Tag Archives: New Mexico

Weather Balloon Launch Houston, Texas

While waiting for shipping documents, we were invited by Kate Thompson to watch a weather balloon launch which is part of the ARM research project site in the Houston area.

The Scientific Site is moving in October out to La Jolla. CA for the next campaign. The sites move to areas of needed data collection.

This Houston (La Porte, Guy and Pearland) site is called TRACER and you can learn more about it here.


We parked away from the site to prevent our gas fumes from effecting the aerosol data collection.
Kate Thompson (New Mexico connection) explains the site and instruments around us while the balloon is filling.
Helium is pumped into a gigantic latex weather balloon it will pop when the balloon reaches higher altitudes.
Vivian, Niles, Sarah and Gypsy prior to launch. You can see the data collection instrument in Viv’s left hand.

The weather balloons are launched every 4 hours. Our friend Kate is the Logistics coordinator here. There are over 100 instruments at the sites with many universities running data collection for many research projects.

Paul Ortega explained the plotting of data as the balloon rose.

Mark, the meteorologist on site explained that weather balloons are an old data collection method that will not be replaced. It’s the only way to collect real time data for pressure, humidity, and altitude which can then be associated with data collected by other instruments on site to expand research for meteorological studies like aerosols, weather, and behavior of the atmosphere in general.

Mark helping us understand the power of understanding the atmosphere.

Yo-yo of travel plans

Gap Year Travel Day 6 and 7: We planned to drive off at 6:30 8/21 from Grandparents house but as we neared the end of the driveway, the deisel engine was sputtering, there was lack of power, there was opening the hood, there was consulting deisel friends, there was resignation that we weren’t leaving that night.

This 2007 diesel Dodge Ram was diagnosed with injector problems 8/22.

Then we heard from Javier that our ship won’t leave until 9/5, instead of 8/26. This is a great pressure relief because there are still some shipping documents to finalize, a dog health certificate all to be done in the Houston area, plus the repair to the truck in Amarillo, Texas.

The Dodge dealerships in Sante Fe and Albuquerque are all 3-4 weeks before a service appointment. We were able to get diagnostics run at Mino and Greg’s garage a mile from Mike’s parents, but he doesn’t work on diesel engines. Replaced the batteries because they were low. Started calling diesel mechanics along our route in Texas and found a place called Coffman Custom in Amarillo, Texas.

We are hoping that the repair to the truck in Amarillo, TX will allow us to go to take a side trip to Palo Duro Canyon. See the link below.


There is a chance the repair will be simple. Hope was given by one diesel mechanic friend saying the error signal regarding the injectors may be triggered by the “harness” being damaged, that would be less than the thousands estimated if the injectors need replacement. I hope we get to Amarillo and the check engine light stays off, the error message isn’t triggered and we can ride off to Houston after visiting the Canyon.

It’s taken some collective brain power to work through the logistics of the moving shipping dates, lodging and rental car bookings, insurance requirements. Overall we worked as a very good team with moments of brilliance. Very inspiring. Very grateful to Lee and Candie for their open invitation to land back in New Mexico if repairs and/or shipping do not work out.

Nambe, New Mexico

We stayed with Mike’s parents in Nambe, New Mexico to say bye for the year and make last preparations for shipping the trucks, making the dog kennel airline worthy, purchase tickets on Avianca Airline to Bogata, book a stay near the airport and many more last details.

Our family favorite sites on the way to Grandparents is to drive by the ranch with the peacocks, it’s just before the wrecked cars in the arroyo approaching Grandma and Opa’s house.

Day 2 at Grandparents: Readying the first aid packs, emptying the propane tanks, packing the airline bags, making appointment for the dog health certificate, making Airbnb reservations to be able to share end point addresses with shipping company, making car rental reservations. Contacting relatives along the route