Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dancing in a Balloon, 2014

     I'm really not sure how to describe the Balloon Fiesta.  There really aren't words.  I'll fill you in on what we did, but then post several pictures to hopefully give you an idea of what it's all about.  We arrived at the Fiesta grounds on Tuesday, Sep 30.  It was about a 4 hour drive from Show Low.  The Boomers were all parked together, facing a very popular balloon landing site, about 1 mile north of the launch field.   The views of the balloons landing were awesome.
Our rig is in the corner.

The first week was mostly getting to know the grounds.   On Thursday, we all walked over to the launch field and attended a crew safety video.  Following that, we all received the coveted crew pass that gained us free access to all the launch field events.  Normally these cost $10 each in the mornings and $8 each for the evening events.    Mornings of course are the launches and competitions.  Evenings are the glows.
Laying the envelope out and starting the fan.
Opening the throat of the envelope for the fan.
Fan blowing cold air into balloon envelope to inflate.
Pilot Mike Liberti checking the balloon envelope.

Friday most of us met and followed the Liberti family to vacant lots in Rio Rancho, (northwest Albuquerque), where they were going to launch their 3 balloons.  This gave us an opportunity for hands on training and more explanations of how to assist in launching and later in landing.
Hands on to keep balloon on the ground.
Letting go!!!
We're Off!!!

The body of the balloon is called an envelope and it lays out flat on the ground.  Ropes connect it to the basket, which is on it's side at this point.  Then a very large fan is positioned by the basket and aimed at the balloon.  One person on either side of the throat, holds it open and the cold air blows into the balloon and starts to inflate it.  One person does nothing but control the fan,  All directions are given by the balloon pilot and crew chief.   One, two, or three people hold the crown line (a rope going from the top of the balloon to the ground.)  The crown is attached to the envelope with velcro strips all around the opening.  The pilot pulls this open when landing.   When the cold inflation is adequate and when given permission by a launch director (Zebra), the propane burners are lit and the balloon "goes hot."  The balloon rises into a vertical position and the basket goes upright as well.  The pilot will usually ask for "weight on" at this point and the crew lean onto the basket with their weight, so it doesn't take off before the pilot is ready.  Final checks are made, any passengers are loaded, and off they go.  Al the evening glows, everything stops here and the propane burners are lit intermittently to show off the balloons.  A regular balloon uses a crew of 5-7, but a large special shape balloon can require 20-25 people for a crew.  Crowd control is always part of crewing, since in Albuquerque, the public is allow right up  next to the balloons.

The following pictures are from Gary's flight.  He flew during one of the mass ascensions, so with over 500 balloons in the air the sights were amazing!!!
Zebra discussing take off with Pilot.

Launch field as they rose up.

Another balloon flying by.

Launch field from higher up.

Lots of other balloons up in the air.
I could print so many pictures, but this is really one instance where seeing is believing.  You can see why this is the most photographed even in the world.  The views are constantly changing as the balloons inflate and take off.  Then the sky is changing as the balloons move around it. 
Stagecoach and Dairy Cow Laid Out to Fly
Crowds and Balloons!
Zebras Getting Ready for Launches.
Dairy Cow taking a bite of Yoda.
Busy Bees
More special shapes inflating.
Dawn Patrol Getting Ready to Fly
Note shield on the firefighter's hat.

More & more balloons!!!
Firefighters flying their flag.

All in all, we  had a marvelous time.  The early mornings rising wasn't bad and the one day we took off from crewing, turned out to be a perfect day for the balloons to be landing all around our rig.   Even if you don't get us, you hear the shuttle bus on its many rounds and the burners on the balloons flying overhead or landing outside.  Then you don't want to be in bed!  For those of you who are you tube fans, check out the 2014 time lapse video.  You can see a two hour mass ascension in about two and a half minutes. 

Another fun adventure happened when friends Kathy and Chuck met us on the field and took us to "Tim's Place" for breakfast.  Tim had Down's Syndrome and has defied the odds, having his own business and serving delicious food and hugs.

We also visited the Petroglyph National Monument while in Albuquerque to get an earthcache on International Earthcache Day
A Geocache of course!
After leaving Albuquerque, we drove back to Show Low and spent one more week packing up for the summer.  Then it was down to Casa Grande, where we will spend  most of the winter.   We're looking forward to our winter friends arriving and all the park activities.  Since swimming is no longer a daily routine, we're doing daily morning walks of 1-3 miles.

We'd love to see anyone traveling in Arizona this winter, so give us a holler if you're close by, say within a couple hundred miles.  We're enjoying the new-to-us rig we got last year and viewing our beautiful desert.

I  hope you enjoyed our Dancing in a Balloon,
Hugs, Katy, Gary, and Bandit

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dancing through a Show Low Summer, 2014

     It’s so hard to believe we are almost through our first entire Show Low summer.  We’ve loved it here and look forward to many more.  There are Arts & Craft shows many weekends and lots of outdoor activities, besides our personal loves of quilting and billiards. 
     The biggest event of the Summer was the birth of my first Great-Grandchild.  (I’d always said that  since all the Great-Grandkids were Gary’s, I wasn’t old enough.  Guess I can’t say that any longer.)   William Purjue Pak Henderson arrived on July 9th, the day before his Dad’s birthday.   He would be Robert’s first grandchild, so I’m sure he’s bursting his heavenly buttons.

Add caption3 day old William
William with proud parents Hailee and Cory
      The next major event was Anna's wedding.  Anna was married to Robert when he was killed in 2005.  We feel very fortunate to have remained a part of Anna's life since then.  She married Lynn Harp on August 15th, at the Luxor in Las Vegas, NV.  Lynn is an EMT on the Evanston Fire Department an knew Robert too.

Cory walking Anna down the aisle.

Anna & Lynn
      Lynn's great with the kids and combined they now have six children.  Lynn has a daughter Jennifer married with a daughter, who lives in Cheyenne.  They each have two children attending the University of Wyoming, in Laramie.  Ameray is a Sophomore in High School and the only one still at home, year round.  Riki and her family were there, as well as Robert's step-mother and two half-sisters. 
Quite a family!
     Since we were all at the Luxor, we had lots of time to visit.  Riki, Kai, and I even managed to get out early one morning and get a geocache.  Of course we enjoyed the pool as well.  On our way back to Show Low, we stopped to visit friends from Evanston, who have relocated to White Hills, AZ.

Gary & Katy
     We also stopped at the "Standing on the Corner" park in Winslow, AZ, for Gary to get a new shirt.  He's about worn the other one out over the last ten years.
Katy,  "Standing on the Corner in Winslow, AZ."
      Remember the Eagles song?  Interesting that all you see behind me and the statue are painted on the brick walls.  The building that was part of this wall burned down about 6-8 years ago.  Fortunately, they saved the wall and have since torn the building down, but reinforced the wall, so it remains.
     Earlier this summer, my friend Diane and I attending a hummingbird banding at the SIPE Wildlife Area, outside Eager, AZ.   It was very interesting.  They weighed, measured, assessed, and banded several hummers in front of us and explained much about their migration habits.
Hummer inside the screening, being weighed.
Hummer taking a well deserved drink after banding.
      The large band in the picture above is for a goose.  Hummingbird banders have to make their own, as they are so small.  You can barely see one in the magnifying box to the left of the large band.  It was a great experience and one I hope to repeat in coming summers.
     A dear friend of ours, Kathy, came to visit and rented a trailer just down the road from us for a couple months.  She and I got to most of  the craft fairs while she was here and with Gary and Bandit had several geocaching outings. The August Geocaching Challenge this year was to do one of six different kinds of geocaches during the month of August.  We each got a Virtual, Traditional, Puzzle, Multi-Cache, Earthcache, and Event.  We had to go to the Petrified Forest to get the earthcache and attended an event about 50 miles east of here in the White Mountains near Payson.  As usual, its a great way to see new things and learn new facts.
Kathy, Gary, & Bandit at the Petrified Forest

     I've been doing some Kumihimo braiding and some with beads this summer.  My friend Diane Hitzel introduced me to this.  Its fun and addicting.  Here's a couple bracelets I've done.
Kumihimo Bracelets

     My friend Susannah and I took a quilt class called Accidental Landscape that was a lot of fun and taught us new techniques for landscape quilts.
Accidental Landscape of the Beach

     I continue to enjoy the water aerobic classes from 4-5  mornings a week.  The gals in the classes are really fun, so we have a great time while getting some good exercise.
     Gary continue to enjoy his pool tournaments and while practicing on the pool table in the our clubhouse, has met some other pool players in the park.
     I've been learning to play Mah Jongg, a Chinese game played with tiles.  It's a lot of fun.  Hopefully I can get some converts at the Roost when we get there.
     Bandit got a surprise one night when he was outside in our yard and met some of the local wildlife.  Fortunately, it wasn't too close, but the smell certainly let us know it was a skunk.   His facial hair got the the brunt of it, and he  was rubbing his face and eyes for quite a while.  I washed his face that night many times and hte next day we used a recommend solution of 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 tsp to 1/4 cup dawn dish washing soap.   It worked great and took 99% of the odor out..  We're all hoping it's a one time occurrence.
Poor Bandit after a dozen face-washings.
     Our next sojourn will be to Albuquerque, NM, to attend the International Balloon Fiesta with the SKP Boomers.  We will be there from Oct 1st though the 12th.  We will attend the safety trainings and hope to be assigned to help crew for one of the balloons.  I'm sure it will give us a different perspective, from when we attended as spectators in 2002, although our friends from there, Cathy and Chuck introduced us to a lot of the behind-the-scenes doings. It should be an exciting two weeks. 
     After that we will return to Show Low for a week and then head for the Roost in Casa Grande, our Winter home.  Please do not mail anything to us here after October 1st.  Send anything to us at our Roost address:  3241 S. Montgomery Rd.  Casa Grande, AZ 85193.

Dancing Through a Show Low Summer,  2014
Hugs, Gary, Katy, and Bandit too!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dancing thru a VERY busy Spring, 2014

     I went to check my last blog & can't believe it was the end of April.  Fair warning, this will be a little lengthy with all we've done.  I left for St Louis the 29th of May, to spend time with my cousin, Sandy.  Since we're both only kids, we've been more like sisters growing up.  Sandy picked me up at the airport & took me to meet a wonderful couple & good friends of hers, Gus & Bren.  They are a gold star family, having lost a son in a bombing in Afghanistan.  We had a lot in common & I was honored to be able to meet them & become friends.
     Sandy's backyard had a beautiful Redbud tree blooming.  I forgot how beautiful they are.

     Sandy was very patient with me , as we explored quilt stores in the area.  We also went to her & Bill's house at Lake of the Ozarks for a couple days.   The dogwoods there were exquisite.  The weather was too cool to go out on the lake, but we enjoyed relaxing
     On our way back, we stopped at a quilt shop in Jefferson City.  It was a great shop & Sandy caught the bug, buying a pattern & some fat quarters to try her first quilt.  She has great style & color sense, so I'm sure she'll do well, if she's able to make time for quilting in her busy schedule.
     Sandy & I had a great visit and capped it off, picking up Riki on Sat afternoon.  We enjoyed dinner out with Bill's daughter's family.  We topped it off by going to Ted Drew's for frozen custard.  We were amazed at the crowds.  There were about 10-15 lines & each one had about 10 people in it.  There were barricades along the sidewalks to keep the lines from going into the street.  We learned that this place has quite a reputation! I had a Hawaiian Concrete (another word for a very thick shake).
      The next day Sandy took Riki & I to the hotel in Clayton, another St. Louis suberb.  As with every National Fallen Firefighter Foundation event I've attended, firefighters from local departments were there to assist us with luggage & getting checked in.  This was a survivors conference, specifically for adult, immediate family survivors.  We attended a variety of workshops.  One very interesting, was on making Mandelas.  Riki completed hers after returning home & it was outstanding! (picture to come in next blog)
     Riki presented a session on making memory broaches that was enjoyed by many.  I led two sessions of Laughter Yoga that were very well received.  (I've already been told they'd like me to do it again in 2015.)
     All meals were provided.  There was a breakfast buffet at the hotel.  For lunch, we walked about 1 1/2 blocks to the local fire station.  They pulled all the equipment out & set up tables to serve us lunch each day.   Lunches included hamburgers, bratwurst, pulled pork, & a chilie cook off.  All this plus good sides & gourmet desserts.
     We were bussed to venues for the evening meal.  One night was a murder mystery event put on at their union hall.  We all had parts to play & were given cards that told our names & background. Nobody knew who the murderer was.  A few people were given special roles to play.  It turned out Riki was the murderer, much to her surprise too.  She did a great job!
     Another evening we went to Grant's Farm, one time owned in part by Ulysses S. Grant & run by Anhuser Busch.  Music and many animals kept us entertained.  One of the famous Clydesdales even stopped by.

A Really Big  Horse
     The last night was spent at the City Museum.  Everything there is from recycled materials, including the building.  There were many door prizes given away that night including five quilts, made with patches from various fire departments.  I was fortunate to win one of these.  I enjoyed it for a couple months & have since passed it on to Cory, Robert's oldest son.
Quilt I won on far right.
     The last day was strictly optional & we had signed up for events.  Riki & I joined the bus tour that took in tours of the Anhuser Busch Brewery, St Louis Cardinals Stadium, and of course, the arch.  All too soon it was over & we left having made new friends & renewing friendships among our survivor family.

     While I was gone, Gary was repainting our shed in Casa Grande.  He did a great job.

     As soon as I returned, we took the weekend to get packed up and summerize our rig, before leaving for Show Low.  We came up "on the mountain" on May 13th and had two weeks before our trip to Wyoming and Utah.   We drove our car this time, instead of the Class C.  We only planned on staying for a week and saved over $500 in gas this way.  Riki was gracious to open their home to us.   We stayed with them and enjoyed the side benefit of being able to visit with her kids.   It was a busy week,  visiting old friends and family.
     My quilting friends had a special get-together at the home of my friend, Bernie.  It was so much fun to see all their projects and of course I had to buy a couple kits.  One I've completed since I got home.  The picture doesn't really do it justice, as it's a 3-D sampler with each block being several layers deep.

     Saturday after we arrived was Tyler's
graduation, (Robert's second boy).  Robert would be very proud of him, as Tyler almost has his heliocopter pilot's license and plans on attending University of Wyoming next Fall. Here's Tyler receiving his diploma.

      We realized that next Fall we will have quite a family in Laramie, Wyoming.   Our four oldest Evanston grandchildren, Cory, Keegan, Meghan, and Tyler will be attending the University of Wyoming.  Cory's girlfriend, Hailee and their baby will be there also, along with two of Anna's fiance's children, Hunter and Madison.
     We had several family get-togethers during the week and enjoyed all of them.  We also got to see Gary's two sisters and his older brother in Salt Lake City.  We attended the high school graduation of Sharee's second son, Jed.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any pictures of him.
     We visited Gary's son and the youngest grandson, Bowdie.  This is the little one that weighed just over 1 pound at birth.  Truely amazing.

     Our timing in Utah was perfect for me to help, and Gary to play, in Utah's NFFF Memorial Golf Tournament.  Gary, Riki, and her husband Kevin, play on the Evanston Team, in Robert's memory.  I help where I can with the golf tournament.  They had a full field this year and raised a lot of  money on their auctions.  All proceeds go to the NFFF.
     You may have caught that mention of a new baby in one of the previous paragraphs.  I'm about to become a Great-grandmother, when Cory and Hailee have their baby due July 4th.  This is the darling announcement they posted for their friends.

Cory and Hailee

   We didn't have much time for relaxing, but figured we could catch up when we got back to Show Low.  We wanted to see as many of our friends and family as possible.
     Other family happenings include Gary's granddaughter, Amber leaving for the Mission Training Center in Mexico, last week.  She will be serving an 18 month Spanish speaking mission in Virginia.  She's very excited and looking forward to the new opportunities.

     Once we arrived back in Show Low, Gary went to work on our metal shed, installing a window, so I could make a portion of it into my sewing studio.  Next came the fence.  We had decided on a white picket fence with a sturdy gate across the front of our yard.  We still have a lot of unfenced area in front of it, but this gives Bandit plenty of room.
New window in metal shed.
New fence and gate for Bandit's yard.
     We've settled into our summer activites, with Gary playing golf twice a week in Snowflake, and in 2-3 pool tournaments a week.  After several seconds and thirds last year, he placed first two weeks ago and tied for first last Sunday.
     A friend and I went to the Lavender Festival in Concho, about 35 miles from here.  We saw demonstrations on cooking with lavender (I didn't know you could do that.),  as well as planting and growing lavender.  Of course I bought a few plants.  They attract butterflies, smell wonderful, and seem to do really well at this altitude.  Our other plants are doing well, so hopefully these will too.
Lavender Demonstration Garden
     I'm staying busy with water aerobics, 3-4 mornings a week and sewing the many projects lined up for me.   I'm also going to be leading Laughter Yoga groups at the Senior Center and at our park.  Our Thursday night country dancing has resumed at Icy Roads.  We've had their beautiful dance floor all to ourselves from 6-7:30 the last two weeks.  While that is nice, we're worried about whether they will be able to continue without more customers, so are doing our part to publicize it.
      Until next time, we're happily dancing in Show Low....................................
      Hugs, Katy, Gary and Bandit too!