Denver Colorado Sideshow

Pulled into the Henderson Cummins dealer around noon on Sunday for its free hookups to wait till 7 am the next morning to see if we could get a diagnostic on the check engine light we had a few times while traveling around the Rocky Mountains.  When I went back into the monitor to download the info to an email, I noticed the error codes stopped on July 10th, 8 days prior to now.   We will see what transpires with the service person this morning.  The service guy convinced me the problems were just from the altitude, so we headed out to St. Vain State Park that Monday afternoon after making a reservation for one night.   We left the next morning to head for Estes Park, and the CEL light came on while still on the flat ground (although 5,000+ elevation)  We drove to Estes Park with it coming on and off fairly often.  [Very nerve wracking drive in the mountains!]

After a week touring RMNP and Estes Park, CO, we headed back to Cummins.  Only one CEL light happened and that was during the initial engine start. We arrived that Tuesday afternoon (July 26th)  and they were going to take it in 7 am the next morning.

On Wednesday they ran diagnostics all day, checking the fuel system all the way to having the injectors fill a beaker to make sure the flow was correct.  It was double the minimum, so that wasn’t the problem.

Late that afternoon two techs did a road test with their computer hooked up and surprisingly were able to reproduce the issues.  (That never happens!)  That evening they sent all the data to Cummins Engineering and the next morning (Thursday)  were told to install a test ECM.  They did that and after lunch asked me to take it on a long test drive.  (so I didn’t need to pay them $200 an hour for that)  We drove it about 3 hours and not one CEL appeared.

One of the nights while there, I went out to pick up Mexican takeout and saw this Skoolie on the way there that had a mini split mounted up high in the rear.  I had not seen that before but seemed like an ok spot to mount the condenser.

 

The next morning (Friday) they replaced the test ECM with a “new” one, and I then made reservations near Grand Lake, the supposed headwaters of the Colorado River.   Since it was already Friday afternoon, I realized that getting a reservation was going to be a problem for that night and the rest of the weekend, so I started with the highest priced place, figuring that would be the last place to fill up, and of course they had an opening.

We headed out after 2 pm on Friday and took 1-70 west into the Rocky Mountains.  (July 29th)   It was about a 2-3 hour drive, and about half way there the CEL came on and the engine would barely run if the RPM’s were between 1100-1400.  This was a new problem and not a good one to have driving in the mountains.  It had just started raining, and when I turned on the wipers, my driver’s side wiper just disappeared, dropping down where I could not see it.  My thoughts were it fell off.   I asked Kathy to stand up and see if she could still see the wiper.  She could, it was just below the windshield propped on the right-side wiper; so at least I didn’t need to find a new wiper assembly!

It started raining harder, so I had to find a place to pull off and see if I could fix that new problem.  I saw a spot and pulled over on the freeway, never fun.  I took the wiper off and it seemed to be ok.  I put it back on in the right spot and tightened it up good.  Turns out the painters had put it back on but did not tighten it all the way; so me putting it back and giving it a good turn worked and should continue to work.

Not long after we got back on the road, the sun came back out and it was dry the rest of the way to Granby, CO.

Unbeknownst to me, Granby was on the other side of a very high pass, and that pass turned out to be a couple thousand feet higher than we had ever driven the Bus since we got it close to 6 years ago.  There were a lot of switchbacks on the way up to the 11,307 foot pass and again on the way back down.   Having the engine cut out in the 1100-1400 RPM range made that climb very interesting!  (And not in a good way.)

We made it to the RV resort in Granby and settled in for the weekend.  I sent some emails to Cummins informing them of what transpired (not the wiper issue)  and asked for an appointment on Tuesday morning.

We arrived Monday afternoon (August 2nd) and before I set up the coach for staying the night, I went inside to make sure we had an appointment for the morning.  The gal said the techs were waiting for me and wanted to look at it as soon as I got there.

They pulled it in and put it back on the computer.   Afterward they brought it back out so we could stay in it till the morning.

They took it back in around 7 am and pulled out the muffler so they could see and work from underneath more easily this time.   A couple hours into the process, one of the techs came out (Maximus) and said they found a loose ground wire attached to the engine block and were going to test it on the dyno to see if that had fixed it.

It had fixed it!!  Then we left for a few nights in Cheyenne, WY,  (August 3rd) about $4,000 poorer from the whole experience.   Quite a bit of money for a  loose ground wire, in my opinion.

We ended up staying in Cheyenne for some extra days, and we both tested positive for Covid the day after getting there.  I was feeling pretty bad, so we went to an urgent care where the test came back positive.  They did one for Kathy even though she was not sick and she tested positive too.  I then had to get my PCP to prescribe Paxlovid as the urgent care wouldn’t do that.  They wanted you to be able to follow up with your regular doctor.

A couple days later Kathy started feeling sick and she got a 5-day course of Paxlovid too.     It’s a weird drug, actually two different drugs, 6 pills a day, and it gave me the worst metallic taste in my mouth for the 5 days I had to take them.

I avoided Covid for so long, I was thinking I must be immune… stupid me..

 

 

 

Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

We headed up the mountain after staying a single night at St. Vrain State Park which was outside of Longmont, Colorado.  If you do stay at St. Vrain, pick a spot as far west as they have available.  The eastern edge fronts the I-25.  From our western-most site, we couldn’t hear the freeway.

It’s a bit of a twisty road heading up toward Estes Park, but a fairly short drive from Longmont.  We camped at Elk Meadow Lodge & RV Resort.  It’s not even close to being a resort.   No paved roads, not even gravel, just dirt; and when the wind blows — and it really can blow — it creates a dust bowl effect.  The sites are terraced into a small hillside, but for some reason, they didn’t make them level when they easily could have.   Some of the sites had a small area cut out of the hillside so the picnic table could be level.  Our site didn’t have that feature, the table listed at probably 10 degrees from level.   That said, it was a great base camp for seeing the RMNP and Estes Park.

 

That first evening we walked to a restaurant right out the driveway a friend had recommended and tried the Devils on Horseback.  They were delicious, quite a unique taste!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first morning there we headed to the Rocky Mountain National Park gate to get in the park prior to 9 am when you must have a reservation to go to the western area of the park.  (Bear Lake area needs you to be inside prior to 5 am)   We drove out to the Alpine Visitor Center, which was about 25 miles of steep, twisty mountain road.  The views along the way were pretty spectacular and there are many overlooks along the way.  It was a beautiful morning to head out there.

For some reason the Bear Lake area of the park requires reservations from 5 am till 6 pm, and the rest of the park needs them from 9 am to 3 pm.  This National Park reservation thing is very new, starting last year.  I had not heard of it prior to a few weeks before.

I looked at making a reservation for Bear Lake, but there was nothing available the whole time we were going to be in the area.  (Bummer!)  I really didn’t want to get up at 4 am to drive there in the dark before a reservation was needed.   Lucky for us, Kathy read something about the reservations.gov site selling tickets every evening at 5 pm for the next day.  Seems they hold some reservations back.   So that evening I was ready with a CC and on the site just prior to 5 pm.  I was able to purchase a reservation for 10 am the next morning!  $2 is what they cost at the moment (2022).

The next morning we left a bit before 10 and got into the park fairly quickly.   We sure love the fact that we purchased a senior park pass back in 2017 for $10 at Montezuma’s Castle.  That thing has saved us many hundreds of dollars in park entrance fees and even more in camping fees at certain types of government facilities.  Two times into the park from the Estes Park side would have been another $60 ($30 each day), but the pass waived those fees.    It’s pretty amazing what that $10 investment 5 years ago has saved us.  And what a nice benefit for seniors!

We got to the turn for Bear Lake and there was another line to get thru a checkpoint where they again validated your reservation time and whether it was for the Bear Lake road.    It’s only about 10 miles of more twisty road to get to the lake.   It’s also very crowded as it seems everyone wants to go there.  The park service wants you to park about 1/2 the way there and take a shuttle bus.  We decided to ignore those signs and drive all the way up there.  That parking lot was fairly small, but the parking gods were with us and we lucked out and found the one parking spot that was open when we drove in.  It was even at the front!

The lake is a very short hike from the parking lot, a few hundred feet.  We had to take turns going there as Dusty wasn’t allowed on the trails.  It’s a pretty lake and an easy hike.  Kathy made it all the way around it.  At 9,500 feet elevation that’s still saying something!  I guess this place is so popular as it’s such an easy hike?   It was nice, but based on the popularity/reservation restrictions, I was assuming there would be something spectacular there.  I personally thought the way out to the Alpine Visitor Center was much closer to “spectacular”.

[A lot of the hikes started from that area to other lakes, waterfalls, and just beautiful hiking trails.]

The rest of the week we spent as tourists in Estes Park proper.   Went out to see the Stanley Hotel, which was the model Stephen King used for The Shining, but didn’t actually film here.)

There is a small riverwalk downtown that was very nice.  Going into the town on the weekend is a zoo.  Bumper-to-bumper traffic all day.  And it’s not easy to bypass that area, even to get to a grocery store from Elk Meadows.   There were some signs downtown saying they want to kill the proposed bypass the town wants to build, but it’s really needed.  If you were a local resident, you would really need to plan your day to avoid going anywhere because of that super-congested area.

 

 

 

 

 

We never did see any elk at Elk Meadows.   But we did see the cutest little Black Mini Schnauzer a lot as the couple next door walked their 6 month old often.

 

 

 

 

 

RMNP Pictures:

 

 

July 19th thru the 26th.

Colorado Springs.

We couldn’t any campgrounds with vacancy so we left early from our Royal Gorge campground to see if we could get a FCFS campsite at the Colorado Springs Elks lodge.   We lucked out, there were two spaces unoccupied.   We had a base camp for the area now!   We had tickets for the next morning on the Cog Railway to the Pikes Peak summit.   Then we wanted to check out the Garden of the Gods and the Air Force Academy Chapel.

I was also trying to get someone to replace the Intake and Exhaust Camshaft Solenoids on the car.  I purchased an ODB2 Code Reader and figured out the issue was with the those two solenoids.  For a while now, everywhere I called was too busy for many weeks before they could work on it.  I really didn’t want to do the work myself, but I was thinking I might have to.  I drove over to the local Chevy dealer in the north end of CS and they were able to do the work in about an hour.

One afternoon driving around the city on the freeway I saw an object that made me think we would find Richard Dean Anderson, AKA Jack O’Neill.  We had to drive over and get a closer look.  From the distance it really looked like the SG, but not once we got there.

July 13th thru the 17th.

Manitou Springs morning walk

As I had mentioned in a prior post, we wanted to come back to walk around Manitou Springs some morning.   Today was the day.   Lots of touristy shops and restaurants and nice parks, and surprisingly lots of springs plumbed right into buildings or rocks on the side of the road.  Some a bit ornate, others just look like they grew there.  There were a few signs that explained the mineral content of each spring.

We walked uphill on the shady sidewalk till Kathy said she could go no more..  Then we went back down the other side of the narrow roadway, with cars and buses heading up the hill to the cog railway station, till we were done shopping and found a place to get lunch on the patio.

July 16th 2022

Garden of the Gods and the Academy Chapel

This was another place I found when we got to Colorado Springs and figured we would make a trip over to check it out.   It was a pretty amazing place.  You’d think it was a national park, but it’s actually a city park.   There are some pretty amazing rock formations of vibrant colors with smooth sidewalks paved to wander around all of them.   And another amazing thing is there wasn’t a charge to visit.  Most of the national parks are around $30 a day now.  I kept driving thinking I would find the pay station, but there wasn’t one.  Nice!

I call them rocks, but they were really 1,000-foot-tall mountains that just looked like one big rock.  It’s something you must see if visiting Colorado Springs and only have an hour or two.

I looked up the Air Force Academy Chapel to find out its hours, and it’s closed till 2027 for repairs.  What a bummer.   2027 is a long way away, there must be something terribly wrong with it.   July 16th 2022

Pikes Peak Cog Railway Trip

We purchased reserved seats for the Cog Railway out of Manitou Springs to the top of Pikes Peak for a 9:20 am departure.  We arrived early as everything we read said parking was scarce.  And it really was; but as we got there around 8:20, an hour before, we had no issues.  There was so little parking up there, I bet the 10 am train folks would be either walking a mile or two or would have to take a shuttle from parking down in the town.

Boarding time arrived fairly quickly and we found our seats.  We were in one of the older trains and the seats were two abreast and faced the two seat in front of you.  My knees were touching the seat in front of me.  Yikes!  Lucky for me a small child sat there. Some tall guys were across the aisle from us and their legs were straddling each other.   And then, we both lucked out even further as a woman gave up her seat a row in front of us to sit with friends elsewhere in the coach, and the folks in the seats facing us could move ahead to be with the rest of their family.  Wow!!   If I ever had to go again, I would buy all 4 seats for two of us.   The newer trains may have more room.  Looked like it from a distance.

The engine was fairly loud and roared all the way up to the top; and coming down, seemed a bit louder.   It’s a single-lane track with occasional sidings to allow trains to pass each other.  My thought is it’s normal to pass two trains on each way as they leave about 40 minutes apart.   It’s an extremely steep grade, so it makes sense they use a cog (gear) to keep moving at a safe speed.  It’s probably even more important when going back down.

The ride is about 1 1/2 hours each way with about 40 minutes at the top.  It’s windy and cold up there.  It was close to 90 in Colorado Springs and probably 40 at the top.   It’s over 14,000 feet, and you will notice how thin the air is just moving around, and the stairs will have you huffing and puffing in a few steps!  I guess one of the features of being up there is you get to see kids throwing up.  We got to see a couple.  Not sure if the parents had them eating at the snack bar or it was just the lack of oxygen or possibly a combination of both.  That part is not mentioned in the brochure.

I had purchased two cans of oxygen at a local store prior to going there just in case.  They are both still unopened.  I had read about them always being out of them at the top.  I didn’t see anyone else using them.  Ours never came out of the backpack.  They are in thin aluminum canisters that seem to be empty as they are so light.

Anyway, beautiful views in all directions while we were there.  We had picked a perfect day, hardly any clouds in the sky.   I had forgotten you can also drive to the top.  I was talking to a guy that had driven his Tesla up with his family.   I bet that regenerative braking was very helpful on the way back down!  I heard there was a brake check on the way down where someone comes out and lets you know if you can go further or not based on your brakes.  (temperature?) Not sure what happens if they determine your brakes are a problem.

The trip up and back down were uneventful, until the boy in the seat ahead of us started throwing up out the window.  Felt bad for him.  When we drove back down through Manitou Springs, we noticed it had a pretty nice old downtown and we would come back and visit if we had time later in the week.

July 14th 2022

Royal Gorge, Canon City, Cripple Creek and Victor Colorado

We left the convergence and drove about 30 miles east to a nice small campground just up the road from the Royal Gorge.  I didn’t know much about it but decided we would visit and know a lot more.

After setting up in our campsite, we drove over to the gorge that afternoon.  It was very hot that day, so we just drove around to see what was there.  It struck me as odd, the bridge over the gorge was this huge suspension bridge and it seemed to go nowhere.   We decided to come back the next morning when it would be a lot cooler.

The next morning we drove back over there and paid to go into the “park”.  Turns out this whole thing is really an amusement park.  The bridge was built over the gorge strictly as a tourist attraction.  On the other side of the bridge, which you can only walk across now, is the amusement park.

We decided to take the gondolas across then walk back over the bridge; but after being in line for it for about 15 minutes, they shut it down due to high winds.  And it was very windy!

There were also two ziplines that originated on the other (uphill) side of the gorge and people were zipping over.  They came in very fast, and there were rubber blocks on the line that slowed them down very quickly.  I was thinking whiplash might be a real possibility.  Those ziplines are over a thousand feet in the air.   Hard to imagine that.

After the gondolas were shut down, we walked down to the beginning of the bridge, then out on it about halfway across.   We were glad we didn’t bring Dusty as it was so windy out there we probably would have needed to carry him or he could blow away!  I could feel the bridge moving and that’s not a comforting feeling.  We snapped a few pics and proceeded back across while watching my footsteps as there were a lot of older boards that didn’t look so sturdy to me anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve crossed a lot of bridges in my life, but I do not remember one that was anywhere near as high off the ground as this one.  It was about 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River below.  Interestingly, I saw a RxR track running alongside the river way down there.

When we left there, we headed toward Canon City, just a few miles east of the gorge.  I had read something about Skyline Drive, so I decided to use that route to get into town.  That was quite a drive, not for the faint of heart.  Narrow one lane (lucky for us, one way also)  that traverses the top of a mountain ridge all the way to town.   There were a few parts that my acrophobia kicked in and it was all I could do to stay in the middle of that road and look at nothing else.  The dash-cam video shows just how small and high it is.   It comes out at the bottom of the hill after a few switchbacks right into a residential neighborhood.

First Half of Skyline Drive

 

Not  far from the base of the end of Skyline Drive was the Colorado Prison Museum.  We drove by and they didn’t allow dogs inside and it was way too hot to leave him in the car.

I did get to see the gas chamber they used there.  Interesting gadget.  The walls were very thick steel, something I would have expected on a diving bell to see the bottom of the Marianas Trench, not something for using at sea level.

The following day we headed up to Cripple Creek, an old mining town in the mountains.  What a beautiful drive with everything green as far as you could see, miles and miles of trees and meadows with some cattle grazing along the way.

We got into town and we decided to drive thru it to see Victor first and then come back to CC.  On the way to Victor, we saw a very tall pile of dirt, I mean really, really tall and wide. It turns out it’s an active gold mine, a big open pit, but there appeared to be no way to see into it.  We drove for a few more miles, the whole time the wall of dirt was just to the left of us.

We arrived in Victor and it’s a really nice little mountain town, lots of old buildings.  We stopped at a small parking area across from the fire station and city hall.  Nice mural right there.   I saw a fireman outside washing his rig, so I went over to talk to him, figuring he knew a lot about this town.  I knew nothing.

He turned out to be a wealth of information, and the best part was he knew a way to see into the big strip mine just up the road.   We wandered around the town for a little bit, then headed out, remembering the directions to the overlook.  They were a bit vague, but we found it anyway.

And it was spectacular!  Even the platform was over the top, made out of the bed of one of the old ore hauling truck beds with a platform and stairs welded into it.  Quite an impressive structure.  And the view from it into the mine was great.   It’s an active mine and we saw trucks moving ore to and fro.

Turns out they produce more than half a billion dollars of gold per year.  Not chump change!   I didn’t know we had much gold mining in the US.

The pit is Huge, yes, with a capital H, huge.

After spending time to take it all in, we headed back to Cripple Creek and along the way stopped at an old shaft gold mine that is now a tourist attraction.  There is a mine elevator that takes you down 1,000 feet and then you can explore the tunnels.  No dogs allowed and it was still very hot, so I just took a picture of the double-decker elevator that had just a single cable hauling it up and down.  Looked like a single point of failure to my eyes.

We drove the few miles into Cripple Creek, and the first thing you notice in the small town are the 500-foot-high cranes you see when they build skyscrapers, and they appear to be building some right in downtown.  I wasn’t really impressed by the town.  It appeared to only be a casino town.  Lots and lots of casinos.  Nothing much else there.

We wanted to get lunch, and there was nowhere that allowed pets and almost all were actually part of a casino.   We couldn’t even find a takeout place.  Sad.  We did find a nice pavilion on a slight hill with picnic tables in the shade to eat some snacks we brought for the drive.   It was odd, there wasn’t even a Subway to get  a sandwich in the town.  And they seem to be everywhere you look.

We noticed big, dark clouds in the west (the direction we had to go back) and I called the local police station asking about this other road I could see on the map that went almost directly south toward our campground, 50 miles away or so.    The dispatcher said it’s not a road for the faint hearted nor is it ever maintained as it goes along the river on a ledge for miles.  So no go.

We drove toward the storm.   But missed it, only skirting the edges and got a few sprinkles.   But when we got back to the coach, the wind was blowing hard and it started raining buckets of water.  I was glad I wasn’t driving a mountain road in that.

The next morning I drove down to the prison museum by myself and took the tour.  Pretty underwhelming.  Old and musty place.  It was worth the $3 to get in, but just barely.

The next morning we were off to Colorado Springs.

 

July 10th thru the 13th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salida Colorado

We arrived at Poncha Springs Fairgrounds to attend an Xscapers convergence for July 4th, 2022.  We would be spending 8 nights dry camping and with only 30 amp power.  We were hoping it wouldn’t get too hot as that amount of power will only sustain 1 air conditioner running at a time.

We are starting to get used to Colorado weather: Thunderstorms each afternoon with high winds and often hail.  So far only pea gravel sized hail, so just a bit noisy and no damage.   The good part is those storms really cool off the afternoons nicely.   We got to meet a lot of folks we had not met before and a few we had.

A day into the event I met Chip who was parked a few rigs down from us.  He came by to ask if we were experiencing low voltage.  I said I didn’t know and proceeded to look for my multimeter.  At that moment we were getting 115v, which is fine.  But later in the afternoon I checked it again and we were at 104v, not good at all.  That’s when I realized I had nothing but the multimeter to measure voltage.  My smart plugs only measured watts used, but not the more important voltage.  After researching there was really nothing available that would measure voltage and log it somewhere.  So I did the next best thing.  I ordered one of these real-time meters from Amazon.  Hughes Autoformers Dual Color DVM, LED Digital Voltmeter .

About a week later, it had worked so well I purchased another one to go onto the other side of the incoming hot wires.  It doesn’t log anything, but at a glance you can read the voltage.   If the voltage is 108v or higher, the back ground is green; if below that it’s red, easily seen and unmistakable.   I saw that red color a lot while camped at the convergence.

The next morning I decided to test out my special Y cable that is supposed to combine the 30 amp outlet with a 15/20 amp outlet to give you about 45 amps.  It did not work, specifically it doesn’t work if the 20 amp outlet has a GFI, which these all did.

I also noticed my existing Surge Guard didn’t even allow the 30 amp to work as the other leg was dead.  (L1 & L2 make a 50 amp connection)

It was then I noticed the other pedestal at the front of the bus and looked in there.  Low and behold, there was a 50 amp plug.  I got out my 50 amp extension and tried to plug it in, but someone mounted the outlet upside down.   The way the plugs work, there was a bar in the box that prevented it from connecting.

I walked over to the fairgrounds office and found the manager, explained my issue, and she tried to call the site supervisor.   He didn’t answer and she told me she would keep trying.  I left, and probably 1/2 hour later I saw him at the event building across the way.   (at least I saw his truck)   I found him and explained the issue.  He mentioned he knew about that but needed a certified electrician to do the work.  I asked if I could do it, it was a simple thing to rotate the outlet, and the breakers were right there next to it to shut off to make it safe.   That’s when he said he would do it, and we walked over and in 5 minutes it was fixed.  I was then able to plug into the 50 amp outlet.  That didn’t really solve the voltage issue, but having two legs of power kept the voltage above 108v the rest of the time, not great, but way better than before.  And now on the hotter afternoons we could run both AC’s if needed.

We decided to hang back at the fairground to watch the fireworks with a bunch of others in their camp chairs.   It was about 4 miles from downtown Salida, so the fireworks were spectacular but the sounds were way off due to the distance and the difference in the speed of light vs sound waves.  But we got to see fireworks.  Really hadn’t seen any since the Pandemic started.  We almost could see them while in Memphis last summer, but they were too far away to feel like you really got to watch them.

The next evening was the Lot Crawl, but just prior a big storm moved in and it rained for a couple hours.  Usually the afternoon storms were done by 5, but not today.   Kathy and I had made our Fireball Jello shots for the crawl and they went over well.  There was only one left at the end of the evening and it was really, really good! (I got it)

They had moved the Lot Crawl into the event building due to the weather.  We were hoping it wouldn’t be a super spreader event.  No one got sick from what we heard.  Some folks were saying a lot of folks caught it at the Escapade which occurred a few weeks before this event not very far from here, over in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

I think it was the next night after the Lot Crawl we had a band (The Status Crowes) play for us.   We had heard them at the Bash a couple years back and they were pretty good.

One morning on the way back from town, I stopped in a gun store.  It had to be the biggest one I had ever seen.  They had so many rifles and handguns it reminded me of an armament museum I checked out in Cody, Wy, a few years ago.  Something that I had never seen prior, and didn’t think were actually legal in the US, were silencers or suppressors for rifles and handguns.  Some of the handguns I looked at had threads for the silencers.   Wow.

The next weekend we stumbled upon their yearly Brewers Rendezvous down at the Riverside Park in Salida.  It looked like a big deal, there were at least 60 brewers there.

There were a lot of Starlink users at this event.  I got to see many different mounting options for the dishy.     When we get home this year, I will probably turn off three of my 100GB Data SIMs and replace them with a Starlink setup.   Starlink’s monthly is about $70 less per month than those 3 SIMs, and Starlink now allows you to turn off your service when you don’t need it. (for us that’s about 6 months of the year when we aren’t traveling in the motorhome)   The SIMs cannot be turned off when we aren’t traveling.   We will see what’s available from SpaceX this winter.

July 2nd thru 10th.

South Fork, Colorado

I was hoping to find a place near Pagosa Springs, but there was nothing available that we could fit into; so I kept looking further and further and found a place with a spot for us in South Fork.

The drive there was interesting. Once we got to the grade for Wolf Creek Pass, it got steeper than any of the grades we had done since starting this adventure in 2017.   I was literally in second gear going up that hill.  That had never happened before.  I was talking to a buddy that grew up in Colorado, and he asked me if I had ever heard the song about Wolf Creek Pass.  I hadn’t and then found it on Spotify and listened in.  It was by that trucker guy,  CW McCall, from way back.   It was a long, steep climb to the top.  Seemed to take forever.

There was an interesting structure along the highway.  We only got a picture of it from inside it, but I found a Gmaps Street View.  It was a cover of concrete angled at about 25 degrees to allow the rock slides to go over the road instead of on to it.  Never seen one of these before.  Seems like a great idea and could be used in many other places.

We made it to South Fork and of course Larry wasn’t anywhere to be found.  It was a very small town, with a grocery store and hardware store above the grocery!  Not sure I had seen that before.

The campground was called Grand View Cabins and RV Resort.  (Way too many places use the “Resort” moniker in their name, and they do not in any way resemble a resort)   It was a nice place to get hailed on though.  That seems to be a Colorado staple… hail.  And thunderstorms every afternoon.

While checking out the place, 98% of all license plates in the park were from Texas.   I asked my neighbor if there was a direct freeway from Texas to here.  He laughed and said no, but it sure looks like there must be one.

The weather there was nice and cool being at a high elevation.  Most of the folks here were staying all summer.   Since Haviland Lake was electric only, we used this place to refill the water tank.   Our next stop was just outside of Salida where we would dump and refill again so we could dry camp for 8 nights with the Xscapers group rally.

June 29th thru July 1st

Haviland Lake, San Juan National Forest

The drive from Silverton to here was beautiful, no worries during the ride on the MDH to here at all.

When we arrived at the campground, it was very interesting.   There was a small earthen dam we had to drive over, one very narrow lane with an angled curve halfway across.  As I got to that, I wished I had unhooked the car, but it was too late to do that at the time.

The lake was beautiful with all the trees and a few folks fishing from the banks.  We drove a ways into the park and found the camp host who told us how to get to our site.   We arrived unscathed, dodging the tree branches as best I could, and our site was very nice and turned out to be a double-wide site, even two electrical pedestals.  This was dry camping, no water or sewer here.  And lots of room to park the car!

This had to be the most peaceful park we’ve been in.  Cool breezes and just a bit of background tree rustling noise from that.  Otherwise extremely quiet.

I was talking to a friend while there and he mentioned a great Mexican place down in Durango, about a 20-minute drive from where we were, so I added that to our to-do list for one of the days coming up.

The next morning our coffee pot died on us, so I got the brand new one, still in the box, out from under the bed storage and set it up.  Low and behold a part was missing.  And of course it was the part required to use the K Cups we use while traveling.   I had bought it at Walmart while in SLC as that coffee maker was exhibiting some unreliability when we were there.  Having a backup seemed like a good idea.  I bought a cheap Farberware model for about $40.

Now that I found it was missing a critical part, I started searching for the receipt to bring it back to a store in Durango.   It was not to be found anywhere.  Apparently it had been put in the trash.   So I called the support number on the instruction booklet and Walmart answered the phone.  A sinking feeling was observed right then.  But I told the person on the phone what the problem was and about the missing receipt.  She said she could help!  That was a bit shocking.  She said she needed the date of the purchase, the store zip code, and the last 4 digits of the card I used.

I looked up the zip code on Google, logged into my CC Card website and retrieved the date, and then gave her the digits, date and zip code.  She then said she found it  (Really, they keep all that?)  and asked for my email address so she could send me the receipt.  Wow, it worked!  I returned the one with the missing part and bought another one, and checked it first to make sure all the parts were in it this time.

The best part of all this is this is the best K Cup coffee maker we have used!  And it was less than half the price of the broken Keurig maker.  It immediately starts brewing and is done before any other of the prior coffee makers even started pouring into the cup.  A lot earlier!  It also has a water tank, so there was less work to do for each cup.   And as a bonus, it holds taller cups than any prior models we have owned in the last 5 years.   (Travel Mugs!)  We don’t use the  K cups when home, but I will never buy another Keurig again after using this Farberware model.

Here is a link to the old model:  Keurig K Cup.

Here is a link to our new one so you can see it.  Farberware K Cup Brewer.

I called the Mexican place to see if we could bring Dusty and they said sure.  We drove down and saw a small outdoor covered patio.  I went inside to let them know we were here and that we had our pup with us.  There was no issue.  It wasn’t till after we ordered lunch that I noticed that there was a sign on a tree just outside the patio saying No Dogs on Patio. ??   After a while longer two more small groups of diners came in there with their dogs.  The food was excellent!  It’s difficult to get decent Mexican food outside of SoCal, but this was an exception.

On the way back we decided to stop at a hot water vent right on the side of the road I had seen on the way down.   It was very interesting, not something you see on the side of the road often, and in my case, never before.   Pretty cool.  (or actually warm)

The next day we were off to traverse Wolf Creek Pass and onward to South Fork, Colorado.  (No, not the one where JR lived.)

Just outside this campground was another group campground.

June 27th thru 29th