Category Archives: Blogging Community

Balloon Magic in Colorado

For Labour Day weekend (last weekend) I went to visit my friend Keenan in Colorado. For years I’ve read his blog and loved watching all his posts of him exploring and enjoying the mountains in Colorado.  It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit…so decided that Labour Day weekend was the perfect time to go and explore Colorado for myself. (Fair warning: this post is going to have a PILE of PHOTOS!)
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My flights were uneventful… I actually lucked out with a really awesome seat, I could stick my feet into business class but the real perk of this was I had extra leg room! It was one of those flights that I fell asleep before we took off, and woke up about 45mins before we landed! (Nice to get a cat nap in… travelling always makes me feel so tired, especially jumping back in time 2 hours with the time zone difference!)  balloon-magic_0001

Keenan picked me up…and after heading back to his place and a quick walk for Ro…we headed out for dinner and ice cream! Ended up having the most fantastic burrito…and even had left overs for the next day.
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So Friday night I was told, “So we are going to have to wake up at 5:30am tomorrow…BUT it’s because we are going HOT AIR BALLOONING!!!” Huge-amazing-awesome-surprise…

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Anyone who know me knows I don’t like early mornings… but hello!? Maybe I should reassess that stance…and be getting up earlier to catch the sunrise…because there is some magic light and so gorgeous and worth getting up way early in the morning.

balloon-magic_0005No words of complaint about the hour…when you get to see the sun rise on the horizon!
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“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

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There was huge excitement as everyone was put into their groups… there were like 4-5 Balloons that took up between 6-8 people  (plus driver) in the basket. We went with Fair Winds– Hot Air Balloon Flights.  They launch them about a 30min drive from Keenan’s house…often he has seen them taking off during his early morning runs!
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But first thing first… huge fans were used cool air to inflate the balloons (that had been laid out on huge tarps)…the baskets were all on their sides.
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After they were filled with cool air, then it is switched the ‘hot’ air…and slowly the balloons came up off of the ground! (The two people below joined our balloon ride… they were enjoying some early morning fresh air…)
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All the balloons were so colourful and gorgeous.  We ended up going on the more green one.
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I did find out some information I didn’t know about…”Most hot air balloon launches are made during the cooler hours of the day, at dawn or two to three hours before sunset. At these times of day, the winds are typically light making for easier launch and landing of the balloon. Flying at these times also avoids thermals, which are vertical air currents caused by ground heating that make it more difficult to control the balloon. In the extreme, the downdrafts associated with strong thermals can exceed the ability of a balloon to climb and can thus force a balloon into the ground.” Source

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This wasn’t my first balloon ride… when I was younger I won a hot-air balloon trip for two through a grocery store competition.  So I took my gramma… (She was the one that always told me to sign up for the in-store competitions.) We went at sunset…so the sunrise was a bit different! balloon-magic_0012

Our balloon is getting filled with hot air…balloon-magic_0026

As the balloons inflate, there is someone holding onto the top with a long rope… (not sure why… and I didn’t ask…) But it was cool to flip around to the other side to quickly get this photo before we had to jump in our basket. balloon-magic_0013

So exciting…as we started to take off.  Now in our basket…we had 6 other people.  A couple that was celebrating their 44th Wedding Anniversary; a lady who didn’t like heights (but was going to have the experience with her husband)…and another couple that had perfectly timed iPod play list… that they shared earphones to listen to the whole trip!
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The other balloon waiting to take off… until we got into the air! (Every balloon had a walkie talkie so the balloons can communicate with each other.)balloon-magic_0015

WOW!!! the mountains + balloons… honestly, there are no words… I couldn’t stop smiling, staring and taking photos! balloon-magic_0016

…such amazing gorgeous views.  balloon-magic_0017

…I loved flying over the neighbourhoods, everything looked so tiny—and almost like a model village! I remember thinking this as a child on my first trip too! (sometimes things don’t change). balloon-magic_0018

…those smiles didn’t stop the WHOLE time!
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…even our balloon pilot was all smiles as he talked and told us random things about what we were seeing! He also would turn the balloon so we could get a view over our side of the basket! balloon-magic_0020

We ended up going in a pretty straight line… and went up to 7500 feet! balloon-magic_0021

As all good things, come to an end… soon our trip ended!… I was expecting a bumpy landing (my first trip we bumped and were dragged sideways in a farmer’s field)….but that was so not what happened this time.  We had one BUMP and then hovered over to a better grassy area to put out the balloon.  balloon-magic_0022

…We stayed in the basket until the balloon was unflattened and laid out onto the grass.  (they opened up the top…. (which was closed before we took off!) balloon-magic_0023

After we got back to were we took off from we were surprised with ‘goodie’ bags! A t-shirt, framed photo of the two of us in the basket taken before we took off, a pin, and a mini-bottle of champagne.  (This is a tradition in ballooning…rumours had it the first French balloonists would take champagne to give to spectators to ease their nerves when they landed!)
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…then we got to wait around while all the balloons and baskets were packed up! Keenan and I took the time with a few selfies! (some on our iPhones and others on my SLR…)
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…after we headed into Louisville for brunch, at this really neat family run 50s style diner.  balloon-magic_0030

So that was the start of my action-packed-weekend-of-fun in Colorado…Keenan you sure know how to start a weekend off with a BANG and surprise a person…Thank you so much for this amazing surprise!

But don’t worry dear readers, there’s more adventures and stories from Colorado to be told…but they are going to have to wait until the next post!

EDITED:  to add Keenan’s AWESOME video from the adventure! Thanks for putting this together Keenan… 🙂

The American Rockies Meets The Canadian Rockies…

This past weekend I also got to meet my blogging friend– Keenan in person.  Just over 4 years ago we first started exchanging emails…I was living in Pangnirtung and he had recently moved to Colorado.  He totally had switched up his life and had taken on a 52 hike challenge for the year!

We became friends over the years as we exchanged info on the how to’s of blogging and just random stuff happening in our lives. At the time we started talking Keenan was just setting up his blog. I think we exchanged emails for almost two years before becoming Facebook friends.  He’s even done a guest post here on Sarah on the Road when my mum and I went to El Salvador.

Back up to the middle of May, we had a random FB chat about him coming to Ontario to do a marathon… but he had committed to one in Banff and one in New Brunswick this year. (He just has completed running marathons in the 50 states (in just under 3 years!) and now is working on the 10 Canadian Provinces…plus some other international destinations…) So Ontario wasn’t in his plans for 2016.

I asked him when he was going to Banff for the marathon…and luck would have it that it happened to be the SAME weekend I was in Canmore for Meghan and Todd’s Wedding so we decided to meet in real life!

Friday night when he got into Canmore we met up over his dinner to discuss our plan of attack for the next day.  Our mission was to explore and have fun in Banff National Park—see as much as we could! (I had to duck out around 12ish to get ready for the wedding…and he had to pick up his marathon bib for the following day…but he met up with me later for the reception!)
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We got on the road extremely early—anyone who knows me knows I am NOT a morning person.  But here I was Saturday morning of my holidays getting out of bed at 5:30am–quick shower then drove over to Keenan’s hotel to head out onto the road leaving by 6am.

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As much as I grumble about early morning starts…I totally learned something Saturday morning… early mornings are awesome, because the lakes were less crowded and the sunlight was FANTASTIC!

We headed towards Lake Louise…with a stop a Moraine Lake before getting there… it was so peaceful and gorgeous.  A few hikers in the parking lot getting ready for a serious day’s hike… and a few photographers catching the morning calmness of the lake.
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A much different scene from when I was there with my mum the day before around 11! Alberta_0035

Look at that view  the perfect reward for an early start to the day. Alberta_0036

Our next stop was Lake Louise…such a calm & wind free day (not like the day before!) No clouds on the mountains… reflections perfectly clear… and the colour of that water– breath taking!  Alberta_0037 Alberta_0038

So when I was there with my mum I heard about the Lake Agnes Tea House. It’s been serving tea since 1905…at an altitude of 2,135 m… and about a 3 1/2 km hike from Lake Louise.  I was like…I’d love to go there, but knew mum wasn’t up for that kind of hike.  So I put that idea in the background.  Fast forward to Saturday morning–I suggested to Keenan we head there.  Alberta_0039

Almost immediately as I started sucking air heavily I regretted the choice.  But I continued on… laughing and chatting all the way up that bloody mountain to the tea house.  Sometimes just rambling nonsense—and wondering in my head —are we there yet?  Actually this might have been out loud and not always in my head!

It’s a really well maintained path–and only the last little bit is shared with horses (so have to watch out for the horse poop!) A perfect hiking trail. Alberta_0040

I’m so glad we started hiking early…because there wasn’t many people on the path.  By the time we were coming down—the path was full of groups! Honestly, it was so much nicer of a climb because at times it was just Keenan and I on the path, rather than a HUGE group of people in front and behind us! Alberta_0041

We finally arrived at Lake Agnes…and saw the tea house! I was so shocked I actually made it up that bloody mountain but then again, sometimes it’s the company you are with that makes the time fly! Alberta_0042

My view from the tea house… gorgeous lake and mountains and SNOW!
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So many tea choices… I had the Lady Agnes *something* berry… and honestly, I can’t remember what Keenan had–Though it was the first on the list! LOL We also had soup to warm us up. Alberta_0066

The view toward Lake Louise—it’s in the clearing around my elbow! Alberta_0068

Isn’t Lake Agnes pretty? Alberta_0069Here’s a view towards Lake Louise. (—the Chateau Lake Louise can be seen just to the left below my water mark on the photo!)

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Then we were heading back down the mountain… that was a fun it was all downhill! The first groups of people that came up via horseback had arrived—so it was fun to see the horses!
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Some of the people that were hiking had all the gear—I prefer to hike in the Rockies with my jean jacket and black pashmina scarf… gotta have a bit of style! Alberta_0046

It was a perfect idea–thanks Keenan for joining me on that adventure…and sorry if I did grumble a wee bit on the way up!  We left the day for hiking at this point…with me rushing back to Canmore to get ready for the wedding–and Keenan picking up his race bib for the race the next day!

She said, he said…check out Keenan’s side of the story!

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Sunday morning I headed up to Banff to see Keenan start his 65th Marathon…and his FIRST in CANADA! You can read about the run from his perspective on his blog!
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While Keenan was running… I headed back to Canmore to pack up & get mum so we could come and do some exploring around Banff! It’s so touristy–and so many fun shops to window shop in.
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Keenan was so focused on the end…didn’t even see me waiting at the finish line! (The plan was he was going to text me when he was done….and I’d come pick him up and take him back to his hotel for a shower before he headed to the airport!)

However, there’s something so fun about a race and watching the runners come in… I had to wait to and cheer on everyone! Alberta_0061 Alberta_0062

…Congrats on your first Canadian Marathon!!! It was fun to be able to see you cross the finish line.
Alberta_0064 Keenan it was so nice to finally meet you in person! Keep on having your amazing adventures–you inspire me to have my own.
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The rest of the day was spent driving…first back to Canmore to drop off Keenan at his hotel. Then onto Calgary to the airport….where I joined my Gramma & Bart, Aunt Anne & Uncle Andrew, Aunt Marie & Uncle Chris and Clayton, Cody, Charlotte and Caroline for the flight back to Toronto…. I got the middle seat between mum and Clayton!
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It was the end to the perfect weekend away…looking forward to my summer and new adventures!

#ABrightProject: Task #7

Wow, 7 tasks down…and only a few more to go until the end of this awesome, amazing project!   It’s been a great year of thinking and reflecting and also making it BRIGHT!  Which was one of the goals of the project…it has been also been great getting paired up with different women from the United States and United Kingdom!

So this task was all about creating a HAPPY Parcel for your BRIGHT half.  I worked on this parcel while I was working in Iqaluit this summer.  It was fun, but also a bit hard…since FUN, BRIGHT items are really, hard to find…and I couldn’t do any online shopping—because I couldn’t get them shipped to me in Iqaluit!  (Struggles of travelling and working from a different office for 5 weeks…but I got it together and I think my parcel was pretty awesome and FUN!)

I sent it off to the UK… here’s my HAPPY package all wrapped up!

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I got home from my trip to Grise Fiord, Resolute and Arctic Bay…and had THIS awesome FUN package waiting for me!  WOW, my BRIGHT half truly blessed me…and I was thrilled with all the amazing awesome surprises.  She even included some of her AWESOME prints from Instagram…I LOVE following her feed, because she has such creative and fun shots.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart! One of the really cool things I was given was a piece of fabric that was themed from the UK…I need to figure out what to ‘create’ with it…another quilting or sewing project for sure!

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Task#6- took place from mid-June to mid-July.  YAHOO!!! I’ve finally caught up from posting from all my tasks to date(no more drafts in my dashboard!).  I still have Task #8 to finish up…and get in the mail…but I’ll get back to you about that soon, once I receive my letter!

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If you wanted to check out my previous tasks with #abrightproject click on the links below:

#ABrightProject: Task #6

This month…it was all about taking chances and getting out of your comfort zone!

Now I’m one that will try something once, and often do get out of my comfort zone doing crazy things all the time! So this month it kind of stretched me to look for things that might be outside of that comfort zone… there are some things I hate to do. Like when I’m meeting someone at a restaurant or coffee shop…I HATE going in and being the first one there, and having to wait on my own.  Usually I’ll txt them and if they aren’t there I’d wait in my car or outside until they arrive.  (I know it’s just one of my quirks!)

My social task was fun…it was to share via Instagram things that are out of my comfort zone with my BRIGHT half for this month… and then write a letter about my experiences stepping out of the comfort zone this past month!  Here’s part of the package I put together for my BRIGHT half!

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It was so much fun to get a letter back in return. (I was really behind for this month’s project… I didn’t send it to mid-July…and this task was from mid-May to mid-June! I think part of the reason I was so behind was I was travelling a lot for work…and I was kind of bummed that my last two tasks I didn’t get a letter or acknowledgement that it was received.) It was so lovely to read this awesome letter…and meet a new ‘online’ friend!

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PLEASE NOTE:
This post has been in my draft folder since July 31, 2014. Task#6- took place from mid-May to mid-June–I’m just a wee bit behind on posting, but glad I have gotten caught up!

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If you wanted to check out my previous tasks with #abrightproject click on the links below:

#ABrightProject: Task #5

This month’s task was all about what makes you SMILE! These every day moments from our lives that often we stop, look and SMILE about help us remain BRIGHT and happy! So this month was time to STOP and remember some of these moments.

As always the first part of the task was personal and a time for reflecting what makes you smile? Do others always make me smile…do I rely on them? Is there a common theme to what makes me smile? If you’ve been following along here on my blog for any length of time, you’ll notice that I’m a pretty upbeat kind of happy person. Lots of things make me smile. Spending time with some of my friend’s kids is a sure fire way to get a smile out of me! (yahoo for newborn baby cuddles or toddler high-fives!) Seeing the sun set, or watching the northern lights dance… or just looking at the amazing world that we live in… those things make me smile.

The idea of the task this month was to start focusing on what makes us smile…and not the things that bring storm clouds and downer feelings in our lives. It’s hard, I must admit… I do have ‘horrible-no-good-very-bad-days’…I’m human we all have them. But one of the things I’ve learned is that we shouldn’t focus on them…because that just starts that downward spiral to negative town…and believe me that’s not a fun place to visit!

In order to start thinking about things that make us smile we posted to Instagram different images that made us #smile! Here are some of mine I posted over this task…

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The second part of the task was to prepare a letter. I printed off 2 of the photos that my BRIGHT half posted on Instagram that made them smile, and I included one that made me smile! I also included a letter talking about 5 things that had made me smile and what this month of focusing on the positive has done to my life!

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PLEASE NOTE:
This post has been in my draft folder since June 30th, 2014. Task#5- took place from mid-April to mid-May–I’m just a wee bit behind on posting, I wanted to wait to see if I ever got a letter before posting this post, but that didn’t happen. Life gets busy, and I understand…because sometimes my tasks were late! (Having two tasks in a row with no post in return was a bit of a downer…but that didn’t stop me from participating and sending out letters!)

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If you wanted to check out my previous tasks with #abrightproject click on the links below:

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