It was a nice leisurely morning. I cannot sleep anymore and it really sucks. I am usually awake around 5-6 but this morning it was 5:00 A.M. Last week it was time to wake at 4:00 one morning and other mornings well before 5. It is so frustrating.
I took my time this morning shutting down. I made Spam and eggs with Gouda cheese, and even took another shot at the furnace after I got a leisurely shower in. I pulled the wall exhaust out (it is on the outside like a faceplate with round holes) and jiggled the firebox inside a little. I put it back together and tried again. Alarm didn’t go off but I am not chancing that. I’m leaving that stuff to the experts.
Today’s drive was only about 41 miles so it went fast. It was a short but pretty drive with a few more beautiful ranches along the way then hills and grassy areas with trees.
I got to Craig, CO and had a few hours to kill before I could get checked in to my spot for the next two nights. It was about lunchtime so I thought I would find a park to spend the time in and have some lunch. The park has this display of a giant mining shovel; I could honestly park my Avalanche inside the bucket.
This is my view to the south behind my trailer and where I happen to be sitting, typing this post, in my super-duper-reclining-bungee-antigravity chair:
It’s about 75 degrees, a breeze, and singing birds. The breeze is a bit cool with the sun hiding behind the clouds. Today is Meday. I am sitting here relaxing, enjoying the outdoors, typing this part up…and not driving. Spaghetti with fire-roasted tomato sauce. Oh…yeah…
And yes, that is a railroad track right behind me. It only runs every 3-4 days I am told. That just might scare the hell out of one in the middle of their slumbers. I am hoping it is a day run if there’s one coming up. I have always had an interest in them but not really when I am asleep 40 feet away.
Been really nice to slow the pace for a few days and not have to drive very far today. I have tomorrow night here too so I don’t have to go anyplace tomorrow if I want. I will probably go do some sightseeing early and come back for more pasta. I usually will buy a few hotdogs on a trip to grill but fire restrictions are on in some areas I have been through.
I am going to go up into Wyoming at some point soon; I am just not sure where yet. It’s the part past that I am not certain of. I will figure that out tomorrow too.
I woke up after a pretty lousy night’s sleep, got coffee and breakfast. I woke up at 4 A.M. with a bad headache after tossing and turning all night. I should have put on my eye mask last night because the neighbors left their outdoor LED string of lights on all night and it shone right into my eyes through the back window. Pretty disrespectful to those around you. I like the peace and quiet and the light disturbs that.
The winds were supposed to be gone this morning but the trailer is shaking from the winds even more than last night. Gusts up to 45 currently on the NOAA webpage. I want to push on into Colorado since there are some thunderstorms being forecast for this area. It looks like the winds are not as intense around Limon and showers there without thunderstorms. These winds are problematic when you pull a trailer as it can knock them right over so therein lies some hesitation. But I really don’t want to sit here where I am for 2-3 more days – I am trying to have a vacation and this is not where I want to spend it!
I filled the water tank so I can boondock – I only like to stay in these parks if necessary (fill water tank, electricity for air conditioning or heat). I usually do not haul much water with me because of the weight but it may help stabilize the trailer a little with the winds. A few times I was towing after I got the trailer I had water onboard and the trailer would sway back and forth because the tank is not baffled and the water would slosh around. Pretty scary.
The electricity thing is also why I am not sure about replacing the microwave. I can get by without it pretty good (just like my forefathers did in the 1960s). I have used old-school reheating methods and it works out okay for me. I am retired and am not in a hurry so I just don’t know if I will replace it (at least for the time being). I have a propane stove to heat up food anytime I want (like the breakfast burrito I made a few days ago that is today’s breakfast) so it works fine and not needing electricity gives me freedom. The only real necessity is fuel and dump station facilities.
Once I got into Colorado the winds died down just like the forecasts predicted that I saw for a few cities along my route. The temperatures were a perfect 60-70 degrees. I was not sure which way I was going of the three or four I was considering. When I got to the E-470 north I swerved over and went for it. This partucular version was that I was going to head to Fort Collins and then head west through Poudre Canyon. It was a really beautiful drive.
The morning I woke up when I stayed the night in the Stapleton City Park it was a bit cold so I fired up the furnace to knock the chill off. After a few minutes the carbon monoxide detector went off. I mean it went crazy and kept getting crazier. I had to turn it off – it was a very elevated reading. I was standing there making my coffee and that’s when it went off. Scared the bejeezus outta me. And of course I turned off the thermostat and left the premises immediately and ventilated the trailer thoroughly.
I tell this tale as it appears it is still a problem. I couldn’t boondock in some dispersed camping areas of the forest tonight since it was already down in the low 50s in the afternoon (and that is when I found the very few spots open. I stopped for a leg-stretching and thought I would test it. I took it apart to have a look at it a few days ago and found nothing. This test failed as well. A night without heat would be a bad night. I just really don’t enjoy that nonsense these days.
I decided to go on to Steamboat Springs after not really seeing anywhere in Walden. I called the KOA (it seems to be working out okay but it has been out of necessity too – the air conditioner because of the heat, and luckily I have my little electric space heater for the cool nights). I do think I am really going to need to think about a generator.
I got to the KOA and got all set up, went for a quick walk and fixed some food. It hit the spot after eating snack stuff all day (mostly healthy). Frozen (well, mostly…) garlic chicken with veggies. Fried it up like stir-fry in some olive oil and a little Parm on top. I think you hear me.
Tomorrow I will be off to Craig, CO for two nights at the KOA there (their Rewards Kard has actually almost paid for itself in a very short time – no plug intended or implied). I want to take a two-day stop and try to enjoy something other than driving all the live long day. I also want to get the furnace looked at in hopes that I can boondock in the forest for a night or two. I will make something work. Still got a full water tank and a cylinder and a half of propane so I have the means if I can get that figured out.
As I am starting this post I have just stopped for gas and am letting the fridge run for a bit on propane to cool off some.
I left late this morning after coffee with Chelsea so I could start to make my way back toward Montana via Colorado. I’m ready to get my Rocky Mountain High on and find some cooler weather. Hell, pretty much any weather would be cooler. It’s like I’m driving on the surface of the sun.
Wasn’t gonna happen without a fight apparently. I-70 across Kansas and eastern Colorado is always notorious for its winds and boring scenery. This stop for gas finds it 101 goddamn degrees. Add to that a horrendous crosswind of about 40 mph. There is absolutely no need for this uninhabitable nonsense and I hate this shit. On top of it this hot weather expanded and loosened that damned weatherstripping again, but this time on the entire top on one side of the trailer. The winds are whipping it around too.
I had to stop to fix it and get gas (currently getting 6 mpg). I could not climb on top but did the next best thing – pulled into the trucker fuel lane and stood on the concrete barrier protecting the pumps. Problem solved. May have to pack a ladder though.
This weatherstripping has been a pain before (when I was moving to Washington in 2012) but there is no fix as far as I know – it expands and contracts with the weather. This piece is now cracked so it looks like I’ll be replacing it when I get back. The other side I replaced around 2014.
I had to pull over in the shade at a rest area near past Hays to fire up the fridge again. I think I’m gonna sit here a bit and let it run longer so I don’t have to stop so frequently. My frozen stuff is thawing out. I might think about a late lunch to take advantage of the time. Last stop had no sshade so I’m taking advantage of this stop.
I have driven this road many many many times and I have never seen it this windy except for once in the early 80s when a really severe thunderstorm was blowing through. I was in my old CJ-5 and had to stop under a bridge for an hour or two late at night (2:00 A.M.) until it blew over. The temperature now says 103 on my truck sitting in the shade. I don’t really remember ever having weather this hot either.
I decided to go ahead and push on. I was just east of the KOA at Wakeeny but it was still fairly early in the day – around 3:45. I still had plenty of daylight to go plus I’m going to gain an hour at Brewster, Kansas. I want to get as far as I can so I can get into the mountains tomorrow at a decent time. It’s getting close to the weekend and I need to get someplace.
I made it to the KOA in Goodland, just shy of the Colorado border. The next one is in Limon and I would have went in if this one in Goodland was full.
I got everything hooked up and did some reorganization in the truck to take stuff from the trailer and put into the truck. I converted the front dinette into my bed and put the rear dinette back into its seating configuration. It is so much more roomy to sit comfortably and feels less cluttered inside. This also means I need to get rid of some things out of the trailer when I get back. Since I am currently traveling solo I don’t need a big bed (and no, I don’t mean the dog).
I cooked some Chinese food for dinner and a shower is the other reward of the day. The winds are still howling but with the other RVs around and some trees and a few buildings it breaks it up a little. It still shakes the trailer though!
Tomorrow the winds should die out and it will be cooler in the morning. I know the afternoon will b e cooler since I plan on getting in the mountains by then!
Time for a few thoughts…
Like I said earlier I have been down this interstate too many times to count. I remember coming out to Colorado as a small kid on family vacations, and many times over the years as an adult. Some years I was driving out this highway three or four times a year. Needless to say the place is in my blood. And my heart.
As a youngster we would pack up the old 1962 Chevy II station wagon with a pallet to stretch out on between the camping gear. Seat belts? Didn’t have them. I was always really excited to go and we would stop at one of the first rest areas and I would pick up a free map that they used to have in a dispenser on a post.
I would get out my trusty magic marker and anxiously follow our route the entire time, using my black highlighter to keep track of our progress.
I remember seeing many of the tourist sight signs even into my adult years. Some of the attractions we stopped to see, such as the World Famous Rock City (now re-opened it looks like), the Walther P. Chrysler boyhood home, The Eisenhower Museum and even the now long gone Indian Burial Pit that, if I remember right, was around Salina.
We saw the signs for hundreds of miles but we never did stop at the worlds largest prairie dog. I did stop there as an adult. It’s a giant concrete statue of a prairie dog located amongst an animal freakshow that was a poster child for animal abuse. It is shutdown as well but you can still sneak a peek at the statue through the deterioration of the plywood barrier.
The thing is, I see these things advertised and wonder how long they will remain relevant – or even open for business. Classic restaurants will always be there, like The Cozy Inn in Salina, but how many people these days visit these attractions? Younger generations did not grow up with this stuff so do they or WILL they care? Seems rather sad in a way, but it is just the way it is.
I may have written about this stuff before, but I didn’t go back to check. I thought about it a few days ago as I showed my granddaughter Emery what I did when I was younger and showed her my trip in 2012 to move to Washington that I had highlighted as well. I gave her her very own atlas and highlighter so she could do the same with her trips.
I am typing this before calling it a night in a KOA in Douglas, WY, the smell of campfires being sucked in through the trailer windows by one of the new super duper fans I installed. I told you a road trip was coming up!
It was a fairly uneventful drive down from MT (more on that in a bit). The temps were a bit warm – hottest I saw was about 84 degrees Farenheit. Not sweltering, but you have to understand I am still getting used to the different, drier climate in the Rocky Mountain area as opposed to the PNW. I had the A/C cranking!
I did not bother taking pictures because I have posted pictures of this route before and not much has really changed. There is some pretty scenery along the way but much of it’s just miles and miles of miles and miles, especially souther MT and all of WY.
So…about the “fairly uneventful drive”…
I made a pit stop on an off-ramp to get more water (I also check the hitch, chains, tires, etc. each time I stop, too). I decided to go ahead and make a reservation at the KOA so I could flush the water lines and do some system checks – water heater (with the new switch I installed), propane heat on the water heater, 12 volt water pump, and anything else that needed a once-over. i also put some water in the water tank so I can boondock it for a day or two if I want.
So there I am jetting down I-25, and I get through Casper. I am about four miles from the exit and my truck died on the interstate. I pulled over and called the KOA to see if they could suggest anyone local to call for some assistance. They asked if I had AAA but I don’t (might oughta think about that I guess…).
Ended up one of the guys from the KOA came out to help…with a gas can. Yep. I am a dumbass. I got through Casper and looked at the gas gauge and it was a real “uh-oh” moment (okay, that not REALLY what I said). I was too far out of Casper to go back – gee, I would hate to run out – so I went onwards hoping for the best. That didn’t work out very well. I am usually more careful than that.
I got into the trailer, went through a few things I wanted to check, got the hot water flowing for a shower before bed, and I was ready to eat. I whipped up some stir-fry chicken with some vegan organic Hokkien noodles, canned chicken, garlic powder, chili flakes and soy sauce. A Fat Tire Ale, a plate and chopsticks later and I was quite full and my taste buds happy. It turned out pretty good for a quick meal.
I am getting better with the chopsticks but have had to really just start over with them after my surgery last year (I tried left hand but that is a no-go…very right handed!). I’m still having weakness issues with that hand, and my left hand has some problems that I have to have surgery to repair. It really sucks but I make do for now. Makes it hard to play guitar though.
I still have to get a wok for stir-fry. I am looking at a Taylor & Ng Natural Nonstick flat-bottom wok, either a 12″ or 14″. I can use it for many things in the trailer so I can cut down on some kitchen gear I haul around. I still need to get that ordered. Maybe I will do that while I am out on my adventure.
It was nice to get a shower in after sweating bullets getting set up. However, the repair on my shower did not hold up so I will have to do what I did not really want to do – take the whole toilet/shower apart and fix it. Looking at it I guess it may not be too bad to fix – not as bad as I thought originally – just a bit daunting at first glance. I did a temporary fix to keep it from leaking but when I get back to MT I have to take care of it. Only one way to know how to do something and that is to just go for it. I learned that lesson well my first solo trip out in a boat heading to Protection Island in a storm with water splashing up over the wheelhouse!
All in all a pretty average day. Tomorrow will be more travel and I will be taking some roads I have not been on yet. I don’t plan on a driving marathon while I am out. I am enjoying traveling much more that way.