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A company’s out-of-the-box pivot during the pandemic

It’s no secret that the global pandemic forced many Colorado businesses to adapt and even pivot.

Rainbow Ryders, a hot air balloon company that once operated over 300 flights per day with the local tourism fueling its balloon business, is one of those businesses.


During pre-pandemic days, about 80% of Rainbow Ryders’ customers were tourists from corporate groups and leisure travel. During this COVID-19 era, the company reevaluated its operations and enhanced the highest level of safety and sanitation to continue offering balloon rides as a socially-distant activity.

Scott Appelman 2

Founder and CEO Scott Appelman found a way to keep moving forward during these uncertain times. While providing safe, socially distanced hot air balloon rides, the company now offers corporate hot air balloon advertising. Rainbow Ryders has partnered with large companies such as General Mills, Phillips 66 and Dos Equis to creatively advertise their brands on hot air balloons.


This form of brand marketing and out-of-the-box publicity stunts started at his balloon festivals and go beyond TV, radio, digital and print advertising. Rainbow Ryders creates flying billboards for its partners that bring brand messages right to people’s homes, during a time where most of our time is spent.

Why 2020 is the year of the moose

2020 is now the year of the moose. Why the moose? Here’s the whole story.

The weather was beautiful as I rolled out of bed that morning; I had a busy day filled with several closings so wanted to ensure I got in a run before the day started.  It was around 5:30 in the morning as the sun was already up in northwest Colorado.  I grab my shoes and leash Luna (my Siberian husky), and we walk to the trail.

I run on this trail several times a week, it is wide and heavily used which makes it an easy quick run.  I was planning on a five-mile jog out and back. As I neared mile 1.5, I see the moose, in full charge, heading directly towards me. While I regularly see moose, bear and other wildlife, I knew instantly this was not a normal encounter. Typically, a moose will let you know they are present, and you can put distance between yourself and the moose and you are fine.  Today was radically different, I knew I was in trouble with the moose suddenly hot on my heels.

With the moose behind me, I immediately took off into a sprint as I heard the hoofs getting increasingly closer; I hear her snorting getting louder. This is not a false charge.  I glance back again to see the moose now just steps behind me.  I knew I had to drop the leash to allow Luna to get away, and hopefully distract the moose.

Fortunately, as I dropped the leash, the moose was momentarily distracted by Luna, giving me a few second head start to dive under a spruce tree for cover.  In any moose encounter, typically you get behind a tree or other object and the moose loses interest.  However, once again, today was different.

I was crouched under a large spruce tree that had tons of branches. I thought I was fine until a few seconds later, the moose turned and headed towards the tree at almost full charge. She saw me crouched in the tree well and began using her hoof to try to break the branches and get at me.  I tried talking calming, yelling and remaining silent, nothing seemed to work.

As Luna circled back to try and check on me, the moose tried to kick her and then quickly comes back to focus on me. This went on for several minutes until a car turns into the parking lot around 15-feet from where I had taken cover. I peeked my head out to see if this will give me a few minutes to run the other way.  Unfortunately, the moose charged the car, which then pealed out of the parking lot, and then quickly came back to me.

The moose got increasingly agitated as I became increasingly worried. She would have done anything for me to leave (I would have gladly obliged), but I was stuck with no way to exit without getting kicked and or trampled.  I didn’t have my phone with me, and my options were running out.

As each minute passed, the moose continued to use its hoofs to break the branches and get closer to me. It reminded me of a bull winding up before a charge.  I knew I had to act quickly if I was going to make it out alive.  I can now see the moose’s face a couple feet away. She was definitely angry, and her snorts were growing louder.  The moose pushed its head through the branches toward me. I knew I had to act, so I lunged back against the tree and gave the moose a swift kick in the nose.  The moose looked at me a bit startled and took a few steps back and then took off.

This was my chance to make a break for it.  I rolled out under the opposite side of the tree and took off the other direction; I’m home in a few minutes.

Before I arrived, my wife was startled out of bed as the doorbell motion sensor went off; she saw Luna running toward the backyard with her leash on, with me nowhere to be found.  She was freaking out when, a few minutes later, I came running down the hill with ripped clothes and blood streaming down my legs.

I called the division of wildlife to report the incident, and as I explained the story the officer asked if this was related to the dog running down the road being chased by the moose. Several people had called in after seeing Luna being chased down the road by the moose.  When I kicked the moose, it lost interest in me and went after Luna, chasing her all the way home.

Why was the moose so aggressive?

After my call, the officer went out and was able to locate the moose because she was still in the area.  He quickly discovered the moose had a brand-new baby calf with her.  It appears the moose had, within the last several hours, the calf, which is why she was acting so aggressive.  Even though I was scanning ahead and cognizant of my surroundings, I never saw the moose or calf before she was charging. The calf, unbeknownst to me, was likely not far from where I took cover, which is why the mom wanted me to leave so badly.

This was, unfortunately, a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for both me and Luna.

Why is 2020 the year of the moose?

As we are halfway through 2020, it is apparent that this year is not like any other year we have ever experienced.  Almost every economist missed the recent economic gyrations, because all the planning in the world was unable to predict what this year has had to offer. The virus has thrown the economy into a tailspin, with pieces falling out every day. Just like the moose, the virus has created many instances of wrong time/wrong place, creating a dangerous financial situation.  The huge amount of uncertainty has also made this year even more precarious.

Just as in the moose story, this year will have twists and turns and you cannot let your guard down.  We recently saw an amazing job report that has led to a historic run up in the stock market.  Don’t be fooled, unfortunately, the moose is just get started and there are sure to be surprises that you must prepare for.

4 tips to survive the year of the moose

The moose is indicative of 2020 and is a stark reminder that you must be ready to react to whatever is thrown your way.  The pandemic has been an unprecedented event and will create change that is nearly impossible to predict.  There are four key lessons that the moose taught me that will help everyone stay “alive” during these challenging times.

  • Prepare: Although there is no way to prepare for the test, per se, general preparation is critical. Now is the time to go through what if scenarios to, at the very least, mentally prepare for the challenges ahead.
  • Mindset: Having a moose running at you full force is an important reminder of how important your mindset is. You can have all tools in the world (or none), but at the end of the day, your most important tool is your mind. It is imperative to keep level-headed in order to make the right decisions.
  • Trust your instincts:In difficult situations you don’t always have time to think through all of your options. In my case, if I would have stopped running to evaluate the situation, there is no way I would have made it.  Many times, you will be forced to react, and you must trust your instincts.
  • Do or do not:I always tell my kids that some of the most important advice is from Yoda; Talk is cheap, either do or do not.  If you are going to do something, commit and do it. When my back was against the tree, I had a choice to survive, I went for it and fortunately it worked out.


The moose is a stark reminder of the challenges and uncertainty ahead. The year of the moose is just getting going and will not end without considerable uncertainty and pain. The pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have forced the economy into a crisis that will not be resolved as quickly as the markets are alluding.  There is no doubt that the year of the moose has plenty of energy left in the tank to wreak havoc.  Now is the time to ensure you prepare, have the right mindset, trust your instincts, and execute so this year does not kill you, and only becomes a pain in the rump with some scratches and bruises like it did for me.  Be safe in the year of the moose.