Kent and Carol - Mobile travel blog

The RV Rally - A view from the roof of our RV

Sandia Mtns. in the distance

Balloon Glow - Saturday night

Balloon over our RV

82 Foot Wide Dish set on concrete piers

Dish inside for repairs

Transporter on Perpendicular track - Main track in foreground

Looking down main track

View of Large Array from RV Park

Large Array Antennas

The week of April 6th, we visited the cardiologist, orthopedic, and infectious disease doctors. All of them were satisfied with Carol’ progress so we are making preparations to ‘hit the road”. I also went to my cardiologist and had another stress test and the results were the same as the last time so I was told to do a follow-up in a year. I took our home in for an oil change. We celebrated Tracy’s, Michelle’s and Devin’s birthdays and headed for Albuquerque, NM on Saturday, April 11. Albuquerque is the site of this year’s big national Good Sam RV rally. I don’t like to drive very long each day so we made nightly stops at South Heaven, KS, Texola, OK, Tucumcari, NM and arrived in Albuquerque on Tuesday afternoon. That evening we had dinner with our friend Chrisanna and her three children. Her husband Craig was in Singapore for some training. Wednesday morning we moved onto the rally grounds, which was the first day of the “early” days, and were lucky enough to get on the first row. In my estimation this was a poorly organized rally. All of the 3,500 RV’s were parked on the Balloon Fiesta grounds but all of the activities were a 30-minute bus ride to the New Mexico Fair Grounds. The actual event started on Friday, which was a cold and blustery day. That day they did not have enough buses, so Carol and I stood in a two-hour line, during snow and a cold light rain, just to get on a bus to return to the RV. The rest of the days of the rally they added more buses and the weather return to milder temperatures so that improved the conditions. We have been spoiled by the operation of the Winnebago Rally, we have attended the last three years. Well, anyway the rally ended Tuesday mourning and we were to be off the rally grounds by 10:00 am that morning, but they turned off the commercial electric generators about 8:30 that morning. I guess that was the hint to “get out of here”. We left by 9:30 and headed south on I-25 to the small town of Magdalena, NM. Near this town is the Very Large Array Antennas, which is part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. They use this array of 27 antennas to do astronomy observation, which is not limited to nighttime or clear weather observation. Each dish shaped antenna is 82 feet in diameter and weighs 230 tons. The 27 of them are arranged in a Y pattern and each leg of the Y is up to 13 miles long. I say up to 13 miles long because these big antennas can be moved up and down the leg of the Y depended on the focus they want to use (sort of like zoom on a camera) and the distance in outer space they are observing. There are railroad tracks running along the side of each dish and they have two transporters that can move the dishes up and down the Y. The dish must be set on concrete piers to operate but the transporters move the antenna from one set of piers to the other. The interesting thing to me is the dish is set on railroad tracks that are perpendicular to the main railroad tracks. The transporter is able to turn 90 degrees and the visitor center had a video to show you how the transporter was able to maneuver onto the perpendicular tracks. It takes about a week and a half to two weeks to move all the dish antennas with the two transporters. The location of this Very Large Array was chosen because of the less populated area, the higher elevation of 7200 feet above sea level and because it is relative flat land surrounded by mountain ranges to shield the antennas from other radio signals. This Very Large Array is one of nine throughout the US. The RV Park that we stayed at that evening was about seven miles from the array and had no TV, radio or cell phone signals. We put up the satellite dish to satisfy Carol’s TV viewing. That night I went out to walk the dog and it was amazing to see all the stars in the sky because there were no city lights to obscure the view. Wednesday, April 22 we headed toward the northwest corner of New Mexico. We stopped on I-40 west of Albuquerque and Wednesday and Thursday nights we stayed in the RV Park that was adjacent to an Indian tribe, Dancing Eagle Casino. We did not gamble but did eat a meal there. Full hook-ups were only $10 per night, which is my kind of price. Friday morning we headed for Shiprock, NM.

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