Rocky Mountain High…Colorado

  

Everytime we go to Colorado the John Denver song comes to mind or scenes from the goofy movie Dumb and Dumber! Living in Missouri and Kansas for 35 years we often took road trips to take advantage of skiing in the Rocky Mountains. We had never been west of Vail. I think we only visited the state twice in all those years when there was no snow. What a treat to cross the state and take in its beauty…thankfully no snow too!

As we followed the Colorado River out of Utah the water became much less muddy in appearance.  

 The contrast in colors of the mountains was so pretty, especially the lush green we saw 

   There is a saying amongst the RV community regarding travel days. Travel no more than 300 miles and or stop by 3:00  in the afternoon. For the most part we have adhered to this advice. Some days when traveling through the winding roads of mountains we didn’t get that far before 3:00, but more often than not we would be stopped by 3:0o or 4:00. In the year we have owned the Mobile Condo we have only put the lights on twice! We have no desire to travel at night. Too many chances of hitting deer etc. plus, my Handsome Chauffer needs to rest after 6 hours at the helm. With this in mind we left Moab later than we normally do with the intention to stay in Glenwood Springs, CO.
The drive was an easy one given that we were on interstate. When we got to Glenwood Springs and my Handsome Chauffeur was feeling good so we set our sights on spending the night in Silverthorn or Dillion. This is where we called home plenty of times on our ski adventures as it is centrally located to many ski resorts. We knew that Dillon Lake had camping on it and if all else failed there was a Walmart parking lot for us to call home for the night. 

We pulled the circus train into the  camp ground on the lake that happens to be run by the U.S. Forest Service which should have been our first clue! According to my trusted camping app on my phone the information stated the park was BIG Rig friendly and had water and electricity. It was not falsely advertised, but there were only a handful of such sites and they we ALL occupied. We cruised the park which was NOT an easy task for the Circus Train to maneuver. We were in search of a pull through spot as we were only going to sleep. Unhooking the truck for just an overnight is something we avoid at all costs. We were directed to a few by the camp host but we were unable to fit! He called the other park across the lake and was told they had PLENTY of pull thru sites, but they were primitive spots (no hook ups) which we were fine with as we have a generator on board for electricity & we always have water on board so off we go towards the other side of the lake.

On our way over I placed a call to Walmart to inquire about the possibility of making this our overnight home. We were told that we were welcome to stay there. YIPPIE! One thing that we did not know or recall from our previous visits this Walmart is the SMALLEST Walmart EVER. The parking lot was small and FULL of shoppers. There was no way we were going to fit. My Handsome Chauffeur navigated through the bustling 5:00 traffic of the parking lot like threading an elephant through the eye of a needle. He NEVER ceases to amaze me with his ability. I am so blessed!!!

Whew, we made it out of the lot and headed UP a mountain to the other campground. It had been raining off and on through out the day and the road to get into the park was MUDDY and chuck full of many pot holes! 

 We gave the Circus Train’s shocks a work out. After looking around the park my SMART ( and very frustrated) Handsome Chauffeur determined that we need to find somewhere else as if the rain continued we may very well get STUCK here. So back to the drawing board we head back towards I70 east bound. Note to self… we will most likely NEVER be able to fit the Circus Train in a U.S. National Forestry Camp ground!

Being very familiar with the area and the terrain this rider began to get nervous as I am FULLY aware of the steep grades and curves on the way down into Denver. I called the very few campgrounds that were between Dillon and Denver batting a big fat ZERO. So off we go down our LAST mountain pass!

The scenery was still stunning. I tried to focus on the beauty and NOT the road construction, uneven lanes and orange cones! 

    
   
BONUS it was becoming dusk! YIKES! My Handsome Chauffer did amazing  of course. I kept my eye opened for any of the resident Big Horn Sheep, Elk or Deer who may decide to join us on the busy interstate. Thankfully no wildlife was seen. Finally we could see Denver on the horizon 

 We had reservations in Loveland, CO starting the next day so we made the decision to head north towards the park. God provided us with this amazing sight as we headed north. 

 It was getting dark FAST so we decided that we needed to stop. Thankfully, Cabella’s in Thorton, CO was able to accommodate us for the night. My Handsome Chauffeur was BEAT! 

Up early we pulled in our bedroom slide and made our shortest journey ever. 40 miles and we were home for the holiday weekend and only 5 miles from our extended family! Yay!!! We began the process of setting up housekeeping. Rutro Astro…… Our bedroom slide would not extend out fully or close completely! Frustrated, yet sending up a prayer of thanks that it happened here and NOT in the Cabella’s  lot. You see police  frown on you traveling with your slide extended especially since we would require a Wide Load Pilot vehicle escorting you.๐Ÿ˜†

MacGuyver to the rescue AGAIN! After removing old sticky funky “lubricant” and a Mud Dabber nest we gave it a go again. Little be little the slide fully extended. Whew. We began to believe that although removing the nest and relubricating the slide was helpful we were dealing with an electric issue. MacGuyver calls his “friend” at tech support Frank or Tyler in Coburg, OR to help us troubleshoot the issue. Tyler informs MacGuyver he is pretty sure we are dealing with a fuse issue. An easy fix! Onto O’Reilly to purchase said fuse. Life is GOOD!

We were looking so forward to spending time with our family. It had been TOO long since we were together. We took every chance to visit and enjoy each other’s company. We had the privilege of going to see our nephew’s high school football game.   

 

A visit to Fort Collins, CO to enjoy delicious Rocky Mountain Pizza  

  Smores by the campfire  

   
   We also had a visit from our neighbor Ziggy the traveling piggy   

   
   

 Throughout our journey we have met many great neighbors. Ziggy and his “Mom” Kristen are some of the best and most interesting. Ziggy is 5 years old.  He was born in the Virgin Islands. Kristen always dreamed of owning  minature Pot Bellied Pig. When she met Ziggy it was love at first sight. She was assured that Ziggy would grow  to be around 20 pounds. He grew and grew and GREW! So did her love for him. Ziggy tips the scales at 250 pounds now. He mainly eats a vegan diet. His treats consist on peanuts and Coors beer! He loves belly rubs with a broom  

  He lives in a RV while traveling the continental USA. His “Mom” had to hire a private jet to relocate  him here from the islands to the tune of $15,000.00!! She said that was the money she was going to use for his college tuition๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚! We will miss Ziggy & Kristen, but we can follow his adventures along with his 6+thousand followers on Facebook. He also will be a feature in the Huffington Post in the near future. 

Our home for the weekend was a mere 25 miles away from Rocky Mountain National Park. The ride there was beautiful along the river that is home to loads of Trout. Lots of Anglers were giving it a go  

  We took in the beauty from top of the park  

   
   Our eye always on the search for wild life. We came upon this guy as we exited the park. He was more interested in the horseback riders on the nearby trail than posing for me to get a better picture.     
 The weekend FLEW by. We LOVE Colorado and look forward to our next visit in May to celebrate our Niece’s graduation. For now we will say so long Rocky Mountain High….Colorado……HELLO prairies of Kansas. Each mile brings us closer to this K-State fan and his family. Yippie!  

  

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America the BEAUTIFUL!

Years ago my Handsome Chauffeur and I dreamed of what it was like living outside of the Midwest. You see both of us were raised about 50 miles north of Chicago. We met when my family moved into his neighborhood. Let’s say it was NOT love at first sight. In fact,truth be told, we dislike each other IMMENSELY! Fast forward a year and a half and we decided that MAAAAYBEE… we would drop our gauntlet and start a “friendship”. 

Fast forward 41 YEARS, 3 careers, 2 children, a daughter-in-love and a PERFECT ( if I do say so myself) grandson  

  after living 50+ years in the Midwest it was time for us to explorer the country we live in and that my Hero so proudly served in the USAF until retirement from his first career. 

We had a plan to start by exploring the Northwest. We have encountered some of the most beautiful sights ever! It just seems to keep getting better. Each trip on our journey and place that we have called home be it for a month or 2 days has been worth it! Sure, we have hit some proverbial bumps in our road but onward we press to attain our goal. 

Our plan included seeing some of the National Parks that we had only heard of and or have seen in books or on TV. We wanted to experience them live and in person. We had full knowledge that we would not be able to see ALL of them in one fell swoop so we strategically planned our trip to hit the top few on our list. Again, being efficient is in my Handsome Chauffer’s blood ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

After seeing a few and paying the entrance fees we decided to purchase an America the Beautiful annual pass for a flat fee. It was the best money ever spent.  A God wink regarding our pass is that it is a picture of Pictured Rocks in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan which is a place we have been already and my parents live in the U.P. Pretty cool Eh?! 

 
We have made great use of the pass on this journey. In the past 7 days we have been to 4 parks in the span of 985 miles. This doesn’t even count driving through the parks! Our heads are spinning from all the beauty we have taken in. I have so many pictures to try to preserve our memories, yet when I look at the pictures they pale in comparison to seeing them in person!

Our first stop after leaving the Bay Area was Yosemite. Par for the course we took the scenic route again. Another winding road climbing up a mountain with no guard rails. The Circus Train chugging up the steep incline while I hung on white knuckled eyes clenched praying we would make it without falling over the edge. Again , my calm cool chauffeur at the helm made it look like no big deal! 

  
Once inside the park we took in the majesty. The spectacular granite cliffs glistened with the sunlight. We can see evidence that there were areas that were most likely waterfalls, but because of the time of year we visited and the drought the water was not flowing. I can only imagine what it must be like when the thaw occurs. 

   The roads even sparkled from the granite

What goes up the mountain must go down. Nothing I hate worse than driving up a mountain is going DOWN a mountain on the scenic road! When I see yellow caution signs with the grade percentage listed I about crawl out of my skin! On scenic byways they are usually missing truck ( or Mobile Condo) run away ramps. I have no idea why the ramps give me a sense of security, but they do! So here we go down from 10,000 feet ….HOLD ON NELLY!Once safely down we proceed to cross Nevada.  

 Thank you Lord for flat land! We could see for miles and miles. Only the occasional car passing us. It was a wide open range   
   Every so often we would come across a lone cow who would look up at us in what looked to be astonishment and probably saying to itself “what the heck are you and WHY are you out here?” We thought the same thing after traveling hundreds of miles in the hot lifeless desert! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Finally we came upon civilization and more importantly FUEL! Hello Tonopah, NV so glad to see you! After fueling up and looking at our map we decided that we probably should call it a day, spend the night here and get a fresh start in the morning. 

 We picked up a little guide book about traveling through Nevada deserts at the office of the RV park that said “in July 1986, Life magazine described the highway as the “Lonelist Road in America”! An AAA counselor said “There are no points of interest. We don’t recommend it. We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they’re confident in their survival skills”! A little late for us TEE HEE. Glad we made it!

On this leg of our journey we had not made ANY reservations. We are truly WINGING it. True to form God puts people in our midst that give us recommendations for where we should stay. Our neighbors for the night Scott and Vicki suggested that we stay in the little town of Hatch, NV. It is located between Bryce Canyon and Zion Nat’l Park. 

Up early in the morning heading across Nevada on the 

 We went for ever not seeing a soul, but interesting signage 

     We skirted the back side of Nellis AFB and Area 51. We did indeed see low flying aircraft. Thankfully it was the good guys in the USAF although my Handsome Chauffer was hoping to see ET! We did not see an ET, BUT shortly after we left that highway all of a sudden our camera that shows the back of our circus train quit AND the fasten seat belt alarm started flashing and alarming EVEN THOUGH WE HAD OUR BELTS ON!!! WHOA!!  The camera came on before the seat belt alarm quit! All went back to normal and has NOT happened since! I don’t believe in ETs, but I really have to say that was CrAzY!
Not much to see in Nevada. We were so happy to see  

 When we set out on the journey it was my greatest desire to see Utah. I saw pictures in lots of travel magazines and blogs I just needed to see it for myself! YAY we made it!

We called ahead to the 2 RV campgrounds that were in Hatch to be sure there was a place for us. Thankfully both had openings for our circus. The lady on the other end of the phone asked where we we coming from and gave us 2 routes. One OVER the mountain and the other was interstate, but would require a bit of back tracking. Guess which one the Captain of Efficiency selected?! Yep, over the mountain we headed! Immediately my mouth was void of ALL moisture and was directed to my arm pits and palms! I kid you not, it was not a “little” dampness ….water was pouring off my palms and my shirt was soaked! I have no idea why going over mountains freaks me out so. I love rollercoasters..I even LOVED sky diving 

  my Achilles heel are mountain passes!

Chugging along the Mobile Condo started to give my Handsome Chauffer indications that she was having trouble making the grade up. The Check Engine SOON light came on. I am little to NO help in this situation. I curl up as best as I can in the fetal position while wearing my seat belt. Praying incessantly! Now the water has left my palms and pits and begins to POUR out of my eyeballs! My Hero makes some adjustments to the shifting thingy and all is good! Whew! All is well  that ends well. Home sweet home Hatch, NV! 

 We met our new neighbors Ronna and John. They also came over the mountain. They had stopped along the route to capture the beauty of the valley. We decided to go back in the morning sans the circus train to see what we missed while trying to get our home down the mountain. WOW! The Dixie Forest below us.

 We drove by fields of black jagged rock that resembled farm fields that were turned over, but in fact was Basalt Rock which was formed when the lava cooled from the eruption of volcanos

 Utah is so colorful not only because of the many different types of rock formations, but there are beautiful wild flowers and ever greens sprouting up between the cracks. So beautiful 

   Next stop Bryce Canyon.  SPECTACULAR! 
     
   Bryce Canyon is filled with Hoodoos. The beautiful spires are formed by a combination of weathering and erosion. They are a sight to behold!

Off to Zion National Park.  We were greeted by Checker Board mountain

  Massive mountains that appears to be painted   
  Tunnels through the mountain  
   
Flash flooding is a problem here. All the water running off all the mountains can make a lovely day into a mightmare. With our eye on the sky which was beginning to look ominous, we finished up our tour and headed back to our Mobile Condo. Not before we stopped to enjoy an authentic German meal and reminiscing about our journey 13 years ago criss crossing Germany. Yummy!

    
 Packed up early heading east to Moab,UT and Arches National Park. Another God wink… Our new friends Ronna and John are heading that way too! Bonus …unbeknownst to us we had reservations at the same RV park! YAY.. we didn’t have to say goodbye, just see you SOON!

What a welcome sight this sign was to me! 

 Last time we saw I70 was in May. We are still 900 miles from “home” but this sign gave me a thrill that we were heading the right way EAST!  Bonus…. We were traveling on Interstate with ….  

 this rider was much more comfortable with this leg of the trip! Let me just say I 70 through Utah IS scenic! One does not have to take winding 2 lane roads.The ride was beautiful over to Moab. 

 Arches National Park is another treasure! Next time we come through I would like to spend more time exploring. This time of year is sweltering HOT! The fall would be perfect. We made the best of our time there. I was clicking away taking so many pictures trying my best to capture the majesty. I came close, but there again it’s a sight to behold live and in person! 

  

    
    
   The place is magical!
Our last day in Moab we headed up the mountain pass where it was much cooler the meandering down along the Colorado River. Breathtaking views of Moab 

    
    
   It is with mixed feelings I have about leaving the GORGEOUS state of Utah. We only scratched the surface of all it has to offer. As good old Armold Schwartzenger once said “I’ll be BACK”!

  
There is so much more of America the Beautiful to see. For now I am looking forward to crossing one more mountain pass and the prairie that is so familiar to us. In no time we will be taking in more beautiful sights ….the smiles of our family members and friends. I am officially clicking my Ruby Red Slippers. There is no place like home.