considering each notable landmarks. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


Meanwhile, I answered a call from my friend Timo Gufler. He had called to see if I had received his message the day before via his cell phone. I was certain I hadn’t. I had been looking forward to visiting him at his home while heading out of the Blake Sea, so it was almost as if by divine nature that Timo happened to call me at this very moment. He was calling to see if I was flying today.

Perfect fit: Dahlia landed her balloon on a short wooden dock on the island of Spyglass to complete her tour of the Blake Sea & Island Communities region.

“Timo, I’m at the giant lighthouse in Blake Sea Crows Nest right now. I was thinking to fly to Nantucket Yacht Club and was wondering if I might be able to fly to your home from there if you’d like to join me!” Timo replied that he would, and that they’d get dressed in some winter weather clothes. I looked out north and realized he was right to do so; Nantucket Yacht Club and points north were covered in snow. It looked pretty white and frozen up there, so I also pulled on my winter clothes. Not long after, Timo and his friend, Pure Caramel arrived on the deck of the lighthouse.

Nantucket Yacht Club, but before that, I wanted to swing by the large ampitheatre stage that hovAfter some conversation, the two ered above the water in Blake Sea crawled into the basket with me Haggerty. It was suspended in the and off we went into the sky. The air by four large hot air balloons destination was intended to be and hosted many public events.


Once we neared the stage, I slowly circled our balloon around it while tall masted sailing boats raced underneath us. We noticed the sea was very active here, and enjoyed watching the boats moving past us. Watching sailboats from over-

head in a balloon was a new perspective for Timo and Pure. Blake Sea Nantucket was very close now, and it only took a few minutes to reach it from where we were. I eased the balloon

down to glide low overtop the Nantucket Yacht Club welcome center until I located a nice landing spot on the circle drive right out front. There, a stylish car parked near a red London-styled phone booth. I landed the balloon

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

on the circle drive just as it began to snow. I think we all remarked in delight at the size of the large flakes that fell.

more conversation we all wished each other a good day before parting ways. Julia headed off to an event while Timo, Pure, myself and now a third passenger, Judging by the plentiful number Maysha Xenga—who arrived of boats tied up along the docks, while we were talking with Nantucket Yacht Club seemed to Julia—prepared to take to the still be quite a popular place to skies again. sail from. This was a pleasant thing to know, considering how With the basket now full of pasenemic and troubled other areas sengers, I turned on the burner appeared—perhaps due in part to and lifted us all up into the air the poor global financial climate. above the yacht club building, then flew south over the sea. Not long after we touched down, Once in Blake Sea Atlantic, we owner of Nantucket Yacht Club, angled right to fly southwesterly, Julia Cerea, arrived outside to back into the warmer climes of welcome us. It appeared that we Blake Sea Bowsprit, Swash, (Timo, Pure and I) all knew Julia, Mainbrace and Buckle. but for me it had been over a year since I remember having last spo- Once we reached Blake Sea ken with her. It was at that time Travertine, I turned the balloon that I pulled into harbour with northward and gained altitude to Hay Ah, while on my return rise up higher over the steep hills voyage to finish The Great Sailing of Blake Sea Spyglass—an island Adventure ~ 2009. that reminded me of Jurassic Park for some reason. Fortunately, Julia seemed to still remember there were no dinosaurs. Timo me, however, which made for an said, however, that he thought he easy re-connection and conversa- had seen a bear there once. I wastion as we talked about recent n’t sure if he was just joshing me events and news about the SLNE or not, so I decided I’d have to resims, news which Julia hadn’t turn later to examine it more heard about before now. I told her closely. about the public meeting happening later that day if she was inter- For now, though, I was eager to ested to attend, and after a little finally have a chance to see

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Timo’s home in Divirian, Naumesh creations, blender technolotilus, which had just come into view. gies, as well as what our favourite in-world activities were. We As we passed Spyglass, we left shared recommendations and Blake Sea air space and entered landmarks with one another for into air space belonging to Nau- future visits to distant lands. tilus. Within moments, I landing the balloon on the beach in front It was nice to be with others who of Timo’s home and raised my were just as eager and enthusiashands in jubilation. Yay...we made tic to explore as I was. This is just it!, I cheered. as it should be, I thought. A perfect ending for this day in Second Life We all climbed out and walked and this chapter in The Great Balup the slope to Timo’s home loon Adventure. where we relaxed on his living room sofas while talking about all Well, not so fast, I caught myself. things Second Life: the past, the I still had a little matter to look present, the future, sculpties, into back at Spyglass. I wanted to

Above: Upon landing at Spyglass Island to look for a bear, Dahlia was surprised to meet another resident, LOL Batistuta, who was also visiting the island, but hadn’t seen any bears.

see whether it was true or not that a bear was living on the island. As our conversation drew to a close and we said our goodbyes for the day, I hopped back into my balloon and took off, waving to Timo and Pure who stood on the balcony as I flew back south to Spyglass. It only took moments to reach Spyglass from Divirian. I drifted the balloon into the island’s small bay and gently eased it down to land on a short, wooden dock. As I landed, I noticed another resident was also visiting. I introduced myself to LOL Batistuta and asked if she had seen any bears on the island. She said she hadn’t. I confess, I was a little disappointed, but I also reminded myself that it didn’t mean that there weren’t any. It was simply possible she just hadn’t seen one that was there. We talked a few minutes, all the while sharing landmarks and tales of our adventures. Soon, it was time for her to head off to another location, so we wished each other well and went our separate ways. I then came across another resident, Jeri Pinion, who was flying a large white bird and landed on the island. Jeri asked if I’d like to take a ride on it, so of course, I said yes. After we flew a while, I 81

learned she was from Japan and she said that the Japanese people she knew all called Spyglass Island “King Kong Island.” I asked why they called it that, and she said that the shape of it reminded them of the island King Kong lived on in the movies. I didn’t mention that it reminded me of Jurassic Park, but I understood completely what she meant. Jeri said she made flying things and took friends and people she met for paraglider rides around the nearby islands. She offered me one and I was excited to give it a try, so together we strapped our harnesses on and took to the sky, flying in lazy arcs around the area. It was a lot of fun and I decided that I’d like to go back again sometime for more flights.

show through. There was also a bench to sit on while looking out of the opening. Anchored into the ground just past the bench stood— of all things—a spyglass… a telescope! Now I understood where the island got its name. What an unexpected and exciting discovery my hike revealed! From the air I would have never known. Just as I was about to enter the cave, something else inside the cave caught my eye. It was a spider! And not your average every day spider. No, this one was huge, bigger than two or three of me, and it clung upside-down on the ceiling of the cave, just waiting for any unsuspecting prey to walk in. I hesitated, wondering if going to the spyglass was worth the risk.

Once I reached the spyglass, I saw that I had an exceptional, panoramic view of the islands to the south, stretching from eastern sims in Blake Sea to Nautilus in the west. Not only that, but the spyglass was editable so that anyone could reposition it to raise and lower and look in any direction. I leaned toward the eyepiece and took in the view. It was marvelous. So…from here is where I will launch my Nautilus balloon adventure from, I thought to myself. I let that thought swirl around in my brain like brandy in a snifter, savouring it while it sank in.

It was an easy thought to accept. I had enjoyed a great hot air tour of Blake Sea and the Island Communities. Flying through this Finally, I looked at the spider region had offered the sweetest I still needed to get back to my sternly, then held my bear club up of all my journeys so far, just as bear hunt, however, so after a in the air, making sure it could I had anticipated it would. Right: While exploring the island—in hopes of seeing a bear—Dahlia met a second visitor, while, I peeled off and returned see it, and shouted up to the giant Jeri Pinion. Together they discovered a cave that had a telescope at the far end of it that visto Spyglass Island, where I armed itors could use to watch passing boats and planes. More exciting, they also discovered an spider: “I’m warning you…I see In the thirteen days it took me to myself with a club and went into enormous, brown spider which clung to the ceiling of the cave, waiting for unsuspecting you! So don’t try anything tricky, fly through the region, I only had prey to enter. Dahlia considered the possibility that her friend, Timo, once saw this spider the woods—well, what little or I’ll give you a taste of my big four flight disruptions—a mark crawling around the island and mistook it for a big, brown bear. there were of them anyway. bear club here!” that I doubted any of the remainbears would dare come around. I climbed up a small path on the ing continents would be able to In a clearing near the center of Besides, the hills surrounding the west and found a couple of I hoped that would be sufficient match. the island, I discovered a couple center of the island were excrates—provisions for the camp, I enough to keep the spider in of sitting places and a campfire tremely steep, making it almost guessed. I then tried another path place, then I slowly eased my way Along the way, I had encountered burning. Considering this, I sus- impossible to approach the camp which took me to the entrance of into the cave, past the spider, and some incredible people, places pected this place was already well from any direction other than the a shallow cave. It had a hole in to the spyglass—all the while and events. Some I had expected traveled and unlikely that any dock on the northern side. the back that allowed the sky to keeping an eye on the spider above. to be just the way I found them,


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

others were a complete surprise. This is the way of life, however, and I understood that. It doesn’t matter where you are in any life; some things are better known and more predictable. Others can catch you completely off guard. How you choose to respond to those unexpected events is the big difference. For me, my adventure in Blake Sea and Island Communities reminded me of how temporal everything is: from ownership of material property, to relationships with others people, and even with life itself. I saw examples of each while I flew through this region. These are all precious things that we should always try to remember to appreciate to the fullest while we have them—because it is guaranteed they will not last forever.

Spying things to come: Dahlia discovered a spyglass on Spyglass Island, thereby understanding where the island got its name. She used it to look out toward Nautilus, the next region of her hot air balloon adventure.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

I’ll take this lesson on with me in my travels and I hope you will too. And should our paths cross during our travels, I hope we’ll both take the time and opportunity to share, learn, and grow, a little with one another because, after all, isn’t that what makes life worth living? I wish you all safe journeys. Look for me in the sky, and I promise… I’ll be looking for you too! 83

Dahlia’s Balloon Skins: Who’s Ban


DJ’s Big Balloon Adventure Map Dahlia’s own Second Life map displays where she’s going and encourages others to join in the fun of exploring the world together.


Alina Animations With its roots based in animations, Alina Animations has since expanded to develop its own furniture and accessory lines to place the animations inside of.


Belle’s Breath of Lust The retail shop associated with the club of the same name, featuring fashions and accessories for adult-oriented activities.




Belle’s Breath of Lust

Bitch Wear

Adult-oriented social club where all taboos are left at the door—that is, if there were any doors!

Fashion wear for Second Life’s all-women wrestling community—and those who want to be like them. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

ners You Might Have Seen Fly By


MnM Designs Nature and lifestyle products for discerning residents of tropical islands and more. HELP FOR THE MASSES

Help People Island When you need help to learn something, master a new skill, find out about new places, pick up some supplies, this is a great resource for both newbies and long-time residents too. ADVENTURE TRAVEL


Dogland One of Second Life’s best humanitarian—or should I say dog-itarian—enterprises.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

Kingdom of Home

Dahlia’s own banner to let people she flies by know the essence of her intent.

A game within a game, Tiny Empires brings residents together for building their lineage and resulting empire.


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. Having completed my Satori continent tour at Susie’s Little Ferry Service in Pelvoux, I would leave from there as a prelude to arriving in Blake Sea. I planned to fly to Honah Lee South Airport* in Honah Lee Bay where my official tour of Blake Sea & Island Communities would then begin. From Honah Lee South Airport, I planned to fly to see the southeastern aspects of the island communities, then up the eastern sims to the northernmost New England islands. After touring those northernmost islands, I would then fly back south into the Blake Sea region, stopping at Hollywood Airport before returning to Honah Lee South Airport. *It must be noted that I later learned that what I had been calling Honah Lee South Airport was, in fact, actually called Honah Lee Field, and another airport of the same name would be located in Honah Lee Surf around the time that Honah Lee Field in Honah Lee Bay would cease operation.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

MAPS: THE RESULT Left: The actual flight path as completed followed the general planned flight route and was modified as needed to take in additional points of interest in as they were encountered. The expected airport locations for Hollywood and Foliage were confirmed. My uncertainty about the exact location of Arora Sea Plane Base was corrected. I discovered new public airstrip locations for Honah Lee Field, St. Martin, Balboa, and Balboa Point. I learned of the abandonment of the former Honah Lee Field airport in Honah Lee Bay and the former Guliver Airport. I was also fortunate to be a passenger of commercial blimp pilot Gossem Hinterland, who took me on a tour of central Blake Sea prior to my official balloon launch from Honah Lee Field in Honah Lee Surf.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


Addendum: A Follow-Up On The Fat New England: BEFORE March 2011 From 2006-2011, the sims of Sag Harbor, Watch Hill, Mystic, Nantucket Village, New England, Block Island, and Boston Light were a proud part of the New England Island Estates. Together with other sims that created the entire estates, they contributed to recreate the beauty of the coastal New England theme.

New England Island Estates (as of February 2011)

By 2009, with the rising cost of land and tier levels, Sudane Erato, owner of the New England Island Estates, determined that she could not bear the cost for all the sims and was preparing to discontinue certain sims when Gayle Cabaret pursuaded Sudane to allow her to take over ownership of them. Sudane agreed, and in 2010, ownership of these sims were transfered to Gayle and were designated as the New England Village Estates, independent from the New England Island Estates. The Village sims were not able to escape financial hardships, however; later in 2010 it became known that tier payments for the sims were far behind schedule, in turn threatening their future existence.

New England Village Estates

Residents rallied to explore possible options and solutions that could help to save the Village sims. While hopeful, they were also realistic about what level of financial support would be required to maintain seven sims.


The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

e Of The New England Village Sims New England Island Estates (as of 5 March 2011)

New England: AFTER March 2011 Despite many resident’s interests to find a solution that could keep the New England Village sims financially afloat, the burden was simply too great. Therefore, during the first week of March, 2011, Linden Labs began the techtonic process of removing all of the New Enland Village sims and sliding down in their place the New England Island Estates in order to maintain their link to the greater mainland sims through the Balboa islands connection. This also enabled them to remain a part of the United Sailing Sims (USS-SL) Partnership Estates which were located throughout and around the Blake Sea & Island Community region. I will miss my travels around and through Sag Harbor, Watch Hill, Mystic, Nantucket Village, New England, Block Island, and Boston Light. Nevertheless, I still feel incredibly fortunate to have the remaining New England Islands to travel to—because they are some of the very best that Second Life has to offer. For that, I wish to join with others to thank the people who are most instrumental in making the uniquely special Second Life New England experience what it is for all of us: Sudane Erato, Becca Horsforth, Ceorl Onlyone, Delphina Audina, Jeanne Schimmer, and Sommer Shepherd.

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities


Timeline At A Glance: Charting Dahlia’s Prog JANUARY 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 90



MARCH Done 2 √



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 / 6 May 2010 (49 Days) FLYING DAYS MISSED



Quoll to Lordshore Cove (South to S. Central Jeogeot) WEEK 12 SIM COVERAGE

Lordshore Cove to Xentilx (S. Central to S. West Jeogeot) WEEK 13 SIM COVERAGE

Xentilx to Flint (S. West to West Jeogeot) WEEK 14 SIM COVERAGE

Flint to Martindale (West to W. Central Jeogeot) WEEK 15 SIM COVERAGE

Martindale to Areumdeuli (W. Central to North Jeogeot) WEEK 16 SIM COVERAGE

Areumdeuli to Dacham (North to N. East Jeogeot) WEEK 17 SIM COVERAGE

Dacham to Kyung (N. East to East Jeogeot) WEEK 18 SIM COVERAGE

Kyung to Quoll (East to South Jeogeot) GUEST PASSENGERS

Lila Wardark, MsPaddles Ninetails, Voodoo Spyker, Freyja Beresford


Explorers InfoCenter Lordshore Cove Bridge Hawkside Airport The Monastery of Felix Meritis Raining Cats & Dogs in Cambell Devils Golf Course Wheelies Neighbourhood Michael Jackson Support Group & Memorial Park White House, USA Silver Creek & Flint Route 10 Tunnel Milkshake Lounge Ichelus Volcano P2 & Teles Airport Department of Public Works Office Mr Whippie Ice Cream Truck The Library @ Driftwood Beach Zee & Zora’s Little Slice Sculpty Earth Mumtaz Taj Mahal Mos Ainsley Space Base Stone’s Point Park Kea Airfield Dacham Sky Race Track Omurice Buddhist Centre Steam Locomotive Preservation Group Kira Cafe Demonstration Area NCI South World Peace Flag Garden Chilbo Community & Tall Tree Korumburra Kuwaiti Building Hwanin Football Sky Fields JBT Airport Jonestown Airstrip Jonestown Media Attention Press Pass Media Studios Cathedrale d’Images

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

ress On The Calendar, Continent-By-Continent JUNE




Done 4 √




15 April / 22 August 2010 (130 Days) FLYING DAYS MISSED

Counting discontinued due to prolonged wait for computer repair (two months) and gaps in flying time due to inability to continue flying on weekdays FLIGHT DISRUPTIONS


Pelvoux to Beggars Bowl (N. Central to N. West Satori) WEEK 20 SIM COVERAGE

Beggars Bowl to Ogilvie (N. West to West Satori) WEEK 21 SIM COVERAGE

Ogilvie to Davros (West to S. East Satori) WEEK 22 SIM COVERAGE

Davros to Pelvoux (S. East to N. Central) GUEST PASSENGERS

MsPaddles Ninetails, Bunnygun Gordeau, DANIGTSPAIN Capelo, Soso Furse, JohnMichael Tobias Nya Silverfall, Leila Hyacinth, Alice Draper




Susies’ Little Ferry Service The Communist Party of SL Talakin International Airport Alien Nation Bunnygun’s Gearbox St George Christian Orthodox College Of Scripting Music & Science Old York Gardens Old York Village Russian Port of Entry Fantastic Weddings Kingdom of Home Hangout & Public Park The WereHouse - Lycanthrope Store USS Nimoy San Francisco Bay Academy & Oceanographic Institute; Bay SF Academy & 24th Century San Francisco Ocean Institute Chameloid, Orion, Klingon Federation Beach Party Tommys Water Spot Twohead’s Nautical Shop & Shipyard Fenric Bridge Out Richfield Campus of Free-Ed.Net The Emerald Shopping & Gardens The Four Horsemen Rental Trailer Park Dogland Park Blake Sea Airport NE Satori Rain Cloud in Montbard Prague Airport Terminal & Airstrip Netera’s Coffee Shop Yordie's Zen Garden New JBT International Airport The Battle of Britain Airfield, RAF

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities







30 April 2010 / 16 January 2011 FLIGHT DISRUPTIONS


Honah Lee Surf to Guadeloupe (S. Central to S. East) WEEK 24 SIM COVERAGE

Guadeloupe to Spyglass (S. East to N. West) GUEST PASSENGERS

MsPaddles Ninetails, Maysha Xenga, Nya Silverfall, Timo Gufler, Pure Caramel NOTABLE PLACES (ORDER SEEN)

Windlass Island Sirens Isle Honah Lee Field Sailor’s Rest Fort Sumter

Hollywood Airport Foliage Airport SS Galaxy Cruise Ship Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse Sailors Cove Fishers Island Yacht Club Race Rock Lighthouse St. Martin Airfield Arora Sea Plane Base Trudeau Boat Shop Mare Nostrum Aqueduct Greenhouse Atrium & Art Gallery Boston Harbor Lighthouse Martha’s Vineyard Jeremy Point Nantucket Village Santa Barbara Tugby Field Santa Cruz Golf Course South Beach Marina & Yacht Club Santa Barbara Sailing Academy Starbucks Yacht Club Hollywood Hills Bettie Page Island Waypoint Yacht Club Crows Nest Lighthouse Haggerty Ampitheatre Nantucket Yacht Club Spyglass Island

Done 5 √

WHO would have ever thought that after a full year of flying I’d only be HALF way through my endeavour to fly through all (now) 10 continents?


Dahlia’s Top 10 Favourite People, Places, Things, Or Momen



Daredevil Balloon Stunts

A Basket Full of Friends

Two tricky stone aqueduct overpasses were no match for Dahlia’s flying skills—not just once, but three times—and on video too!

Flying was rarely as pleasurable or rewarding as when shared with friends. Here, a full basket made the journey feel like a party.


Simplicity of Nature at its Best For Dahlia, a world-wide journey wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Jeremy Point in Billingsgate. Compliments of Sudane Erato. 92


Nesting at Crows Nest It was exciting to have the opportunity to view and be a part of this iconic landmark with the balloon after first seeing it two years earlier.


Surprise Mermaid Sighting While panning underwater at Crows Nest Lighthouse, a mermaid unexpectedly swam by and was captured jumping out of water. The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

ts While Traveling Through Blake Sea & Island Communities



Getting Sprayed by a Whale

Tugby League

Dahlia and passenger, Maysha Xenga got drenched by a breaching whale. It’s not the same as getting sneezed on, Dahlia hoped.

Love rugby? Have a spare tug boat? If so, play TUGBY! Chase a coal bucket around and try to push it into the opposing team’s goal!




The Blimp Pilot

Light At End of the Tunnel

Was She Loopy in Guadeloupe?

Pilot Gossem Hinterland was in the process of starting a new passenger blimp service from Honah Lee Airfield to other regional locales.

Exploring the island’s cave revealed a couple of big secrets, including how the island got its name and what the resident animal was.

Dahlia dared to fly on Christmas Eve when it is said that “not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” No Santa sighting…just rum!

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities



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 ~ Blake Sea & Island Communities

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 before completion of this book). Thus, Dahlia’s Great Balloon Adventure was born and launched January 1, 2010. Travel from the oldest continent of Sansara through the youngest continent of Nescera would result in a book for each of the ten continents, published at

“My adventure reminded me of how temporal everything is: from ownership of material property, to relationships with other people, and even with life itself.”

What will be your adventure?

The Great Balloon Adventure ~ Blake Sea  

The fifth in a series of books that chronicles hot air balloonist Dahlia Jayaram as she embarks on an ambitious journey to explore every con...