Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sorry about that last entry, I DID NOT put that big empty spot in there, when I did it, everything was where it was supposed to be...stupid computer!!! Or, should I say, stupid blog!!!!

The next day and beyond...

Just a bit about what happened the next morning....we went to where our balloon was supposed to be, even though it was supposed to be in the second wave....well, it never showed up and it wasn't until later, when we talked to the balloonists next to us, as they were ready to head out after their balloon that we found out our pilot was given the chance to fly a special shapes balloon. So, she told us where to find him and when we got there, the balloon, a scarecrow, was already laid out. We still went over to tell him we were there to help and we basically did crowd control while the balloon was being inflated. He was flying this balloon in conjunction with the pilot that owned it, who was from Brazil. We ended up chasing it, too, and it's amazing how hard it is getting all the air out of such a big balloon. Remember, we didn't take our camera, which was a big bummer, so didn't get a picture of it, but, it was BIG!! If it flies on Thursday morning with the other special shapes, I will definitely get a picture of it flying!

Anyway, on Monday morning, I had forgotten there was some competition flying, so Ron came into the rig to tell me balloons were flying over us. I grabbed the camera, trying to take pictures and coudn't understand why it wouldn't let me. I soon found out that Ron had lent our camera card to one of our friends so she could download pictures onto her computer. None of our other cameras had full batteries, so, another day of not being able to take pictures and there were some balloons we hadn't seen previously.

A little later in the morning,
we all decided to head for old town Albuquerque to
walk around the shops and have lunch.

Five Navajo Code Talkers signing books
 We browsed through some of the shops, most of everything was out of our price range, however. There was a book signing going on by a remnant of the Navajo Code Talkers, there were five there that we saw. Ron went up and shook each one of their hands thanking them for their service.

We found the town square and found they had a couple of cannons sitting there.

 We found a cute little courtyard with shops to look through, then found someone to take our picture. We also walked through a museum, but, didn't have time to see all of it, so will have to wait until next time...
12 pounder Mountain Howitzers

Rattlesnake Museum

Margie, Ron & Sharon

After we got through all that, we decided to have lunch at a place called La Placita's, which was right across from the town square. It was originally called Casa de Armijo, built in 1706 and lived in for many generations by the Armijo family. In 1930 it was restored from a ruin to its present condition and remodeled in conformity with its old character. It is now a Mexican restaurant and the food is delicious.                        

Clockwise around the table, Larry, Ted, Jeri, Sue, Gerald, Dodi, Margie, Judy, Ron, Sharon, Ronnie & Jere
                               The people you see around the restaurant are not in line, there are American Indian vendors selling their crafts in front of the building. Really nice stuff, too!

The first day!

Now, I had decided to publish this next blog all at one time, not like the last one, when I was just learning my way around on where to put the pictures and such...yeah, well, it wouldn't publish, I was thinking maybe it was just too big. It could also have something to do with where we are located at the moment. I can be looking at my phone and it will have full bars one moment and the next, nothing. So, I'm breaking it down by days and it seems to be working right now. But, now, I'm getting to where I posted a lot of pictures, so not sure if it's going to post in its entirety or not, let's hope looks terrible when I have to break it here we go...

The next morning, Saturday, was the first day of the event. We got up at dark thirty, and you, who know me well, know I hate getting up early, but, I made the effort. :)  I wanted to get over there as early as possible, and we were on the bus at a little after six. They had school buses that were shuttling everyone from the RV park over to the field, so that was nice we didn't have to walk that far. Not that we were really that far away from the field, we weren't, but, since we were probably going to be doing a lot of walking on the field and all around, might as well ride over first thing. The first thing that happens is a few balloons go up at around 5:45 and they are called the Dawn Patrol. They go up and the other balloonists can check the weather and where the air currents are coming from.                               

 This balloon had either gone up and then down or it hadn't gone up at all, was just sitting there lit up. It looked kind of neat and I'd wished we'd been there earlier to see them all launch. Some of the balloons that had launched were flying away towards the northwest. This first day of the event was a memorial to the guy who founded the festival back in 1972, so they had a lot of extra stuff going on, including a flyby with the missing man formation. man formation.


But, as the day got brighter, more balloons were coming in and more people started coming onto the field. What's neat about this event is anyone can go right up to the balloons to see what is going on. The more balloons that were being set up, the lighter it got and more and more people were coming in..

As you can see by this picture, the field looks pretty wide open, and as you can see in that one row, they are all lined up and that is how it goes right on down the field. But, like I said, this day was different.

There were people pulling in right and left, unloading their baskets and laying out their balloons and getting out the fans that blow them up. They were getting their chase teams ready and telling each one what they were going to be doing. We finally located our pilot, who was giving instructions to his team. We introduced ourselves and told him we'd be helping him tomorrow morning. We found out that he is a professional balloon pilot and works in Colorado doing this type of thing all the time.

Colin talking to the team

Since we were not going to take our camera with us the next morning, we took pictures of what it takes to set a balloon up for flight.  First you unload the basket, then, lay the balloon out in the field. The burner sits on top of the basket on the supports. We saw them fastening things to those burners, so I know a lot goes into hooking everything up.

They lay the basket on its side and start fastening the lines from the balloon to the basket. Once all that is done, they set the fan out, open up the end of the balloon so the fan can start blowing air to inflate the balloon. On the other end, which would be the top end, they seal the top with velcro fasteners, so the balloon can hold the air in.

 Someone holds a rope that goes from the ground to the top of the balloon, so it can't fly off or rise too quickly and also to center it. Even when the balloon is all the way up, the rope is still held until either they tie it off to the basket or it just hangs in the air. I made this picture rather large so you can see what I mean. The guy in the black coat is holding the rope of the balloon that is all the way up. There is another guy holding the rope to the blue/yellow/red balloon farther away.

When the balloon gets to a certain point, they add the burners in with the fan, that is what allows it to fill out completely and start lifting from the ground.

Once it is all the way up, the pilot has to wait until a referee type person comes by to say they can take off. Sometimes, if a breeze comes up, the balloon will try to fly off, that is where the team comes in to hold onto the basket as best they can to prevent it from going anywhere.

and we have lift off!
Up, up and away!
 We had been to the Yuma balloon fiesta a couple of years ago, this one makes that one look like a backyard event. I could not believe how many balloons there were and the crowd was getting bigger. Here are a few pictures of the different balloons and even some special shaped ones....


Here fishy, fishy...

This is her debut at this fiesta

I added this so you could see the wall to wall people

The baby has arrived!
What's amazing about all this is that the balloons go up at 7AM and by 9, most of them are in the air. One of the Boomers told us that today was one of the most disjointed balloon ascensions she had ever seen. They are supposed to go in waves, one row after the other, but, not today. Guess we'll see what happens tomorrow....

On to the balloon fiesta!

The next morning, Thursday, we were all waiting around for Larry to show up, since he was leading us all, as a group, to the RV park. We thought we had to wait until the afternoon to go in, but, he had told us the previous evening that we were going in the morning. He finally got there around 9, so Ron started the engine and it fired up, just as if nothing had ever happened. We all paraded out of the parking lot and over to the lot which was only about maybe 5 miles or so, not very far at all. Fortunately, there wasn't that much traffic going into the lot, so we didn't have to wait very long to get parked. We are located about 5 rows from the main street, which is handy for us. The balloon museum is just across that main road and the balloon field is just beyond that. I think we lucked out on our spot.

I took pictures of our spot, but, it's on the other camera, so when I get them off, I'll post them. We didn't do much of anything on Thursday, except set up the rig. We decided not to set up the satellite, since we figured we'd be too busy. We did see some Boomers walking past the rig and it turned out to be Kaz & Jackie, and Ron followed them over to where the Boomers were parked so we'd know. I know I was doing something else, but, can't remember right now what it was or I would have gone, too. Ron met some of the other Boomers who were around, including Chuck & Jan and they told him we could still sign up to be on the chase crews.

So, on Friday morning, we went over to the balloon field to check everything out. We watched a video on what was expected of us and then went to the tent to sign up. We had decided that since this was our first visit, we just wanted to sign up for one night and one morning. We got assigned to a balloon called Cardiac Air Rest, piloted by a Colin Grahm. We walked over to the field just on the off chance that he might be there, so we could meet him, but, he wasn't there. So, we just walked around among the different vendors to see what they were selling.

On our way...maybe...

The next morning, the engine wouldn't start, not even with the generator running....hmmm...not good...every time we tried to start the engine, we'd almost stall out the generator. We finally ended up calling roadside service and they had told us it would take an hour to get a truck out to us, but, instead he showed up in about 10 minutes or so. We still had the generator running and he hooked up his jumper cables and we tried to start go....finally, he told Ron he was going to get another truck to come out and see if that helped. Meanwhile, Ron had to call the road service back to see if they would cover it, which they did, finally. So, the guy comes back with his truck, plus the other truck, which is smaller, plus they had two batter boosters. Ron is just rolling his eyes, thinking, "oh boy, this is not going to work." So, everything got hooked up and next thing we know, they have it running. YAY!!!! Just don't turn it off for anything!!

Our bus members had assured us we could fill up with diesel and not turn the engine off, so that is what we had to do, with no problems at all. Once we got that done, it was off to the casino in Albuquerque to meet up with our bus friends. Considering we had planned on getting there at 11 and we ended up getting there at 1, guess it wasn't so bad after all.

We made sure we were right where we wanted to park before we turned off the ignition. Larry, who was hosting this event, is a whiz at figuring out diesel engine problems, sooo, when he showed up in the late afternoon, we came out of the casino where we'd been having an early dinner and he went to work. It really didn't take long at all, because what was wrong was a loose ground wire. Probably dropped out when we were driving on the really rough road on I-40 out of Flagstaff. WHEW!! We really didn't want to put out all that money for brand new batteries to replace the ones we have and then figure out where to send them from Canada! As soon as he put it back on, the engine fired right up just like nothing had ever happened, which made Ron a happy camper and finally put our minds at ease. I should have taken a picture of the two trucks and battery boosters hooked up to the bus, but, that was the last thing on my mind at the time. Didn't even get any pictures of us at the casino either....

We spent the rest of that day having a good time, we went into the casino, got a club card with $25 to spend in the casino and we had a buffet dinner for only $5 each. After dinner, we decided to play the slots, ya know, these newfangled slot machines, I just don't understand them like I did the old ones. I'm really not into gambling all that much, but, since it wasn't my money, why not. Well, of course the first $20 went just like that, but, the last $5 I put in the machine, I actually won $8.75, so I cashed out. Ron won $9, so we didn't do too bad. One of our other members was playing the dollar machine with her last $15 and won $180! First time she's ever won anything like that. Good for her!

Getting ready to head for Albuquerque - Sept 25th thru 27th

On Sunday, our friend Margie was leaving Chula Vista, Ca, where she'd been camping with her camping club and driving up to meet us in Cottonwood. She didn't really want to drive all that way, but, I called and enticed her by mentioning that there was a winery right outside the campground and maybe we could go wine tasting the next day...she actually drove in as it was getting dark.

The next morning, we were waiting for the guy to come out and wash and hand wax the bus. He finally made it out there and spent about 5 hours on the bus. That meant we wouldn't be able to take Margie to Sedona, but, it did mean we could go wine tasting. So, we left Ron supervising the work and we went to have fun. At least she was able to spend one whole day relaxing, not having to worry about driving anywhere.

The next morning, we left the campground and headed towards Albuquerque. Right off the bat, I saw a frog or what looked like a frog on the side of one of the freeway bridges. It could have been an Indian symbol or something, but, looked like a frog to me.

 As we got closer to New Mexico, we started seeing some really neat rock formations and some of them looked like the ones we saw up in Mesa Verde, without the Indian ruins inside.

. We didn't want to drive to Albuquerque all in one day, that would have been too long for Margie, so we got as far east as Grants, where we stopped for the night at an Elks lodge. That is where the "fun" began...Ron looked at the amp meter and announced that the batteries were only reading 11.1 amps, this is AFTER we just drove 300 miles, which should have charged the batteries all the way up!!!

We had just finished working at a campground all summer and were hooked up to electric, we didn't know we had problems with the batteries! So, there we were worrying about what we're going to do next. Finally, we thought, we can't do anything tonight, we'll wait until tomorrow comes and see what we can do. We were only about 70 miles from Albuquerque and help if we needed it, so we started the generator, (thank goodness that still worked), so we could run the microwave to heat up our dinners, watched TV for a bit, then, went to bed early.