Antiquing, Fun, VIntage, Yard Sales

Treasures

Here are the little treasures I got this weekend. Marnie and I went to Blackberry Junction, a vintage and handmade goods show, in Albany on Friday. I found this green vintage ladle that matches my kitchen theme, and I will hang it on the wall. Then on the way downtown we stopped at a couple of garage sales and I got four of these white plates for 25 cents total, the salt and pepper shaker book, and the Moleskine notebook, still in its wrapper, for free! We went on to the antique mall and I found these green Tupperware measuring cups, which I will sell in my Etsy shop. Linda and I went for a walk today and found a garage sale where the lady was liquidating her collection of frogs, and I found the adorable toad! I’ve been wanting one like that for a long time. They have so much personality! Someday I may get a really big one for my garden. Linda went back to the garage sale with her money and bought a bunch of stuffed froggies for her doggies. They like to destuff the stuffies. Not as much of a haul as last time, but still pretty good!

Well, hello there!

Animals, Food, Fun, Life

State Fair

Today Marnie and I went to the opening day of the Oregon State Fair. I enjoy the Fair but The Hubs isn’t all that interested, so I asked Marnie to go with me.

Fair selfie in the Forestry Service area

The last few times I’ve been to the Fair we’ve gone toward the end of its run of 11 days, and this time I really wanted to go at the beginning when everything is fresh. I think we might have been too early though, because it looked like some of the animals hadn’t arrived yet.

We entered through the blue gate where the livestock barns are (after accidentally pulling into the handicapped parking and having to exit over a curb) and went to see the animals. We were looking especially for alpacas. There were many kinds of sheep, cows, and a couple of Belgian horses. I didn’t get any photos of regular cows, but here are sheep and one of the big horses:

Katahdin Hair Sheep
Have you ever heard of this kind of sheep? They have hair instead of wool, and they shed instead of being sheared.
Kids showing sheep.
Belgian Horse. His name is Maverick.

We saw these Longhorns in a pen in a different part of the Fair. Every time we went to take a photo they would turn away, ha. I finally got this one:

Look at those horns!

But could only get the back end of this one:

We should have asked the people to learn more about them, but we spent too much time trying to photograph them!

We watched a little bit of a horse showing — we missed the announcement but it looked like the horse was being judged on how well it was trained. In the livestock pavilion we saw this pony and a couple of others. This one also didn’t want her photo taken:

No photos, please.
We appreciate the sign, although we aren’t in the habit of feeding our fingers to horses.

The horse event barn.
Horses and people getting ready to show at a different barn.

Here are some other critters we saw (the bunnies came on a different day, and there were no chickens in the poultry barn either):

American Roller pigeon.
Western painted turtle, native to Oregon. There were other turtles who are not native and illegal to have.
Chinook salmon

Me pretending to be a Western Pond Turtle. You can see my arm trying to hold myself up, it was a very low turtle.

This was a fun thing, I’m always fascinated by how Slinkies go down stairs:

Ohmigosh, but my FACE! I have like 15 chins! I was concentrating on getting an action photo of the Slinky, but Marnie got a better photo of it going down the stairs and the letters on the stairs.

We toured some very nice RVs:

This one had massage chairs!

Then we went into the Creative Living building and saw a lot of fun exhibits:

My favorite exhibit of the Fair, someone’s Nancy Drew collection!
I had never seen a Nancy Drew book with this style of cover.
A collection of juicers.
I have one of these “plaid” juicers, but mine is just clear, not green or pink.
Cakes
Decorated Cakes — this one was my favorite. It won the Judge’s Choice ribbon.
Some of the table settings had a Route 66 theme. This one was my fave.
A pretty princess dress. How fun would this be to make?
State Flowers quilt.
Felted wool picture using an old window for a frame.

There were wood carvers, spinners/weavers, and authors showing off their work. One of the authors was William Sullivan, who has written many books about hiking in Oregon. I resisted the urge to tell him that his hike ratings are inaccurate!

Cute bear made out of wood.

We walked through the vendor building and the outside vendors, but didn’t see anything to buy that we couldn’t live without. We got hungry and decided to get some lunch, and corn dogs were on the menu. I won’t say how much the food cost because it was a painful amount.

We also got garlic fries.

A show was starting just as we finished lunch, so we went over to see what it was all about. The “Nerveless Nocks” do a daredevil show. They don’t use any safety devices so had to do a disclaimer by telling the kids in the audience to “not try this at home”. Here is Michaelangelo Nock balancing on four chairs.

He makes it look easy, but he also had to climb up there.

Here is Angelina Nock and her aerial act:

Here is Angelina standing in the metal ball while a young Venezuelan man rides a motorcycle around and around. It was hard to get a good photo of this.

She did flinch once.

Someday I will try one of these deep-fried delicacies. They actually have deep-fried Kool-Aid. That flummoxed us! I got a jumbo bag of cotton candy and we chomped on some of that as we walked. I brought the rest home and was going to take a photo of it, but I forgot and eated it all up instead.

I’m squinting because the sun was in my eyes and I forgot my sunglasses in the car.

And then there’s always this food booth:

Mmmm…tentaclessss…

As we were heading back to the car we saw an alpaca go by near the livestock barns, and hurried after it. We missed when it went in though, and never did find the alpacas. We did, however, find llamas.

They all had their own rugs.

And I will leave you with this:

Lovely Llama.
Adventures, Backpacking, Fun, hiking, PCT

PCT Days

PCT Days this year opened on Saturday at 8:30 a.m., so Marnie and I decided to get there at opening time in order to get a good parking space on the road.  There were many, many more people there this year than prior years, mostly hikers, and Thunder Island (the camping area) was full to the brim with tents.  We walked around and visited the vendor booths and picked up the goodies they were offering – there were stickers, headbands, lip balm, and even a cork massage ball, which if you buy one can cost as much as $10, so that was a great gift!  There were a lot of things available that we didn’t even take. Marnie won a raffle prize from Backpacker Magazine.  They played, “Never Have I Ever”, and she still had nine fingers up out of ten at the end of the game.  The first ones out and the last ones standing got prizes.

This was early, a lot more people arrived later.
Goodies

There were a couple more food trucks this year than there have been in years past, but we went to the Eastwind Drive-In for our lunch again.  They have a walk-up side and a drive-up side, but instead of having the walk-up side open they only opened the drive-up side so we stood in line with the cars to get our lunch.  With cars driving in and others trying to get out of the parking lot, it was an interesting experience!  Eventually cars and people were lined up clear out into the bike lane.  When we were almost to the front of the line a couple of hikers named Galileo and Something Else came up and asked if we would get them milkshakes since we were already in line, and of course we said we would.  Something Else was wearing a California flag as a cape, and Galileo was wearing a white tablecloth with lace inserts as a poncho or toga.  It looked like he had had his friends sign his tablecloth.  Fun!

Waiting in line with the cars
Something Else and Galileo, and me

As we made our rounds we were able to find Marmalade who we met in 2019 (on YouTube at Marmalade Outdoors), and we found our friend SnuzzNuzz who we spent time with in SoCal.  SnuzzNuzz was very happy to see us, and it was nice to visit with both of them.  We talked with a hiker named Autograph and SnuzzNuzz while we were sitting at one of the picnic tables, and the couple next to us had brought a whole large watermelon and a big knife and cutting board from home and she started cutting up that watermelon right then and there!  The lady offered us each a slice of watermelon, which we gladly accepted.  She got out all sorts of other food to share as well.  We also found Legend, who we were not expecting to see!  He is a trail angel and was setting up the hostel in Campo when we were there, and we spent a lot of time with him helping with the hostel and getting rides to and fro.  He is hiking the trail with a German girl and they are only doing 5 to 10 miles a day, which Legend says is perfect for him. We stopped by the booth where Liz Thomas (who wrote the Long Trails book) was signing books and got a photo with her.  She posted our photo on Instagram and had me do a video testimonial for her book!  I wasn’t sure what to say but I hope it helped.  I found another hiker named Ninja from Japan, and heard from someone else that there is a German girl also named Ninja.  We were told that the Japanese Ninja looks more like a ninja then I do, ha.  We found Boomerang, another hiker we met in SoCal at the Gold Rush Hotel in Julian.  He and his friend Sailor had given us advice about our pack weight.   We also met Kyle and Flossy from the Kyle Hates Hiking YouTube channel, and they were very gracious and let us fangirl for a minute! We saw Turtle, who we had met down at Scissors Crossing near Julian, Jupiter from his JupiterHikes YouTube channel, and Manny from Manny on Trail, also from YouTube.

Marmalade
SnuzzNuzz
Legend
Snorkel
Boomerang
Flossy and Kyle

We didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking in the vendor booths because neither of us really need anything, although I tried on an alpaca zip-up sweater in the Arms of Andes booth and it was really nice.  The $250 price tag was a little high for my budget, though, but I am considering saving up for it.  It is something that would last forever.  There was a big stuffed alpaca at the booth and it was covered in real alpaca wool.  We enjoyed petting it because it was so soft, and I thought they should make portable alpacas to use as stress relievers!  It’s very calming to snuggle an alpaca!

Kangaroo snuggling the alpaca.

We participated in a couple of vendor raffles but didn’t win anything at those.  There were a ton of people at the Granite Gear giveaway as usual, and we could hardly hear the man as he called out the trail names they drew, he needed a megaphone!  They Hyperlite Mountain Gear booth was giving out some nice prizes too, so I was a bit disappointed not to have won anything there.  Marnie’s prizes from the Backpacker Magazine raffle were a hat and a little snap-together bowl.  She also got a free hat from the Sawyer booth.  I didn’t take a hat because I have so many already!

A crowd at the Granite Gear giveaway

We saw people in many interesting outfits, a couple of girls were wearing satin lingerie robes as sweaters (I suppose they are light!) and one was wearing both the matching nightgown and robe!  I think a few hikers had stopped by some thrift stores and picked out some things, ha.  There were men in kilts and even skirts, and then the usual interesting thru-hiker ensembles.   The people watching is always fun at PCT Days!

We both decided not to buy tickets to the big raffle at the end of the day, because the last couple of years we haven’t won anything and we didn’t know if we wanted to stay that late.  We did end up leaving around 4:30 or 5:00 so we got home at a decent hour (still past my bedtime though!).  The weather wasn’t too hot, which we appreciated, though we each did get a bit sunburned. All in all it was definitely a fun day!

People at the Backpacker Mag raffle
Liz’s Book — Long Trails – well worth the read to prepare for your thru-hike!
Backpacking, Fun, hiking, History, PCT, People

Hike — Milo McIver State Park

Today we took our last training hike before leaving for the PCT to Milo McIver State Park in Estacada (Oregon) at Marnie’s suggestion. The park is named after Milo K. McIver, who was a member and then chairman of the Oregon Highway Commission in the 1950s and 1960s. He was instrumental in investing nearly $1 billion on about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of new highway. During his term as chairman, Oregon led all other states in opening interstate freeways. The park contains a colony of Townsend’s big-eared bats, a sensitive species in Oregon, and the largest yew tree in Oregon (second largest in the nation!) is located in the park. There are a couple of nice campgrounds, some group camp areas, some day use pavilions, and equestrian trails. This was the first time any of us had been to the park.

We had a nice hike on the Riverbend and Maple Ridge trails, starting in the Riverbend side of the park. There are a few nice restrooms with flushing toilets in the park, which is always a bonus when hiking!

Marnie and Linda on the trail.

Linda and me, going down some steps.

The Clackamas River is close at hand throughout most of the park, and it is very scenic. They have added some channels and engineered log jams to make better fish habitat.

Clackamas River
Clackamas River — we saw a couple of people fishing and some kayakers

We walked by some of the 27 disc golf holes and saw many berry bushes and flowers, and quite a lot of daisies and Oregon Grape.

Bleeding Heart

Blackberry blossoms – lots of berries to come!

Not sure what kind of berries these are, they seem to grow quite low to the ground. Both Marnie and Linda ate one and neither of them died, so…

Daisies

Oregon Grape

There was a short trail to a landslide viewpoint. I’m sure it would have been more interesting if it hadn’t been so overgrown.

Landslide viewpoint – photo by Marnie

We noticed quite a number of snails on the trail, some brown and speckled and some white with stripes, with shells about an inch in diameter, but no snail photos were taken. We saw an owl that was annoying a number of birds, the birds were flying all over screeching and hollering. As we walked into the area the owl flew down toward my head and then into a nearby tree, where Marnie got this photo of it.

The Owl

After our hike we decided to check out the Clackamas Fish Hatchery that is in the park. Most of the pools were empty, but there were some tiny baby salmon in a couple of big pools (with some birds standing by for a meal!), and some very large salmon in a smaller pool. In the baby pool some of the fish were jumping around the water coming out of the pipes.

Pool with baby salmon

Baby salmon

Pool with adult salmon

Linda checks out what looks like a fish ladder, it flows out into the river.

The next feature of the park we went to see is the second largest yew tree in the nation. It is a Pacific yew. There was no sign to indicate which tree it was, but Linda was able to confirm what a yew tree looks like on her iPad. I had seen a much smaller one before and the only thing I could remember about it was its unique bark. We thought this tree looked like it needed some care. Since it is a feature of the park and is even on the little map, we hope that someone will come take care of it soon.

Yew tree

The last interesting area of the park we visited was the Milo McIver memorial viewpoint. A cobbled walk leads to the McIver memorial, and further on to the viewpoint deck where you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens, although today clouds obscured all but a glimpse of Mt. Hood and a snippet of Mt. Adams.

Milo McIver memorial plaque

The memorial plaque has an interesting 3D sculpture of Mr. McIver. The photo above was taken from straight in front of the plaque, and the photo below was taken from the side.

Memorial plaque from the side

View from McIver Memorial Viewpoint – photo by Marnie

A zoomed-in glimpse of Mt. Hood

A guide to the view – photo by Marnie

After our visit to the memorial viewpoint we hopped back in the car and headed home through Silverton so we could stop at Dairy Queen, our favorite après-hike food place. We had a nice late lunch and were home by 3:00.

Everything is coming together for our PCT hike starting soon!

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, Cool Stuff, Fun, Gear, hiking, PCT, Tuffy

It’s The Little Things…

Here is the post I promised about some little things I have now for backpacking. I call them “little”, because they will probably seem tiny and unimportant to many, but it makes me happy to have them 😀

First, before we left to start the PCT in California I decided it would be nice to have a card that had my name, trail name, phone number, email address, and Garmin InReach message address to give to people I wanted to keep in touch with. Also, I figured a card like that would make a good label for things like trekking poles. Since my trail name is “Ninja”, I had bought the rights to use this ninja girl image on Etsy awhile back and decided it would make the perfect theme for my little cards. I also made some for my friends Marnie and Linda, with their info and an image especially for them. It was great fun making these!

I had seen on the Hilltop Packs website awhile back that they will make you a dry bag out of Dyneema with your own picture or photo on it! And I mean, ever since the personalized t-shirt craze of the early 80’s I have been fascinated by personalizing my gear, ha. I wasn’t happy with my little ditty bag and other stuff sacks that I had used, so I decided to see what the Hilltop Packs bags would look like. I ordered 2 medium-long bags for electronics and medication, and a medium bag to use as a ditty bag (comb, mirror, pen, toothbrush, etc.) I had the ninja girl and another ninja-themed image I got on Etsy, and I sent one for the ditty bag (to be pink) and one for the electronics bag (to be white). For the medication bag (to be black), I sent them a photo of Tuffy, my old kitty, who passed away last year. And they printed the images on both sides! Here are the bags:

Didn’t they turn out amazing?!

THEN, as I was browsing more ninja things on Etsy, I found a matching key fob, but the posting was only for a pattern and not something I could make myself. I asked the seller if she could make it for me, and she did! It came yesterday. Isn’t it perfect?

Goodness, I do love a theme! 😀

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, Cool Stuff, Fun, Gear, hiking, PCT

New Stuff

TL/DR: I’m getting new gear! <Leaps around house for joy.>

In light of our new plan to hike the PCT in Oregon, I have ordered a new, lighter and less bulky sleeping bag, and a new, lighter and less bulky tent. I expect to receive both of them today, along with a new Dyneema bag for my clothes.

When we were in California on the PCT, everyone noted how heavy and big our packs seemed to be, and while we did send a few pounds back home, our packs were still inordinately (I thought) heavy. I was using the ULA Catalyst pack, which is a 75-liter pack that can carry 40 lbs maximum. I bought this larger pack in anticipation of having to carry a bear canister on the PCT while in the Sierra. While I don’t know how many pounds I had in the pack, especially with food and water, the pack wasn’t comfortable and after about 4 miles would start to feel like it was hanging from my shoulders. I think it was more from the heaviness of the things in the pack than the pack itself, as I have carried my ULA Circuit (68L, max load 35 lbs) on more than one backpacking trip and found it to be very comfortable.

Last year before our summer backpacking I did tons of research and bought a new tent (Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 – 2lbs 3 oz) and a new sleeping bag (Sierra Designs Women’s Cloud 20, a zipperless bag – 2lbs 4 oz). I anticipated using both on the PCT this year. While the tent is awesome (didn’t leak, only got condensation when we camped near a lake) it takes a long time to set up, weighs over 2 lbs., and is bulky. Also, the zippers are hard to open and since it is silicone-impregnated nylon (sil-nylon) it sags when it gets wet and takes awhile to dry. And while the sleeping bag kept me warm, I found that the zipperless design was inconvenient for me to wriggle in and out of, especially in the night when nature called. Plus, it kept losing feathers all over the place. Since it is 800-fill down, it doesn’t pack down as small as I’d like. (Note to those interested: 800-fill down is usually duck down, while 900-fill down is goose down, which packs smaller. Why? I don’t know.)

As many hikers/backpackers do, I like to watch videos on YouTube about other hikers’ gear lists. One of these hikers is Condor, or Tiki Bird Tracy, who is thru-hiking the PCT this year. While watching her 2022 PCT gear vid I noticed that she also has the ULA Circuit pack, but while I struggled to get all my goodies in the pack she could fit hers in with no problem. In the video, she stuffs her sleeping bag, tent, and clothes bag in the bottom of her pack and everything fits with what looks like plenty of room for the rest of her stuff. When we got home from our PCT thru attempt I started researching lighter, less bulky gear and I went back to Tracy’s video and studied her gear, especially her tent and sleeping bag.

Tracy is using a ZPacks Classic sleeping bag, which is fancy and expensive. She is also using the ZPacks Duplex tent, which is even more fancy and more expensive. After more research on tents and sleeping bags, and after watching videos of Tracy on the PCT, I decided to order from ZPacks the Duplex tent (spruce green, it’s a thicker material and more opaque than the blue – 20.5 oz) and the 10F Full Zip sleeping bag with 900 fill power goose down in green – 26.9 oz, because I surmise it will be easier for me to get in and out of. The tent and sleeping bag each come with a dedicated Dyneema dry bag.

Some Pros:
* The Duplex is fancy!
* The Duplex is made of Dyneema, which means it is strong, it doesn’t absorb water and is easy to dry off (There can be a problem with condensation in the inside, but according to my research it isn’t as much of a problem as I thought it would be when I bought the Tiger Wall instead of the Duplex last year.) When using a Dyneema tent, you also don’t have to use a separate groundcloth to protect the bottom of the tent. More weight savings there.
* The Duplex sets up with trekking poles so I won’t have to carry tent poles (now, the reason I didn’t buy it last year is because I didn’t think I wanted a trekking pole tent. What if one of my poles breaks? I have decided that if one if my poles breaks I will use one of Marnie’s poles to set up my tent, har.)
* The Duplex is quick to set up and you don’t have as much worry about getting rain in it since it is a single wall tent and all sets up at once.
* The Duplex rolls up pretty small.
* The Duplex is green instead of orange-y like the Tiger Wall.
* The Duplex has line-loc adjusters on the guylines, which make it simple to pitch.

* The sleeping bag is fancy!
* The sleeping bag is a 10-degree bag, better than the 20-degree rating of my current bag.
* The full zipper on the sleeping bag will make it easy to extricate myself from the bag and get into it, especially in the dark.
* The sleeping bag will pack down smaller than the bag I have.

Some Cons:
* The Duplex is expensive. Although, I did save $50 during the Memorial Day sale.
* The Duplex can get condensation inside, and it can drip on your head or your down sleeping bag. I will bring a “shammy” super-absorbent towel to alleviate this problem.
* The Duplex does not come with tent stakes, so you have to order theirs or supply your own. Since I would be using my MSR Groundhog stakes anyway, this is almost not a con.

* The sleeping bag is expensive.
* The sleeping bag doesn’t have a hood, so it might be hard to keep my pillow on my sleeping pad. I will look for ways to fix this. But since it is six feet long and I am only 5’6″ I should have room to pull it up over my head, so the lack of hood won’t be missed by my ears.
* There is not a sleeping pad sleeve to keep the bag on the pad, like on my Sierra Designs bag. While that is a great feature, it is really difficult to get the sleeve around the pad when you’re sitting down in the tent anyway, and I didn’t want to try wrassling with it outside of the tent and dropping it in the dirt.

In using the new tent, new sleeping bag, and (old) ULA Circuit pack, I will actually be saving about 4 lbs in weight! That may not sound like much, but when you’re carrying it on your back (and your knees, ankles, feet, etc.) it’s a good amount. My base weight (pack weight without food and water) has gone down to around 16 lbs., which, while certainly not ultralight, is acceptable. I am anxiously awaiting my new gear today (hurry up, UPS man!). Unfortunately it is going to rain here until next Tuesday so I won’t set the tent up until after the rains, I want to set it up on dry ground first just in case. I have been blessed to receive a whole lot of work in the last couple of months, which allowed me to pay for the new gear without stressing about it. God is good, all the time!

The moral of the story is, when researching and buying backpacking gear, weight and bulk should be a big part of your consideration.

I also got some fun little things to backpack with. I’ll share those in another post!

Just keep walking!

~Ninja

Backpacking, Change, Christian Life, Cool Stuff, Doing Things Differently, Fun, God, hiking, PCT

PCT, Here We Come!!

So here is my official announcement blog post — my bestie Marnie and I plan to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2022!! The trail traverses California, Oregon, and Washington, from Mexico to Canada, and is 2650 miles long. We plan to start at the southern terminus at the Mexico border and head north. It is a journey of five or six months, depending on how fast you hike.

PCT Southern Terminus – photo from thetrek.co
PCT Northern Terminus – photo from PCTA.org

We have gotten our thru-hike permits from the Pacific Crest Trail Association (albeit for days at the end of May which isn’t feasible when hiking through the California desert, we are looking for cancellations to get a better date and a date together) and we are working to get prepared for the trail.

EDIT: We were able to get permits for the end of March! Yay!

We would love it if you would pray for us for these specifics:

  • That God will be glorified in our hiking.
  • Provision (finances, bravery, physical and mental strength, etc.) for the trail.
  • Protection from injury/illness, ice, snow, water crossings, critters, anything else.
  • Fitness and ability to get good nutrition on trail (both of us sometimes find it hard to eat while backpacking).
  • Successful and smooth food and resupply boxes prep (there are places where there isn’t a good place to resupply for food, we will mail supply boxes to those places).
  • That we will get our “trail legs” soon so we can hike the miles we need to hike to finish on time (before the snows in Washington).
  • Energy to journal at the end of each day.
  • That neither of us will experience post-trail depression when we get home, but instead have energy and enthusiasm for the next stage of our lives.
  • Anything else applicable that you can think of!
Marnie (left) and me on a day hike.

Thank you!! Please feel free to ask any questions about our trip in the comments!

And if you want to know more about the PCT, The Trek’s website is a great place to start!

Cool Stuff, Family, Fun, Memories

Up, Up and Away

As my last post anticipated, a week or so ago my son and his grandpa went for a hot air balloon ride.  On Friday they were instructed to meet at 7:00 a.m. at site “W”, a church in West Salem.  (The church has a sign that says “Drive-In Church”.  I’m still trying to figure out how that works…)  The balloon van arrived and the crew started unpacking.  The whole process of unpacking and blowing up the balloon took about a half hour – I’m always impressed when people accomplish such big things in so little time!

 

The whole balloon is in this bag!

 

Cold air is blown into the balloon with a fan:

 

 

The burner is fired up and hot air is blown in:

Balloon is up and they’re ready to go!

 

Up…

 

Up…

 

and Awaa…

 

…yyyyyyy!

305104_283907968299534_100000410001865_1039898_2030705668_n copy

 

I had planned to spend the morning checking out some estate sales, or rushing home to take photos if the balloon was going to come our way.  But, the winds were “light and variable” and the balloon floated off toward downtown.  I was snapping away when one of the crew asked if I wanted to come with them in the chase van. Yes!

When they call it a “chase” vehicle, they aren’t exaggerating.   There’s a sign on the back of the van that says “Warning: Frequent Stops and Indecisions!”  While we zoomed and stopped and looked and went around the block and zoomed the other way, Dad and Ben were floating over the river looking down at the Oregon State Capitol building with the Gold Pioneer on top, and all of downtown Salem; and listening to the balloon pilot, Jim Desch, guide them through their aerial tour.  Jim, who owns Balloon Flying Service of Oregon, has been flying since 1989 and knows every possible landing spot in the area.  They estimated that this spot would work so Cecil pulled the van in here and stopped:

But…oops!  The winds changed direction and we had to jump in the van and take off to the east, where there was a nice big field next to the city shops.

Coming in:

 

It cleared the wires effortlessly (although from the ground it looked like they were coming in right on top of them!)

 

 

A perfect landing!

 

Time to pack up…

 

 

At the top of the balloon – it’s 200°F on this end!

 

They wrap straps around the balloon and then pack it into the bag…

 

 

They have to squish it so it will fit in the van!

 

When everything was packed up we all rode in the van back to the launch site, and took our cars to Wallace Marine Park in West Salem for the traditional champagne or sparkling cider breakfast.  Jim graciously invited me to join in, (but only those who flew in the balloon were allowed to have champagne)!

Setting up for breakfast.

 

Ben wanted to go throw a rock in the river (ka-bloop!)…

 

Before breakfast, Jim introduced the champagne toast with a history of ballooning…

 

…and presented Dad and Ben with framed Certificates of Ascension! (They also got to keep the champagne cups with the little balloons on them!)

 

Breakfast included croissants with strawberry cream cheese or chive cream cheese, crackers and a cheese spread, chocolates, and brownies. For beverages we could choose hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles or coffee. Everything was delicious, and I was enjoying the meal and the conversation (mostly about Jim’s former career – monument making) so much I completely forgot to take any photos of the food!

I JUST realized that the whole time Ben and Dad were on their balloon ride and I was in the chase van, I didn’t once think of the song “Up, Up and Away” until just now when I was trying to invent a title for this post. Can you believe it?

(Sorry about the weird fonts in this post.  I can’t figure out what happened, and it won’t let me edit the font sizes!)