Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Abilene, isn't exactly an every day carnival when it comes to life outside of the house. There are a couple of places we like to go regularly- the prairie dog park, the zoo, the health food store, the air park (maybe we'll do that this weekend), but really, nothing very exciting. Once a year though, and this is the 2nd year in a row that we've gone, is the Hot Air Balloon Festival. We loaded the kids into the car, grabbed the camera and water bottle on our way out the door, packed a couple of snacks and blankets, and headed down to Red Bud Park.
We got a fairly decent parking spot, good enough for us at least, and before going to see the balloons, went to visit the prairie dogs in their sanctuary, followed by playing on the playground. The playing part didn't last very long, thanks to a group of middle school boys hogging the entire structure playing tag and making fun of each other (something about the chubby boy being able to catch them if they were holding Twinkies, kids are so mean), so we headed off down the path towards the festival.
Charlie was exhausted (awww, he looks miserable doesn't he?), having skipped his afternoon nap, so he spent the entire time on my hip. I really wish I had one of those fancy hip carriers, the one that I had been looking at a few months back was over $100 but went up to something like 60 pounds. Well, clearly I never got it, not finding a way to justify spending that much money on something that I didn't think I'd use that often, when it turns out that by now I would have already used it a million times. My arms have gotten really strong these past couple of months, lemme tell ya.
We decided rather than walking through the messy carnival area (bounce house, vendors, music, all that stuff), we'd much rather just find a cozy spot on the grass and lay out our blankets. We don't eat carnival food, and buying an overpriced tshirt sounded like a nightmare, so we skipped it. Of course, we ended up setting ourselves up right on top of some kind of Frito Lay cheddar ant hill, so we had to move, but by the time the sun was going down, we were comfortable. Eleanore kept herself entertained by climbing in and out of the stroller, and making conversation with the sun set. Something about rainbows and unicorns, and "if we don't save the sun everything will die". That's usually how it goes though (we watch a lot of Rainbow Brite).
While still fighting sleep, as soon as we set him down, Charlie went straight to the grass. He loved, the grass. We have grass at home, we just never play in it. Texas grass isn't like grass back home (we're from Washington state, for anyone new to our blog *waves*). Its not soft. Its not clean. Its filled with all sorts of stinging and biting bugs, prickly spiky things that get stuck to your clothes and skin, so we usually just set him down in the driveway and let him explore that. Well, we couldn't bring our driveway with us to the festival, and no matter how hard we tried to contain him on the blanket, he was going to eat that grass, and we had no say in the matter. Eventually we got tired and gave up the fight. You want to eat the grass charlie? Fine. Just don't choke on a tumbleweed while you're at it.
Soon after the sun had said goodnight to the sky, they started filling up the balloons with heat and lifting them from the ground. We were sitting right next to a beautiful purple and red balloon, that we got to see them put together from start to finish. Eleanore's face was completely lit up with amazement. Last year she had just turned two, and while she thought it was fun, she didn't really understand what fun was, does that make sense? This year though, it really clicked with her. She even had songs to go along with her every move. Has anyone seen Strawberry Shortcake and the Berry Blossom Festival? ...no? OK well- the main song from that doubled as a theme song for the hot air balloon festival.
Getting my camera to cooperate without the day light isn't a trick that I've quite mastered. Yet somehow, in the middle of my frustrating outtakes, I captured this beautiful moment. After that one, I decided to put the camera away and just enjoy my time with my family.
The night was perfect. The best possible kickoff to our favorite time of year. I don't know if we'll still be stationed here next fall, with Christopher's pending request for retraining, but if we are, we'll definitely be going again.
I couldn't resist posting a picture from Eleanore at last years festival. Always stopping to smell the "fyowers" (or so she called them at the time).
What a difference a year makes.