Up, Up and Away!

What a Memorial Day weekend we had! Unlike some areas in the northeast and the upper midwest, we had three days of fantastic weather. Sunny, in the low 80’s with low humidity; does not get better than this.

There were many events throughout the weekend, so we had a hard time deciding which event to focus on. We decided on the Aloft Balloon festival in Simpsonville, the Scottish festival and a concert to round-up the options. In this post I will be sharing some pictures taken during the balloon festival.

The Simpsonville Balloon Festival is in its 29th year; this being our first attending. We have never been to a balloon festival and had high expectation on what we would see and the photo opportunities it would bring. We have heard of the Albuquerque balloon festival and always wanted to go and see it. Well, the Simpsonville one did not disappoint one bit. We saw 68 balloons go up in the air; what a sight. Well, see below for more…

Wind speed is a critical element balloonist must be aware of before deciding to launch. While the skies were clear, there was a 8 to 10 mph wind that placed the event in danger. After a very long wait for the winds to die down a bit, the green flag was given to start filling the balloons with hot air. It was amazing how balloons started to pop up across the vast field in front of us.


After filling the balloon with ambient temperature air using a couple of very large fans; the crew starts to the air inside the balloon with one or two very powerful propane burners. This is not an easy feat, and much care has to be given to assure the powerful flames do not touch the balloon fabric.


From the opposite end of this balloon, there are two or three individuals holding the balloon down by tugging on a rope attached to the top of the balloon. They seem to let go once there is the right amount of hot air inside of it. I think it is mainly to avoid the potential of a fire if a strong wind pushes on the partially inflated balloon sides while the burners are on.


My wife and I have seen hot air balloons before, but just a couple here and there. Never have we seen 68 balloons go up in the span of 45 minutes. An amazing colorful and majestic sight.


While hot air ballooning history shows it as a safe activity, I could not stop thinking of the recent accidents where people were killed in them. Happy to report there were no visible mishaps today. The captain on this balloon seems to be checking clearance from other close by balloons. Having 68 launching at close intervals must make navigation trickier.


Captain must remain focus on navigation, while passenger are free to wave goodbye to the crowd. The balloons were actually in a competition; the goal as I understood it was how accurate they were on landing their balloons on a predetermined spot miles away.


It is a family and friends effort getting the balloon ready for take off.
Wonder how much these things are; I bet is not a cheap sport.


When this balloon went up the crown applauded loudly. A very fitting homage on Memorial day weekend. Thanks to all those who gave their lives to assure our freedoms continue. We must also do our part to assure this.


Hard to tell which balloon had the nicest colors; I think this one was in the top five for sure.


…and away they go. What a great spectacle. We will make this festival a yearly tradition for us.


As the last balloon lifted off we decided to join the concert behind us. You can see some of the balloons well to their destinations to the left of this photo. The concert was held in the Charter Amphitheater at Heritage Park where they hold many concerts throughout the spring, summer and fall. You can see Bethe and Michelle in the aisles looking for a pace to sit. Michelle is our friend from Shanghai we met a month or so ago while shopping in a local store; small world.


The group we saw was Andy Grammer. We never heard about this group before, but they were very good. They engaged the crowd in a very effective way. Andy Grammer will be appearing (or one of his songs will be featured) in the next Bachelorette program – never seen it, but I guess it is a big deal.


Andy thanking the crowd for their support and engagement.


These two gals did not seem impressed by Andy Grammar’s music.


As we were leaving the festival, Michelle wanted to ride the ferris wheel. I was wondering why if China has much bigger ones. She told us that the ones in China move very slowly (true); this one spun a lot faster so she had to try it.


Here is Michelle and my wife having fun on the ferris wheel. We are planning a day at Six Flags with Michelle; we think she will have a blast with real rides.

Thanks for visiting; have a great week!

John - July 25, 2013 - 2:43 pm

Carlos and Bethe, the house is looking great and I like the brick foundation and the proch details the hose should look amazing when it is completed!

Take care,

P.S. My prediction is between August 3rd and the 8th that it will be ready to move in. Good luck!

Vicky - May 27, 2013 - 9:26 pm

What a wonderful weekend that you have! I always want to see the balloon festival since I’ve missed the one in Bath. Really like your pictures and words. I will always check here.

Ready to go!

After several years in the planning, I finally retired this past March. I was not sure how retirement was going to affect me, but happy to report that I really have not thought about work much at all. My email, which used to be such a daily drain, is down to just a handful messages from friends. My phone does not ring much at all and I really see no need to keep up with the latest smart phone offerings as mine is being used so sparingly. My calendar, well, it is pretty open and it is real nice to stay up later than usual and get up when you are ready to. Not to say I am turning into a slug, but enjoying the moment as we get ready for our next move and planned activities.

As many of you know, my wife and I agreed to settle in Greenville, SC after much consideration. There are several reasons as to why we chose Grenville; weather was a major factor as was the lower cost of housing as … compared to Massachusetts for example. Greenville is a fast growing city with a strong economy driven by several major global companies such as BMW, Michelin and G&E to name a few of the largest ones. We find the people very friendly and welcoming. You may say…well, you just got there, things may change. This is true on anything, but based on stories from the many people we have spoken to that have moved to the Greenville area it sounds unlikely.

This past Sunday we saw an article by  Ben Stein the popular actor, economist and lawyer based in Los Angeles CA. He visited Greenville recently and praised Greenville and said …”there is no place like Greenville”. I encourage you to read it, it was published in the Spectator; April 2013 issue. To read it please click HERE.

Below I am sharing just a few pictures of Greenville,  you can see a few more on the header of this web page (slide show above).

One of the nicest parks in Greenville has to be Falls Park at the Reedy river. This park is a couple of blocks from main street and it is stunning. I was told that a few years ago this area was in a very sad condition, but someone saw the potential to make it a great are for families and visitors to relax and hold many recreational activities. After a $15 million investment the park was open to the public on 2004. This is a partial view of the suspension Liberty bridge over the falls. I will be having a post covering this park in detail later on this year.


On the left you see the Westin hotel on Main Street Greenville; the only 4 diamond hotel in the area. Originally, the hotel name was the Pointsett hotel (opened to the public on 1925).


The Peace Center amphitheater where outdoor concerts are held starting in May through October. Expect to visit often. The Peace Center main building is a very nice venue for year around entertainment by well know artists. Bill Cosby performed a couple of weeks ago, the Blue Man group is currently there, and on May 21st Crosby, Stills and Nash will be performing only one night 🙁  Waited too long to get tickets.


A portion of the Greenville falls as seen from the Liberty Bridge.


Meet Michelle, we met her in one of the food stores near our hotel. I noticed her looking a bit lost so decided to make contact. I asked her if she was from China and she told me – Yes! Shanghai. We met her the first week we arrived in Greenville; she was really happy to meet a couple that just came back from China and we were also happy to meet her and help her getting around a strange area for her. We see her often as we explore together the area. She wanted to buy a camera so she asked me if I could help her; you must know my answer. Here she is taking pictures with her brand new Sony NEX5R. Great camera and she is really getting into it. Actually, she just called my wife…”did you guys had dinner already? …want to go for pizza at Sciortino’s Tratoria? You know what our answer was…yum!


Greenville is a very bicycle friendly city; unfortunately our bikes are in storage until we can move in to our home. So, we are taking advantage of the many bicycle and walking trails around the city and suburbs. About 1 1/2 miles from our home there is a trail called Swamp Rabbit trail. This trail is about 17.5 miles long, and from where we will be living it is a 8 mile walk or bike ride to downtown Greenville. We are so looking forward to having our bikes! This is a view from  the Bell Tower located in Furman University. There is a slight detour from the trail that brings you to this spot and you can circle the lake at a brisk walking pace in about 20 minutes.


Jenny Zhou - May 23, 2013 - 2:37 am

love all pictures.You choose a very Green city to live.Enjoy!

admin - May 22, 2013 - 9:02 pm

Thanks Vicky.

Summer - May 22, 2013 - 8:25 pm

Do enjoy your words and photos a lot. Looking forward to more beautiful pics and stories. 🙂

Vicky - May 15, 2013 - 10:54 pm

Another lucky girl. Your blog is always full of energy.

Brian - May 13, 2013 - 11:59 am

Looking forward to seeing lots of great posts and pictures!

Joyce - May 11, 2013 - 12:01 pm

Sounds like a beautiful place!!!

Hongjiang - May 10, 2013 - 10:00 am

A very GREEN and healthy life for sure! Forget about PM2.5…

Chris Dong - May 8, 2013 - 3:36 am

Thanks for sharing,Carlos, nice pinctures.

GRACE ZHUANG - May 7, 2013 - 11:40 pm

Carlos, nice blog and pics, I am very happy for your new life, thanks.

Jason Marchiondo - May 7, 2013 - 11:20 pm

Great Start to a new way of Life

Jason Marchiondo - May 7, 2013 - 11:10 pm

Nice, I N V U

Katrina - May 7, 2013 - 1:28 pm

Carlos – congratulations again! What a beautiful place. Wish I had your talent for taking pictures.

Alma Shurtleff - May 7, 2013 - 7:47 am

What a beautiful place to live. I really enjoy your pictures.

gail watson - May 7, 2013 - 1:11 am

LOVE THIS!!! I was hoping to continue on your fantastic journey and wonderful pictures!!! THANKS gail

Leviatan - May 6, 2013 - 10:07 pm

Cosmo , congratulations ,sounds great ,tu Papa Y Mama te miran de arriba con una gran sonrisa ,I’m very happy for you !

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