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15th year...South American Adventure

Pam Writes

Jo is standing out in the warm sun smiling as she surveys VWF most amazing feat ever accomplished…a homemade, supersized, extra large hot air balloon with an Ark sized, boat shaped gondola that could support 50 people comfortably, 100 not so comfortably and 150 if we ditch the sandbags.


 “This has to be a first for an online group to finish up a hot air balloon just in time for our 15th anniversary”, said Jo to Robin, PJ, Aletta, Marti and Steve (dressed as Noah and carrying a huge staff).  Aletta looks at NSBSteve and says, “what is with the threads NSB?”  NSBS smiles and says, “you’ll see, I have a plan!”  Right away Pam starts feeling itchy all over and worried about our trip to South America. 

   PJ, tying the last of the ropes to secure the huge balloon that looks like pretty quilt pieces all sewn together, yells

 “HEY!  Everyone, let’s get on board…er,  prob’ly would do to come on two by two… the gang plank is sort of narrow.”   Don looks over the port side of the Ark and says under his breath, “ Any smaller and we’d have to shimmy up!””What’s that Don?” asks Princess Patti working on a knot in the line.

  Robin stands at the entrance to the Ark taking roll call.  “NSBS-check, Jo-check, PJ-check, Aletta-check, Dave/Paul-check, Princess Patti-check, Pam-check, Mike-check, Don-check, Darla-check, Clarence-check, Bob-check, Darlyn-check, Marti-check, Bev-check,  whoaaaa there!  Who are you youngster? “…youngster answers, “I’m Jordan and I’m with Uncle Clarence”.  “Ohhhkay” says Robin.  “Jordan-check”.   Robin is trying to write Jordan’s name down on the list but is having trouble with her sling, the huge band aid on her elbow and not having a flat surface to write on.  “Hey Jordan!  You can help Robin with the check-in list.” Says NSBS with his big ol’ Georgia grin.  Jordan gives a big smile and gives Robin access to his back as a flat surface. 

  Bev and Aletta are pulling in the gangplank and calling “ALL ABOARD!”  Then Dave/Paul pulls the line that feeds the balloon with hot air and we start to lift off.  There is a hush, we all stand and wait for the gentle tug and lift of the balloon pulling the Ark up, up, up, into the bright blue cloudless sky.  We are OFF!  Everyone sighs at the same time. 

  Jo yells,” First stop will be South around the mouth of the Amazon River.  I read they have some mighty hungry croc’s there, AND piranha!  I guess we’ll be really safe up here lookin’ down on everything.”  Aletta, Pam, Mike and Clarence are helping Don set up his mobile weather equipment.  It’s a beautiful day, clear skies, soft winds and making time moving quickly South.  Many are walking around the Ark laughing and talking.  NSBS has set up a “welcome cabana with fresh homemade shine”.  Everyone is happy and enjoying the ride!

  Just when we are really feeling like we’ve FINALLY got it all right Pam hears a quiet…”Oh-Oh”…  She turns to see Marti looking over the side of the Ark shaking her head.  Jo, Aletta and Pam stroll over to ask what’s the “oh oh”?  Marti points straight down where two of our lines are dangling, we neglected to pull them up in our excitement to get off the ground and into the sky.  As we all look at the lines one of the trees tangle the line in its branches.  JO says, “NO way!  Did you SEE that?  Did it look like that tree reached out and grabbed the line???”  Marti wipes her eyes and says,” looked like that to me Jo”.  Aletta and Pam nod in unison.  There is a gentle jerk to the line and then the balloon and Ark start the slow decent to the ground.  NSBS, Don, Clarence, Jordan, Dave, Mike, Bob all start running around trying to get the lines loose from the trees. 

  As the men pull, grunt and groan the Ark continues to descend to the approaching trees….in the background you can hear Bev screaming, “Man the lifeboats!  We’re gonna drown!”  Bob runs over and give Bev a glass of shine and has her sit down.  Just then, there is a tiny little sound………………

Aletta Writes

''''Quite" Steve yells "Listen do you hear that?" Every one is so still, even the little mouse in the corner was up on his hind legs listening. "There it is again,Mmmhpggg!, it sounds like..Where is Don?" Bob questions excitedly. Everyone looks and Don is missing. "He went over to tie the cable to his gizmo to the side of the Ark, so they didn't get tangled in the trees" Jordan answers as he looks over the side where Don had climbed down. "Look!!! Look!!" he screams in panic. Everyone rushes over to look. "Is that Don's shoes?" Marti asks.. Princes Patty answers in a scared squeal "Yes, That is his BIG shoes that he stepped on my toes with as we were boarding." "Wow!" exclaimed Jordan "They ARE real, I thought the books I read on them were only fiction. I have to get a picture of this.. No one will believe me that Don has the biggest feet in the known world! And the  Man Eating Trees are real too."


Steve yells to Don to stay there, we will save you. In a muffled sound we could hear Don reply, "Do you think I am going anywhere, GET ME OUT OF HERE!, His breathe stinks!"

The boy people start making a human ladder to reach Don's feet and legs. Mike grabs Steve’s legs as Steve slips over the side. Steve can't reach Don and yells "Dave grab Mike's legs".. as Dave grabs Mike's legs and he slides over the side. Steve then grabs Don's legs and pulls. We could hear growling noise from the tree. It was hungry. Jo yells "Be Careful here pass this pepper down to Steve. Tell him to shake the pepper on the tree". Dave/Paul passes the pepper down the line. Steve dumps the whole can of pepper on the tree…which then, AH AHHH AHHHH CHOOOOOOOO!...Clarence, Jordan, Bob and us girl people started pulling and tugging and pulling and tugging and Don came flying out. As Steve, Mike, Dave and Don was pulled back on deck, the trees all around us were making a hissing noise. Don says, "those trees aren’t so happy to see me leave them!" As he gives a shuddery shake.

"That was close" Don says all covered in a sticky substance which must have been tree sap from the tree. Marti had grabs some towels to wipe Don off with. PJ gives Don a quick exam to be sure he is ok. She has him open his mouth and uses a light to check his eyes and ears. Don asks, "am I ok?".. PJ gives him 'the look' and answers "You have never been ok, but it doesn't look like the tree did you any harm."

As everyone breathes again in relief, a gust of wind picks the balloon up and we start to drift to a large body of water. "Look there at the river" Pam excitedly squeals on her toes only purple socks on her feet.  The view was manificant! PJ then see the river coming towards us and then the dolphins (white fresh water) and the giant otters swimming around.  "Aww.." PJ and the other girl people say in unison.  'Aren't those baby otters just the cutes things you ever saw!" PJ says in her loving motherly voice.  Bob says in a warning voice..."Watch it, those otters grow to be giants here in the Amazon" .. As we drift over the babies otters, PJ throws a line down with a net and catches a baby.  She hauls it on board when all of a sudden...

 With a HUGE splash, a giant otter jumps from the river, trying to catch the net and rescue her baby from these monsters in the sky!  She misses the net by thismuch with her big teeth, and falls back in the water with an ear-shattering squeal! We all feel for her pain, but PJ's already cuddling and comforting the scared little furbaby. "Oh, look how sweet it is~!" The other animal lovers gather to see the baby, and ooooh and ahhhh over its cuteness. Jordan asks if it's a boy or girl, and PJ says, "I don't know..we've just met and I don't want to offend it by asking!! We'll find out later. If it's a boy, I'll call him Otto and if it's a girl, it'll be Olivia, what do you think??"  Jordan makes a grimace and said he thought something from Transformers or Star Trek would be cooler, but whatever!!
  Clarence said "you know that little feller's gonna grow a lot, which means either it'll have to go or some of us passengers will have to be dumped. What are you gonna do then?" PJ gets smart-alecky and says, "Maybe I'll teach it to be the pilot or helmsman for us, so we won't fly  so darned fast going back...I don't remember seeing the Gulf or Panama on the way down!!!  We got in the balloon and BAM! we are in the Amazon already!" Pam smacks PJ in the back of the head!! Aletta pats Pam on the shoulder in support.   Steve says, "Hey now, that'll do...we've got to get along or we'll never make it to Rio!! Settle down and focus on our purpose!"  
 PJ..always the troublemaker..says "Well, Don started it!"  Don looks amazed and said "What? How did I start this??"  "By insisting on hanging your weather gear outside the ship instead of in a cozy corner aboard the ship! Then you fell overboard, got stuck in a tree, and made us all risk our lives to rescue you, you silly goose! Robin bashed her elbow on the railing, trying to keep hold of the guys' feet,  then I spotted this baby and had to have it, so it's all your fault!!!"   Bob and Mike yell in unison, "Knock it off, all of you!! We've got bigger problems than this; just look off the starboard bow!!" Then the group looks to see, and all gasp.................

The mother otter had somehow jump and crashed through the starboard bow and was coming straight toward the group mad wasn't the word for the look on her face. She wanted her baby and no one was going to stop her. Steve said to P.J. let her have the baby and P. J. said no i want her and Aletta says please P. J. let her have the baby or we all will be eaten or worse. P. J. looks at the mother and the mother looks at P.J. gasps. The baby otter masks a noise to mother and she stops just inches from P.J. as the other had moved away reluctantly. The baby gets out of P.J.'s lap and follows the mother to the starboard bow and jumps in the water after her mother and they heard splashes below. Don says whew that was close. Everyone silently looks around at the mess the mother made and slowly moves to clean up except for P.J. who starts crying. Everyone lets her cry while they clean up and the ship moves on toward their destination.
The weather changes and the wind starts to blow and Don says oh no. Everyone looks toward the sky even P.J. stop crying to look and they saw clouds move above them dark clouds looking mean and then lighting not far from them coming closer. Drops of rain started coming down slowly and Aletta told everyone to grab their raincoats and man their stations this was going to be a big one. The drops got bigger and then all of a sudden it became a gulley washer. Everyone got a rope and tied themselves off so as not to fall off. Robin had trouble doing it and Don help her because she had a busted elbow. Everyone got to their positions and was able to keep the ship going into the wind even though the wind was blowing so hard it blew the ship sideways. The rain and wind last the rest of the day and most of the night and late morning it stop and the moon came out and the gang sank to their knees wore out and soak to their bones thankful it stop. Wondering what to do next. It was only 4a.m so they decided to get some sleep and get up and make decisions then. So sleep then did fitfully and at daylight they check their course to see where they were at and Steve told them that they were.................

And Steve told them....
We are heading in the right direction on the Amazon before we turn to Rio de Janeiro. As everyone was waking up Alleta looks up in the sky and sees two large birds flying toward the balloon. Don says those are archaeopteryx and extinct prehistoric bird.


Well says Jo we don't need them here and about that time them two birds landed on top of our balloon and tried to fly off with it.  Oh my says Robin they are tearing up the top of the balloon and now we are falling back to the river. The Ark hit the water very hard and was rocking back and forth. Dave/Paul says they tore a hold in the balloon so now we are gonna have to fix it before we can proceed to Rio.
PJ says well once we get it fixed we can go on to Rio. Aletta says while Don and Dave/Paul are working on the Balloon we can search for some food and fresh water since we are getting low on both.
So off to the jungle Steve, Aletta, Jordan and Clarence take off in search for what we need.
Clarence says y'all don't get lost and be careful.
About time we get some 100 yards from the Ark we hear all kinds of sounds. Sounds like we never heard before. Everybody got scared and starts running in all directions . .........


Since the crash of the balloon threw Pam and PJ, Robin and Jo and Bev to the floor in a tangle, we knew the noise couldn't be them (for a change!!). They picked themselves up, checked for injuries and found they were fine, and then noticed all the loud commotion coming from outside. They all hurried to the side of our balloon ark, saw our people scattering like little ants, and all the vegetation surrounding them was MOVING!!  The girls eeeked and shrieked, "Look out!! There's something in the bushes!!!!"  The group then gathered in a  tight circle so they could better protect each other, with the perimeter of the circle facing outward in all directions. The  leaves began parting and out came soooo many natives in loincloths, carrying shields and spears and making more noise than a Saturday matinee for kids!!!  The natives were dwarfs...only about 3 ft. tall and very muscular...with brightly painted faces and hair in big topknots. All of us on the ground and in the balloon drew shaky breaths and started praying out loud..thinking for sure we were goners!
  The natives drew slowly closer, stopped their noise, and looked at these strange people from a far-away land, while our prayers grew more quiet. Suddenly what appeared to be the leader of the natives, looked Mike and Clarence in the eye and shook his head, then they spotted Jordan and big smiles brightened their faces. The leader reached out for Jordan, and Clarence put his arm around Jordan's shoulders and pulled him near to protect him.
  The leader kept smiling and reaching out for Jordan, and fearless Jordan reached out to the leader!! Turns out, the leader was pleased to find someone closer to their size, and wanted to befriend the boy!!   Whew!  Then from behind the natives' shields came big bunches of ripe bananas, plantains, mangoes and other fruits which were offered to our people.  PJ scrambled over the railing to get to the group and the natives...Pam and Jo yelled, "NO..come back here, you'll be killed!!"  PJ said "I don't care...I'm hungry and I want some of that fruit...c'mon you sissies, let's all go!!!  The girls finally decided that there's safety in numbers and began clambering over the side, with Bev reluctantly bringing up the rear. (She hadn't yet fixed her hair and make-up and didn't want to make a bad impression!!)  Don and Dave/Paul then decided we should all be together, whatever happened, and followed the girls.
  All of us enjoyed the fruit feast while the natives squatted nearby and watched us, chattering and smiling. Then they motioned for us to stand up and follow them into the jungle.  Pam said, "Here it comes! They've already stuffed us, now they're taking us to be roasted!!!"  But we had no choice but to follow.  We arrived at the village after about a 20 minute walk, and as we entered the village, we saw...............................................

Don's Part

We arrived at the village after about a 20 minute walk, and as we entered the village, we saw...............................................


oh no what is this jo pam steve and just about every one exclaims
the natives all line up on either side with spears pointing toward who know what but its obvious we are to go in THAT
Bob and Clarence begin to move back and are met by pointy spear tips
Don says NOW LOOK what you have gotten us into to the entire group, then leans over to Pam and whispers, you distract them and i will make a break for it to get to the ark
for some MODERN weapons, think you can do that??
but its too late the natives sensing something was up circled us and began poking pointy spear tips in various soft body parts as they herded us down the primrose path so to
we get to the door and it slowly swings open
and we can see


at that sound the door slams SHUT and the lights go out
and its darker than YOU KNOW WHAT

Robin's part

Nobody move says Steve. Then the light come on as quickly as they went off. There was a woman standing close by smiling at them. She said Welcome to our home and I hope you enjoy your stay. Sorry about the sound effects but the kids here love to scare the company here we don't get much you know. My name is Granny Audra and i will be you host for the night or nights you decide to stay. I was told that you balloon was damage by the dinosaurs and my kids will fix it before you leave. We have plenty of room for you to stay if you like its late and you are probably tired. Steve looks around and says to granny we would like to have a conference in private to decide what we want to do we appreciate you help. Sure says granny she order one of the little man to show them to a room on the right where they were standing and they went into the room.

Everyone went into the room and all of a sudden everyone started talking at once making so much noise Steve couldn't be heard then all of a sudden he yells quiettttttttttttttttt. Everyone shuts up at once. No he says we have show kindness to these people and get out of here as quick as we can we spend the night and go early in the morning no if's or buts then everyone started again then Steve raised his hand and yell we stay period. Everyone quiet down and said ok. So everyone piled out one by one and Steve went to granny and said thank you but we would love to spend the night to rest and leave in the morning. Granny then order the little man to mend the balloon and get their things from the ship. She said there were plenty of food and sights to see this evening no need to be afraid.

So in the evening they did ............

Aletta's Part

.....were in their rooms the little munchkins took them. There was only two rooms, so the boy people had the use of the little one and the BIG room went to the grils. Cots had to be set up for everyone to sleep. Meanwhile, the little old lady Auntie Audra said she was going to get supper. She headed out in the woods with her basket. She dug around a tree and uncovered a big hairy toe, which she put in her basket along with some strange looking plants. She started back to the eerie home and stopped to listen. Had she heard something? It must have been the critters in the woods. So she went strolling on with a HUGE smile back to the eerie home. In the kitchen her and the little people were talking quietly. She didn't see him, but Jordan had followed her to spy. When the little people and Auntie Audra when to the pantry to get some 'spices', Jordan ran quietly to the rooms where we were resting.

     He rushed to the rooms to gather everyone.. to tell everyone what he had witness.. "Hey, listen up" .breathing hard from his running .. "Auntie Audra is a witch. She dug up a hairy toe under an oak tree and is now cooking it for us." She had picked some strange weeds also. I over heard her and the little people talking in the kitchen. They are going to sacrifice us to the man eating plants". PJ said she read something on these plants in a book. The plants love meat and will walk on their roots like we walk on our legs. They will walk miles to find food...Everyone was listening to PJ when there was a knock on the door. Everyone froze but not Steve.. he goes to the door...big staff in hand and a jug in the other. He says Hi there, and offers Auntie Audra a snort of his brew. We were just talking about how good the food you are cooking smells. We can’t wait to sit down and eat. You didn't need to go to so much trouble for us, what is it? Audra said with a smile.. It is my secret soup recipe, I fix it every time we have company. You will love it! Aletta and some of the other girls were turning green, knowing it was hairy toe soup. Steve says, we’ll be down to eat in just a few minutes. The gals need to "freshen up". Auntie Audra smiles broadly and says we will wait.

     The minute Jordan gives the signal that she is gone, Steve says, "here’s the plan! And they all listen closely as Steve lays out his plan. In his staff is an emergency first aid kit. And it has a big bottle of lime green glowing pills in it. See, we make sure that each and every one of the short people and Auntie Audra eat one of these pills! I’m going to make a special jug of shine. It will be OUR gift to Auntie Audra and her munchkins. Steve says with a big old grin on his face.

( Disclaimer: No Animals, Plants nor Boogars was hurt in the witting of this story.)
Jordan I need your help since you can move freely among this Boogar Boogar tribe


I need for you to go to the Ark and look on the Starboard side; that is the right side for you land lubbers; and get me two jugs of my special honey/sugar cane shine. It is the ones with the yellow top and also the Crocker sack next to it.
After about ten minutes Jordan returns and Steve says we are gonna put these little glowing pills in one of these jugs of shine and offer a toast to these Boogars. All it will do is make them sorta pass out.
Pam says well lets go to the feast and offer a toast to everyone.
We all gather around the table and pour us a drink from the other jug that does not have the sleep pills in and offer them Boogars a drink from the special honey shine.
Now Jo says a toast to you for all your generosity, and everyone turned their glasses up. 
Well it don't take long and all the Boogars are fast asleep.
Steve opens up the sack that Jordan had brought and removed a bunch of water pistols. Steve says these was for the Rio Carnival but we need them now. So lets fill them with the special shine to use on the man eating plants, it will just make them sleep also.
Clarence lead the way thru the door and sure enough them plants was chomping at the bit to eat us.....Them gals starting shooting them plants first, cause they like guns, and them plants started to wilt down to the ground.
Don says lets go to the Ark and I will guide us out of we all load up and Don takes the helm; steering wheel to you land lubbers, and off we go to Rio.

Ah who has got the map Don queries, its seems the GPS is on the fritz
after much hustling and bustling a map appears on the ledge by the helm, AHH RIO is that a way Don points out the window and brings the ark SMOOTHLY on course
the view is tremendous and after a couple hours lo and behold a city appears on the horizon, Don explains that should BE RIO
But then again nothing goes according to plan as a couple planes fly close by


Steve, Jo, PAM oh no not pam but but someone find out what they want
finally Alletta brings word they are our escort into the city and we are running a TAD BIT Late it seems and this is who they sent to find us
Steve breaks out some of the shine for celebration and other are getting all gussied up for the arrival when what to our wonder eyes should appear (YA CAN BET IT AINT A SLEIGH AN 8 TINY REIN DEER, snicker snort snort )


what next DON exclaims


Finally we have hit the South flowing Jet Stream and are making good time seeing many beautiful sights as we glide by the mountains and valleys on the last leg of our journey nearing Rio.  The flora and fauna are breath taking.  The Mountains are majestic and those tiny little airplanes are a relief to see. 


As Darla, Nell, Mike, Bob, Clarence, Darlyn, Dave/Paul, P. Patti, Robin and Marti lounge on the patio furniture share a glass of shine-punch and watch the escorts bring us into Rio.  Don spots not one, not two but 8 tiny water spouts headed out to sea.  Lucky us!  We didn’t get swept out to sea!


Jo grabs the tarps and starts to pull them out, Pam stands on the deck watching the beautiful rainbows the water spouts are making.  Pam shouts, “Hey Bev, Jo!  Isn’t that pretty?  We should be taking pictures of this!”  Jo drops the tarp and comes over with Bev to stand next to the rail and says, “It is beautiful, here, use my phone we’ll get some great shots to put on our groups home page!”  Pam and Aletta start taking photos from every angle they can manage.  Then as we cross the last mountain top and look down on the beautiful city of Rio we realize we are between the arms of the statue that blesses the city, we feel as if He is blessing us, VWF


All you can hear is the silence, the wind blowing through the ropes, the creaking of the Ark and as Pam, Jo, Aletta, Bev and PJ stand arm in arm we start to gently go down to the ground at the feet of the statue.  They hug each other and laugh for they made it through another trip with the VWF Gang and lived to tell the story!


Everyone shouts with joy!  We’ve made it!!  We put our costumes on and dance down the gang plank ready to Party Hearty!  WE MADE IT TO RIO!!!  WOOOOO HOOOOO!!!




This group has been close knit from the first day it was conceived and put into use.  It has grown by leaps and bounds throughout the time we have been here.  We’ve grown closer to each other, even though most of us have never met in person.  We’ve watched children grow, grandchildren be borne, children wives and husbands leave us much too soon and all too young to be passing.  All friends and all close to us.  We’ve cried together, laughed, teased and held each other when times got rough.  Mostly we’ve become good friends.  We may have not met, yet, but we are a tight little community, a family that takes care of each other.  So this year I want to thank NSBSteve for always being there for us, Jo for knowing just when to make that phone call, Dave/Paul for keeping the smile on my face and Bev for thinking up this great list!  And, of course, Sarge who knew how to “make it so”. 

We ARE the VWF family! 



THE END…..(until next year)….