Category Archives: Traveling Days

Early Morning Ballooning

Motor Man and I first met Mark, our friend who has a hot air balloon business, back in 2013. Since that time, we’ve gone for three balloon rides and been at many launches and landings.

We enjoy meeting Mark’s passengers, most of whom have never been in a hot air balloon.  I take pictures of them in the basket before their flight and sometimes after the landing.  And, of course, I take pictures during the flight.  I usually get their email address and send the best photos to them. And Motor Man usually helps with the launch. (It’s rather involved.)

Although Mark has flown many times in our area, most people have never seen the balloon in flight.  Perhaps that’s because he prefers to fly early in the morning, just around or a little after sunrise. So it’s always fun to see folks stopping, sometimes pulling over on the shoulder of the road, to watch.

I thought I’d share some pictures from recent balloon flights.

This is one of Mark’s balloons; he named it “Spectrum”. It’s a beautiful balloon, or “envelope”, as it’s called.

One of the most fun experiences we’ve had was a few weeks ago, early in the morning. Mark was flying the balloon very low.  If you’ve never seen a hot air balloon in flight, you may not realize that it is SO quiet, except for the occasional few seconds when the burner is activated. This was an overpass on a country road, with thankfully, no traffic. (The white van is Mark’s “chase vehicle”, being driven by a ground crew member, and it was stopped, as were we.)

It doesn’t happen with every flight, but it’s always fun when the  balloon flies directly over us.

With so many of the flights being at sunrise, it’s easy to get really pretty photos.

And water reflections are always nice.

There are opportunities when the balloon is low enough that you can actually see and talk with (and wave to) the passengers.

What we do is called “chasing the balloon”… we’re watching for it  and driving in the direction we think it will land.  That isn’t always easy: we often lose sight of it,  and the roads don’t always go in the direction we need.

And as much as everyone loves a balloon flight, there’s one aspect that similar to a plane flight: it’s always good to have a nice, smooth landing.

Here’s a short video I took of a recent launch.  That’s Motor Man’s voice you hear at the beginning. (Make sure your speakers are on.)

I know hot air ballooning isn’t for everyone, but if you ever have the chance to go….

~These Days Of Mine~

 

 

 

 

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The Plane, The Plane!

A couple of weeks ago, Motor Man and I learned that seaplane rides would be offered Labor Day weekend at Smithfield Station, a local restaurant/hotel/marina. We immediately knew it was something we’d like to do.

We were waiting on the dock when the plane arrived Friday afternoon.

And after we had donned our life vests, had our picture taken. We wore headsets during the flight, so we could talk with each other and our pilot, Marc.

It was such a beautiful day for flying. There are so many tributaries in our area, which of course, look very different from the air.

We flew right by our house.  Marc even circled around a second time, so I could get plenty of pictures.

I took a short video of our landing back at Smithfield Station. It was smooth as silk.

Flying in a seaplane was something that neither of us had ever thought about, but it was a great experience.

~These Days Of Mine~

 

 

 

 

 

It’s A 1949

A few weeks ago, Motor Man and I happened to notice an interesting looking old vehicle located not far from our shop.

Our buddy, “Lugnut”, frequently works at that location, and a few days later when we passed by and saw him,  we stopped.

Turns out, it’s his vehicle. Motor Man insisted I climb inside and sit in the driver’s seat. (Since this project is a “work in progress”, it probably wasn’t the best day for me to be wearing white slacks.)

This is a 1949 Ford, built as a mail truck. It’s hard for me to remember: mail truck or milk truck. I had to message Lugnut as I was writing this post and ask him again.

The previous owner had begun transforming it into an ice cream truck. Although it’s a Ford,  it now has a Chevrolet “heart” (Motor Man’s word for engine).

Lugnut isn’t sure what his exact plans are for this sweet little truck.

Ice cream, anyone?

~These Days Of Mine~

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Oak Ridge Boys…And Zombies

Did that blog post title get y0ur attention? And “zombies”: there’s a word I never thought would be included in any of my blog posts.  More about that later.

Several months ago, my long-time friend, Bev, learned that The Oak Ridge Boys would be in concert in Hopewell, a city a little over an hour from us.  Back in the day, she and I LOVED listening to their music. And we saw them in concert back in the early 1980’s at Scope, a huge arena in Norfolk.  Our seats were so far from the stage, the group looked like ants. But we enjoyed hearing (and “kinda” seeing) them perform live.

So, we got tickets to the show in Hopewell, which was Sunday night, August 10.  We met Bev and her husband, Bill, at a nearby restaurant for dinner before the concert.  Right outside our window were the most beautiful hanging baskets of petunias. The hummingbirds put on quite a show for us. I think the slight glare from the windowpane gives this picture a nice watercolor effect.

Then, on to the concert. This venue is much smaller than Scope, and we had seats on the 11th row from the stage.  Thanks, Bev, for the picture.

Now…. on to the zombie part of today’s post:

This is a slideshow of what we saw on the side streets just a couple of blocks from the concert venue.

It seems that they were filming a spin-off of “The Walking Dead”, which I understand has something to do with zombies.

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During the concert,  Joe Bonsall, spokesman for the group, would occasionally chat with the audience between songs. During one of those breaks, he asked if  we’d all seen the movie set. Then added that, of course, there weren’t any zombies there right now.  And a woman in the audience yelled out: “We’re all HERE!”.

The entire audience erupted in laughter, as did the guys on stage.

The show went on, and, thankfully, we made it out of Hopewell and back home without spotting the first zombie.

~These Days Of Mine~

 

 

 

 

Animal Adventure Park

Less than 36 hours after our family reunion ended, Motor Man and I were motoring north to upstate New York.  We were, once again, attending a gathering of Animal Adventure Park fans at the home of the famous April, the giraffe.

In case you aren’t April-obsessed (like some of us), here’s the scoop: April had another calf (Azizi) in March, and she and “Az” are now sharing barn and yard space with her 2 year old son, Taj. Meanwhile Dad Oliver has a new mate, Johari.

We arrived at the hotel late Monday afternoon and attended the Meet and Greet that evening. Funny story:  through a Facebook page devoted to the animal park, I “met” a fellow April lover, Carol, who lives in Virginia Beach. That’s about 45 minutes from where we live. Carol and I message on Facebook nearly every day, and have been planning to meet for lunch.  But that just hadn’t worked out.

So, we each drove 8 1/2 hours (her with her niece, and me with my Motor Man) to meet in person in Binghamton, New York. She’s just as much fun as I thought she’d be.

The following day, everyone headed to the park to see “our” giraffe family, as well as the other animals there.

April may be my favorite of the giraffes.

Hi, sweet April

And not-so-little Taj. I was one of the millions who watched his birth live via the web cam.

Baby Azizi was in the distance, so we didn’t get a good picture of him.

But, we did see Dad Oliver, tongue out and just waiting for that carrot.

And this is Johari, fairly new to the park.  She arrived in February, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

That evening, we attended the dinner for the group.  There were upwards of 250 of us, and nearly everyone was dressed in something giraffe-related.

Motor Man took a picture of Jordan, the park owner, with two of the “Virginia” girls.

When Motor Man and I asked Jordan for a picture of us, he commented that he has the same giraffe shirt that Motor Man is wearing.

It was another wonderful time celebrating the animals (especially the giraffes!) at Animal Adventure Park.  Everyone comes away from the park with the same thought: that it is a very special place. The animals are healthy and well cared for, the property is clean as can be, and much thought is given to the comfort and enjoyment of the guests.

If you ever have the chance to visit, you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity. You, too, could would become a giraffe fan.

~These Days Of Mine~

 

 

 

 

 

Our “Fourth”

Well, actually our “Third” and “Fourth”.

Our little town has its fireworks show on July 3, so as not to interfere with the event in a neighboring town in our same county.

This year, for the first time, our Ruritan club rented a local venue for a cookout with music and a great view of the fireworks.  When Motor Man and I learned of this, we immediately bought tickets.

I took the above photo as we were leaving for the event. We had a great time visiting with friends, enjoying the music, and the wonderful fireworks. But, unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures while we were there.

Our friend, Mark, who owns the hot air balloon, had been asked to bring the balloon to the tiny town of Ivor (in a neighboring county) for their July 4th celebration. The plan was to offer folks free tethered balloon rides.

There was some “iffy” weather early in the evening, so while we were waiting, we had time for a selfie.

After a brief shower, the weather cleared, and the crew set about preparing the balloon and giving folks rides.

Motor Man and I met Mark’s mom for the first time. There was a wonderful band providing music, and she wanted to dance.

Then, she and I spent some time together while Motor Man went to meet the folks in line for the balloon ride.

After just a few rides, another storm “blew in”, and the event was over for the evening.  There are plans to reschedule balloon rides and the fireworks for another date.

So it was an eventful Fourth for us. You could say it had its “ups and downs”.

Care to share how you spent your holiday?

~These Days Of Mine~

 

When Was The Last Time…..

….you did something for the first time? (Catchy song by Darius Rucker.)

Well, I did something for the first time on Friday.

My friend, Donna, treated me to a trail ride for my birthday.  We had scheduled it for  a few days after my birthday the first week in June. And we were so disappointed when we had to postpone because of rain that day.

Our rescheduled date was this past Friday.  The weather was sunny and hot, but we didn’t mind.  We arrived early, so excited about our adventure. The ride is offered by Two River Trails, near historic Shirley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia.

I immediately asked for the “laziest horse in the state”, and I was paired with “Gracie”.  (When I learned her name, I thought of Motor Man’s late mom; although everyone knew her as Grace, her given name was Gracie.)

So, horse Gracie and I had a little talk before the ride.

Donna’s horse was named  Gypsy, and Donna was a bit apprehensive when she was told that Gypsy didn’t like to stand still. But they made out just fine.

In addition to Donna and me, there were four other riders and our leader, Lynn.  For much of the ride, Gracie preferred to “bring up the rear”, and that was fine with me.

Our ride took us through Upper Shirley Vineyards:

And along the James River, where Lynn generously offered to take photos of us with that beautiful background.

Dusty Diamond Dianna and Dashing Derringer Donna

Following our ride, Donna and I were ready for lunch (and lots of iced tea) at the Upper Shirley Vineyards Restaurant. One of the other diners asked if we happened to be from Texas…wonder whatever gave him that idea?

Thanks, Donna, for a most wonderful experience, and I’m already looking forward to my next time on a horse….whenever/wherever that may be.

~These Days Of Mine~