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Travel: Ballooning Means Rising Above One’s Fear

   There are people who seem to be born with a thirst for a thrill. They take every chance to leap off bridges, tethered only by elastic Bungee cords. They jump out of planes, trusting one yank of the cord will release the parachute that will lower them gently to the ground. They paddle kayaks over waterfalls and drop out of helicopters wearing skis.

    I am not one of these people.

    I don’t have that kind of confident trust. Cords snap, parachutes fail, waterfalls tumble and break the things that ride them. Why would I tempt fate?

    But edging out of middle age, I seem to be shedding some of the extreme caution that has kept my feet on the ground most of my life. I’m still not a thrill-seeker, but I just don’t seem to be bound by so many “What Ifs.”
    A recent trip to Elko, Nevada coincided with the annual Balloon Fest and I was offered a chance to take a hot air balloon ride. I didn’t stop to think once, much less twice. I hopped up into the basket and listened to the instructions about where I could and should not put my hands. (“Never touch the rope. If you touch the rope we will fall and die.” Check.)

    It was only as the blasts of flaming gas right over my head lifted the balloon away from the ground that I began to ask myself what on earth I’d been thinking. The list of hazards—power lines, rogue winds, murderous sharp-shooters (Hey, what if?) and even fabric fatigue (I imagined seams fraying and opening and, well…)—played through my head like a bad movie.

    But I was in. And we rose swiftly and silently, immediately catching the current of air and moving toward the horizon.

    We moved steadily across the city. Dogs, startled by the sights and sounds of the balloons, there were 30 more behind us, barked and danced as we flew over. School children waved from the yellow bus that looked like a child’s toy. Birds flew beneath us, darting in and out of the trees lining neighborhood streets.

    I’d wrapped my fingers tightly around one of the bars at the side of the wicker balloon the moment we’d lifted off and I didn’t seem to be able to let go. But, a few minutes in, still holding on, I felt myself relax enough to really think about what I was seeing and experiencing.

    I looked out toward the Ruby Mountains, somewhat obscured by smoke from wildfires further north, across the high Nevada desert and the rough, dry landscape so many crossed on foot and by wagon train 150 years ago as they made their way over the California Trail to conquer the wide-open West and start new lives in California.

    It really is a beautiful way to travel. In a balloon you do not fight the wind, you ride it. You surrender to the currents and ribbons of air that stream over the planet and let them take you where they are going. There are tools: hot air, vents, ballast, and so on, but ultimately, you are a guest of the wind.

    At the end of the ride we began our descent. The landing was not smooth. A breeze came from out of nowhere and fought us, but we stuck it. Then, when the pilot realized we'd come down on railroad property—not cool—we lifted up just high enough to find a more accessible spot. The chase crew found us and we were done.

    When I finally climbed out of the basket, back on the ground at last, a surge of adrenaline made me tremble.
 “Anxious Annie” as a friend once dubbed me, had taken a chance. And I had one more thing I could check off my list.

    We helped roll and fold the balloon, storing it and the basket in the trailer behind the chase van, and I was baptized with cheap champagne to mark my first flight. Later, I messaged a photo taken mid-flight to my children and their confused responses made me laugh. This was not what they expected to see.

    That’s the beauty of aging. Not only do we surprise others when we take a chance, occasionally we even surprise ourselves.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Boone & Crockett scorer scores trophy pronghorn

HUNTING — Larry Carey, who measures dozens of trophy big-game animals in Spokane each year as an official Boone and Crockett scorer, bagged his own wall-hanger recently while antelope hunting with relatives near Cimarron, N.M.

Carey, 74, shot a pronghorn measuring 85 inches green. After the 60-day drying period, the buck should easily make the 82-inch gross score minimum for the B&C Record Book.

Carey, a member of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council and the anchor of Trophy Territory at the annual Big Horn Show, logged eight pronghorn hunts before tagging a bruiser this large.

UI battles, but falls to Nevada

Idaho gave Nevada fits for most of the game but the Wolf Pack pulled away with a 20-4 finishing kick and won 75-61 in the WAC women's tournament quarterfinals. It sounds like the Vandals will have a postseason opportunity in the Women's Basketball Invitational. They'll likely be on the road. An announcement could come by Monday.

Here's my game story.

PM: Mayor, Nevada Prez Apologize

Nevada fans taunt Boise State Broncos defensive tackle Billy Winn (90) after the Broncos lost to the University of Nevada at Mackay Stadium in Reno on Friday, Nov. 26. Now, the Reno mayor and the Nevada president have issued a statement apologizing for the poor fan behavior. See below. (AP/Idaho Statesman file photo: Joe Jaszewski)

Boos Turn To Cheers For Brotzman

In the Los Angeles Times, Bill Plaschke writes: “I don’t cheer for a team. I don’t cheer for a player. I cheer for a position. I cheer for the college kicker lining up for a game-winning field goal. It doesn’t matter who he is. It doesn’t matter where he plays. It doesn’t even matter if the field goal would make my local team lose. I always cheer for the college kicker to be the hero, because I’m cheering against the undeserved pain he would suffer by being the goat.” Plaschke goes on to explain why he was cheering himself hoarse for Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman after Brotzman missed the two field goals at the end of the Broncos’ loss to Nevada Friday. More here.

Question: Are you still celebrating/moaning Boise State’s loss to Nevada?

Bronco Nation (Hearts) Kyle Brotzman

Let’s face it - Kyle Brotzman will remember Friday night for the rest of his life.  It’s going to be a tough journey for the Boise State kicker. But thousands of people on Facebook hope to make that journey a little easier for the Bronco’s all time leading scorer. As of Tuesday morning, “Bronco Nation Loves Kyle Brotzman” has more than 30,000 fans on Facebook. “We love you Kyle, keep on doing what you do,” one user posted/KBOI. More here.

DFO: I consider this a pretty classy gesture.

Question: What advice would you give Kyle Brotzman re: his misfires against Nevada?

Nevada 34, Boise State 31 In Overtime

Boise State Broncos kicker Kyle Brotzman reacts after missing a 29 yard field goal attempt during overtime of the NCAA college football game Friday night in Reno, Nev. No. 19 Nevada upset No. 4 Boise State 34-31 in overtime. Brotzman also missed what would have been a game-winning field goal as time expired in regulation play. ESPN game story & boxscore here. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)

Question: What will happen to Boise State in terms of bowl play?

Joe Vandal Ready For Nevada Game

Joe Vandal, the mascot of the Idaho Vandals, is shown encouraging fans to join him at the “Vandal Walk” at the west end of the Kibbie Dome at 11:40 Saturday, before the home game against Nevada. (Photo courtesy of UIdaho Athletics Media)

Question: Is Joe Vandal a good college mascot?

Idaho Left Off Boise State Schedule

Boise State has filled its 2011 football schedule with two familiar foes: Fresno State and Nevada. But one familiar opponent is missing from the Broncos’ slate: Idaho. Boise State announced the additions to the 2011 schedule on Monday afternoon. Boise State will host Nevada on Oct. 1 and visit Fresno State on Oct. 8 — both Saturdays. It is likely that the Fresno State game could be on the ESPN family of networks. Nevada and Fresno State will join Boise State in the Mountain West in 2012, but will remain in the WAC in 2011. This year, Boise State hosts Fresno State on Nov. 19 and visits Nevada on Nov. 26/Brian Murphy, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Is Boise State doing a disservice to fans around Idaho by not scheduling a game with the Idaho Vandals for the next two years, preferring Fresno State & Nevada?

Robb Akey Bobblehead Day Nov. 6

The University of Idaho offers one more reason to travel to Moscow for the football game between the Vandals and Nevada — Robb Akey bobbleheads. They’ll be given away at the game Saturday, Nov. 6. Meanwhile, Akey discusses JoJo Dickson’s career-ending injury against New Mexico State last weekend in Josh Wright’s WAC notebook here.

Question: Do you own any bobbleheads? Which one(s)?

Pilot Survives Air Show Crash

George Giboney crashes his Thunder Mustang, the Rapid Travel, during the super sport gold medal race at the 47th Annual National Championship Air Races and Air Show in Stead, Nev., on Sunday. The pilot survived the plane crash. Story here. (AP Photo/Kevin Clifford)

Question: Have you ever been in a plane crash?

A look back at EWU’s loss

Like Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin explained, in this S-R story, following Thursdays 49-24 road loss to Nevada, the Eagles have some positives to build on despite the season-opening defeat.

One of the biggest was the play of junior running back Taiwan Jones, who gets a few props in this game story that ran in the Reno Gazette-Journal this morning. I’ve also included this link to the gamer that was posted on EWU’s website, and this link to Chris Murray’s assessment of Nevada’s performance on his Wolf Pack blog.

Some additional personal thoughts and a few more postgame comments from Baldwin appear below, so read on.  And leave any comments you might want to share on the game right here.


EWU, Nevada to kick it off in about eight hours

We’re in Reno and just a little over eight hours from the start of Eastern Washington’s 2010 football opener against the University of Nevada in 29,993-seat Mackay Stadium. 

According to an article that ran in this morning’s Reno Gazette-Journal, The Wolf Pack seems a bit more confident than they did heading into last year’s season opener, and for good reason. You can read more here, and for those who missed the game advance that ran in this morning S-R, I’ve included this link.

In addition, the Gazette-Journal had this video preview of the game on its website, along with this post of NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper’s opinion of Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick.lin

 I’ve also included this link to a feature story on Eagles running back Taiwan Jones that ran in the RGJ Wedesday morning.

Tha’ts it for now, but check back later — much later — this evening for a link to the EWU-Nevada game story that will run in Friday morning’s S-R.

Eags land safely in Reno

The charterer plane carrying Eastern Washington’s football team touched down in Reno late this morning after a smooth, uneventful flight from Spokane, and the team is scheduled to work out late afternoon in Mackay Stadium, where the Eagles will open their 2010 season with a 6:05 p.m. Thursday showdown against Nevada.

Those aboard the charter were amused when a flight attendent informed passengers that the name of the captain flying the plane was Joe Eagle.

An omen? We’ll see.

Here is my advance on the Thursday’s game.

Nevada QB could be handful for Eags

Eastern Washington’s defensive coordinator, John Graham, admitted recently that his team faces a difficult challenge in trying to deal with Nevada’s starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound senior.

Kaepernick is one of two 1,000-yard rushers returning for the Wolfpack this fall, and has somehow managed to fly under the national radar, despite his running ability and the fact that he also completed 58.9 percent of his passes (166-282) for 2,052 yards and 20 touchdowns as a freshman last fall.

I’ve included some of Graham’s comments on Kaepernick below, along with this link to an entertaining story on the adopted QB that ran recently in the New York Times.

34 wild horses die during BLM roundup

This  2006 photo shows  wild horses grazing near Carson River in Carson City, Nev.

RENO, Nev. – Federal officials confirmed Wednesday that 34 wild horses died or were euthanized during a roundup of animals from parched rangeland in Nevada, sparking fresh criticism from horse protection advocates pressing the Obama administration to suspend such operations.

Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman JoLynn Worley said 1,224 wild horses were collected in pens during the Tuscarora wild horse gather that concluded Monday outside the Rock Creek Herd Management Area, or HMA, in northeastern Nevada’s Elko County.

In addition to the 34 horses that died, two more were put down after they were found injured by a contractor herding more than two dozen wild horses away from a steep cliff, Worley said Wednesday. AP Read More.


Obama Stumps For Reid In Nevada

President Barack Obama, left, waves to the crowd with Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., right, at a Reid campaign rally at the Aria Resort at CityCenter Las Vegas on Thursday.  (AP Photo/Mark Damon)

Question: Who do you think has a better record for endorsing candidates who go on to win their races — Barack Obama or Sarah Palin?

Late bucket burns Eagles

Eastern Washington men’s basketball coach Kirk Earlywine liked the effort — for the most part — but not the outcome of Thursday night’s 73-70 non-conference road loss to Nevada.

You can check out the game story that appeared in Friday morning’s S-R here, read the gamer that ran in the Reno Gazette Journal  here and access the post-game report supplied by EWU’s sports information department here.