Saturday, July 31, 2010

Balloon Festival

Shrike had a rare Saturday off today, so this evening, we went to a hot air balloon festival.

It was wonderful. The weather was lovely and not-too-hot, Peeper was delightful, despite having only had about a twenty-minute nap (on the way there), the venue was beautiful and the balloons were amazing.

First we checked out all the vendors (but didn't buy anything) and had some dinner. Baby's first corndog! (Broken up into appropriatly non-chokey pieces, of course, Anonygrandma.)

The venue is a "garden and event center." Not only had we neve been there before, we didn't even realize it existed.

One of the things they had going on was helicopter rides. We did not go up in it, but Peeper was fascinated, and pointed it out every time it took off and landed.

Our first real activity of the evening was a ride on replica of a Conestoga wagon.

Then we went over to the agricultural display.

Peeper loooooved these little fruit trees. The fruits (apples, pears and peaches) were attached by velcro, and the kids could "pick" them and put them in the basket. I thought we were never going to drag her away from them!

But we really wanted to move on, because the next thing was the petting zoo, where we saw a week-old calf (which made us very sad) . . .

. . . pigs . . .

. . . goats . . .

. . . and sheep.

They also had displays about chickens, pigs and both beef and dairy cows, and this cool corn table, complete with toy animals and tractors.

There was a big wooden cow with a slide inside (the kids were sliding out of the cow's butt, which I found a bit disturbing) and rubber udders, filled with water. 

I asked Peeper if she wanted to milk the cow, but she didn't care to. I suppose that would be a bit of a busman's holiday for her.

After the ag display, we took another ride, this time on a horse-drawn buggy.

While we were waiting for our turn, we watched the balloon crews getting ready to launch.

They unpacked their gear, hooked up the burners on the baskets, and even - literally - sent up a trial balloon.

During the ride, we got to see some more of the venue that we'd not gotten to before.

According to the newspaper, they host weddings here. I'm guessing this is where the hold them.

While we were out on the Surry With the Fringe on Top, the first balloon launched.

After the ride, we took a quick look at a few more flowers (What the hell are these?!?) . . .

. . . and then found a great spot to watch the rest of the balloons launch.


Peeper loved it!

Right before the launch, we ran into a friend from MOMS Club, and her family. Her six-month-old was jumping up and down in her arms the whole time, while her four-year-old sat down and chatted with Peeper. I don't know what either of them was saying, but watching them, it sure seemed like they did.

And then she tried to eat her shoe. Her four-year-old friend was much more concerned about it than we were.

And then she tried to steal a traffic cone from the launch zone. I took several photos of her wrestling with it, but for some reason this one just seemed like the best.

As we were walking back toward the exit, Peeper signed "more" and pointed at what looked like one more balloon, about half inflated.

Unfortunately, it wasn't another one about to launch, but it did turn out to be our last activity of the evening.

It was a balloon that was laid on the ground with one side cut open and then inflated, like a bouncy house.

They had a bunch of beach balls inside and kids were pretty much just running around kicking and throwing them. The bigger kids were being pretty good about staying in the "top" of the balloon, though, and leaving the "bottom" for the little folks. Peeper had a blast in there, too.

Outside, they had a balloon basket set up for photos.

We asked the ticket girl to take our picture, and said, "We're going to stand back here and make it look like we're inside."

She said, "Oh, you can get in it."

Balloon basket are about four feet high and do not have doors.

"No we can't," we said.
"Sure you can," she told us, "You can put your hands up here . . . " and pointed to the brackets that holds the burner, which is about six feet off the ground. I'm not sure either of us could reach it, let alone use it to hoist ourselves over the side of the basket.

"No, we're old. We'll just stand here, thanks."

I wish they'd had some sort of a step-stool, because I would've liked to have climbed in it, but I think the photo came out pretty good, anyway.

Then, one more trip past the vendors and the big fountain out front, and we were on our way home.

We told Peeper that it was time to go home, and that we had to "say bye-bye to the balloon festival" so she waved and said "bye-bye" (da-da! da-da! da-da!) all the way back to the car, and then some. But she didn't cry, complain or argue with us about leaving.

Amazingly, she stayed awake through the twenty-minute drive home, and long enough to play for a while, get a bite to eat and have a bath before the whole big adventure caught up with her.

Even then, she only had about five minutes of hysteria before she settled down enough to nurse - in my lap, while snuggling both her baby and the huge dog book - and fall asleep.

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