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Positively witerizing
November 28 - December 31, 2020
Ballooning in Colorado • parties and clubs • first egg • trips in vicinity • end of the year and my stress
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We form new ballooning friendships.
We form new ballooning friendships.
This balloon has all the comforts.
This balloon has all the comforts.
October was dedicated to modifications of our new home, and to moving; November was centered mostly around animals. December took on a different twist, because we began to take notice of our surroundings, and had time to discover and explore.

Our first important December affair was ballooning. In California, up to the year 2010, we crewed for our pilot, Jeanne. She then moved to South Dakota, and we became orphans. For a few years we joined the crew of Rubik, but its pilots eventually decided to sell the balloon, and quit flying. So we continued attending ballooning rallies in Reno, where we could see Jeanne again with her new balloon, Dragon Moon.
Yet we never returned to the original system — that we could fly on a whim, close to where we lived, in a small circle of friends. Rallies are awesome, but also crazy, hectic, and chaotic.
 
It's nice to fly outside a rally organization.
It's nice to fly outside a rally organization.
Vedauwoo.
Vedauwoo.
Now we got an opportunity to go ballooning in Colorado, a mere hour drive from our home — and meet local pilots Dan and Nancy. Their balloon, Dancing Sun, got a new experimental basket, which needed checking out and learning how to fly with it. Thus we knew we were going to venture into the unknown, and that the balloon would be tethered to the trucks so that it would not get out of hand. The experimental basket is special in that it's not really a basket, but a bench seat. A twin sofa of the size familiar from buses or ski chairs, but equipped with safety straps. The advantage, when compared to a traditional basket, is obvious — on can SIT DOWN. Disadvantage? Imagine landing while strapped to a seat. Also, you fact backward when landing, which makes sense as it's better to tilt backward on touchdown than forward (or alternatively plow the field with your own face while being dragged by the balloon), but still it seems to me like a wild thing. And it was obvious why Nancy and Dan tried it first on a leash — with this, one really needs to know how to land like on a platter of eggs, without excessive jumps and dramas.
 
Climbing is done here.
Climbing is done here.
Prairie.
Prairie.
Thanks to the fact the balloon was tethered, we could all take turns in trying out "to fly" — the balloon responds to burning with several seconds of a delay, so one must burn with care — in little bursts, while you wait, how it would affect altitude. We naturally liked to do this — but perhaps best was the feeing of normal. A regular Saturday, having come together with nice people to fly balloons, having lots of fun, drank some coffee afterwards — and then drove back home to sleep it off (even here one flies at dawn, thus we got up by five-thirty).

Our December generally used to be a stressful month, with parties at school or or in kids' clubs, at work, etc. I did not expect that I would ever eagerly await these "silly parties" like an inmate looking forward to a walk in a yard. Lisa's vaulting party took place outdoors and focused of horses — decorating equine boxes and runs, riding, sledding behind horses. No one else of us had attended; instead, we set out in search of a Christmas tree. It would seem that the local system consists of obtaining a permit and cutting down one's own tree somewhere in the woods — which we have missed, as the permit cannot be had in the last minute on a weekend. The second choice was to buy a tree at a store — which is what we did eventually. California system of farms specializing in Christmas trees does not exist here. Thus our tree is from a warehouse — but at least I managed to find a llama decoration for it, and thus it joined our Finnish goats — after I spruced up the llama with a Christmas bow, without which it looked a bit sad.
 
Christmas llama.
Christmas llama.
Bethlehem star.
Bethlehem star.
A party at Tom's new (shooting) club was indoors, in a huge hall. Thus wearing masks — but with pizza and drinks. The team consists of children from age six to pubescents of Tom's age and size, and Tom enjoyed it. I regarded interesting a moment, when during competition of timed presents' unpacking (every game had a Christmas theme), one of the rules was that no one may use a pocket knife. After California, where even table knives were not allowed at a school cafeteria, for they are an awfully dangerous WEAPON, I found it pleasantly refreshing that here, a pocket knife is considered a common utensil found in children's possession.

For some reason, I feel solstice being the most important day of winter. I thought long about why that may be, that stress drops off of me a few days before the Christmas proper, and Christmas Eve then proceeds all by itself and without pressure — but it seems that it really falls on solstice. Maybe I've become a real hag at my old age. It was no different this year, and I celebrated the shortest day of the year by venturing solo into the hills. Official reason was to check out snow cover, unofficially I simply needed to get out. Since September I had Sid "at home", on top of the kids, which led to the impression of total scattering of my own personality among all the others.
 
Such a normal family.
Such a normal family.
We keep liking it here.
We keep liking it here.
I did not find much snow, but I had a nice walk in a landscape of rocks and tree devoid of people. I remembered then that actually, the Bethlehem Star, a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, should be visible, so I compelled my family in the evening to watch this astronomical event. We even managed to take a picture of the planets, but when I went back the house to look for a tripod and a looking glass, clouds moved in and the show was over.

On Christmas Eve (day), Sid and I had some things to take care of in town, and we ended up in Accomplice. Thanks to the fact that Americans treat the twenty-fourth still "before Christmas", everything is open, and we could even on this day celebrate by having a good lunch and, more importantly, draft beer from a local brewery. And naturally by sending our picture from the bar to our friends in California, where everything has been closed for months, to no end. This was our good answer to Christmas greetings, and questions how we were. At both ends of our move, we keep encountering careful inquiries into how we are coping and what we think of our new place. Usually accompanied by a musing about how hard it must be adapting to such a great change. Which seems to us a bit misplaced — we are excellent, and speaking of great changes, it certainly is an improvement in all possible ways.
 
Some days have a short-sleeve weather.
Some days have a short-sleeve weather.
And on some days not a single goat (or chicken) would venture out.
And on some days not a single goat (or chicken) would venture out.
Our larger house gives us not only more space, but to all our stuff as well. I consider a great improvement in my life, not HAVING to have skis in my bedroom, and not being bound to jump over bicycles when getting into my car. My time and nerves are preserved, for I no longer need to spend several hours daily by commuting to a from my goaties, along one the most dangerous highways in the United States. Now I can see them anytime. We did not plan to get our chickens this early — but they, too, have a net bonus effect — on December 27, Jet started laying eggs. Lisa's local vaulting club is functional and she likes it there, and — another bonus — there's a club for Tom. The prairie is not only beautiful, with the peaks of Rocky Mountains barely visible straight from our house, but Medicine Bow National Forest and Curt Gowdy State Park are about 30 minutes drive away.

Curt Gowdy is probably our closest, a place with reservoirs and a creek, dedicated to water sports and fishing. Past this park, Medicine Bow begins, its southeast corner being the Vedauwoo area — with rocks popular for climbing. I had first expected that one could cross-country ski somewhere there, but the reality is such that these spots are still insufficiently wooded, thus exposed to wind and sun, and snow stays down only shortly. After consulting with locals we ventured to the westernmost edge of Medicine Bow, Happy Jack recreational area, where people sled on wooded, snow-covered slopes — and where hills are threaded by a maze of trails for hiking, snow bikes, and snow shoes. Sid and I scaled a part of it on New Year's Eve, and on New Year we made even the kids join us. Subsequently, Tom and I went there on cross country skis. And then we discovered that the ridge sports maintained ski tracks — for which it's better to park the car uphill, avoiding the ascent on slipping skis, or risk breaking them or legs in steep downhills. I find the system of separate trails very interesting and civilized: one set of paths for skiers, another (steeper) trails for everybody else. It seems that people respect the separation. Foot traffic (with or without snow shoes) and bikers refrain from shredding and rutting ski tracks, and that is very nice.
 
Ice-fishing tents in Curt Gowdy State Park.
Ice-fishing tents in Curt Gowdy State Park.
Trails at Happy Jack.
Trails at Happy Jack.
Given the fact that of our whole family, I am the one most ecstatic about winter, cross country skiing is a reward for me. I am not sure whether my joy comes from having lived for twenty years in California, where snow was always far away and hard to get, or whether it's a result of having spent my formative youth in Czech-Moravian Highlands. I'm equally unsure if my excitement fades after a few months, and I would exchange it for pining after a day when the ugly white stuff stops falling from the sky and it get finally warm again; for now, I enjoy the winter. If you feel dizzy from my celebratory journals about our new home, know, we feel dizzy too — we are still confused from how our move turned out so positive, and no disaster surfaced that would make us regret.

And if you want to know how we spent Christmas, which I had skipped in this journal a little bit, it was great as well. We're not much into celebrating, but we had our tree, and pork tenderloin parmigiano dinner outside our tradition, since we had fish that prior week on multiple occasions. I must had been the goodest kid, as I got a who bunch of presents — a new phone (here I would like to not that if you wish for a new phone mostly to improve the camera feature, it behooves the quality of the pictures to peel off the camera lens protective plastic foil), and most importantly — climbing holds, so that I can have a bouldering wall built in our barn/garage. And also a new sleeping bag, for the one that's twenty years old falls apart. We did not celebrate New Year's (Eve). Kids may have had some impromptu virtual party with their friends. Sid played with his computer — and I went to bed. After many years of dealing with sleep problems, and having been half of my time unusable due to a heavy sleep deficit and tiredness, I SLEEP. Less noise here certainly plays a role — but in my case, stress level is very important, and by moving, it dropped to a minimum. I go to bed in the evening and fall asleep; I wake up in the morning around seven, and function subsequently the whole day without problems. Thus, celebrating the New Year by sleeping was my best idea. Waking up well rested and in good spirit in a new year, cannot be beat.


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