Sunday, June 16, 2013

June 15, 2013

Nora and I enjoyed the 2013 Walla Walla Balloon Stampede in May

I took in the 2013 Walla Walla Balloon Stampede for the first time in many years. This 39th annual event occurred at several locations around the city over three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
On Saturday morning, Nora the Schnauzer and I walked to Whitman College at a few minutes after 5 a.m. We arrived long before any of the balloons arrived for the 6:20 launch, so we retraced out route to Sharpstein Elementary School as three balloon flight crews began preparing for the 6 a.m. launch.
As the crews lay out the mammoth, lair bags and prepared to fill them with the lighter-than-air heat that lifts them into the sky, fans and curious observers trickled onto the school grounds. By the time the first of three balloons lifted off, dozens of people watched, some standing and some relaxing in lawn chairs. Many roamed around among the balloons, and some pressed curious fingers to the swelling bulges before they rose above the baskets.
Nora an I watched from 30 yards away.

I had not visited the event in so many years because dogs were not allowed onto the staging areas, and I preferred to take Sadie the Dalmatian and, eventually, Nora for a less crowded outing.
Anyway, on Sunday, Nora and I went to the main staging area at Garrison School across from the Walla Walla Fair Grounds, near Jefferson Park.

We enjoyed the morning very much. 
As we crossed Jefferson Park, we watched a pair of Canada geese chaperon their goslings into the pond and paddle sedately around a small island.

And, of course, about 25 of the colorful balloons lined the fairgrounds parking area and the grass of school's athletic fields, and intense crews prepared them for liftoff. 
Several hundred people watched the preparations, and people, some with dogs, meandered among the activities.
Monitors, however, directed people with dogs (including me) to remain a designated distance that I figured to be about 30 yards from the basket-end of the balloons.
That still allowed me to see and take close-up photos of the energetic acrivities.
And it allowed Nora to meet many people who took a few moments to rub her belly.

So, we enjoyed the 2013 WW Balloon Stampede, and I praise the organizers for making it so pleasant for Nora and me.
And we look forward to next year.

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