If we had left our campsite on the Rio Grande and drove to our next scheduled event – the Xscapers convergence in Salida, Colorado, it would only take us three hours. But the event doesn’t start for a couple of weeks, so figuring out where to stay between now and then has been a challenge – for Tom. Yes, just like driving, it’s better for our partnership if he does the route planning as well!IMG_4037

There are many great state parks in Colorado, but we didn’t really want to fork over the $80 for an annual state park pass. And we don’t like paying the extra $8 per night out-of-stat fee without it. There are a lot of boondocking spots, but finding one that’s at high enough elevation (so we don’t have to run the AC), and has good internet reception (a must these days) AND is not down a long bumpy dirt road (cuz we hate rattling our home that much) is like finding a needle in a haystack. But Tom’s good at it. So we decided to do a bit of zig-zagging and make shorter stays and take advantage of Harvest Hosts.

One such host was at a brewery that is only open on weekends, so before getting there we planned on an overnight next to a reservoir less than an hour down the road – in Colorado. Yes, we were that close to the border! It was right off the road and had nice shade trees. We pulled in. . . . and we just weren’t feeling it.  We stayed to have some lunch while we debated, during which time we listened to the blaring talk radio of a long-term-looking camper and watch some fishermen kick their fish around in the dirt.

As they often say in the RVing world, the nice thing about a home on wheels is your ability to move it. So we did. We went on to the next stop on Tom’s itinerary, which was at a city park in Del Norte. You get a free one night stay and  they also had free dump and water – and great internet! Plus, it was within walking distance to a great brewery that had fantastic pizza: Three Barrel Brewing Company.

I love how Tom ‘s motto is take drink(s) first, then remember to take a pic!
Isn’t this a gorgeous “site”? We had our own private corner and it was like we had our own backyard park.

The next day I talked to the nice ladies in town hall and asked if we might be able to stay one more night. They were having a free concert event at the park that night and were hesitant about us taking up parking space. They said it’s usually only allowed if we were waiting on repair parts or something. I said “Well, my husband is downtown doing laundry and isn’t finished yet – does that count?” Like I said, they were very nice and gave us the green light.

Which also meant we were treated to free music by a great band doing cover for the Grateful Dead. Great fun (even though the mosquitos were out in force).

It was a great family atmosphere – and alcohol is allowed in city parks in Colorado!

We were (again) a stone’s throw from the fast-flowing Rio Grande, although this time at river level. The river walk was closed because of high waters and there was a flood watch in effect the whole time we were there.

On Friday we were back on schedule to go spend a night at the brewery – just a half hour back down the way we came. To my surprise and amazement it was WAY out in the country – right on the farm ground where their barley is grown. As we were traveling down a lonely country road with just five miles to get there, we heard a loud POP! Yes it was a blowout and our tire pressure monitor did not go beep beep beep until after the pop. There was absolutely no shoulder to pull off to, but luckily it wasn’t a busy road. Tom calmly got the rig parked and we got out to survey the damage. Surprisingly little. It was the inside of the rear duals on the passenger side. We could see the exposed wires of the steel belting, but there was barely a dent to the inside of the tire well. Oddly, we found a cable wrapped around the wheel. Tom got it pulled out and we couldn’t imagine where it came from. The road? The tire? It didn’t look like it came from the RV. It was a mystery.

We unhitched the car and Tom slowly (10 mph) drove to the brewery. Once there, we called roadside assistance (Triple A) who could not change it on site, but offered to bring out a tow truck. We didn’t like that option and called  the nearest truck tire shop right before they closed. They ordered us tires (yes we decided to replace all four in the rear) because no one around had the right size in stock. They said they could be there first thing Monday morning and could come out and change the tire on site. Perfect.

We explained the situation to the brewery owner who was sympathetic and let us stay there all weekend. Thank you to The Colorado Brewing Company! Then we proceeded to go in and drink beer. Alcohol was appreciated after that blowout!

That night we met a guy named Mike who works at The Lab in Los Alamos, NM and came up for some weekend fly fishing. We had a great visit. They also had great sausages and sandwiches they grilled right outside, and it smelled too good to pass up.IMG_4077

We stayed home the next day and felt compelled (teehee) to visit our hosts again on Saturday night for more beer. This time an Xscapers couple (Eric & Jeanette) we had met in Moab was there. Another nice night of visiting. I was amazed at how crowded the place was. IMG_4150IMG_4076When we got there I thought “Who would drive out this far for some craft beer?” and the answer turned out to be people from all over the world we found out from the owners!

On Sunday we took advantage of  being in the area (and the bar being closed) and drove out to Great Sand Dunes National Park. IMG_4136IMG_4131The place was packed and the weather was chilly. We watched a video presentation at the visitors center and saw the excellent views you can get by hiking up to the top of the dunes. However, we’ve had much experience climbing up the sand dunes in Pismo California and were not excited about hiking in the sand.

IMG_4037 2
When you’re in Colorado, I guess this is as close to a day at the beach as you can get.

We opted for the off-road trail drive and had just as much fun. IMG_4109

I did not wade out to see how deep it was! There were lifted vehicles that blazed through, but we turned around here.
They had a nice turn around spot and we stopped to hike a bit. The area looked like it used to be an old camping area with different outbuildings by the creek.
Tom as usual always finds any old log homes in the area! These were pretty short.

All in all, our disaster turned out rather well. The tire shop (Big shout out to Reed Tire in La Jara, CO) was on top of it and by 9:30 am on Monday morning we were good to go.

They did a field service call to get us going, then we drove 10 miles to their shop for them to change out all the back tires. Great guys!

However, while boondocking at the brewery, we found out where that cable had come from: Our solar system, where Tim had passed the wiring through the wheel well. We had to resort to running the generator to charge the batteries and Tom has repair parts on order.

Which means we’re in more of a hurry to get to the big city of Colorado Springs. It has been quite a while since we’ve been in a Costco-sized town, and we have a list of things coming to Amazon lockers there before we head back to small-town Colorado.

When Tom presented me with the two options of going Northeast to meet up with smaller groups or going Northwest to Colorado Springs…well, luckily I opted for Costco and Amazon lockers!

It will be great because we’ll be meeting up with good friends before going into Salida together.

But there was one more overnight stop Tom had planned that I thought we should do first even though it was a bit out of the way: An overnight at the UFO Watchtower outside of the dunes.IMG_4071It was a quirky little roadside attraction – with a campground – and we enjoyed poking around the weird little monuments where people leave something behind. We went out late at night and did some fabulous star gazing from their viewing stand, but alas, no sightings.

So we are now on our way down in elevation. But we had to cross a mountain range first which means we’ll be making a giant circle back across to Salida.

In the meantime I have a long shopping list and an eagerly awaited Amazon package waiting. And I’m sure there’s something we need from Costco!

Happy Travels,

Peace & Love, Joy

staticmap (2)