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Found 11 results

  1. Planning on taking US-50 from just west of Colorado Springs (Canon City) across to Grand Junction (over the Monarch Pass). We have a big-rig, 45' coach w/tow and wondering if others here (forum) have made the trip and can provide input on the road & grades. My understanding is its very doable, but does have a 6-9% grade for approx. 9-miles once we pass Monarch (11500 elev). Any/all comments will be appreciated.
  2. I'm planning a trip for June and will need to get from Dolores, CO to Canon City, CO. One option is Hwy 160 through Pagosa Springs. The other is Hwy 50 that has to go over Monarch Pass. I've been on Hwy 50 years ago in both a pickup and a motor cycle and I seem to remember that it gets pretty dicey and driving a class "A" would be a real white knuckle experience. That's not what I'm looking for, let alone what my wife's reaction will be if she is looking down very steep drop offs. So, does anyone have any advice or recommendations on the best route for this? Thanks, Don
  3. This summer is our 15th summer on the road. We've traveled in every state in the US (except Hawaii) and every province in Canada (except Nunavut). Given that experience, there are still new things to do and see. We left Scottsbluff, NE on August first headed for Denver. We have family, a sister and daughter there and we've stopped there at least once every year. Still, we found something new on this trip. Louise's sister and her husband have now retired and we had a nice visit with them and their family. We've done dinners out with Elaine and Lou before but this year we had the younger generation making suggestions for places to eat. We found ourselves in old Arvada, a ten block area in the center of the old town. The old town area is thriving as an evening hot spot for the younger generation. Bars, restaurants and parks all with music make it a world of pleasant experiences. The Grandview Tavern and Grill has a back yard patio and it made for a relaxing meal and conversation. After enjoying a good meal we spent some time strolling the streets marveling at all the activity. Lou and Elaine took us on a tour of the old town, pointing out points of interest and places with family connections. Our next stop was the Old Arvada Tavern. In Lou's memory, it was a rather drab old bar, a place he hung out while waiting to pick up his son from ball practice. Today it is alive with young people. Downstairs there is a full menu and the place was packed. Our social advisors had directed us to take a right inside the entrance and go through the "telephone booth" to the upstairs. We followed instructions and were welcomed into a world of entertainment. Like many of the bars, this one featured live entertainment on the weekend. The band for this evening was a bluegrass band. They were just warming up and adjusting the sound. We found a vacant table next to the stage. I've never been a big fan of bluegrass but a live performance would be a first. Once the band was warmed up they launched into their performance. Watching the musicians and listening to the music was a real joy. We stayed through the first set then retreated to quieter surroundings at their home for the rest of the evening. After a week and a half in Denver we drove to Sheridan, WY to spend time with our daughter and her boyfriend. Karen works in Westminster near Denver but is dating Brent who is living in Sheridan. The occasion was the Sheridan Rodeo. We settled into Peter D's RV Park for the week on Monday evening. Tuesday morning we explored the town. If we're going to spend a week here and there is going to be a crowd, we had better know our way around town. We found the rodeo arena and got an idea of the schedule. Wednesday evening we purchased tickets to the rodeo and watched the program on our own. I had been to small town rodeo's years ago but this was a much bigger deal. For Louise this was all new. The evening began with the Indian Races. Teams of Native Americans race around the track surrounding the arena. Starting standing on the ground they have to mount their horse, no saddle, ride a loop then change to a new horse, off of one, on the next without assistance. Run one more loop and change to a third horse for the final lap. Pandemonium reigned at each change of the horses. The rider had to do this unassisted. Other team members were charged with managing the horses during the race. Some horses had their own mind how this was all to work. More than one horse ran a lap without a rider. One rider chased the horse all the way around the track then grabbed the next horse and completed the race. Another rider rand several hundred yards holding on the the horse's tail before giving up. After four nights of racing, the team with the best time would claim a $10,000 prize. Other events were pretty much what you can see on TV but far more exciting and amazing when watching it in person. While in Sheridan, waiting for Karen to arrive for the weekend, we played a round of golf at the local golf course. We also toured King's Ropes downtown. This is a western store and more. The Kings have been saddle makers for several generations. They also stock a whole warehouse of ropes that are made on site. You can watch the ropes being made by hand. There are also several workstations for saddle work You can drop off a saddle for repair or restoration or order your own custom saddle. Behind the store is an amazing museum with hundreds of saddles of all kinds, photos, books, guns, spurs, cowboy gear of all kinds and old time photos. You can stand in one place and look from ceiling to floor to see everything on display in that area. We spent an hour and a half in a quick walk through. Karen arrived late Friday so we met her and Brent at The Silver Spur for breakfast. From there we were off to watch the bed races. Teams with specially built beds race down the street for two blocks to a packed house on the sidewalks. Fun is had by everyone. To get front row seats, you have to park your lawn chair on main street Friday afternoon. Following the bed races is the big parade. This is a major parade with horses, cars, floats of all kinds, and audience participation. Watchers and float riders battle with water cannons at various locations along the route. Mars candy magnates live in the area and there is no shortage of Mars candy distributed along the route. Lunch followed ant then I spent several hours at the Native American Pow Wow on the lawn of the Sheridan Inn. Native dancers performed a variety of dances with narration to explain the significance of each dance. We had ordered tickets for the Saturday night finals more than a month before the rodeo. The grandstand was all sold out so we purchased tickets in what we learned was the new stands on the west side of the arena. The rodeo clown labeled this area as the newbee section! We had front row seats, just a fence separating us from the horses and livestock. We were just a few yards from the gates and had a great view of the entire arena. All the participants were pushing their limits for the final performance of the rodeo and the show was spectacular. Sunday was a day to relax and wrap up visits. We slept in then joined Brent's family for a birthday celebration for his sister. We said good bye to Karen then returned to the park for the evening. We would leave Monday morning to return to Denver for another week and a half. On the way south we drove over the Bighorn Mountains enjoying the spectacular scenery on US Hwy 14. We stopped for a few days near Thermopolis, WY, Camping at Boysen State Park. One of the surprises of the trip was our entrance into Thermopolis. The hot springs there has a spectacular travertine terrace visible from the road as you enter the northern end of town. There are several venues offering hot springs for swimming and soaking. The grounds are pleasant to walk, offering great views of the spring and the mineral shelf. Just south of Thermopolis is the Wedding of the Waters. An informational display marks the place where the Wind River changes its name to the Bighorn River. The river was given different names upriver and at the mouth and when it became apparent that it was the same river a compromise arrangement was to use both names for the same river. The Wedding of the Waters marks the location where the name changes. Up stream, the Wind River Canyon is a spectacular sight. At the upper end of the canyon is Boyson Dam and Reservoir. There are numerous campgrounds there, above and below the dam. All campgrounds are dry without electric which made the stay a little uncomfortable with temperatures near 100 during the day. Fortunately, breezes off the lake made for cooler evening temperatures. We stopped in Rawlings on Wednesday night and spent Thursday night at Cummins Rocky Mountain in anticipation of scheduled maintenance on Friday. We were in and out Friday morning and into Dakota Ridge RV Park that afternoon.
  4. We left Wounded Knee with a desire to return on another day. Early morning on Sunday and a holiday weekend as well are not the best time to visit most any site. Driving on west we passed through the town of Pine Ridge the largest community of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Entering town it looks to be a pretty typical community. As we turned south and left town we saw the underbelly of the community. It was a sad site to see many older native Americans living in poverty, I have added a link for the American Indian Relief Council for those who would like to join us in holding out a helping hand to those in need. A short distance south of town we entered Nebraska. This is a state which never held much interest for me until I discovered some of the interesting and amazing features of the state. Several years ago we took our grandsons on a tour through Nebraska and South Dakota. We visited the State Museum on the campus of Nebraska University in Lincoln, Nebraska. The state has numerous paleontology sites and this museum administers all of them. We visited several sites with the boys, Ashfall Fossil Beds with the most amazing collection of fossilized rhinoceroses you will ever see. The other site was the Trailside Museum of Natural History at Fort Robinson State Park. The latter has some amazing mammoth skeletons as well as some interesting history from the American Indian Wars. We have driven US Hwy 20 across northern Nebraska and enjoyed the relaxed trip through the Great Plains. This time we would drive Nebraska Highway 87 and 71 to I-80 and then on to Cheyenne, Wyoming. One of the newly discovered surprises was the scenery of the Nebraska Sandhills around Scottsbluff. We made a pass through the area but will definitely return to see more of the scenery here on another trip. The weathered sandstone hills and cliffs are beautiful and deserve some additional scrutiny and photography. This route connects to I-80 just a few miles east of Cheyenne which was our destination for the day. We stopped to fill the diesel tank before reaching the campground. I put 112 gallons of diesel in our 127 gallon tank, by my records the emptiest it has ever been! The RV park we had selected for the night was AB Camping and RV Park just south of I-80 and east of I-25. As we pulled into the park we could smell the barbeque. This wasn't just a fellow camper preparing a meal, this was real restaurant BBQ. We were parked by their restaurant. We registered, parked and returned to the restaurant for a fine BBQ meal. We enjoyed a quiet evening and then left mid-morning for the Denver area. I inquired about a place where I could wash the motor home as we had been driving for several days on wet roads. We had no luck so had to roll into the next park looking pretty ragged and dirty. The toad really looked terrible. We arrived at South Park in Englewood, Colorado about 2:00 in the afternoon. The office was closed on Labor Day but our parking assignment was posted on the office door. We pulled the sheet and unhooked the toad. South Park wasn't our first choice, it is on the south side of Denver and everyone we know lives on the north side of town. Staying in this park meant that we would drive across town each time we visited family. For this reason we planned to stay here only six nights before moving to another park. When we made reservations this was the only park we could find with a site and then only for the six nights. Fortunately, our preferred park, Dakota Ridge, had space available starting on the seventh night through the remainder of the length of our stay. I found out later that we were not only looking for a site in a large city on the end of a holiday weekend but there was also a PGA Golf Tournament in town. It ended the day we were able to move to Dakota Ridge so I believe that the golf tournament may have played a roll in the scarcity of campsites available the first week of September. One of the pluses that we didn't expect with South Park is that they allow washing vehicles. The toad went to a car wash but I spent Wednesday morning washing the motor home. It was a quick wash but made a huge difference in its appearance. So we left South Park on Sunday morning with a clean motor home and a clean toad. At Dakota Ridge we have additional elevation and a view of some of the hogback ridges that make up the Front Range of the Rockies. We also have a little more wind and we've had our first snowflakes of the fall. The furnace has had several nights of heavy duty work as temperatures hovered just above freezing. Today the temperature was in the low 80's. The forecast indicates that we will have fair weather and warm temperatures until our departure on Wednesday.
  5. I am planning a visit to the Boulder CO area this summer (late June). Researching campgrounds & RV parks on the web and even those referred to by Good Sam and State/National Park web sites I am finding many are closed indefinitely due to flooding and other disasters related to last year's weather. I guess much the area is still in bad shape. If anyone on the forum frequents the Boulder area and can offer advice on any RV Parks etc. in the area that are currently operating I would appreciate any recommendations. Thanks, Mark M
  6. As of our last post we had just entered Colorado as the heavy rain and flooding occurred. We stayed for a week and got a first hand look at some of the damage. What we saw in the Denver/Arvada area was minor compared to the real damage which occurred in the mountains and out on the plains as the flood waters continued to disperse. There are towns in the mountains which have no road access to the outside world and likely won't have until sometime next spring or summer. Countless roads washed out and many bridges were destroyed. At the time we left the death toll was still uncertain. Many people lost their lives and huge numbers of people lost their homes. Leaving Denver we headed north to I-80 at Cheyenne. The trip was delayed as we ran into stop and go traffic for miles as we approached the bridge over the Big Thompson River. Traffic was slowed, a giant gaper block, everyone wanted to see the rushing waters of the Big Thompson. Once clear of this traffic we were on I-80 westbound in no time at all. We made a stop in Laramie for diesel and then drove on stopping at a rest area near Fort Fred Steele. It was late enough in the day that we decided to stop for the night here. In the morning I learned that circumstances would change our planned trip to Olympia, Washington to mid October so we now were headed for a family commitment in California in about a week and a half. That gave us a little time to enjoy exploring some new territory. We talked it over and decided to head into west-central Wyoming and take a look at the area around Lander. We drove a short distance into Rawlings, picked up propane to make sure we would have enough for cold nights at altitude. From there, the road northwest to Lander passes through some very scenic lands in the Great Divide Basin. The Great Divide separates water going to the Atlantic from water going to the Pacific Ocean. Here in central Wyoming, the Great Divide divides into two, then rejoins south of I-80 into a single divide again. Between the two routes of the divide is an area where waters flow into a basin with no exit. It would be similar to the Great Salt Lake basin except that there is little rainfall here and no large lake exists here. We decided to stay at Twin Pines Campground south of Lander. This proved to be a good choice and then a bad choice. We were 7 miles from Lander and spent several days in town and exploring Sinks Canyon State Park nearby. In Sinks Canyon State Park, the Middle Popo Agie River disappears underground as it flows into a cave. At high water, some water flows overland but most of the year the river goes underground. Several thousand feet down the canyon, water from the river bubbles back to the surface and then continues to flow on the surface from there on. This is not a terribly uncommon occurrence, it happens in areas with Karst topography, typified by caves and sinkholes. We hiked the north canyon wall to a viewpoint that gave us an overview of the valley. The second day in the canyon we drove up and over the north canyon wall and across the mountains back to our campsite. The scenery was spectacular as the road took us past a number of mountain lakes and over several mountain ridges. Once again, we stumbled on a unique event without any prior knowledge or planning. We drove into Lander on Friday morning and saw a banner stretched across the main street, "Welcome to the One Shot Antelope Hunt." The hunt would be Saturday morning, the opening of antelope hunting season. This event started in the late 1930's as a challenge between Wyoming and Colorado. Each state would field a team of three hunters. Each hunter would get one round of ammunition for their antelope hunt. Hunting parties would be made of one hunter from each team accompanied by a guide. The team that bagged the most antelope or in the case of a tie did it in the least amount of time would be declared the winner. Over time, the number of teams increased. This year there would be eight teams. Participants are by invitation only. There is a museum in town, past shooters include astronauts, a who's who of actors, particularly the cowboy genre of actors, politicians (former VP Cheney was in this year's group of participants), and other famous people. We saw several teams touring Sinks Canyon State Park after they sighted in their guns that morning in a remote area of the park. There weren't a lot of events open to the public but we enjoyed learning about this unique event. We enjoyed a look at South Pass City on Sunday afternoon. This is a gold rush town that like many turned into ghost town once the gold mine became non-productive. The mine enjoyed several periods of development, starting in 1868 and finally ending in 1954 with the closing of the Carissa Mine. South Pass City was turned over to the State of Wyoming and has been preserved in its early 1900's condition. Returning to our park I prepared the car for our anticipated morning departure. Monday morning I was up picking up e-mail, taking care of computer tasks as the coming days may not have internet coverage. I looked up from the computer and out our front window I saw smoke. This was not light gray smoke, it was not a distant cloud of smoke, this was a boiling black cloud of smoke and it was right in front of our motor home! I jumped up and looked out the drivers side window to see a neighboring motor home on fire. The fire was coming from the front engine compartment of a Georgie Boy that was in site 20. We were in site 18 and site 19 between us was empty. I picked up my phone and called 911. The call took 4 minutes. During that time the couple in the coach had bailed out the emergency exit window of the motor home. Both were elderly with obvious limitations in their physical abilities but they did make it out safely. Their pets, a cat and a dog, unfortunately did not escape. The Lander fire department is at least seven miles away and it is a volunteer fire department. It was 22 minutes from the time I made the phone call until I started taking pictures of the fire department at work. Those were the longest 22 minutes I have ever known. After my phone call, Louise and I set about getting our slides in and preparing to move from our site. As I went out to pull the electric, water and sewer connections the heat from the fire was so intense that I decided we should abandon our attempt to move for our own safety. I could have driven off with utilities attached and perhaps I should have but we didn't. We got out of our own coach, Considering the propane tank and gas tank on the coach, I didn't want to delay getting away from the area. I have since imagined a number of scenarios which would have allowed us to get out of the way but of course none of that saved us at the time. Louise and I talked this over several days later, could of, should have, would have, is a game that can be played forever and it still haunts me but at least I'm sleeping a little better now. I assisted in getting the woman into a fifth wheel on the far end of the park as she was feeling faint and near collapsing. We watched the fire from a distance and worried about our own coach. When the fire department started putting water on the flames their entire coach was involved in flames. The coach was completely destroyed down to the frame. Their Jeep which was parked in front of the coach had nothing left but the metal components. All this took just 22 minutes from the time I noticed the fire. It took another 20 minutes for the fire department to put out the last of the flames, and a few minutes more to pack up and leave. From beginning to end it was less than an hour. It was a truly frightening event for all involved. Our coach sustained some secondary damage. Despite the fact that we got our slide-outs in as soon as we could, there were still numerous burn holes in the canvas covers. Embers from the fire rained down on the roof leaving little burn marks like a cigarette left on the sink in a motel room on the roof of the coach. Of greatest concern is heat damage to the entire port side wall of the coach. The fiberglass wall is warped just enough to make every vertical rib in the coach wall visible. We've had all this documented by an adjuster from our insurance company, now the repair work begins. So we've now seen flood and fire, what is next? I don't know but I would advise you to leave if you see us coming into a park near you! In the Peanuts comic strip there was a character named Pigpen. Pigpen was always unwashed, grungy looking, and everywhere he went he had this black cloud of dust and dirt following. That is how I'm feeling right now.
  7. After our stay in California, we set out on our way east to St. Louis, Missouri. We’ve made this trip many times. The default trip going either way is to travel to I-80 east to eastern Nebraska where we pick up I-29 south to Kansas City and then I-70 to St. Louis. When we make this trip we are usually on a schedule so time is important and the interstate fills the bill. We’ve detoured several times, to visit friends, to see the Grand Tetons. We sometimes stop in Denver to visit relatives so the trip isn’t always exactly the same. This time we decided to take our time, traveling fewer miles per day and take a route which is not fast but has scenery we haven’t seen before. We departed on Sunday afternoon headed up California Highway 88 into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In Carson City, Nevada we turned east on US 50, known as the loneliest highway in the US. It wasn’t lonely as we left Carson City. We parked at Wal-Mart for the evening in Fallon, NV. Fallon is home of the US Navy Top Gun training center. Leaving Fallon on Monday morning the road narrowed to two lanes with little shoulder. The scattering of houses and buildings soon disappeared. We drove for miles across the desert. There were other cars and a few trucks, and only an occasional small town. Historical markers, the Pony Express ran through this area. Imagine a man in the 1800’s riding a horse through this area. Even today it doesn’t look that friendly for one man or for the horse. The road rolled ever onward. For miles it was straight making only occasional slight turns to weave the way between the block faulted mountains that give the area the name, basin and range. We pulled over at a wide spot overlooking the community of Austin. Here the road began an assault into the Toiyabe Mountains and Bob Scott’s Summit which was 7205 feet, a climb of about 1000 feet from the floor of the basin. After we cleared the Toiyabe Mountains, the road once again straightened out and continued weaving between mountains. In places the desert was noticeably green and we saw water standing in low spots along the road. Then suddenly there was a car approaching flashing its headlights. Over the hill came a highway patrol car with lights flashing. But wait, he was weaving all over the road, into our lane and back to his lane. I slowed and he pulled up alongside us to tell us we had to pull completely off the road. He informed us there was a wide load coming toward us. I slowly pulled to the side, putting our right wheels in the ditch to get clear of the pavement. Louise grabbed the camera and handed it to me. Two more highway patrol cars appeared followed by the mandatory wide load escort vehicle and finally the load appeared. It was a dump bed from a mine truck. If it were driven down the center of the road it would have completely filled the road. The truck hauling the load must have been doing 60 MPH. It was gone in no time. I thought about the mountain roads we had traversed and wondered if they had to go that far. I guess US 50 was the highway to use for this trip, there were few vehicles to be cleared from the road and we hadn’t seen any overpass on the route. Soon after the wide load passed, it began to rain. It was cloudy and cool and we were crossing the vast span of desert. We realized how lucky we were to have such mild weather. The rain lasted for half an hour and we met several trucks. Of course the toad was stuck to our tail and all the spray we generated was sprayed onto the toad. I hate when that happens. In the desert, rain makes mud and the toad looked horrible by the time we parked for the night. We stopped in Ely, Nevada and stayed at the Valley View RV Park. Ely is the site of one gigantic copper pit mine. The tailings were visible as we drove into town. Now those in tune with mining know that there are copper ores in other countries and mining in those countries costs less than in the US for a number of reasons. Anyway, Ely’s main source of employment has dried up and it is easy to tell by driving through town. We spent a quiet night and slept well. For the first time since we left California we had internet access and our phones worked! I think that those who live in the heavily populated areas of the country would be amazed at how little of the modern electronic communications has touched the remote areas of the US. Even in Fallon, we had marginal phone service and I learned that many of the apps which I have are useless if we don’t have 3G service. Our hot spot was useless and we were totally out of touch for most of the day. From Ely we climb over another mountain range and then descend as we travel the remaining 70 miles of Nevada before entering Utah. US 50 joins I-15 for seven miles and then we’re back on US 50. About 70 miles into Utah we come to the town of Delta. Here we find beautiful farmland. Vast fields of hay and crops and a thriving farming community. We encounter I-70 next, now we are on the fast road. I-70 in Utah runs just north of the canyons, Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Canyonlands NP and Arches NP. As such, I-70 has spectacular scenery and numerous scenic areas. We spent the night at the Sand Bench viewpoint. The sunset photography was wonderful. In the morning we drove on stopping at several other scenic view areas. In Colorado we decided to continue our slower trip and diverted to US 50 at Grand Junction. We went up and over Monarch Pass at 11,000+ feet and down into the Arkansas River valley. We spent the night at an RV Park near Salida. We are in the mountain time zone and losing an hour but not losing that hour at night, we get plenty of sleep and wake up late. We pass the Royal Gorge area which has been destroyed by fire. The bridge is still there and will reopen sometime in the future. There is still a zip line in operation and all the Arkansas River float trip operators seem to be doing well. Colorado highway 115 takes us into Colorado Springs and US 24 takes us to Limon, Colorado and onto I-70 for the remaining trip back to St. Louis.
  8. We stayed with friends in Yankton, South Dakota last week. It was a nice long weekend visit. I played golf twice while Louise got her quota of card games. We shared plans and updated each other on family matters. As we left, we had a two travel days planned on our way to the Denver area where we are now. As we pulled away we began talking about the possibilities. I asked if Louise would enjoy a drive along the South Dakota border and what roads were there for us to travel? She looked at the map in her lap and gave me a suggested route. We departed to the north on US 81 to SD Hwy 46. The roads were good and traffic was light. I set the cruise on 55 and we enjoyed a leisurely trip. The speed felt right on this narrow two lane road with no shoulder. At Pickstown we left Hwy 46 for Hwy 18 which took us across the Fort Randall Dam on the Missouri River. This is a beautiful valley with a nice view of Lake Francis Case as you descend into the valley. Along the southern border of South Dakota are a number of Sioux Reservations. The population is sparse thorough this area with scattered farms. A succession of small towns gave glimpses into life in this part of the state. In the Rosebud Reservation we turned south on US 83 and drove to the South Dakota State Line. We pulled into the Rosebud Casino parking lot for a place to stay for the night. We shared the lot with one other motor home and several trucks. The night was quiet and we awoke the next morning, ate breakfast and continued on south into Nebraska and the town of Valentine. South of Valentine US 83 passes into the realm of the Nebraska Sand Hills. Once a desert, the sand dunes now support grasslands with low areas exposing the high water table in the area. These low spots form marshy lakes which can be seen for miles along this scenic highway. There are no streams here, water simply pools and sinks into the sandy soil. Near the town of Thedford US 83 joins Nebraska Hwy 2. At the intersection of the two highways is the Thomas County Fairgrounds and a parking area with information about the Sand Hills. We made this a lunch stop and enjoyed learning more about the Sand Hills and their history. We have driven Hwy 2 before but I wanted to travel west toward Hyannis and Nebraska Hwy 61. The scenery along Hwy 2 is beautiful and this time of year everything was green and vibrant. There were hay fields that look like they should be greens on a golf course. Hwy 61 turned out to be a very narrow two lane road. With very little traffic, it was a pleasant drive. The Sand Hills just went on and on. There was so little traffic on this road that I noticed there were grasshoppers sitting on the roadway. We were driving right over them - wrong! When we stopped for the night I found them all on the lower portion of the nose of the motor home, about as high as a grasshopper can jump! I got out the scrub brush and washed them off before they got baked on. We stopped to stretch our legs in the town of Arnold. Like many towns in the area, there were many old buildings. Unlike other small towns, these buildings were still kept in good condition and many being used. There was a hotel with a magnificent frieze depicting cattle and a cowboy. Across the street a small cottage labeled the Old Cowboy Rest Home. On the rail fence out in front were four saddles. We parked in front of the tack shop which had a sign that said Fed Ex Keep Off. Someone had issues! Leaving town we passed the cemetery which had a fence in front. Each fence post had a boot inverted atop the post. As we approached I-80 we drove across the dam on the North Platte River that forms Lake McConaughy, the largest lake in Nebraska. The recreation area around this lake is one of the prime vacation and recreation areas in Nebraska according to the information presented on signs in the area. There were numerous storage areas with huge numbers of RV in storage for the coming winter. Once on I-80 we quickly turned south on I-75 to Denver. At Julesburg there is a very nice welcome area and rest stop on I-75. We made that our stop for the night. During the night I awoke to hear a chirp. It wasn't a cricket, it was an electronic chirp. I listened and heard it again. After several more I decided I had to investigate. It was of course the smoke detector. I took it down and removed the battery. Then I heard the chirp again. We have three smoke detectors, an after effect of a fire safety seminar at an FMCA rally. One is in the bedroom, another is in the cockpit and the third is Louise's cooking timer, located above the stove! Before I went back to bed I changed the batteries in all three detectors. Louise mused that the battery life alarm always goes off in the middle of the night. We awoke the next morning to news that Denver had washed away overnight. Heavy rain and flooding, cars washing away in roaring creeks, homes flooded, and loss of life. The sky looked like more rain and indeed most of the way to Denver we drove in rain. Approaching Denver we saw the runoff basins along the highway filled with water. Small creeks and larger streams were roaring with muddy water. A low spot in the campground we are staying in is flooded, including several sites which now have no occupant. We unhook the car in a steady rain. It lets up and I get our utilities hooked up. I start to take the tow hardware off the car and the rain resumes. That's it, I'm soaked, time for a nice warm shower and something to eat. Tonight the furnace is running. Rain on the roof always makes for a good night of sleep. Tonight we are camped well up the hill at Dakota Ridge RV. We won't worry about high water.
  9. In Part 1 I described the first day of a trip from Edinburg, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley to Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden, Colorado. I spent the first night in Ballinger, Texas. My goal for the second day of the trip was Amarillo. I always prefer to park on the far side of large towns so I don’t have to start out driving through town in busy morning traffic. The weather was mostly cloudy until I got near Amarillo. Being just over a week from my last cataract surgery, I really appreciate cloudy days. I have those big dark glasses and they work fine but they work better when the sky is cloudy. Coming into Amarillo I needed fuel. At a roadside stop I checked my phone. Gas Buddy told me the local price for diesel ranges from 3.62 to 3.75. Of course I would have preferred the former price but the stations were off the highway and were small stations. I don't know the streets so I'm off to the Flying J on the east side of town. There aren't any RV pumps at this Flying J so I circled the islands and ended up pulling in where the truck towing an air tractor (aerial spray plane aka crop duster) on a trailer had been. I have the Pilot-Flying J charge card which gives me a discount from the fuel price but it also allows me to put 100 gallons in the tank with one swipe of the card! I didn't even have to go inside to leave the card and pick it up later. That was nice. Leaving the station, a right turn put me on the loop around town which is far better than taking the N/S highway through downtown Amarillo. It is new highway and the intersection with the US 287 isn't marked with any city names. Is this the road I normally take or is there another somewhere? I don’t remember highway numbers unless I travel them frequently. The GPS wants me to go straight ahead so I follow the GPS, no second opinion to tell me where to turn. When the GPS does finally indicate an exit from the loop highway, the road is a very small curvy road, FM1061, and I wasn’t sure where it was taking me. There is no place to pull off and check the map so I drove on. I finally reached US 385 and shortly thereafter crossed the Canadian River. There was a picnic area so I pulled off and parked for the night. I had phone service which was a real surprise. It was almost dark when I parked. I ate, called Louise to advise her of my progress and went to bed. The next morning I washed the bugs off the windshield, tidied up the interior and then headed north on US 385, a decent road with passing lanes on the hills. Our normal route, US 287, takes us through the Oklahoma panhandle. The road is one of the worst we ever travel as we leave Dumas, TX until we get to the Oklahoma line. US 385 was definitely a better road than US 287. A look at the map showed that I can still get back to the normal route by continuing north from Dalhart on US 385 but the GPS was indicating a turn to the west to Raton, yes, I-25 and the Raton Pass. My initial reaction was no, I don't want to have to go through the pass and I-25 is no picnic either. Then I thought about driving west into Denver on I-70 into the sun in the late afternoon. That stretch of I-70 late in the day is pure torture. I've driven it many times and it gets longer every time. Beside all that, I would be driving I-70 through Denver at rush hour. So, what the heck I'll follow the GPS. I turned northwest on US 87 in Dalhart and headed across the northeast corner of New Mexico to Raton. I'd never driven this road before and was pleased to find good road with four lane highway and then good two lane road all the way to Raton. The scenery was wonderful. I passed Capulin Volcano National Monument, another volcano to climb someday. The Raton Pass wasn't as bad as my memory made it out to be. Interstate 25 is exactly what I expected, too many vehicles, too little road. Curves through Pueblo make the drive interesting. Road construction on the north side of Colorado Springs turned the highway into a four mile parking lot. Approaching Denver I turned onto C-470. I figured this would be a quick trip to Dakota Ridge RV Campground in Golden. On this day, it was not. Once again I was in stop and go traffic which lasted for about three miles. I pulled into the campground right at closing time, parked and took the toad across town to pick up my most valuable navigator.
  10. I have driven the motor home without my navigator beside me before but never quite like this trip. There have been a few short trips to repair shops. The only long trip was from St. Louis to Houston. On that trip Louise was following me in the toad as I returned a tow dolly to its maker. On that trip we had radios for communication on the road and we stopped for rest stops, meals and overnights together. On Monday of last week I dropped Louise off at the airport. She was on her way to Denver to be with her daughter during and after surgery. I had to remain until Tuesday afternoon for the final follow-up doctor visit following my cataract surgery so taking Louise to Denver in the motor home was not an option. We had the motor home loaded and ready to go before Louise left. My appointment with the doctor was late in the day and they were running behind schedule so it was really late when I left the office. When I got home I packed the last few things in the car and called it quits for the night. Wednesday I hooked up the toad and got underway headed north from Edinburg, Texas to Denver, Colorado. I was prepared to take longer than usual for this drive as my usual navigator/stewardess/chef/housekeeper was not with me. I know the route, we've traveled it before. We drive a 40 foot coach with a toad and the team effort makes it much easier. When the GPS tells me to turn somewhere, Louise will check the map and say we do or don't want to go that way. When we need to stop, she can scout various sources of information for rest stops or just watch the road for picnic areas or large parking lots. If I want a snack she can make a run to the refrigerator. Louise usually prepares meals. Normally at overnight stops we divide the work, I do the outside work, wash the bugs of the windshield, check tires and the toad. Louise sets up the interior, attending to slides and leveling and then securing everything before we are underway in the morning. Doing all this by myself means extra stops and doubles the time spent taking care of the coach at each overnight stop. Louise has several jobs as we travel through large cities. First, she is on constant watch for those exit only lanes that pop up from time to time. Next, she is reading the highway signs and keeping me posted on any coming lane changes or exits we need to take. Finally, she is checking the map to confirm that the GPS instructions are what we really want to do. Our local knowledge or our preferences are difficult to program into the GPS. Sometimes we prefer an interstate highway, sometimes we prefer an alternate that may be better at a given time of day. When traveling through large cities we have a running conversation going related to our route and all of the above things. When she drives we switch roles easily. Either way it is almost always a two person operation. This trip I am responsible for doing all of the above, no help except the GPS. I got derailed in San Antonio on the early side of the afternoon rush hour. I decided to take the I-410 loop west around San Antonio to keep me out of downtown but hadn’t looked at the map before making the decision. For a while the GPS was fighting me until I finally gave in and followed its directions. By the time I was outbound from San Antonio, the rush hour was definitely building. Anyway, an hour later I was clear of the city traffic and rolling along the road nicely. Later when I was able to stop the map clearly showed that staying with I-410 would have worked fine. I should have checked the map before making my decision! I stopped for the evening in Ballinger, Texas. There is a city park with hook-ups but it definitely isn't for big rigs. I circled through the park and felt lucky to get away with all my paint. So it was the Wal-Mart that night. Nice people, they welcomed me to park in the gravel lot next to the small store lot. I was joined by an empty hog truck that parked about 30 feet away. He was gone by morning and I slept soundly. I took my time getting ready to go. Wal-Mart had a sidewalk clearance sale and I found a few bargains. I had breakfast, washed the bugs off the windshield and got the interior ready to roll. To be continued …
  11. Our winter this year was spent in our new mobile home in Sandpipers Resort in Edinburg, Texas. The motor home has been seriously neglected during this winter. We don't have to winterize in the normal sense. Tanks are drained and the refrigerator emptied and unplugged. We left the heat on and air conditioning when needed. Tires were inflated to maximum inflation pressure and we were parked on wooden blocks. I did wash the motor home several times through the winter and we were in and out moving items to and from the motor home. Still, we were occupied with the new house more than the motor home this winter. This is quite a change after almost ten years living full time in the motor home. Our goal was to leave south Texas on Sunday, May 1. Everything was going according to schedule until Louise came down with a serious cold just days before we were to leave. Fortunately, she had a good head start getting things into the motor home before the cold hit her. The final day was mine with all the mechanical things to tend to, check fluids, fill fresh water tank, move the coach off the blocks and adjust tire pressures. I finished loading the last of my personal items and closed up the house about 5:00 p.m. - yes, 5:00 p.m. We had delays, the starting batteries now 7 1/2 years old decided today was the day to quit. I started the coach using the battery boost from the house batteries. Then the Trailblazer wouldn't shift into neutral for towing. It has a chronic loose connection that no GM dealer has been able to fix. After a number of tries we finally get a shift and we're on our way - out the gate at 6:30 p.m. Our first stop was just 200 miles down the road. We were scheduled for maintenance at Iron Horse RV in San Antonio. Top of the list was to replace the starting batteries. Then there was a drip from the hot water heater that turned out to be a loose connection. That took several tries and replacing a broken fitting to finally solve that problem. The water pump was failing so it was replaced. The big job was replacing the refrigerator. The Norcold 1200 had finally become unusable during our last trip of the fall so when we unplugged it for the winter I knew it was the last time it would run. Our food was packed in ice chests for this trip, it would be transferred to our new refrigerator once it was installed. We chose to have a residential refrigerator installed in place of the Norcold. Iron Horse identified a model which would come close to fitting the space occupied by the Norcold. It was about 4 inches taller and three inches deeper but was the same width. Removing the old and installing the new took about two days with some interruptions for our tech to do other jobs on our coach and occasional assists working with other coaches. We left Iron Horse RV about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday with good batteries, a working water pump, no drip from the water heater and a cold refrigerator. We spent the night at Riverside RV Park in Waco and then drove to MCD Innovations in McKinney, Texas the next day. The first of our pleated shades had broken just before we parked in the fall and we were unable to get repair because the shade couldn't be disassembled. Knowing that all the rest of the shades are 7 1/2 years old, we decided to replace the whole lot. Being on a schedule we elected to have MCD Innovations measure the windows for us and then ship us the shades for self installation later. With the roll up day/night shades and all our other fix ups we'll have a much improved coach. They got us measured Thursday afternoon and we were ready for an early morning departure on Friday. Our next destination was Denver, Colorado for a family wedding. It is an easy two day drive of about 400 miles each day. We had never driven the route from McKinney to Amarillo before and I really enjoy seeing new country and a new road. From Amarillo to Denver is a route we've traveled many times. We stayed overnight at the Wal-Mart in Dumas, our first night boondocking with the new refrigerator and it did just fine running on the inverter for the night. We arrived at Golden Terraces RV Park about 3:00 in the afternoon on Saturday, right on our planned schedule. Now we have a week of preparation for the wedding. Family visits, planning, scheduling, and on Saturday our youngest niece will be married. For now, we're sitting out a fine spring rain in Denver. The temperature is a cool 43 degrees. Wednesday morning I brushed snow off the Trailblazer. It is good to be back on the road again.
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