I have finished the rough draft of my third novel. Now I am tearing it up, moving things around, adding stuff, deleting stuff. Don’t ask me how I did this, writing another novel so shortly after releasing the second one. I have no idea. I was trying to focus on promoting Take Me Home.
Tweets, blogs and Facebook posts don’t seem to sell many books. But in the middle of the social media blitz, an idea came to me. I tried to ignore it. I was afraid to sit down and face the blank screen so soon. I dismissed it as hot air. A loosely formulated idea for another story. I knew if I sat down and started writing, I would ignore everything else. But that’s exactly what I did and where I’ve been as I approach the final days of blogging about walking.
Saturday I took a break from writing to just hang out with my husband. During CBS This Morning, we saw a commercial for a Hot Air Balloon Festival in Lake Worth over the weekend. We watch CBS because we both like Charlie Rose. Well, Rich may like Norah O’Donnell a little more than Charlie but that’s okay. I love Charlie.
I am a huge fan of balloon festivals. Many years ago my friend Mary Jane and and I were traveling cross country and stumbled on the granddaddy of all balloon festivals in Albuquerque.
The photo is old and grainy. It’s impossible to describe the scene. More than two hundred balloons rising in the early morning light.
The night before, we pitched a tent at a nearby campground. Late thunderstorms were expected. Some people mentioned the balloons might not be able to go up the next day. We were beside ourselves with excitement and refused to believe serendipity had brought us here and now you’re telling us it may not happen. No way!
A man in an RV parked next to us was concerned our little pop tent might blow away, so he helped us tie it to a metal pole that was some kind of electricity hookup. We didn’t know. Naively we followed his advice then left the campground for Old Town to check out the bar scene. We were twenty-four years old, if I remember correctly. He seemed to know what he was talking about. A retired guy living in his RV, traveling from one campground to another. A lifestyle we envied and vowed to pursue when we “get old”.
Late that night, lightening streaked across the sky. The rain shook the tent and loud thunder kept us awake. MJ and I huddled together, petrified we would be electrocuted from lightening striking that damn metal pole we were now tethered too. But it didn’t. We woke early, a full hour and a half before the sun rose, and drove to the field. Ever since that day, I have been hooked on balloon festivals.
The Lake Worth balloon festival was way out west in polo country. We had decided to go at night to see the balloon glow. Despite all the balloon festivals I have attended over the years, I have never seen a balloon glow.
I had printed directions from Mapquest as neither one of us is adept at GPS. The directions led us on a wild goose chase through a residential neighborhood. I decided to give Siri a chance. She sent us down a dirt road that led us to a horse farm. The horses were beautiful, the barns exquisite, and I would have taken more photos if it weren’t for this.
I took this really quick, from the moving car, afraid someone might Stand Their Ground. When I first saw the sign, We Don’t Call 911, I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t see the rifle hanging beneath it. My husband laughed.
“You don’t know what that means? We Shoot to Kill, that’s what it means.”
I laughed, nervously. “Friendly neighbors, aren’t they? Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Farm hands loitering in the barn after a day of work stared us down as we circled the dirt road and drove past the house where they don’t call 911. I held my breath until we were back on the road.
After parking the car and walking onto the field where twelve balloons lit their gas tanks, we got the bad news. It was too windy to put the balloons up. The balloon-like clouds lit by the setting sun would have to suffice.
It was a beautiful night and the event was for a very worthy cause, the Wounded Warrior Foundation, so it wasn’t a complete bust.
But, We Don’t Call 911 still haunts me.