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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: NE

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

bethany

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 :).

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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.

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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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Westward Ho! / Day 4 ... Trains, Grains, Plains

bethany

Thursday, August 18

Up to a heavy and slow morning – my cold raging, Michael's sciatica screaming, and a time out taken for conversations that needed to happen. The kind that percolate in your subconscious for awhile, and then the thoughts gel to the point that they need to come out, and come out now. Once that was over, we headed out onto Rt 20 again, past innumerable small towns – visible first by a looming grain elevator – and once in the town, you were back out of it again in about a ¼ mile, and back to paralleling the ever-present train tracks and cornfields.

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The freights appeared to be carrying mostly coal and ethanol (though we did see one with what appeared to be windmill tower parts), and they were somehow reassuring company in the long, straight, hot stretches. It topped out at 95° that day, but thankfully the camper never became too sweltering for the cats.

After a not-so-quick stop at a giant Cabelas that suddenly loomed in place of the expected grain-elevator (Fynn is currently obsessed with survival gear), we wandered into another city park campground in Gothenburg.

This was the subject of much discussion, as there have been various ideas floated as to having a truck bed cap, or cover, or some such thing to protect the stuff we have in there.&nbsp; One idea discussed was using an upside down aluminum boat, with it's prow extending up over the cab, and the back portion joining some sidewalls built up from the truck bed. I did my best to stay out of the fray, my skepticism coming in waves that threatened to swamp the whole thing before anyone even looked at the boat's price tag.&nbsp;

This was the subject of much discussion, as there have been various ideas floated as to having a truck bed cap, or cover, or some such thing to protect the stuff we have in there.  One idea discussed was using an upside down aluminum boat, with it's prow extending up over the cab, and the back portion joining some sidewalls built up from the truck bed. I did my best to stay out of the fray, my skepticism coming in waves that threatened to swamp the whole thing before anyone even looked at the boat's price tag. 

Gothenburg's claim to fame is “The West's Original Pony Express Station” – a nice vague title, and one taken lightly by our only neighbors at the campground, Jim and Lanyin, who turned out to be making their annual trek west via the Pony Express route. Jim declared there to be as many Pony Express stories as there were stations, and we weren't in any position to argue. We met them while they were walking their cat around the park … sans a leash … the first folks we'd encountered who had a cat who would go for walks like ours sometimes will.

It was nice to have another quiet campground, one of the benefits of traveling after the summer crowds are gone.

previous posts : DAY 1  / DAY 2 / DAY 3

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Westward Ho! / Day 3 ... Sloshing and Bumping into Nebraska

bethany

Wednesday, August 17

We'd planned to start the day with a John Deere factory tour, but had discovered at the last minute that the minimum age was 13, and so gave that up and headed west on Rt 30. The plains slowly gave way to gorgeous rolling farmland, and we dropped down to Rt 20 in the hopes of avoiding thumping our way over the expansion joints.

You see, there's something about the distance between Matilda's back wheels and the trailer's axles that is exactly the wrong distance to hit the expansion joints built into many roads … it causes a very annoying bounce in the hitch that makes a see-sawing motion between the truck and trailer, and it can't be cured by speed or mitigated much at all by the sway bars that we have installed. It's enough to drive us all a bit batty if it goes on for more than 10 miles.

Rt 20 started out with the same issue, but quickly changed into something smoother and we got into Nebraska and found a cheap city park campground in Schulyer, just before dark. Dark enough that I could only smell the cow crap splattered all over the front of the camper – a gift from Nebraska's very plentiful cattle transports, which we promptly renamed 'poop trucks'. A good day, a quiet night.

previous posts : DAY 1  / DAY 2

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