36th annual Snowmass Balloon Festival

A few weekends ago I headed up to Snowmass to check out the 36th Annual Snowmass Balloon Festival.  I’ve only jumped out of a hot air balloon once and it was an amazing experience.  But this was more about seeing lots of balloon all right next to each other.  Between the evening glow session where they just fired up the burners and inflated the balloons to actually launching them in the early morning hours attempting to capture that still air it was an amazing experience to see that many, balloons that close together.  For a photographer, photographing balloons is almost too easy.  They always launch early in the morning because of the favorable wind conditions and at the same time for us, it’s that magic hour of the day when the light is warm and just begging you to take a picture.

With all of that said, here are a few of my favorites from the session.  If you’d like to SEE THE ENTIRE GALLERY CLICK HERE.

Again, if you’d like to SEE THE ENTIRE GALLERY CLICK HERE.

Colorado Summer time….

People think that you move to Colorado because of the Rocky Mountains at your door.  While I’m not discounting the never ending snow sports that I have been getting back into over the past few winters, I can honestly say that I think the summers are almost that much nicer.

This summer Cat and I have been getting ready for our hike up Mount Kilimanjaro this coming winter, Africa’s highest peak.  Standing at more than 19,000 feet, it’s going to be a fun, 8 day experience had with nearly a dozen very dear friends.  I can honestly say that I can’t wait.  Attempting to prepare for that hike, we’ve done 2, 14ers (Torrey’s Peak and Quandry Peak) as well as a few hikes including Mallory Cave, Missouri Lakes Trail, Gregory Canyon and Pitkin Lake Trail to name a few.  (If you click the links, it will take you to a map of our actual hike, click on the detail to see a graph of the elevation gain over time)

Here are some select shots of our hikes.  To see them all, click the link at the end of this post.

Click Here to check out the entire gallery of hikes I’ve done in Colorado this year.

My friend Lynn…..

It really doesn’t seem like a decade has past since I last saw my friend.  I guess time really can fly when you get busy with life.  I wanted to take a few minutes out of my day and re-post an entry I made 2 months after the attacks of September 11th, 2001.  It was a post about an old friend who just that summer I was able to reconnect with and catch up on all of the important things in life.  Her name was Lynn Goodchild.

Blue skies Lynn, you have not been forgotten……

veteran’s day, 2001

i started a new job down in norwood in the beginning of the summer. it didn’t take long to start exploring the unknown area, banks, shops, local restaurants, etc… i had been working for a few months when i was in one of the local sub shops on my own, waiting for an order, just looking around….you know, people watching. i could have sworn i saw someone i went to school with, but didn’t really get a good look. i kept looking over trying to figure out if it really was this person or not…..hell, it’d been almost 4 years since i had seen her, people change….maybe it wasn’t her. ‘BRIAN’….they called my order……i got it to go, the place was small and pretty crowded….besides, i like driving around and just parking somewhere for a bit just to get out of the office. i would go to the airport alot and watch the planes while i ate……if i can’t jump out of them…i might as well watch them fly…….anywhoo……after i grabbed my sub and started to walk out, i took one last look over at that person, only this time she was looking straight at me. we both smiled, it was her. she was one of those people that i had always wished i had the chance to know better but never got it. we were friends in college, but lost all touch after. one of those people that comes to your mind every now and again and you just wonder……

‘Lynn!’ i said! it’d had been a while. she was eating with co-workers and there wasn’t a free chair, otherwise i would have joined them. she stood up and gave me a hug, did the quick intro’s to her co-workers. i told her about my new job and how i didn’t really know the area. she worked less than a mile from my office. very cool! Lynn rocks…..i couldn’t wait to meet up with her for lunch…..you know…catch up on the last 4 years….we swapped e-mail addresses since i didn’t have cards yet and she didn’t have any on her. i left, hopped in my truck, grabbed a pen and wrote it down so i wouldn’t forget. awesome! an old friend in a new area! i love that! when i got back to work after lunch, i grabbed that piece of paper and sent her an e-mail saying it was great to see her and that we had to catch up……maybe have lunch sometime. she wrote back right away and we exchanged a few e-mails back and forth…..don’t you love technology……so we ended up meeting for lunch at chili’s the following week. i got the scoop on her job, where she was in life, her boyfriend, you know….all of the good stuff people do over a 4 year stint. i told her about my new girlfriend and she told me about her half year in australia with her boyfriend. good times…..

by now it was august. i randomly bumped into her almost a half dozen times in restaurants around the area. every time i was greeted with that beautiful smile and sometimes she would sit down with me for a bit while she waited on her friends she was with. we swapped a ton of e-mails back and forth….trying to figure out another time to get together…….we met up again for lunch and then one more time on a friday, at where else……tgif’s….it was friday right? we had a good conversation, but it wasn’t long enough, it never was……..she was shocked to see all of my hair gone….i had chopped it 2 days before…….ending the 12 year or so streak of long hair……she said it looked good and that she liked it……….she was asking all about skydiving and wanted to go. i had even sent her info on it and who to contact, prices, etc….her and her boyfriend wanted to go but just never got around to it. she was going to call me when they got back from their trip so that we could arrange it and i would jump with her and get some good pics. they had decided to run off to hawaii for a little get away for a week……they found a good deal on a resort out there and some good plane tickets and booked it……..although she had told me that the resort had charged her credit card a much higher rate than quoted and she had to call and have them credit a lot of it back. oh well….these things happen right…..i ended up buying lunch telling her that she could pick it up next time. i joked and said i was getting a steak or something since all she had was a soup and salad….i was gonna make out!…..she laughed…..we walked outside and she had to show off her new toy. she had just gotten a brandy new volvo s40. it wasn’t loaded, but it was nice. i hopped in and took a look around. much better than the car i saw her in last time…….i think it was a saturn…..i could be wrong. but she was doing good…….been working at putnam for a while and had earned it, even though she was complaining about how little they were paying. we had talked about that too and how she was going to talk to her boss about a hefty raise since she did most of the work anyway……you’ve just got to love how they under pay their best people. hell, that’s why i ended up leaving my job after almost 3 years……but i digress…….

that day was friday, september 7th. the following tuesday i got a call from my friend jeff. he said ‘did you hear about the trade center? a plane just flew into it!’ i laughed……i thought he was crazy……i’m thinking like a little cessna got blown into it after getting a little too close site seeing, or that time when the bomber flew into the side of the empire state building and just stuck out the side. i pulled up boston.com and all they had was a small little snippet right on the top where they put their breaking news, a plane had just flown into the trade center. jeff was still at home watching his tv……..i asked him if he remember looking over at the nyc skyline and seeing the trade center towers stick out when we were driving back from cross keys just a week before……..next thing i knew he said he was watching a shot of the trade center smoking then boom….another plane flew into the other tower…..

as much as we all want to deny it and wish that it never happened, we know that this information was, and is correct. soon we all saw the images like a perfectly staged hollywood scene, over and over and over again. how many different angles could i see this mass destruction from. no…..a movie set wouldn’t have had that many angles covered. unreal……

the next day we all knew we were under attack. i had gotten in to work and my first order of business was to go to boston.com and see what updates they had……if they had any lists of people since by then we knew that the flights were from boston. bingo…..partial, but confirmed passenger list. i started scrolling and thoroughly reading each name. i wouldn’t want to mean anyone disrespect by just skimming over there name…..i wanted to read it, have it register, try and remember it. i stopped scrolling when i came across “Lynn Goodchild, 25, Attleboro, Mass.” there must be some mistake. Lynn couldn’t have been on that plane…..not Lynn…….it’s got to be wrong…….i stared at that screen for about 20 minutes in disbelief….shock…..denial……..i think a few people walked into my cube to ask me a question and i never turned around. then it hit me……hawaii……you’ve got to go through l.a. to get to hawaii……..no………

today is my brother’s birthday. 2 month’s after we went to war. every day there is something else in the news about our efforts to get rid of the bin ladens of this world……every day i get something in my inbox that has some cartoon bin laden getting his, or a picture of a fleet of bombers with their weapons pointing at afghanistan…….every day i think about my friend…….every day i think about how her life was robbed from her along with thousands of others. every day i thank the powers that may be that i had a few months to catch up with her………every day i am grateful for that……..every day i will remember………….

i will never forget………

50 jumps and ready for the AFF Instructors Course

You read it right!  These guys each have about 50 – 60 jumps and just took the AFF Instructors Course.  How is that possible you ask?  Well, for starters they are both Tunnel Instructors at SkyVenture Colorado and can fly circles around me.  They teach students to fly every day, so why not in the sky???  If you’re as curious about this as I am, wait and read about it in upcoming issues of Blue Skies and Parachutist.  Keep your eyes open, it will probably be a few months away…..  In the mean time, nice job Nate and Jason!  Great Flying!  To see the FULL GALLERY CLICK HERE.