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all but the cats write here ... to remember, to share, to mumble, to shout ... follow along by RSS or email if you like.

Filtering by Tag: CO

Westward Ho! / Day 7 ... Letting Go in CO


Sunday, August 21

We had a lovely couple of hours in the morning before picking a bunch of wild sage, saying goodbye to the river, and pulling out for I70 again ... heading for a lunch date in Carbondale.

Michael did a Sol LeWitt job in Aspen a few years back, and one of the crew had been a CO local named Takeo. We met up with him for lunch in a local park, before heading on west towards Utah. Passing Vail and Breckenridge in 93° weather was a far cry from what high ski season must look like, but it didn't hold any real appeal either way … my tolerance for big crowds seems to diminish with every passing year.

The mighty Colorado

The mighty Colorado

We stopped in a town mid afternoon to try to figure out a campsite, and after spending 20 minutes thumbing through the apps I use (Allstays and RV Parky and if you're interested) … the string broke.  The string that connected Freedom Bird's steering wheel to my Navigational Ninja hat, which was lying crumpled somewhere in the pile of snacks and papers and resentment swirling around my feet. 

After some toasty but productive discussion, my desire to have a known destination by late afternoon proved to be too much to deal with, so we ended up chucking it out the window, along with my responsibility to find said site. It honestly was mostly a relief.  My fears of a state trooper knocking on the door at 3am because we'd end up sleeping on the side of the Interstate? They ostensibly followed the planning out the window, but remained stubbornly glued to the side of Matilda, just out of sight. Hmm.

Just over the border into Utah, we stopped at a scenic overlook to watch the sunset.  The fact that we had no place to rush to meant that we stayed for almost an hour, soaking up every last drop of the changing light.

Three hundred photos later, we pulled around the curve to leave and discovered a level-ish spot on the edge of the drive; making the split-second decision to pull over for the night, right behind a rig already parked there. Voila, a free spot! And a beautiful one to boot. I felt less apprehensive about getting in any trouble for it, because someone else was already there. I know, I know, but it's how my mind works.

Wedding T-7 and counting …

lots more pics here

previous posts : DAY 1  / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5 / DAY 6

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Westward Ho! / Day 6 ... The Great Divide


Saturday, August 20

Fynn and I snuck out early to take some bird photos on the local lake, but were back in time to get breakfast before getting on the road at 9:30 … a real feat for us. We are not Morning People, ever, though Fynn and I are traditionally up a fair bit before the other two. It's a chance for a bit of quiet time that I'm sorely lacking most days.

Once underway, we got our first glimpse of the mountains 20 miles east of Denver. Once around the city, Matilda got her first real workout, and we were a bit dismayed by the amount of black and white smoke she belched. We paused for a rest and a Google, deciding that we needed to keep her RPMs up on the hills, and that her turbo filter badly needed a scrubbing.

Winding through the mountains, we got off at a small town hoping for a spot to eat our lunch, but nearly got stuck in the process. The valleys are so narrow that turnarounds aren't possible at many exits, and this one would have been a real issue as we're 7+ tons total and the bridge we were facing had a 4 ton limit, but we managed to turn around in a nearly empty Dollar Store lot. The alternative would have been backing down the main street and around a tiny traffic circle … not a pleasant thought at all!

We hiked up over the Continental Divide's 9800' pass via the Eisenhower Tunnel, and got a taste of the first of many 6% grade signs, with the occasional 8% thrown in for good measure. We stopped in Silverthorne CO for gas, and Michael asked at the local National Parks office for any nearby boondocking spots. The attendant tore himself away from a private conversation long enough to tell him about a small free campground 8 miles up the road on the Blue River. Yay!

It ended up to be a gorgeous place with one spot left that we could squeeze into. Michael washed the turbo filter in a bucket, I read a book in the sun, and the boys chased each other with Nerf guns. They came back wheezing a bit, feeling the effects of running at 6500' :). Nice to have a few hours of quiet before dark … it was an incredibly peaceful spot, and the down time wasn't just welcome, it was utterly necessary.

We were very tempted to stay a 2nd night, but didn't in the end. Both Michael and I were feeling sick with colds, his sciatica was still nasty, and we were both struggling with the pace of things. Leaving ourselves only 13 days, starting with an emotional deficit from the previous two months and rather precarious health ... we'd added in the desire to stop and see the sights, but not be bound to a schedule. That meant campsites were always found at the last minute, often on an empty stomach, and always on a tight budget.

My navigational nerves were strained to their very last thread, sawing against the wings of Michael's freedom bird, which was weakly fluttering along beside us while we tried to reconcile the realities of the trip with the dreams of many years. Not a pretty sight, and one that came to a head the next day.

lots more pics here

previous posts : DAY 1  / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5

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Westward Ho! / Day 5 ... Crossing into Colorado


Friday, August 19

Our neighbors pulled out long before we did, but after giving Matilda's engine a once-over and tweaking the fan shroud, we made a quick jaunt into town to get groceries, and check out the Pony Express Station/Museum that had been relocated into the local park. After gathering tidbits like the fact that the service only operated for 18 months, riders were preferred to be teenage orphans, and that the fastest trip over the whole 1840 miles was 7 days and 17 hours and carried Lincoln's inaugural address … we scurried back to the camper, hitched up, and headed west towards I70. We had debated the whole I70 vs I80 thing, but opted for the hillier and more scenic southern route.

Our late start meant that we decided not to push through Denver that day, but took our time. At one of the big truck stops, we finally got our rig weighed, something we'd never yet dared to do. We knew the empty weight of Matilda was 6300 lbs, and the empty trailer was 5400 lbs, but I'd long suspected that we were a fair bit over our GVRW load limit given that we've got a lot of tools and books in every nook and cranny. We can add about 2200 lbs of stuff, but that includes any water and propane in the tanks, not to mention all our personal belongings. It adds up fast!

After asking at the trucker's counter how the whole system worked (and being a bit sheepish about it, just because camper folks aren't always welcomed with open arms there), I paid for the required access code and got back in the truck. We swung through the scales, picked up our results, and discovered that we were just under our overall limit! Phew. Nice to know before heading over the Rockies :).


Crossing into Colorado was a bit weird … the scenery changed almost immediately to scrubby hills full of cattle, and corn fields. The views were a lot longer, and it just felt different.


We found a free city park “campground” in Fort Morgan that included 15amp electric, which turned out to be a parking lot with a small median strip that had some outlets 6' up on the streetlight poles. We jury rigged our cord to one of them so that the weight of the extension cord wouldn't yank it out in the night, and I started in on dinner. Our neighbors, with the exception of one spiffy looking 5th wheel, all seemed to be living out of their cars or trailers, and not by choice. It became the Friday night drag strip for awhile, but quieted down early enough to get some really good sleep.

previous posts : DAY 1  / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4

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