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Kelsea and I had a lovely weekend together in Steamboat Springs – one of our traditional mother-daughter trips, consisting of too-early morning risings for the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, breakfast, walks, rodeo, naps, explorations, and bad late-night television. We talked and talked. And I got a little weepy on my way home, as it will be hard for me when she goes to college. Rightly or wrongly, she’s one of my dearest friends as well as my daughter. I will miss her.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.” — Donald Miller

Daily gratitudes:
How much I laugh with my daughter
Flocks of seagulls in strange places
Open roads
Social and philosophical discussions

I love shooting reflections. At the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, they usually do a dip and drag in the lake, but conditions were warming up too fast this year, so only one or two balloons accepted the challenge.


Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” — Charles Dickens

Daily gratitudes:
That Bridget’s dad is such a remarkable fighter
The Voodoo Donut fairy
That the passive-aggressive postman did NOT leave my package of paper in a puddle


This was what was up there this morning, and it was lovely in the clear blue.  We are approaching the start of the National Western Stock Show here in Denver, one of Kelsea’s and my favorite mother-daughter traditions.  Usually “Stock Show Weather” is as bitter cold as it can be, but I think we may actually have slightly warmer temperatures than the Polar Vortex has offered us in the past 10 days, which deserves a yee-hah.  We are going for opening day on Saturday, so you can look forward to a photo report next week. Llamas and horses and pigs, oh my!

Up Up and Away

Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “It was rather beautiful: the way he put her insecurities to sleep. The way he dove into her eyes and starved all the fears and tasted all the dreams she kept coiled beneath her bones.”  — Christopher Poindexter

Daily gratitudes:
Working on the couch with Mr. Man
My sweet cousin
House spirits
Today’s mid-morning hot air balloon
My daughter spending the night

Can you guess where we’re heading this weekend? Yup, up to Steamboat Springs for the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo (and the PRCA Rodeo). It’s super pre-storm windy here tonight, and Mr. Man is next to me on the bed. He’s not eating and not peeing, though he is drinking some, but that concerns me. It may just be that his gums are really sore from the dental work (and he did pee in the truck on the way home). I hate leaving him so soon. At any rate, the helpers will be keeping an eye on him, and I may ask one of them to get him some baby food. I remember doing that with my Boo when she was in her last month and couldn’t eat. He’s a darling. But with such a thick coat of fur, I’ll bet he’s looking forward to winter. Oh, and by the way, “Up we go” was how Kelsea used to ask to be picked up when she was a toddler.


Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “Books. Cats. Life is good.”  — Edward Gorey

Daily gratitudes:
Getting things done
Thunder at night
Breakfast for dinner
Cool showers

Yea! Hot enough for the car windows to be down, and the green grass to be knee-high!


Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “It was the face of spring, it was the face of summer, it was the warmness of clover breath. Pomegranate glowed in her lips, and the noon sky in her eyes.” — Ray Bradbury

Daily gratitudes:
Physical therapy
The chorus
My Wizard of Oz shoes
Peaceful days


Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. . . .  It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again.  The absence of hope.  That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad.  Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling.  It is a necessary thing to feel.  Depression is very different.” — J.K. Rowling

Blue sky
Hot baths
Sunny chairs
My journal


The Steamboat Springs Annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo was cancelled this year due to the high fire danger that we experienced in Colorado this summer.  It would have been my fourth year, and Kelsea’s third. But it’s on (so far) for the weekend of July 13, 2013, and we’ll be there to capture more beauty – weather permitting.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Quote of the day:  “You may tire of reality but you never tire of dreams.”  —  L. M. Montgomery

Daily gratitudes:
Large flocks of black birds
The woman riding her bicycle and walking her Pekingese
Really hot green chile
My yellow rose from MKL
Little journals

Photo title: Backlit

Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

(The annual Steamboat Springs Hot Air Balloon Rodeo is next weekend, and of course, Kelsea and I are going.  And YOU get lots of pictures!)

Quote of the day: “Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over .”  —  Gloria Naylor

Daily gratitudes:
Listening to waves on my iPod and prairie dogs in the field while hiking today.
A rare (meaning, seldom-had) hamburger
Finding your favorite impossible-to-find shampoo in the grocery store

Photo Title:  Barn and Balloon

Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens”  —  Carl Jung

5:30 a.m. is a ridiculous time of day.  I reset the phone alarm until 6:00 a.m. after it went off the first time.  After that extra half hour, I was able to pull myself out of bed, shake Kelsea to wake her, and stumble into the shower.  By the time I was clean, Kelsea was up and even fairly cheerful.  We were ready to head for the launch of the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo. 

Last year, I had parked at a public lot and taken a shuttle bus to the launch area.  It was free, and it worked out fine.  Coming back from the launch area, however, I had to stand in line for 25 minutes to catch the shuttle.  Standing in line is not my favorite thing.  This year, I couldn’t recall exactly where the parking area was, and I overshot the launch site (where you can’t park anyway).  But right next door to the launch site, was a private parking lot charging $5 a car.  It was soooo worth it.  Just a quick walk up a gravel road and we were right in the midst of things.

Ground fog was nestled in between the rolls of the hills, and overlaying the surface of the small lake, giving the morning a moorish feeling, like something out of The Hound of the Baskervilles.  The baying of a dog missing his owner from the front seat of a clearly lived-in pickup truck added to the atmosphere.  Above us, the sky was a bright clear blue – windless mornings are perfect for the launch – we had a winner. 

I pulled out my big-gun camera, the Canon 40D that I have come to love.  Last year, I photographed the event with my small (but excellent) digital point-and-shoot, which I had charged up and brought along as back-up, but I was excited to use the new Canon.  It felt strange somehow as I took it out of the bag.  I turned it on. Nothing happened  With a sinking feeling, I realized that the battery that I’d taken out to charge was indeed fully charged – and sitting in the charger that was plugged in back in the hotel room.  Facepalm.

The good news is that I could use my little digital back-up, and the better news is that there’s tomorrow morning to take the big-gun to shoot the launch.  The bad news is that the little digital was to serve as Kelsea’s back-up if her camera ran out of battery (since she didn’t bring her charger).  It ran out of battery about 2/3 of the way through the launch, so we shared a little.

Only one balloon had launched when we arrived, and it was already far away over the lake and adjacent fields.  What looked like giant tarps were laid out on the ground in a checkerboard pattern; the small plane flying overhead must have seen a patchwork quilt on the green landscape.  As we stood between two of the squares, both starting billowing, waffling, inflating more and more as the air was loudly pumped into the hollows of silk.  It seemed as if we’d be squished between the two as they started to rise off the ground.  Balloon pilots negotiated their way, one foot at a time into the wicker gondolas with perfect timing, not weighting the basket down prematurely, but manning it before it left the ground.

The balloons took off right above out heads.  One was shaky on takeoff, and barely missed the heads of the crowd and the top of the four-foot tall barrier to the lake.  I hit trees and shrubberies on the other side of the water, but eventually made it aloft.

Others lowered themselves to the lake for the Rodeo’s drop-and-drag competition.  The bottom of the gondola is to the touch the surface of the water and skim as far as it can before rising again.  Most who attempt the maneuver succeeded, though a few overshot and touched down in the weeds at the water’s edge.  Those who made it rose dripping into the morning sun, with the cheers and woots of the crowd ringing in the blue sky.  One balloonist, though scorched the silk of his ship as he controlled his flame, struggling out of the water.

The balloons are a colorful marvel – rainbow-chevrons, golden orbs, one with circus animals, the Remax logo, an unusual one that was triangular-shaped.  I think if you can imagine it, it can become a balloon.  I have a feeling that I may finally make it to the Albuquerque Balloon Festival this year, at the end of the summer, my summer of starting over.

The landscape was covered in color now, balloons inflating behind us, balloons dotting the sky before us.  It was just warm enough, the crowd was happy and not too thick, and the sideshow of young men in wet suits, skiing down a wooden slope and cartwheeling (or bellyflopping) into the lake provided additional entertainment.  A little old lady in a red jacket was constantly shooing people out of the apparently forbidden grassy area between the balloon launch field and the waterski jumpers – we dubbed her the Crowd Nazi, but we could tell she was none too happy with her job.  Soon a slightly chubby, very cheerful tween boy started doing the job for her – I think he started out mimicking her, but it made her smile and made him feel in charge, so he picked up the torch, and had more humor about him as he did so, his young voice urgent, laughing and faux-panicked as he told people to get back.

All but one of the balloons had launched when we decided to head out.  We stopped at the souvenir stand and picked up a tank top for me and a hat pin for Kelsea.  As we head back into town to find breakfast, we saw the balloons nestled in the trees on the side of the ski mountain, and peeking out over the rooftops in the Old Town, having found a space to land, now waiting for their chase vehicles.

Breakfast on a weekend morning in Steamboat is always a bit of a tough call.  There are three really good breakfast joints in town:  Freshies, Winona’s and the The Shack.  With long lines at all three, and we agreed that no breakfast is worth waiting an hour for (we did that once in Portland, Oregon), so we dropped into Johnny B. Good’s, a cool little diner with classic car and movie memorabilia covering the walls.  Drinks came promptly – a chocolate shake, a cup of good coffee, and waters, but our waitress was slow to take our order.  The food when it came was excellent – my bacon-avocado-cheese omelette was stuffed with the good stuff – not just two strips of bacon, a few slivers of avocado and enough eggs to choke a goat, but a plump, properly egg-proportioned delectable dish.

Kelsea had the early-bird special, all the while wishing she wasn’t early enough for it.  She downed the eggs and one strip of bacon, and was done.  She’s less of a morning person than I am, so after settling up and taking a short pass through the tin-roofed houses of old town, we returned to the Rabbit Ears, where she laid down on her bed and was asleep in less than 30 seconds.  I’m granting her a reprieve from go-go-going for a while so she can get her ya-yas back.  Then we’re off to find her swimwear, visit the art fair, and head into the hills to Strawberry Hot Springs for a soak.  And the rodeo is tonight – yee ha!

To be continued…

January 2023


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