I have uploaded the photos from the trip, including the balloon fiesta. They are on my Flickr page here.
Ok. You know the drill. I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first? What news is the good and what is the bad? There are so many possibilities. Let’s start with the bad news.
We did NOT set the alarm this AM for once. We thought we would naturally get up early enough to see anything. There actually was a Texas Hold’em competition for the balloons this morning. There huge cards on the field (I did not go verify) and the balloonists would drop a marker to get the best card. Depending upon the wind direction they would launch from the north or south to fly over the field. The wind was blowing from the south, as it has for 2 days now so they launched from the south. This meant they were coming directly over us! I thought this might be the case but was unsure until we heard a burner ignite over our trailer. We hustled outside to watch them float over.
Now this guy looks real low but he wasn’t so bad. Here is another shot of him a bit further down his run.
See, he is gaining altitude!
As all this was going on I would look to the south to see what was coming, then to the north to see what the balloons were doing over the field. This is the bad news. We saw a balloon that was severely deflated and still very high.
It is the one on the left (this is a friends photo). We saw it come down faster than normal and only stopped when it hit the ground. That is just part of the bad news. It appears this balloon clipped one of the hospitality tents at the south end of the field. In clipping this tent, it tilted the basket enough to eject the pilot (or passenger, it is still unclear). He tumbled about 20 feet to the ground appearing to suffer a broken hip. Prior to this the pilot was attempting to gain altitude by hitting the burners. Balloons do not react real fast so it obviously did not help enough. The combination of extra heat and less weight caused the balloon to shoot into the air very rapidly. This entire sequence was very frightening to the remaining passenger in the basket and she responded by opening the top of the balloon which caused the rapid descent. We only say the descent but I am conveying the information from eye witnesses. That was the bad news. I am sure there is more on Google by now.
The good news is the truck! It is fixed! I visited a transmission shop, Mike’s Transmission which was only about 1 mile from us. I immediately had a good feeling from Mike himself and he stated he would do a diagnosis on the transmission and give me an estimate and there would be no charge. I could decide what to do then. He called back in about 1 1/2 hours and told me what he had found. The sensor gave two codes. The first said it had reached 315 degrees! He said if there was this code only then it would mean overheating but the second code showed it had reached -40 degrees, yes 40 below zero. This pointed to the sensor. I could get the part ($80!) replaced for a total of $170. However, since the pan would be off I could get new fluid and the filter replaced for $250. That was a no brainer. Do the extra service. About 2 hours later the repair was done and a new friend neighbor gave me a ride there. I talked with Mike a bit and determined that not only was he a very nice and honest guy, he really knew his business. Also I feel if he did not know how to do a job or felt he couldn’t, he would NOT do it. Very recommended shop! So remember, wait until Albuquerque before you have any transmission problems. (Hey, Mike if you are reading this, you need to get away to the lake, SOON!)
This evening the group had another meal. This was not a potluck but had bratwurst, hamburgers and/or salmon and other sides provided. It was the last get-together before the rest of us bug out tomorrow (some already have). This has been a fun rally. Bob and Phyllis came to the trailer for a bit to visit before they continue on eastward tomorrow. We had fun with them and I know they will continue to have a good trip and I am sure we will see them again. You always tend to see other Airstreamers again.
The distance to this rally is the real killer for us but we will do it again some time. This is the first time that I can remember us dry camping for 4 nights without adding water or dumping gray water. Roxie has done a great job in conserving. As far as power, I created my extra battery box similar to this one so we have had 4 batteries for the duration. However we have been running the generator regularly to charge the laptops (I don’t like my inverter). It has been a learning experience. But tomorrow night we WILL have full hookups so we can take nice long (7 gal hot water) showers!