Snowdown in Da Nile 2009
Thursday, 28 July 2011

January 29, 2009

This last week in January has us flying at one of our favorite events, the Snowdown Balloon Festival in Durango, Colorado.  It's part of the Snowdown Festival which is a week long Winter Carnival, though with the most popular events taking place from Friday through Sunday.  On Friday evening, there's a great parade through the downtown area.  Pilot's registration is at the Durango-Silverton Museum, so access to the parade is convenient as is the parking for the balloon Pilots.  We typically start the evening in the bar of the Strater Hotel.  Think of it as a Four Corners Mardi Gras.  Each year there is a theme for this event and this year it was Snowdown in Da Nile.  So an Egyptian Pharaoh theme for the most part.

The Aerpography Crew decided to rent a house for the event instead of multiple rooms at a hotel as we've done in years past.  We found a place through the Durango Property Management company just north of Durango on the way to the Purgatory Ski area in the Dalton Ranch subdivision which was less than one mile to the launch site in the Red Rock Ranch subdivision.  Karl (Pilot) and Maria (Crew Chief) drove in from Salt Lake City.  Our Crew came from everywhere.  Judy flew in from Dayton, Ohio to Albuquerque and met up with MC, who flew up to there from Austin, Texas.  Ed drove in from Basalt, Colorado, while Joe and Lisa drove up from Albuquerque.  Maria's Sister, Anna, and her boyfriend Jan, came in from Sweden. 

tc3 sponsored a competition for the balloon Pilots who were to throw some inanimate object - tennis balls for the most part - towards an 'x' in the snow.  Judy and MC helped me with the event and we had a blast.  All the balloons had to fly to us to make an attempt at the target.  The rest of the Crew got Karl up and flying.  On the last day, we even managed to land the balloon in the backyard of where we were staying.

           
      

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Snowmass Balloon Festival
Tuesday, 29 December 2009

September 15, 2008

The weekend of September 12 saw me attending the Snowmass Balloon Festival (www.snowmassballoon.com) in Snowmass Village, Colorado, where I crewed for the Wildfire balloon owned by the Pilot Skip Howes and Crew Chief Debbie Howes of Colorado Springs. Skip is an Architect, General Contractor and Developer with most of his work located in the Woodland Park area, and Debbie is a Realtor with ReMax in Woodland Park. And as they tell me ... they're the Howes Team.

We arrived in Snowmass Village on Thursday and checked in to the The Crestwood, which is a condominium hotel. The Staff was great, and the parking lot was definitely full between the balloonists and those that were there for a Mountain Bike race that included Lance Armstrong as a Member of one of the Teams participating. We stayed in a two bedroom condominium that was for sale at the bargain price of $1.275 million. The same condominium in Frisco would probably bring abround $4-500K.

On Friday we were weathered out from the Down Valley Rat Race, and ended up driving to Basalt for breakfast at the Two Rivers Bar & Cafe and had a very good breakfast with a few of our Balloon Mates from the Toucan 2 Balloon Crew. The rest of the day was spent being slugs in the living room of the condominium where we watched Food Network shows. It seemed that the main ingredient of a few shows was ... bacon. And we honored that theme by buying a pizza on Saturday night from Taster's in Snowmass Village, with one of the featured ingredients being ... bacon! Thursday night was the traditional Spaghetti Dinner and instead of taking place in one of Pilot's condo, it was in one of the meeting rooms at The Crestwood. There was a good turnout, with good food and drink, and the company entertaining and enjoyable as usual. Friday night was also the Pilot and Crew gathering at the Brothers' Grille in the Silvertree Hotel just off of the Snowmass Village Mall, and who put out a great spread of Asian cuisine.

On Saturday I got to fly with Skip for the very first time and we ventured up the Snowmass Club golf course with the hopes of coming back down and going over the field where the Don Quixote competition was taking place. Which is nothing more than popping balloons that were tethered to the ground with a stick and nail attached to the end. We crossed the 18th fairway about 225 yards out from the pin and then came to a halt. The winds, calm as they were, then pushed us back to the 17th fairway and we ended up walking the balloon to a pathway adjacent to the 16th fairway that easily accessed the road. Our Crew consisted of us, as well as Wayne and Crisette who normally Crew for Toucan 2 piloted by Kent Wolcott of Colorado Springs. They had a good number of Crew Members assisting them during the event, and Wayne and Crisette volunteered to help us. On Sunday, Wayne got to fly with Skip in the Target Tubing competition, which is tossing tennis balls into tubes that were floating on the water hazard for the 18th hole of the golf course. The only opportunity they had at the target was from above with Ken Tadolini and his balloon, Outlaw, from Denver below them, and definitely in the way. They contemplated dropping the balls off of their balloon but ended up not doing that. Most of the Pilots ended up on the golf course cart path, or the adjacent pathway, and just parked their balloons hoping for favorable winds to take them back over the target area, which it never did. Wildfire landed near the same pathway along the 16th fairway where we packed up the balloon after waiting for those same winds.

It was an enjoyable Fall weekend in Snowmass Village and the drive over Independence Pass was enjoyable as always, and more so with the aspen leaves well into their change of colors. Definitely worth a drive.

     

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Ogden Valley Balloon Festival
Tuesday, 29 December 2009

August 15, 2008

The weekend of August 15 saw me driving out to Salt Lake City and Eden, Utah to visit my friends and to participate in the Ogden Valley Balloon Festival (www.ogdenvalleyballoonfestival.com) at the Wolf Creek Resort in Eden, Utah.  It's a very nice community with a few ski resorts in the area, and is a short distance east of Ogden, after a very nice drive through a canyon. 

I came out a day early where I picked up our friends Judy Tudor of Dayton, Ohio and Joe Pozycki of Albuquerque, New Mexico who flew into Salt Lake.  They were going to be part of the Crew along with Maria Peterson (Crew Chief) and her folks, Berndt and Inbritt Lysholm, who were in visiting from Stockholm, Sweden. 

Friday's flight was Media Day and we took a reporter and cameraman from the Xterra TV Channel who were in the area in order to film the mini-triathalon that was also taking place that weekend. 
On Saturday I got to fly with Karl Peterson (Pilot) who worked it hard to get the balloon close to the competition target.  All that work resulted in me getting a very nice and long flight through a very nice valley.  I have attended this Balloon Festival for three years running now, and it is one of my top five favorite events in which to participate.  On Sunday I had to leave after we launched Berndt and Inbritt with Karl in order to get Judy back to the airport in Salt Lake.  And Joe got to fly for the first time when they hopped.  A hop is when the balloon lands and passengers are changed out for the next leg of the flight.

       
       

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Aerpog Balloon Blog Start !
Tuesday, 29 December 2009

July 15, 2008

Welcome to the Aerpog Balloon Blog !!

This blog was the idea of my Website Designer, James Lee of Summit Creations, who thought it would be fun and entertaining if I chronicled my adventures in ballooning. The goal of this blog is share with other the joys of ballooning, and to be a clearing house of sorts with Pilots, Crews and friends of ballooning. This blog will post write ups of the various places I go to with different Pilots, and to post photos of the events, both of balloons and those participating. It will also have some stories and travel tips regarding the various places that we visit. I will also have balloon links in the Links Section of this website, so check in there once in a while as well. If you want to submit photos, and let me know of events, including any links to those events, go ahead and submit them. Be patient . . . this is my first foray into blogs and it's a blog that will evolve in content and in design.

I like most got into ballooning by chance. When my friend Jeanie Blucher of Colorado Springs learned that I was going to be in Albuquerque, she told me that I needed to Crew for her husband Stephen at Fiesta. All I knew about crewing was that it had something to do with rowing, and that a Fiesta was a party. Part of it I got right. I learned all too soon that crewing meant setting up the balloon, chasing the balloon in a vehicle, catching the balloon, breaking down the balloon and then returning to the launch site. Then came the party. Fiesta turned out to be a complete sensory overload, let alone an bsolutely fun event that involves 700 plus hot air balloons at the annual Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico in October. That first morning was in 1995, and I've been going ever since to that event and many others throughout the region, and still ... the party rages on.

I've had the pleasure in designing a balloon for, and with, my great friends Karl and Maria Peterson of Salt Lake City. I did not want to design the balloon, but instead wanted them to have that pleasure of thinking in 3-D, color and texture to create a graphic or story that relects their personalities. Nothing like creating a design on a six story envelope ! I tried talking them into downloading a template, getting out their crayons and coloring away. But I was losing that argument quickly, regardless of my delaying tactics. So one weekend, I grabbed my markers from the office, and with libations befitting of most balloon events, created five designs for them to consider. I think I used every fabric color that the manufacturer had with the exception of brown, black and silver. The name of the balloon is Aerpography. It's a combination of the word Aerostat, which is what a hot air balloon is, and the word topography, which is what part of the balloon design represents. There is a story line to go with the design, so have a little bit of fun in figuring it out, and if you can't . . . just ask us when you see us at ballooning events.

Below are some photographs of Aerpography. The first on the left, during its inaugural flight in Aztec, New Mexico in 2006. The second, also in 2006, is in an absolutely stunning area, called Valley of the Gods, just north of Mexican Hat, Utah. I got to fly on one of the days that we were there, and the view above of the canyons is phenomenal. The third photograph is obviously taken from below, and during its first appearance in the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in 2006.

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