Tag Archives: hot-air balloons

From sunrise to sunset.

On Saturday we left the house early to get to the hot air balloon festival before the sun came up. Smokey the Bear was the first to get inflated and lift off. This is the same event I attended with Pippin seven years ago, and most of the balloons were the same, too.

In the middle of the day we took naps, and tended the garden. That is, Pippin gardened and I took pictures.

Late afternoon we took the camp stove and makings for Frito Pie up on the volcanic peak of Mount Shasta, to the Old Ski Bowl, 7800 ft. elevation (The top is almost twice that high). We ate our picnic dinner and stayed for the sunset.

The children took me up a ways to a place among the rocks that they call the Sunset Cafe, and we pretend feasted on plates of salad, strawberry bread and chocolatey desserts, artfully arranged from whatever vegetable and mineral materials could be found lying nearby:

We gazed off toward the west…

And when it was starting to get dark, both Ivy and Jamie fell within about ten minutes of each other, and cried for a while in pain from the shock of sharp rocks slamming into knees and ribs. Jamie had tripped over the giant rock loaf of “strawberry bread.” But they were soon done with that and we set off down the mountain again.

Today was full. This is the first year Ivy didn’t have a themed cake, and the first year she helped make her birthday pie.

Everything has been delicious.

milkweed and balloons

While I was at Pippin’s for a few days last week we went to a balloon festival. We had to get up in the dark and drive half an hour to Montague in the Shasta Valley, to see the filling and lift-off of about a dozen hot-air balloons.P1010826 flame balloon

Before the sun came up it was chilly. Pippin managed to get all three car seats in the back seat of her Outback, so we could go in one car. The Professor had to drive the roomier van the opposite direction that morning to get it worked on.

The stars were so bright, it thrilled my heart! But I didn’t have time to gawk – we put on our warm caps and fleecy sweaters and were on our way. Straight ahead was a huge star – ah, but not a star. Probably the planet Venus.

GL IMG_0515 Scout and Ivy balloons

I don’t think I had ever seen balloons filling before. It’s very dramatic the way flames whoosh noisily into the expanding emptiness after simple fans have run for a while to accomplish the initial inflating.P1010851 my fave inflating crp

My favorite was the one at right with a design that included a lot of black, but I soon realized that it looks better on the ground. Once it is in up in the air it is too dark and muted. The gaudier a hot air balloon the better, for complementing the wide open sky. Besides, a giant drifting balloon is a fun and cheerful thing, and maybe a dark blob up there doesn’t agree with that mood, being too reminiscent of a black cloud.


P1010875 4 balloons + women


Scout wanted to climb up a little hill with his friends, to get a better view. I started up after them but turned back because of the star thistles. Pippin had run into some friends and they were still out on the flats behind me, with Jamie in the BOB stroller. All around me this rosy weed was the only thing easily seen besides those thistles and the sparse and flattened grasses, and it was scattered all over.


Soon all the balloons were up and floating over the hill. Scout is in this picture somewhere.

P1010884 many balloons and hill

P1010897 milkweed

Pippin decided to try to find where the balloons were going to land, so she drove around on the bumpy roads, and when I saw a solitary balloon setting down in a field she stopped the car so I could get out to take a picture. At the same time she said, “There’s a nice crop of milkweed,” and Scout said, “Oh, I want some milkweed pods! I know how to plant them!”

I took my picture and then managed to break a sharp-edged pod off a plant that was also tangled up with star thistle — ouch! I got one that hadn’t quite released its feathery seeds. I also don’t think I’d seen milkweed pods before. I gingerly stashed it in my purse.


P1010905 deflating

Around another corner we saw from a slight elevation where two balloons were coming down together. One started to deflate, the second one came down and went up again briefly to hop a fence, and then we had to leave and call it a good balloon-watching morning. We came home with lots of pictures and milkweed seeds. Only then did we eat breakfast!



More about my trip in upcoming posts….