Hot Air Ballooning in Amish Country: Six Facts

Last week I had the great fortune to do this:

“Balloon with a View” This balloon launched with ours.
*It costs money. Fortunately, for me, this particular trip was a gift. Thanks Dad.
*Fear of baskets is a no-go. If you fear floating around in a human-sized Easter basket, this isn’t for you.
*It’s not like Pixar’s movie “Up.” Wasn’t “Up” a sad movie? I didn’t cry once while on this ride.
*It’s hard to catch a football from a balloon. A few kids tossed a football up to us (while flying much lower, of course, than the pic above) and we missed. Twice. Leaning out of a basket to catch a football = not a good idea.
*People love balloons. It was fun to see all the people waving, cars crashing from watching us and not the road, and the dogs freaking out.
*Amish people love balloons too. Here’s how some arrived in their Amish “car” to scope out our balloon landing.
“Amish Auto”
Time to check something off your bucket list?

When Peter Pan Makes an Appearance in Grown-Up Land

Recently, my wife and I had the incredibly great fortune to see the real, live Peter Pan.

His name is Cathy Rigby.

Yep, you read that right, ‘the boy who wouldn’t grow up’ is a grown woman who is nearly sixty years young. Read more about our experience here.

Ms. Rigby gets paid to act like a child. It’s her job and she does it amazingly well. Many adults have adopted the same role as Rigby’s: grown-up Peter Pan’s. Not pretty. Especially since most of us aren’t paid to act like children.
I’m not immune to this “Peter Pan syndrome” myself, but I am aware that childish ways can creep into my adult ways. It can be a fine line… knowing when to be child-like rather than child-ish. 

Keep the wonder. Keep the excitement. Keep the joy. Keep the freedom. And be a grown-up about it.

It’s a Privilege to Work, to Love, to Create

Today, on 9/11, I am thankful…
  • We are a privileged nation filled with everyday heroes who love, work, and create.
  • We have everything we truly need. If you are reading this, you have everything you need as well. 
  • We are loved with an Everlasting Love. 
  • We are free to innovate, free to share, and free to move.

As the thunder clouds roll into town this evening, I know and feel that we are not, and never shall be, alone.

We are surrounded at every moment by a great cloud of witnesses; some of whom took their lofty place a decade ago.

30 Entries, 30 Days, Mini-Obama?

Matt, my bro-in-law, offered a challenge on his blog. To write 30 things in 30 days–I believe he’s choosing poems.

His throwdown. My pickup. Game on!

Day 1…

I’m getting older. Not just the kind of getting older that happens when you’re 18. But the getting older that older people used to talk about and I’d think that won’t happen when I get to be their age. But it kinda does happen.

Apart from the gray hairs and a slightly slowing metabolism (hmmmm, these pants used to fit just fine. Woah. What the? Treadmill time) the most noticeable change has been a desire to live with purpose and intention.

Why do we really do what we do? What is the purpose? Who’s life am I affecting? What change can I make to bring a difference?

Making money isn’t rewarding enough, though having the bills paid is a tremendous blessing. Thankful.

Still, the greedy me wants more. To bring change.

Sounds kinda political.

Four and Eleven, Ballet, and Hot Dogs

The following was written in 2005, edited recently. 


    Although instincts had led astray in the past, their candor and edge are, at present, unmistakable. Lincoln Center–yes, that’s it. I’d been there once to see Madame Butterfly. I remember red and gold, but I also recall that my nose actually bled from the altitude of our seats. I’d arrived by subway before, and now could only rely on my feet and compassless sense of direction while wondering if those big white buildings were east of Central Park or west. I was almost sure it was west. A street fair. Dairy-free ice cream? Really? Can they even call it ice cream. It was good, although I questioned how it could taste so cow-like without any dairy.   

    “Excuse me, but I was wondering if you could point me to Lincoln Center.” Continue reading “Four and Eleven, Ballet, and Hot Dogs”

Free Breakfast

Being depressed and moping around, Peter and a few other guys jump in a boat and go fishing in the dead of night. They thought fishing would take their minds off their sorrows and cheer them up.

They fished the whole night. They caught nothing.

Not a real successful cheer-up attempt.

So, in the early morning, their Mentor and Teacher comes to the shore, just a stone’s throw from where they are… but they don’t recognize him because …

    they’re focused on what they don’t have.

“Boys, you don’t have any fish, do you?” The Teacher calls out.

“No!” they blurted. “But thanks so much for asking weird-guy-at-the-shore that’s making us feel like failures.” They didn’t say that last drippingly sarcastic remark, but they thought it.

Long story short: their Mentor gives them some fishing tips, the listen, they catch a ton of fish and bring them to shore where the Teacher is making a breakfast.

They sit down to an incredible spread where the Mentor has a fire of coals, fish cooking on the fire, and some bread.

They all have breakfast and a pretty transparent conversation.

John 21:3-9 (in-my-own-words-version)


I was shocked when I read this passage. I thought:

So they’re upset that Jesus is dead. I get that. Their lives seem over. Everything they had lived the past two or three years is completely over.

Time to go back to work. What do we do when we’re upset. We try to get what we need to fill a void. Just keep working. Just keep working. Just keep…

It’s interesting that this same pattern continues today. Sometimes in my own life.

What makes the story so fun and so surprisingly ironic, is that Jesus had the fish all along. He had prepared a table for his laboring friends.

At that moment of realization, I hopped out of the boat, onto the shore with Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, and John and had a stellar little breakfast that I’d been working for during a seemingly hopeless night.

Jesus always has that for which we’re working.

Sometimes He seems to call out to us as if to say “did you get it yet? Did you find the (insert need here)? That’s OK, why don’t you just listen to me, I’ll tell you how to get what you really want. Even better, hop out of your boat, I’ve got it right here, and I’ve had it all along. I always will.”

Shivering in the Heatwave

  • Air conditioning
  • A quiet morning
  • The shiver of God
  • Colorful veggies and fruit

Hmmmm. I just wanted to list a few things I was thankful for and that ‘the shiver of God’ is sticking with me and I couldn’t really write anything else… well, except “colorful veggies and fruit.”

The shiver of God…

It’s a cold-hot chill when His tangible pleasure can be felt. The sense is that glitter bits of heaven have been sprinkled just over head, and they dance around in enjoyment.

It’s truly heaven on earth.

The shiver happens unpredictably. It may be when reading a passage in a book that forms a connection between the temporal and the eternal. I’ve felt it when I watch people do what they were made to do: teach, dance, sing, preach, garden, run, greet, or simply just smile.

The common denominator is that it’s felt (or rather, God’s stamp of pleasure is felt) when there is a connection that brings the mundane day-to-day-ness of daily tasks into the eternal realms of the One Who never sleeps.

What if there was always this connection? What if it wasn’t just a moment from time to time?

What if everything I did and said at every waking moment had those glitter bits of heaven showering down– all. the. time.

God is good.

Soak it All Up…

Tucked. Fresh. Old. New. Creative. Multi-colored. Salty-sweetness.

Peace and relinquishment seeps from the surf into the streets, enveloping natives and newcomers into the arms of it’s two-hundred year Scandinavian history.

Kudos to you, Danish Maid Bakery, and your 25 cent lemon pockets of sheer wonder. . .  and your butter bars. Oh, and the macaroons.

And that shortbread that you’ve  made there since butter was invented. The sense memory took me back three years to when I first experienced four simple joys for a buck.

Thanks also going out to the folks at the Columbian Café. For your garlic, jalapeño, pepper and who-knows-what-else homemade jellies for the toast.

And for keeping it kitsch-less but still artsy.

Oh, and for the amazing breakfast burrito with the super-smoked cheddar. Who’s your daddy?

Mr. Hotel Elliott with your motto of ‘wonderful beds’ emblazoned throughout (including the floor of the semi-working elevator); we slept well. So well, I sneaked in a nap before checkout at 1.

And thanks for the late checkout.

This is our first visit here in three years since traveling the Columbia River as singers on numerous cruises. Each Friday, we’d stop in Astoria, Oregon to spend an afternoon soaking in the lovely that is this town.


I suspect Sarah and I will come back here from time to time. We’ll bring a few more wrinkles with each new visit. And that makes me very, very happy.

We’ll never stop revisiting the old, and we’ll always experience something new: this is the way to create memories.

Sarah admires the Columbian Cafe–Astoria, Oregon