Time to move on. We decided that New Mexico deserved some more exploring and perhaps we could ride the steam train at Chama. Off we go.
Well we made plans. That's not what we do but we decided that because the train ride looked pretty full to the end of their season in a month or so that we better buy tickets in advance. Not wanting to be stuck without a place to camp we made reservations in the campground too.
We left Amarillo and crossed into New Mexico, heading for Las Vegas (Yes there's a Las Vegas in New Mexico as well as the one in Nevada). Outside of Tucumari there is a LONG steep climb up to the plateau. The Rexhall was going 30 mph screaming flat out in 1st gear in places. No problem, we're driven roads like this before.
At the top I glanced down and the temperature needle was in the red. Hurriedly we pulled over and I took a look under the hood. Couldn't see much. Obvious signs of overheating like light smoke of course, and the coolant header tank was empty. We let it cool for ½ hr then I filled it up again. There were no signs of leaks so maybe we got away with it.
We pulled into the Las Vegas Elks Lodge and when we got out there was coolant dripping from under the engine. When I investigated it was coming from on top of the engine, not the radiator or that area.
We started calling around. Nobody in Las Vegas could look at it. Santa Fe was 60 miles away and the Ford Dealer recommended an independent company Hal Burns. We took a chance, filled the engine up with coolant again and drove to Santa Fe. The engine overheated again 1 mile from the mechanic. We let it cool and filled it up and made the mechanic's place.
|Sunset at the Santa Fe Elks Lodge|
The diagnosis was a cracked cylinder head.
While the problem was being resolved we decided to drive in the car another 60 miles to Albuquerque. We did some exploring and shopping, sampled some local brew pubs and restaurants including the best Indian Restaurant I've been to in 35 years in the States. Namaste. Great food and very friendly people.
We realized that the balloon fiesta was on here the next week. Not knowing when our problem might get resolved we asked for reservations at the hotel into the next week. We could always cancel them without it costing us anything. The price jumped from $70 a night to $180 once the Fiesta started!!
And then the no plan kids struck lucky again. The RV problem got resolved and we saw on Facebook that the “Boomers” RV club had a cancellation for a spot at the Fiesta, camping right at the Balloon Park itself!! How lucky could we be?
The next thing we knew we were at the park, right on the front row. And guess what? The site for the Happy Hour was right in front of our rig!! Amazing.
|Lining up to get into the RV area. reservations only.|
|A cold morning, as the launch crew gather. "Our pilot" Brian closest on the right|
|Beautiful Adobe home where we launched right off her front lawn!|
|Barbara holds open the mouth of the balloon while they fire up the huge burners.|
|Another crew prepping for launch|
|"Dawn Patrol" every morning at 7am at the fling field|
|With our new friends Tim and Linda outside the NASA exhibit|
|Called "Zebras" they control launches at the flying field for safety purposes.|
That evening I started sneezing and coughing and a nasty cold hit me. We had to cancel our plans to crew for the next few days and hung around in the rig. Luckily our front window faced across the street towards the flying field so we sat with the heater on and watched the fantastic “Shapes” fly.
|Mass launch of "Shapes" as well as regular balloons|
|Corcadova the Christ Statue from Rio De Janeiro|
|Darth Veda and Yoda|
|A happy Goldfish swims by the from window of our rig|
We made new friends at the rally and have plans to meet up again next summer with some of them. Right now it's time to think about moving on again to get closer to Casa Grande. Won't be long before we're back in Sundance for the winter!