Ballooning has taken Ron Behrmann and his wife, Trish, around the world.
They've ballooned in Switzerland, France, Jordan and Belgium, rubbed elbows with international leaders and met some of the legends of hot air ballooning.
And yet they love when the calendar page flips to July, bringing with it another trip to Steamboat Springs for the annual Balloon Rodeo and Rainbow Weekend.
"This is a special valley to fly," said Behrmann, who spends most of the year in New Mexico. "There's a certain amount of magic here."
The unique air patterns that make Steamboat a favorite place to launch for balloonists returned to normalcy Sunday, allowing dozens of hot air balloons to take off under brilliant blue skies. Saturday's launch was canceled because of strong winds and ominous weather.
Airflow patterns aren't the only advantage Steamboat holds over other cities that host balloon festivals, Behrmann said.
"The camaraderie is so much nicer here," he said. "We all get to have a good time together. You don't get lost in the shuffle.
"They do a wonderful job. The properties treat us well, as do the folks in town."
Steamboat resident and avid balloonist Beverly Lehrer-Brennan was an organizer of the 24th annual Balloon Rodeo.
Lehrer-Brennan called the event a success, despite Saturday's "weather-out."
"It was very good," she said.
Four pilots tied for first place in this year's event. Those pilots are: Gery deKoevend and his balloon "Freedom," Cal Campbell and his balloon "Morning Shadows," Dr. Stan White and his balloon "Voyager," and Tom Boylan and his balloon "Nyliram."
Art in the Park, another Rainbow Weekend event, also wrapped up Sunday.
Vendors, visitors and Art in the Park organizers hailed the success of the weekend event.
"Steamboat has the best community atmosphere, and that's what makes your art shows," said Annette Moore of Louisiana, who sold antique ceiling tiles from her booth at West Lincoln Park. "We've had a good show."
Patrick and Robin Jobe spent the weekend in Steamboat with their two children. The family often comes to the Yampa Valley for the Fourth of July but came a week later this year.
"We've had a great time," Patrick Jobe said. "It's a great atmosphere."
In addition to arts and crafts vendors, the show featured live music from a variety of local musicians, including 3 Wire, the Yampa Valley Boys, County Road 41 and Kari Elken.
"I think it's been a great weekend," said Jayne Austin, program and events coordinator for the Steamboat Springs Art Council. "All of the vendors have been very happy, and the weather's perfect."
Nearly 130 booths were erected for the 30th Art in the Park. Austin lauded the high-quality arts and crafts and the friendly people.
-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org