I teased you Saturday with a hint of how we usually spend our Father's Day weekends.  It's not everyday that the skies fill with colorful conveyances and our children are struck giddy by the sheer magnitude and beauty of an everyday object: a balloon.  Only these are really, really big balloons!

That's how JDubbs likes to spend his Father's Days: with our family at the Quechee Hot Air Balloon Festival.

The festival goes on all weekend, but each night and each morning they launch 15-20 giant balloons into the air as simultaneously as they can manage.  We sat with our friends just outside the fence of the festival on the lawn of the Quechee post office, watching the balloons inflate, rise, and sail away without paying the price of admission.

So now you know you can enjoy the view for free, although we did go in and explore the festival the next day.  Since your admission price gets you in for all three days, JDubbs paid his early and went in to get a root beer float.  Needless to say, he was  instantly bombarded by our children who go into a bit of frenzy at the sight of whipped cream. 

Please note: they weren't interested in (or allowed to have) the root beer.  It was all about the ice cream, baby.

And then the balloons started distracting even the littlest one from her snack. 

Unfortunately, from a photographic point of view, since we were outside the gates we could only watch the launch from one direction, and that was the direction of the setting sun.  Cool for silhouettes; not so cool for capturing the vibrance of each balloon, especially for someone like me, who still has a lot to learn about shooting in unusual lighting situations.  Next year we will bring a spare set of hands and I will sneak in and take some better shots.  For now, enjoy the best of what I got:

 

We were having a wonderful time.  Jax was being rambunctious with his friends, although he did touch base with Daddy every now and then to take in the spectacle together.  He kept trying to wave to the people in the balloons and yelling, "Buh-bye!"

But apparently I only had eyes for Em.  I have a zillion photos of her from that night.  She was being super fun and outgoing, venturing a bit away from us to explore and take in so many new sights, then finding her way back to Mommy and Daddy.  Just wanting to check in.  I love when they are still small enough to orbit around me, like I'm the center of their universe, blazing new trails but scurrying back just when I wonder how far they're willing to push their boundaries today.  So proud of themselves that they can make in on their own.  For a bit.

We did hit a bit of a snag, though, but I guess that with every step forward in the public domain, there are always risks.  Such as the risks of being discovered by the paparazzi.  We weren't the only ones enamored by Em's adorable personality and chubby legs.  She had her own fan club.

You can see them in the background of these photos:

And we had a good laugh right about here.  We were even kind of flattered.

Yes, she's cute.  Haha, move along.  Nothing more to see here:

 

 

I was thinking about how I take pictures of strangers all the time.  I mean, I'm not usually so obvious about it, but I do enjoy capturing local people when I'm somewhere new.  Especially super cute children in a unique setting.  I got it, in a photographic way.  And she is super cute, so really, how could I blame them for wanting to take one picture?  It was strange, but also strangely understandable.

And then it became just weird:

What are they, the world's youngest and worst kidnappers?  Taking a photo of her is one thing, but do you need to actually pose with her and touch her?  At this point, JDubbs and I were looking at each other like, Are you going to say something or am I?  I'm pretty sure JDubbs was halfway to his feet and I was taking photos of them in case we had to call the police (and to document the sheer lunacy of the situation).  Luckily, Em (as you can tell), decided that they were no longer jolly playmates and that she needed to return to home base as soon as her RileyRoos would carry her.

Good work, little one, but we're still going to have to have a talk about stranger danger.

That wasn't the end of our new friends, who proceeded to take group shots five feet in front of us, meaning they sat on the lawn in front of us and had my family and our friends as the background of their shot.  Not the balloons, not the festival.  Us, and especially strangely, my friend Heather who was breastfeeding her baby.  Super weird.  Please let me know if you see any bootleg vidoes of Em on YouTube or if she is the next face of BabyGap.  I don't live near one of those, you see, so I wouldn't get the memo. 

Phew!  Weird, huh?  Well, back to the balloons.  You forgot about them after such a crazy tale, didn't you?  I'm telling you, we get all kinds up here in Vermont.

So besides the paparazzi's intrusion, it was a wonderful way to wile away the hours between dinner and bedtime.  We brought the kids home, Jax talking animatedly the whole way about the balloon with the big smile who was on its way to go get some pizza, and tucked them in for the good night's sleep they get when they spend more time outdoors than in.

Life sure is an adventure.  You'd better watch out, or you might miss it. 

Or the paparazzi might kidnap your kid.  Either one.

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Tags: fun, photography, summer

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