Sunrise at the Indiana State Fair

On Friday morning, my alarm clock jarred me from sleep, the angry, green numbers blinking 5:07, 5:07, 5:07. It's still the middle of the night in California, I thought. I groaned. I sighed. I stretched. As long as the "a.m." is as dark as night, it's too early to be roused from my cotton camaraderie. Had my alarm not blared a second warning nine minutes later, sleep would've taken me once more. Reluctantly, I pulled myself from my sheets and clothed myself in jeans and a black cardigan. I ran brushes through my hair and over my teeth, respectively. And, by 5:50, I was driving to the state fairgrounds, with Lord Huron in the CD player. Traffic was sparse at that hour, and it was still dark when I turned onto 38th Street. I was not alone in going to the fairgrounds, however; there were a few dozen of us who shuffled through the admission gates. The fair, like the rest of the world, was silent. The midway was unlit, the food tents shrouded. It was opening day, sure, but it was early. Still too early. And so, with shoulder bags and coffee mugs and drowsy dispositions, we fair-goers made our way toward the infield.

I found Brandon first, dressed for work and toting a tripod. Together, he and I walked to the heart of the fairgrounds, where we quickly found the rest of our comrades: adventurous Ian, with his backpack and baseball cap; Steven, playful even at 6:15 in the morning; and Troy, whose three little ones fluttered about his legs. Our small group grew, however, with the arrival of Shawn, an explorer who was five weeks into a year-long trip around the United States. Shawn had been staying in Indianapolis for a few days, and already had met up with several local Instagrammers. But, on Friday morning, he met us for a sunrise hot air balloon launch in the mostly-shuttered fairgrounds.

... Which, by the way, was utterly, totally, and irrevocably worth waking up for. 


  1. Wow, hot air balloons go so well with sunrises. ♥ Gorgeous pictures!

    1. Thank you! When I was little, my mom took me to a hot air balloon launch at sunset, which was pretty, but there's something magical about sunrises, too!

  2. Beautiful pictures and story! Some of my favorite memories as a kid are driving to church early Sunday morning and seeing the hot air balloons rise above the city. I can even remember hearing the sound of the flames firing into the balloons :)

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you! It was definitely worth the early wake-up call once I saw that the sun was coming up.

  4. Beautiful! I've never been to one of these launches. I have seen hot air balloons a couple of times from a distance and far up in the sky, but I'd like to see them like this some day. I'd never go up in one, though, couldn't pay me.

  5. Absolutely stunning, Dawn. Feel like I'm there.


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