Up, Up, and Away!

After a very long eighteen months of isolation that tried my very soul, this year I wanted to get away on July 4th. I wanted to go somewhere very special to celebrate being alive. I think many, many others had the same idea. So when a writer friend, Dee Burks, who lives in Raton, New Mexico urged me to come for their balloon festival, I didn’t hesitate.

Lord, I was glad I didn’t. It was the perfect getaway. Since this was much smaller than most of the festivals, it was very easy to get that coveted ride in a hot air balloon. There were only something like fourteen balloons—the perfect number.

The first morning, my friend and I got up around five so we’d have time to get ready and get to the pancake breakfast served by the Kiwanis Club. Cool mountain air. Lots of smiling faces.

   

It was after swallowing that last bite that Dee broke the news that we were going to have to crew a balloon called Any Way The Wind Blows that was piloted by Rick Moors of Albuquerque. The ground crew had to spreading the balloon out on the ground so the pilot could fill it with hot air.

Then I found out the balloon weighed 690 pounds!! It took some doing to lay it out. This is me trying my darndest. But, we made it.

The clouds went away and Pilot Rick gave my friend and I the first ride. I was excited and apprehensive and nervous but I climbed in and got a crash course in what to do if something went wrong. I had faith it wouldn’t though. We were far away from power lines and other obstructions.

Then we took off. There was no motion. I could not tell we were rising other than by looking at the ground. We were drifting higher and higher. This was our balloon.

It was quiet up there. And so beautiful. I took a picture of these horses down below. They didn’t even notice us.

We were up about twenty minutes or so then Pilot Rick set us down in a pasture. I have to say the landing was pretty rough but understandable since that thing has no brakes on it. My friend grabbed me or I would’ve fallen out of the basket.

I did it!! It was the ride of a lifetime and I had no regrets. I wasn’t a bit afraid.

After we climbed out, we discovered we had to fold the balloon up and we had already started by the time a four person chase team arrived. I saw every aspect up close and personal. Lord, I was exhausted by the time we finished for the day!!

The next day we went back, although not as excited, and after more pancakes helped out again. Thankfully, we had a little more help so it wasn’t as hard on us ladies.

But, my vacation wasn’t over. The second afternoon, we drove two thousand feet higher up to the top of Johnson Mesa and we found a little church that was built in 1879 by a small group of settlers who once lived up there. It looks like prairie land and not up almost 9,000 ft. A sense of utter desolation came over me and I wondered what lured anyone to that spot of ground. A little cemetery was across the road and inside the church was list of everyone buried there (a lot were children) as well as the names of the former residents.

     

It was such a lonely place I wanted to weep. Once the snows began, the people would’ve been completely cut off from the world with no way to get help or a doctor if they needed one. It sure put me in the right mindset for my next series about three sisters having to live away from everyone because of their father’s reputation.

Then, Dee drove us by the cemetery in Raton and told me that people have put solar lights on the graves and after sundown it’s all lit up. I wanted to see that but couldn’t stay awake for night. I got a picture of this little doe that was right by the cemetery. She was posing for me and not scared at all. Deer and bear wander all through town, into people’s yards and wherever else they take a notion.

Every so often we have these moments that fill us up and make us very grateful to be alive. This trip was that for me and I’m glad I could experience it.

Have you ever gone anywhere or done anything that was out of the ordinary? I’m giving away a $15.00 Amazon gift card to one commenter.

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!
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79 thoughts on “Up, Up, and Away!”

    • Oh my goodness, Janice! You are a brave, courageous soul. I draw the line at snakes, any kind of snake. They give me the creeps and I can’t help it. I know they’re one of God’s creatures but….. Man, those elephants are way up there. That must’ve been quite something. I can see why that trip is so memorable. Much love.

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  1. Wow, a balloon ride is one of my last bucket list items…I had no idea it involved so much LABOR!

    A few years ago, my husband and I rappelled off a ten story building for charity. I have done it, decades ago. It was MUCH scarier this time!

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    • Good morning, Laura! I think the older we get the more we think about how much stuff hurts when something goes wrong. We’ve lost that blind trust, or maybe ignorance. Ha! Young people don’t think about dying. But falling ten stories would be disastrous. You can definitely say you did though so you have bragging rights. I hope you get to ride in a hot air balloon one day. It’s so quiet and you just float along. Much love.

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  2. Wow Linda, you had a 4th of July to remember forever. I’m so glad Dee & you were able to take a ride. I’m trying to think if I have done anything out of the ordinary, but can’t think of anything.
    I truly have loved my trips to Cripple Creek, Royal Gorge, and Seven Falls all in Colorado.
    I am still in awe at my 2 trips to Wyoming and all the amazing sites creative from our great Creator, God above. He truly can paint a masterpiece.
    Rob, Casino, & I are heading next month to Roman Nose State Park. A park establish after the Cheyenne (my fav NA tribe) I’m so excited. Make sure you google it and see how cool the place is.
    Wishing to a great week and again thank you fir all the wonderful books you write and send to us.
    Love you dearly my sweet sister friend,

    Reply
    • Good morning, Miss Sister Friend! I did Google Roman Nose State Park and the pictures show a gorgeous place! I hope you get to fit in some horseback riding. That would be the first place I’d head. You three are going to love it there. So many people want to be outdoors these days but that’s only natural after being isolated so long. We certainly had enough of being locked down. I think your days of competing in the rodeo were so scary although I doubt you gave that second thought. To me it looks so hard. Sending love and big hugs your way, dear friend.

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    • Good morning, Debra, it’s great to see you. I’d say that cog railway trip was a unique experience. It looks a bit scary the way it has to go up there. Bet it was a little jerky. Have a lovely day filled with happiness.

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    • Good morning, Teresa F.! I’m so happy to see you. Thanks for coming. You’ll have to give balloon rides a try if you ever get a chance. It’s something I’ll never forget. Love and hugs.

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  3. Nothing I can think of. I think the adventurous spirit skipped me. My mother when she was in her fifty’s went hang gliding and in a hot air balloon. Perhaps being adventurous helps you write such good stories.

    Reply
    • Good morning, Karijean! I’m so happy you stopped by. You know, every experience helps to fill the creative well. I found that out during our long lockdown. The loneliness was horrible to the point it squelched ideas. I really had a hard time writing even though I had nothing but time. Being with people is so crucial. I hope you get a chance to do something really adventuresome one day. Your mom will tell you about the deep satisfaction that comes from really living large. Sending blessings and love.

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  4. Oh how fun and adventurous! I’m so glad you got to do something you have always wanted. My hubby has skydived but that’s not up my alley. A hot air balloon ride is on his bucket list too.

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    • Good morning, Susan P…..That was truly something that will stay with me the rest of my life. I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to step out of an airplane with nothing below me. I have such a fear of falling. Your hubby will love a hot air balloon even though it’s pretty tame up next to skydiving. You need to do something you’ve never done and experience the euphoria. There’s nothing like it. Blessings and love, dear lady.

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  5. Hello, Linda! It was fun hearing about your experience in person the other day! I want to ride in a hot air balloon some day myself! I’ve gotten to do some interesting things since I’ve lived and visited other countries! I love adventure!

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    • Good morning, Valri, my adventurous friend! I’m so glad we got to spend some time together at the Ranching Heritage Center. That was fun. Would’ve been better if it had been cooler. I can only imagine some of your adventures abroad. You’ve lived a very exciting life. Thanks for hanging out with me. Lots of love. Hope you’re enjoying those grandkids.

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  6. I have been in those hot air balloons several times years ago. The only different thing I’ve done is gone to a ghost town. It was in Midwest but can’t remember exactly where. I was 12.

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    • Good morning, Cathyann! Thank you so much for coming to read my post. Then you know what I’m talking about. I wouldn’t give anything for my balloon ride. Ghost towns! I love ghost towns. They really spur my imagination and I try to imagine the people who once lived there. California has a lot and those are mainly the ones I’ve been to. I’m hoping you have many more adventures. Love and hugs.

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  7. Oh wow I can’t believe you when up in a balloon, I don’t think I could have done that since I am afraid of heights now. Maybe in my younger days I would have. They have an American balloon race here where I live usually in June but haven’t had it the past couple of years. One year they landed the balloons right in our neighbors yards. They are so beautiful when you see a bunch of them up in the sky. The only adventurous thing I can think of that I did was many years ago we went over to the small airport that is here and took a small plane ride in a small Cessna plane. They took us over the lake and places and it was fun. The plane had four seats in it so you felt every bump and everything. That was my first time for being on a plane.

    Reply
    • Good morning, Quilt Lady! I agree about the beautiful sight of those balloon floating in the air. They’re so pretty. Riding in a balloon is so different from any other height related thing. Since there’s no motion, you don’t even know when you leave the ground so you don’t even have that feeling of rising. You need to try it. The one thing I learned is that those balloons have no steering so the pilots have no way of making them go where they want. They’re at the mercy of the wind. That pilot there where you live probably had no choice but to set down in your neighbor’s yard. How fun that you went up in the Cessna and flew over those places. You should do it again. Love and hugs, dear lady.

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  8. Your experience sounds exciting! I rode in a raft down a very fast river. I learned quickly it was not my cup of tea!!?

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    • Good morning, Melanie! I’m so happy you came. White water rafting seems pretty dangerous. There aren’t many places to hold onto. Hope you didn’t fall lout or the raft turn over. That would be scary! Try something that’s not quite so terrifying. Like floating in the air like a cloud. 🙂 Love and hugs.

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  9. I loved reading about your adventure. Sounds amazing. I’ve never done anything quite that daring, but I’ve been zip lining a couple times – once in the canyons of California and once in Hawaii. When I was younger. And weighed less 🙂

    Reply
    • Good morning, Cathy! I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I would really encourage you to try hot air ballooning. Just riding. Not crewing!! That’s exhausting work and more suited to men with muscles, not little old ladies! 🙂 Zip lining looks like a lot of fun. I would definitely do that if I had the chance. I hope you day is filled with blessings and love.

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  10. Once hiked up Rainbow Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains in 3 hours and back, not realizing it was a whole day trip. Of course, the fact that bears roamed the area and crashing sounds in the woods might have contributed to the speedy completion of the loop.

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    • Hi Julie, thanks for coming. How funny. Yes, those noises really make you walk a lot faster. Or run in some cases. That sounds like beautiful country. I’ve always wanted to see the Smoky Mountains. Keep having those adventures! Love and hugs.

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  11. I’ve been in a hot air balloon. I’ve also rappelled off a tower as part of a real military obstacle course (completed the course, too.)

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    • Denise, you’ve certainly done some amazing things. Huge congrats on completing the military obstacle course!! That’s really hard, but you did it. My hat’s off to you. Keep living life large, lady. Love and hugs.

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  12. I rode a camel into the Sahara desert Sophomore year of college. We camped in tents. In the morning the food was COVERED in flies, and we had to eat it! I was thirsty the whole time. One girl got shook off her camel and stepped on, and she had a huge bruise on her leg. The guides wore these huge turban-style head wraps that they wrapped in such a way that they stuck out on all sides like a sun hat, and provided sun protection. It was so neat.

    Reply
    • Hi Abigail! I’m so happy you stopped by. My goodness, lady, you really had an adventure! I don’t think anyone could top this. I wouldn’t have wanted to be the girl that fell off her camel! And I wouldn’t have wanted to eat food covered with flies. No, no! Keep having these bold moments and stepping out your box. There’s a whole wide world out there. Love and hugs.

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  13. I’ve ridden the high-speed train from Stockholm, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark. There’s a 16-kilometer straight separating the two countries, so we zoomed over the 5-mile Oresund bridge before descending into the tunnel under the rest of the straight. It was a very long bridge, at a very high rate of speed.

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    • Oh my goodness, rkkoppen! Speed really terrifies me but my husband loved it. He owned a speedboat before he passed. I’ve seen this train in movies and am astounded at how fast they go. Crazy speed. Have a lovely day full of love and blessings.

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  14. How exciting and what an experience. I hate heights so that is out for me. Also the danger. A plane flight is more than enough for me to go on.

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  15. That is amazing. I think it would be fun to go up in a hot air balloon, but I don’t know if I could ever do it with my anxiety. The most daring thing I have ever done (not of my own will) was be in the car when my husband decided he wanted to race someone on the street. Needless to say I was so scared, I couldn’t even scream. But when it was all over, he sure got an ear full. He never did that again with me in the car. Plus it was stupid and dangerous to do it on the street where other cars could get in the way.

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    • Natalie, I loved seeing you, Saturday!! And getting your cookbook. Man, that was a lot of work and you did an awesome job! It’s a great resource for historical writers in addition to cooks. I’m sure you use a lot of those recipes when you and Tavia cook for a crew of cowboys during roundup on the ranch. Glad you enjoyed my pictures. This pandemic reminded me I don’t have any time to waste and has made me want to do things I’ve held back on. And I got to be in the mountains! Love you, lady!

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  16. We’ve gone on many family adventures, bit not sure I’d really classify any of them as being super unusual. We like to search for interesting things and see what we can find. Last week we drove out to see Monument Rocks kind of near Scott City, KS. It was a fun trip!

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    • Hi Jess, thanks for coming! You know, I love scouring places looking for rocks. I have a huge collection that I wouldn’t take anything for. Things don’t have to be daring or scary to be interesting. I’d love to see Monument Rocks. That place is so amazing. From a distance, it looks almost like a city with the rocks as buildings. And it’s odd how all around this group of rocks is flat, barren ground. Yes, I’m going to have to come up and see that. I’ll bet the kids loved it. Blessings and love, dear friend.

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  17. Going on a hike in the Sandias was wonderful and I loved every minute of the beauty and area. High up in the clouds.

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    • Hi Laini, oh how wonderful! The Sandia mountains outside Albuquerque are beautiful. It looks like a great place to hike. I’m glad you got to do that. Thanks for stopping by. Much love.

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  18. wow it looks like you had a fabulous time. that must have been something where that church was. for months on end being isolated from the world. I cant even imagine right now. I used to want to go on an air balloon ride, but now I look down from the top of a ladder and my tummy gets all queasy. oh well. I can see it from people like you. thank you. I dont know if I have done anything out of the ordinary. One year as a family we followed a part of the Trail of Tears and learned so much history. I am part Cherokee so for me it was even more impactful. our daughter feels the same. my younger sister has the facial features and coloring of many of the Cherokee

    Reply
    • Hi Lori, oh my goodness! You have some amazing heritage. I’m so in awe of the Cherokee. They suffered things no one should ever have to. I’m sure it was thrilling to learn the history of the people you descended from and to walk part way on the Trail of Tears. Yes, that church up there on the mesa was so far from everyone. I guess people settled there because the land was free but still, I would’ve chosen somewhere else. I’m sure some women died in childlbirth and many children from a flu epidemic that struck there. I loved seeing that. You have a beautiful day. Much love.

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  19. I haven’t done anything like that! I have a horrid fear of heights, so I’m not sure me and a hot air balloon would work out! I didn’t mind flying to and from Vegas, though! That’s my only plane ride so far! I love visiting old churches and old cemeteries. This one you shared is gorgeous on the outside!

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    • Hi Trudy! Well, there are other things you can do. Like fly to Vegas. That’s tons of fun. I can never pass up an old cemetery. Those buried stories fascinate me and I like to wander around and imagine what the people were like and what kind of life they had. I have a feeling you do too. For being well over a hundred years old, that church was in amazing shape. Someone has been taking care of it. Love and hugs, Trudy.

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    • Hi Ellie! Unforgettable is the word that describes my experience. I’ll never forget it. I hope you get to do something like that one day. Life is too short to hold back. I’m going to try everything I can. Even if it scares the pants off me. Ha! I hope you have a beautiful day. Much love.

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  20. Good morning, Linda! What a marvelous adventure. My daughter lives in Colorado and always tries to attend any balloon festival she can but she’s never been up in one. I’m sure she would love it. It does sound like a bit of hard work, though. And the church, how right you are. When I think of how isolated the settlers were for so much of the time it chills me.

    My big, brave adventure was years ago when I was still working and traveling overseas for work. I went up into one of those big satellite ground stations (that look like huge golf balls when they are all closed up and covered). It was open. I crawled up the ladder in the center and then crawled to the edge and peeped over. To this day I have no idea where I found the courage to do that but it sure was thrilling.

    Have a wonderful week. Can’t wait for the next series.
    Sally

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    • Hi Sally! It’s wonderful to see you. I’ve seen those huge satellite ground stations. Oh my goodness! They’re unbelievable. You had an experience few people can claim. I hope your daughter gets to go up for a ride. She’ll love it.

      I agree about the utter desolation of the early settlers and that had to be horrible. I can’t even imagine, although after getting a taste of that through this pandemic, I got a glimpse of what it must’ve been like. To be all alone with no help around would make you feel awfully vulnerable. I think seeing that church and where the small community was helped a lot for when I start writing this new series. Much love.

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    • Hi Becky! Glad you came. I think parasailing would be a lot of fun and something I would try. I’m glad you got to do that. Grab hold of these moments when you can. Life is short. Much love.

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  21. What an amazing experience you had. From setting up to being in the air, even the rough landing gave you the full experience.
    My great adventure was becoming a nanny on Long Island New York. Now I had lived in a big city Phoenix, been to San Francisco, but at that time, in my mid 20’s, I was very much small town girl from Wyoming. My first visit into Manhattan 1985, was almost overwhelming. I was told how to hold my purse, told not to smile at anyone, don’t talk to anyone. I did all of that, and loved the city. Fast forward to 2007, I visited for the first time since leaving, and I found that 9/11 had change the tone of the city. I found people making eye contact, smiles, people talking. I must have looked lost, as several people asked if they could help me. It was different in many ways. Now crime is back big time, gangs of thugs run the streets, so not sure I want to go back, but I am drawn to that city.

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    • Hi Veda….I’m so happy to see you. You were certainly brave to work as a nanny in New York and only mid-20s! Wow! That’s amazing. But you know when you want something bad enough you just grab it. That’s interesting about how 9/11 changed the New Yorkers. Maybe in a lot of ways it brought everyone together and they say how alike they were instead of different. That was some bit of good to come from that horrific day. I think you should go back to the place you love. Life is too short. Love you.

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  22. I have trouble climbing up and down a ladder… fear of falling… there is no way I would go on a balloon ride… but your pics are amazing! Its funny though… I love roller coasters… I think it is because you get locked into place and I feel safe, but I can not stand ferris wheels…

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    • Hi Colleen…..It’s funny but I felt really safe up there in that balloon. At no time was I scared. I think it’s because you don’t feel any motion. I couldn’t even tell when we left the ground. The whole time it felt like were still on the ground. It was the strangest thing. I could look down and see how high we were but it didn’t feel like it. Anything that goes around and around always make me sick. But up and down is okay. Have a good one. Much love.

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  23. How utterly wonderful! I’m so glad you got to do that trip, Linda. Love it that you got to have such a wonderful experience. Gorgeous pictures, too–and you look SO happy. I’m thrilled for you! I think probably one of the experiences that “filled me up” and made me so grateful to be alive was several years ago when we went to Corpus Christi. My kids were probably around 11 and 14. My daughter, Jessica, the older of the two, had been to Florida the year before with her school and had seen the ocean, but my son, Casey never had. I will never forget the expression on his face when he first saw the ocean, and I have a wonderful picture of the two of them standing in the water, Jessica with her arm around Casey’s shoulders, pointing out to something in the distance. That look on his face, and the joy they shared in that moment, was something I will always remember. There are just some things you have to see for yourself.

    Reply
    • Cheryl, how wonderful that your son was so awestricken. My grandson who will be a senior this year and two of my youngest granddaughters finally got to go to South Padre last month. None had ever been and it was much the same way from what I hear at seeing the ocean. They’re all ready to go back. In fact, they didn’t want to come home. I know this will not be the last balloon ride for me. I have to go up again. Love you, Filly sister.

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  24. Wonderful blog, Linda! I was hanging on every word. I, too, went on a balloon ride in Albuquerque, and like you said, it’s an experience you never forget.

    When in ABQ for my sister’s wedding, we went rafting down the Rio Grande. Another cool experience. I petted an alligator once, too – with his mouth duct-taped shut, of course!

    My life tends to be pretty routine, so special moments tend to stand out in my memories.

    Hugs and love!

    Reply
    • Pam, I know what you mean. I lead such a boring life that it doesn’t take much to be extraordinary. I had the most amazing thought while I was floating above the earth. Tears came in my eyes and I wondered if that was how dying felt. That maybe you just float from earth to heaven. I’d like to think so. But back to you. You’ve done some pretty adventurous things, lady! Much love.

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  25. We have not traveled in a while. I became disabled so walking is challenging for me. My Mom ended up moving into a nursing home after a year of being in and out of the hospital. I am in the process of getting an electric wheelchair that will allow me to get out of the house more. Your pictures are fabulous. I enjoy all the pictures. Thank you. God bless you.

    Reply
    • Hi Debbie! It makes me happy that my pictures could bring some enjoyment. I’m so sorry that life is such a challenge. The electric wheelchair should be a tremendous help and I hope you get it soon. Blessings and love, sweet lady.

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  26. Years ago at summer we had a total solar eclipse here in Finland. Me and quite a few of my relatives climbed very early in the morning on top of the forested hill to see it. Sadly it was a bit cloudy, so we didn’t see the sun, but it was still quite an experience when everything went suddenly dark. Next total solar eclipse won’t be until 2126, but the next annular solar eclipse will be 2039. Hopefully there won’t be any clouds!

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    • My dear Minna, I can imagine your disappointment to have missed that. I do hope you see the next one. Your country must be so lovely. I’d like to visit Finland one day. It would be so nice to sit down with you in a little outdoor cafe and I could hear all your stories. Much love.

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    • Hi Hebby, Northern New Mexico is so pretty and I love going up there and do every chance I get. Red River is a favorite place. I was born and raised in Hobbs which is the desert part of the state and always hated it. I left when I was 20 and never went back. It’s really hot and ugly there. I don’t know what my parents ever saw. But yes, the balloon ride was simply indescribable.

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  27. My adventure was a bit more tame, but an adventure nonetheless. At age 64, I drove a total of 20 hours round-trip by myself from just NE of Dallas to attend a Singer Featherweight Maintenance Workshop given by Carmon Henry at Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton, MO. It was a grueling drive, but I had so much fun learning how to service and maintain my favorite vintage sewing machine. The added bonus was to be able to visit and browse the 14 quilt shops in Quilt Town USA. Plus, I got to visit by BFF from high school in Wichita and other family and friends in the KC area. My ADVENTURE of a lifetime!

    Reply
    • Hi Sherry, hey that counts! Never discount an adventure by comparing it to other people’s. That must’ve been so interesting and important in keeping your vintage machine running. I’m really impressed that you own one. My mom had a treadle Singer and I wish to goodness that I hadn’t let that get away. I’d give anything to have it back. It worked really good. Have a beautiful day.

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  28. Linda, I am so glad you had such a wonderful trip. You certainly deserved time to relax and have a bit of an adventure. I have only gone up in a tethered balloon, but as you said, you really don’t have much of a feeling of movement and it is so quiet – except when the burner is on. I am pretty sure we have driven through Raton on one of our trips out that way. We will have to make sure we stop and explore next time. You need to make time for yourself to take an adventure every couple of months. There is much to experience and explore out there and you don’t have to go very far.
    Take good care of yourself and stay cool.

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    • I didn’t read the directions very well. I have been very lucky and have had many adventures. I joined the Peace Corps when I got out of college and spent 3 years in the Philippines. I traveled throughout much of the country, mostly by myself. I had a three month trip home planned that I had to cut short after 15 days due to the unexpected terminal illness of my mother. I did manage to travel to Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, and Bali by myself. Lots of wonderful experiences. Luckily my husband likes to travel and we have taken every opportunity to explore the US, much of Canada, and a bit of the Caribbean . Next in my wish list is pretty much the rest of the world. I just need to win the lottery. I haven’t done it much lately, but I have taken quite a few driving trips by myself, mostly in the East of the US and Canada.

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      • Pat, I so admire you. You’re a regular Indiana Jones. You’ve seen and done far more than I have in this lifetime. I hope you continue to explore this planet. There are so many beautiful and amazing things to see and do. I love you dearly and pray I get to see you next year when/if you and hubby come to Texas.

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  29. I went to WVa and my niece took us to a park. When I looked over the railing you could see way down in the canyon and all the water running I dont like heights i thought y son would fall over. It was a fun adventure

    Reply

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