Monday, August 07, 2017

Married 51 years yesterday

Years gone by.
August 6, 1966. Gales Ferry, CT

Hiking to a glacier. Alaska. 1999

FL Keys 2001

Rocky Mountain NP. 2002

June, 2017. Red Feather Lakes, CO.
We're no longer 23.
But we're still going.

It's been a great 51 years.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Internet, Walden, Mad Max Wannabes, State Forest SP


Longmont recently installed a 100% fiber optic internet system citywide, called NextLight. Where  their equipment enters our house, the speed is 1 gigabyte/second (1,000 megabits/second). PC Magazine rated Longmont as having the fastest internet service of any city in the country.
How fast is 1 Gig? A two hour HD movie can be downloaded in about 32 SECONDS.
I connected a wireless router to their modem. Using the Ookla speed test app. , I'm getting upload and download speeds on my iPad of from 83 to 96 Mbps. Before NextLight we had 12 Mbps service from Century Link and thought that was fast. Actually, for our modest needs 12 Mbps works just fine. NextLight is $60/month vs $75 from Century Link. A win all around for us.


Last Saturday we drove along the Poudre River Road, (CO-14), with the intent of spending a few nights camping there. There are perhaps 10 FS campgrounds along the road as well as three State Parks. Except for a few tent sites, there we're no places to camp. None. So we continued on to Walden where we knew of a great boondocking site on the shore of Walden Reservoir. We've stayed there a number of times and its always just been us. As  a town, Walden is pretty basic. Yelp says the best place to eat is at the bowling alley. We will save our money for other dining options.

40.732790  -106.299849

Hundreds of White Pelicans
Mad Max

North of Walden near the town of Cowdry, is the BLM North Sand Hills Recreation Management Area. It's a 1,450 acre area of sand dunes. The only place in CO where riding on the dunes is allowed.
Like a small version of the California Imperial sand dunes area.

North Sand Hills

Some stories I read about the area call it the special weekend place for Mad Max Wannabes. 😂
On weekends there was always a police presence.  We were there on Sunday afternoon and everything seemed rather tame. Of course, people were probably sober by then.

There is a free 13 space campground, all pull-through sites,  as well as unlimited disbursed camping. Pit toilets but no trash collection or water.

40.87413 -106.22283

 We enjoyed a few hours of driving around and mostly just watching. It's a real family orientated camping area. When we first pulled in, there were three little kids on their little ATV's followed by dad driving his tricked out Jeep. There were, of course, a number of guys with serious sand-rails. An enjoyable day.

State Forest SP

Anticipating summer crowds, we had made reservations for a few days in the North Michigan campground. We had never been there before and are always interested in camping locations within a three hour drive from home. For future reference, the best sites are 208, 207, 206, 209, 246, 247, 248.
Our site, 207, was directly on the lake.

State Forest State Park

From our campsite

There are hiking trails, mountain biking and ATV/Jeep trails throughout the park.
Tried fishing again. No luck although the women nearby caught her limit within a few hours. I need too get some salmon eggs for our next trip. Maybe that's  the answer. Of course, I could have dozens of different baits and that would be the day the fish were biting on squirrel tails; the only thing I did not have.

We're back home planning our late August camping trip to the Buena Vista, Gunnison , Crested Butte area. Probably our favorite not-too-far-away place.

Friday, July 07, 2017

O'Haver Lake then Crested Butte

We left BV Saturday, early evening. Dumped the tanks and took on water at the Poncha Springs Welcome Center then spent the night in the ATV unloading area not far from the campground.
As expected, the campground is full. Mostly younger families enjoying the long holiday weekend.

We drove to the top of Marshall Pass. The last time we were here in May, there was still snow on the road.

Wonder if these are the same mountain goats we saw the last time we were here? They paw a  hole then lick the salt they uncover. Or so I'm told.

Tried some more fishing today. No luck once again.

For future reference, the best camp sites for us are, in this order, 32,10,7,22. Maybe 12. The others require stairs to get to the picnic table and fireplace area.
Once again, not even a nibble.

Had lunch at the Hunger Trailer in Poncha Springs. Been there before; a great choice.

We decided to move on to Crested Butte this morning.
We were in the day-use area getting the Jeep ready to tow. A State Wildlife truck pulls in next to us. I asked the women driver if she would like me to move the camper. She said, 'No, take your time. I'm just going to restock the lake with rainbow trout.'  😥 Just my luck.

Downtown Gunnison and Crested Butte were a mass of cars and people. Going to City Market in Gunnison towing the Jeep was out of the question. Typical of any resort community during Prime Time. Not unlike South Florida in the winter, the Maine or Oregon coasts in the summer, on and on.
We're camped in the Gunnison NF off FSR 811/Washington Gulch Road. Right here.

38.933628 -107.018354 at 9,672'

All around us are pine  forests , meadows, wildflowers, a small stream and mountains. We think this just might be one of our most beautiful campsites ever. As we do, I put out the hummingbird feeder. One curious bird but nothing else. We're guessing there are so many flowers in bloom that the birds have an abundant natural food supply.

A stormy afternoon

Mount Crested Butte from our campsite

Had a much needed storm this afternoon. The roads will be a little nicer to drive on and the camper and Jeep got the dust washed off.
We drove FSR-811 with the goal of Schofield Pass. The pass is still blocked at the top from the late Spring snow. A beautiful drive nonetheless.

Wildflowers everywhere. CB bills itself as the wildflower capital of CO

In the afternoon we drove to Kebler Pass stopping at the Lake Irwin FS campground. I've never seen campground interior roads or campsites in such poor condition. A great setting on a beautiful lake but a miserable campground. On the way to the campground are some great disbursed camping areas for most any size RV. No cell phone service so that pretty much rules the location out for us.

Carol was about tired of being bounced around in the Jeep so I  drove to the semi-ghost town of Gothic then on towards Schofield Pass (FSR-317/Gothic Road). There was a FS sign saying the road to the pass was still snow covered but I had to see if they were just kidding. Solid snow.
 There is a FS campground on the road but its for tents only. A sign says no disbursed camping along FSR-317 from June 15 - August 15.
After driving 811, 317 and Kebler Pass Road (CR-12), we found no disbursed camping area that was any better than where we are as far as convenience to town, all around beauty, cell phone and internet service. We will be back to this spot.

We had been talking about heading home. Two weeks camping seems like a good time for us. About 4:00 we headed out with the Buena Vista Rodeo Grounds as our midway stop.

On the road by 5:30. An uneventful drive home arriving about 9:00am.
458 miles in total for the trip.15 days. Just right for us.

After Labor Day, we will take off once again. Probably back to the Red Feather Lakes area. Our favorite nearby camping area.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Buena Vista

Went looking for other disbursed camping areas around here. Lots of good tent and truck camper sites but not much for us. We drove the Lenhardy Cut-off Road (CR-376), from US 285 west to CR-371. Stream crossing, sand, rocks, up and down. Part of the Fourmile Travel  Management Area (TMA). A fun Jeep ride.
Fourmile TMA

Has lunch at the Bearded Lady food truck. Jalapeño popper empanada and a pork torta. Outstanding.
Bearded Lady

The city utility dept at 755 Gregg Drive, less than a mile from where we are camped, sells water. $2.00 for 265 gallons.  It uses one of those credit card machines like you see at some dump stations. Good thing. I make it a habit of turning the water pump off whenever we're going to be gone for a while. Apparently, one of us had, for some reason,  left the sink faucet in the bathroom opened. When we got back, I turned on the very quiet pump. Given a little time, all the fresh water filled the grey tank and a few inches of the shower. There is no public dump in BV and the nearest commercial campground is a good drive from here. Since the grey tank held basically clean water, I didn't feel terrible about giving some of the sparse vegetation a drink.

After driving all around, we decided the Rodeo Arena is the most convenient choice for us. Nice and level, convenient to most anywhere, surrounded by views of the mountains. Here we will stay until Sunday.

Buena Vista from CR 304

38.824318 -106.155301
8,100'. The refrigerator is doing just fine.

The rivers are running high and fast. The rafting companies are loving it. Business is great. The roads are jammed with the old school busses carrying the customers to the river.

Sunset from our campsite

More interesting drives through the Fourmile TMA. Found some nice disbursed camping areas but no cell phone service.

In the morning, we drove to the St. Elmo ghost town. We've been there before, but it's a nice scenic drive.
This weekend there is a Rapids & Grass Beer Fest going on. I went down for a while to take a look. The river area is a small city of tents. Apparently the city lifted their no-camping-in-parks policy for the weekend. Lots of serious river rafters, "more than 40 breweries", free music, etc. Plus a car show. Not caring about grass or beer, I did enjoy the car show.
A 1942 Jeep

For dinner we went to the Jade Garden Chinese Restaurant. Another good choice in BV.

From the archives.

From a trip heading West. Gopher, Bagera, Balou, Carol
Bagera and Balou have since passed away. 16-17 years old.
The easternmost point in the US
West Quoddy Head. Lubec,Maine
July 29, 2007.

From a trip through the Canadian Maritime Provinces.
August 27, 2007

In the morning we leave for the O'Haver Lake campground near Poncha Springs. We lucked into a cancellation starting tomorrow for 4 nights. Then we will decide what to do from there.
The summer crowds and traffic are not to our liking at all. Maybe head home until school starts. That's what we did last year. Took off after Labor Day.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Heading to the mountains

Tuesday, June 20
We have three different thermometers counting the one in the Lazy Daze. One reads 101*, another 103* and the one in the camper says 102.7.
Hot. Hot. Hot.
In Leadville the high forecast temps for the coming ten days are in the low to mid-70's with the nighttime temps in the uppe 30's.

I took a Izzy to her life guard job this morning then brought her home at noon. We were all packed up and headed out about 12:45. Had an uneventful drive to Leadville arriving just before 5:00.
We're camping in a disbursed area in the San Isabel NF, Leadville Ranger District, off FSR 113. 39.245057 -106.358160 9,688' elevation. This is a fairly popular camping area because it's only ten minutes from town and less than ten minutes from Turquoise Lake. Plus, of course, it's free. Our site is adjacent to a county park, Kendrick Park, with a volley ball net, soccer goals, pit toilets and trash cans!! A very convenient location as disbursed camping sites go. Adjacent to the park is the county golf course. From our site, golfers could easily walk to the golf course.

Some rain would be nice to cut down on the dust. Some mosquitos at night. Gopher likes it because she can wander around without a leash. Put up the hummingbird feeder and as expected in a pine forest, business was good. There is internet access but it's on the slow side, but adequate for our needs.

The higher altitude frequently caused ignition problems with the refrigerator. Right now , 9:45 pm, it's 64* at 9,688' and the frige is working just fine. We'll see what overnight brings. I'm going to keep track of the temps to see what happens.

Got up at 3am and the fridge was out. Ambient temp of 46*.  Relighted it. At 6 am, 42* ambient it was out. The fridge temps were OK.  Right now it's 42* and the frige is working just fine even at 9,688'. By 8am the frige was at 32*/14*.

First we took a drive along the north side of Turquois Lake then towards Hagerman Pass then along the south side to check out the campgrounds. There are seven NF campgrounds around the lake. We drove through a few of them and with the odd exception, were not impressed with the sites. Mostly you were jammed on your neighbors. Not our camping preference.

The haze in the distance is from the multiple fires in Utah.
Along Hagerman  Pass

We had lunch at the Mexican food truck that parks in the Safeway plaza. Very good.
I drove around the area where we are, later in the day, looking for future camping sites. Came across this great one located right on a small creek. 39.25045 -106.37637. If I simply didn't feel like packing up and moving, I would have. Next time.
8pm. Frige 33/13.

The refrigerator experiment. At 6:30am it was out. Ref temps 41/14. Outside temp 38*. I tried starting it but no luck. As the morning progressed, it warmed up and I would try again. Finally when the temp reached 46* the ref started and stayed operating.
Woke up to a bright, sunny day.
Took a ride along the Halfmoon Creek Road towards the Mount Massive Trailhead then continued on a narrow, rough and rocky road that ran along the creek. Saw some great tent camping sites. There are RV suitable sites along Halfmoon Creek Road until the trailhead parking areas then the road becomes too narrow and rough.

We drove some of the road to Mosquito Pass.

On old mine

Mine tailings

From Mosquito Pass

Checked out the town dump/water fill station to use on our way out of town. $7.50 for both. Later on, we explored the forest area around where we are camped. There are countless camping opportunities on a network of FS roads. Most are best for tents, but a few can accommodate mid-sized RV's.
We decided to head south on Monday to the Clear Creek Reservoir area.

Up at 5am. Had breakfast and dumped the tanks at the city waste water office then headed south to the Clear Creek SWA. People were pulling out. I kept looking and finally found one of the best sites in there. Right on Clear Creek. 39.019514 -106.276265.
In hindsite, the creekside location was a mixed blessing. Carol thought the rushing water was so relaxing and it was. However, once the sun started setting, the mosquitos swarmed like we had rarely ever seem happen. Sitting outside was out of the question.
From our campsite

From our campsite
Morning coffee

 The creek is running high and fast from the snow melt. We're a thousand feet lower here than in Leadville. 8,961'. It's warmer but easier to breathe. We think the elevation at Leadville might have been bothering us in some way. After a nap, we both felt a lot better. We'll hang around here for a few days. Our reservations at O'Haver Lake don't start until Sunday, July 2. We got real lucky the other day and snagged a four day cancelation over the holiday weekend.

We drove to the Vicksburg and Winfield ghost towns. Both are from the silver mining days. They have a few original structures and several reconstructed ones. There is a camping area at Winfield. There were two RV's there but no way I would drive the camper over 12 miles of rough washboard to get  there.

One of the Aude children

A beautiful drive through the mountains.

Went exploring looking for future disbursed camping sites in the area. Found a real nice one just south of the Twin Lakes  Reservoir.

The mosquitos won. We headed south to Buena Vista. Had a superior lunch at the House Rock Kitchen.
House Rock Kitchen

This has to be one of the very last operating drive-in movies in America.

We drove to the top of Cottonwood Pass. It's closed on the west side for extensive road work.

There were two vans with Texas tags parked near us. One guy in his early 20's perhaps,  was almost unconscious and a girl in her teens, was trying to give him some water. The guys eyes were rolling back. I told the girl that this guy was suffering big time from altitude sickness. The only fix for altitude sickness is to go lower. NOW!!!. She sent a friend to tell the supervisor what  was happening. I explained the problem to two other kids who were rushing back from their hike. Eventually there were 15 or 20 kids loading into the vans. No idea how this poor guy fared.
Once again. Smoke from the UT fires

Deciding what to do  from here. Our reservations at O'Haver Lake don't begin until Sunday.
Probably just go exploring here and there. Plus, of course, some fine meals to give the cook a break.👏👏👏

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Red Feather Lakes

Saturday, June 10,
We were itching to go someplace so decided to head to Red Feather Lakes for a few days. We've been there before and liked it. Plus it's only two hours from home.

We left at eight, and stopped at  the Western Ridge Resort restaurant for breakfast ; we've been there before. I had the combo scrambler which was a pile of home fries, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, bacon, etc., all topped with two eggs and green chili sauce. Carol was much better.

We drove to our favorite FS camping area on Prairie Divide Road and, to our surprise, the place was packed. No room anywhere. Then we headed to Deadman Road; another road that goes through the national forest. Again, packed. We finally found a very nice spot on FSR 502 which runs off of Deadman Road. This is now our favorite disbursed camping area around here. Close to town, only 1.8 miles of well maintained dirt road to drive and good cell phone and internet coverage.  40.800385 -105.636990

Morning coffee with my friend

With the Jeep, we took a ride around Deadman Road looking for other future campsites but found none that were any better than this one.
Put out the hummingbird feeder and business was good.

Carols dentist used to live in Fort Collins which is only an hour away. This area is a major nearby camping area for Fort Collins which explains the crowds.


Rode over to the Dowdy Lake campground just to see if anything on the lake was available for a few  days. One night only; that was it. Every campsite in Dowdy Lake is reservable; not even one for walk-in campers.  The crowds everywhere just reinforces our preference for the shoulder seasons. There are two other FS campgrounds in the area, but the aren't much.
After that we went riding around looking for other disbursed camping areas. We came across a bunch of them, but nothing as good as where we are.
I drove around the camping areas and scrounged up a load of firewood. Later on, we had a nice campfire.

A grey and stormy day. No traffic at all on Deadman Road. It's amazing how quiet it is in the woods. The wind blowing through the trees and the birds chirping away; that's it. We've noticed that you can hear the wind coming through the pine forest long before you can feel it.
Gopher and I are sitting outside, Carol's  inside keep warm.
The mountain road west to the Laramie River Road that we hoped to drive is still not opened. The late Spring snow storm messed up our plans once again.
We took a drive around today and only saw two tenters. This is definitely a weekend place. Next time we arrive on Monday and leave on Friday.

The wildflowers were in full bloom

Headed home. We'll come back perhaps in September or October when the leaves turn, when lakefront sites are available on Dowdy Lake and the mountain road is opened. The drive took two hours to cover 100 miles.
Just one more reason we plan on staying within 3-4 hours of home; flexibility.
In two  weeks we head towards Leadville, Buena Vista and Crested Butte.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Poncha Springs then north

Thursday the 25th

Took a ride this morning first to look at the disbursed camping area on CR-250;  Shavano WMA. The access road, as others have mentioned, is deeply rutted and full of rocks. I would be hesitant to drive the camper up there especially towing the Jeep.
After that we drove CR-240 to the Angel of Shevano FS campground. Very nice but very isolated. For our needs, there are better options.

Had lunch at Tony's Restaurant. Carol had the taco salad and I had a patty melt. An excellent lunch.

In the afternoon, I took a ride by myself up Marshall Pass Road. I had hoped to reach the summit but got within perhaps a half mile and the road was solid, deep snow. It's a long walk back from there  to where we are camped if I got stuck, so I turned around.
Our camping neighbor, and his wife, are serious bike riders. They rode from the campground to this point, some 8.5 miles,  all uphill on a rough and rocky road.

Marshall Pass Road


I walked around the lake  and got a nice picture of our campsite.

Our campsite taken from the other side of the lake with the telephoto lens.

We drove around the area noting future camping sites. The plan was to head north to Buena Vista tomorrow but the weather forecast for the next several days is for cold and rain. So we decided to just head home in the morning and do the Leadville, BV, Crested Butte part of the trip towards the end of June.
This will go down as one of our favorite FS campgrounds and areas. We'll be back. 3 1/2 hours from home.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Heading north

Sunday, May 21st
Left Durango after dumping the tanks at the Giant and hitting WalMart. We spent the night at a city park in Del Norte. You can camp there free for one night.

Drove  to the O'Haver Lake FS campground just south of Poncha Springs. 9,200'. Had a hail storm then a drizzle. The weather forecast going forward is great.
Drove one of the many Jeep roads noting future disbursed sites. There are lots of them. I make note of the coordinates then forward the info. to our friend Ted, so he can add them to his Ultimate US Public Campground app.  That way, if I'm searching for one years from now, I just look in his app. that I have on my iWhatever. Works well for both of us.
The campground is very, very nice. A clear mountain lake. Fishing, swimming, kayaking, etc. Gopher  took a nice swim. The water was too cold even for the kids. The camp host said the place is typically  booked solid through the prime summer months. There are several walk-in sites.  We lucked out by getting there early in the week and have a lake view, pull-through site.
Memorial Day plus schools out, is upon us.

Through the woods. 

A stream behind our campsite

The view of O'Haver Lake
Tuesday the 23rd.

Woke up to 2" of snow this morning. At 9,200' I suppose its not that uncommon this late in May.

 Later on new drove the Poncha Creek Road and found some great disbursed camping for the future.
Along Poncha Creek
 Put up the hummingbird feeder.  Between the red camper, the red Jeep and the feeder, we really attract the birds. So far we've attracted the Black-chinned and Broad-tailed; both very common to this area.

We identified a pair of Chirping Sparrows, as well.

We went into Poncha Springs, a 20 minute drive, for lunch at the Hunger Wagon based on Yelp reviews. We split the pulled pork plate and a basket of onion rings, jalapeño corn fritters, green chilies, and a super dipping sauce. Excellent.

Spoke to our neighbor who is a serious fisherman; been coming here for over 15 years. The lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout. In the deep water, he regularly catches trout in the 14"-16" range. He also said, that for the really prime sites, reservations well in advance are required.
I walked around and made notes for the future.
The best RV sites are 10, 22, and 32.
The best tent sites are 10,18-20(tent only sites), 23,30,31,32.

Drove most of the Marshall Pass Road today except to the very top where  the snow was still too deep. Found one great disbursed camping spot with a strong VZ signal. The access road is bumpy but not terrible and not very long.

O'Haver Lake from Marshall Pass Road.

Saw a dozen, or so,  mountain goats.

Tomorrow we're going to check out some disbursed camping in the area then decide whether to stay here for Memorial Day, or move on.