Medicine Bow Mountains, CO: 6/17 – 6/22/20

It was time to boon dock again. We left Fort Collins and drove west on 14 along the Cache la Poudre River. We found a perfect spot just off Laramie River Road, with a stream behind us.

When we left around 2 p.m. for a short hike, there were two moose, a cow and her calf, walking down the road. I grabbed my phone and was able to catch one of them before they retreated down to the river. It looks like we have some neighbors.

There are several trailheads off Laramie River Road, which is why Scott chose this location. We drove a few miles to the trailhead for Trail 177. We hiked 4.35 miles round trip to three lakes: Lost, Laramie and Twin.

There is a wide, gravel road to begin this hike.
#1 – Lost Lake
#2 – Laramie Lake

At times, the trails was difficult to follow, but I followed my guy through the soft, muddy grasses.

#3 – Twin Lakes
Beaver Dam on Twin Lakes

Our next hike would be our LONGEST EVER together. We hiked 14.29 miles round trip on West Branch Trail, which follows its fork of the Laramie River up into the Rawah Wilderness ending at Island and Carey Lakes. It took us almost nine hours through snow and overflowing trails as a result of snow runoff. Total elevation gain was 2,635 feet.

Here we go.
Crossing over the Laramie River to continue the hike.

There were sections of the trail that were flowing with water from snow melt. We had to hop on rocks and walk on logs to cross over. I slipped and one foot went entirely into the cold water.

The trail quickly went from this…
…to this

There was mostly snow on the trails for the next TWO miles to the lake.

Are you coming darling?
Are we there yet?
Island Lake wasn’t the only thing frozen. Time to add layers.
This is what summer can look like in Colorado!
The reason they call it “Island” Lake.
Beautiful shot, Scott!
A view of Carey Lake.

With wet, cold feet, we tackled our way back through the snow. It was a pleasure to finally get back on a dirt trail. Only FIVE more miles to get back to the truck. We were two tired puppies at the end of this hike. We both slept like babies that night.

The following day, we felt refreshed but decided to take a shorter hike. We drove to Cameron Pass and bought a day pass to Colorado State Park for $9. You can buy an annual pass for $80 and get into all of the state parks, but we didn’t think we’d actually get to many more state parks.

It was already after three when we started this short hike. While it is only 0.8 miles to reach Agnes Lake, it is all switchbacks going up. Once you reach the lake, there are accessible, partly-snowy trails to walk around half of the lake.

Looking down at the lake.
Zoom in dead center to see our furry friend on the rock.
Scott told me to walk across the log onto the ice so he could take my picture. Right.

On our last day boon docking in this area, we took an 11-mile bike ride on Laramie Ditch Road. The ten-foot wide gravel road gradually rose in elevation. On one side was a huge drop off to the meadow below. On the other side was a man-made ditch that connected runoff from the mountains to the Cache La Poudre River. This was part of an expansion project near the start of West Branch Trail. We passed and stopped to admire several waterfalls that were feeding into this newly created ditch.

It wasn’t long before we reached the end of the road.

Time to turn around. It started raining on our way back down, but the rain soon subsided. It is very normal this time of year to have rain/thunderstorms in the afternoon. Tomorrow, we will say goodbye to our peaceful solitude and return to civilization – complete with WIFI and a cell signal. Off to Breckenridge!

North Sterling Park, CO: 6/14 – 6/17/20

North Sterling State Park is located in the northeastern section of the expansive state of Colorado. It is just east of the Pawnee National Grasslands.

The campsites are spread out, but there were no trees to separate one another. We were not on the water side, but we were directly across the road from the water. After we got settled, we took a walk up the road to a trail that spanned the perimeter of the large reservoir.

Looking back at camp.

Later that evening, Scott took a walk back up the trail to catch some sunset pictures.

On his way back down the hill, he caught a brilliant shot of the campground. Look at those storm clouds! If you zoom in, you can spot our white truck behind our fifth wheel with the toys still attached to the back.

The temperature was over 100 degrees when we arrived early afternoon. While it did cool down a bit overnight, it was still quite warm. This was not the type of place where I wanted to hang out in mid June. It was way too hot and I missed the beauty and the summer temperature in the mountains. That evening, we watched a lighting storm. It was pretty amazing.

Even though we did get out on the water with our paddle board and kayak, we had come here for one purpose only. Scott’s dad passed away in January of 2019. He wanted to spread his dad’s remaining ashes somewhere special. Scott was born and raised in Colorado. When he was young, his dad would take him hunting in Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area, which is not far from where we camped.

Scott recalled how they used to stop at the Ranger Office to sign in and receive a spot assigned solely to them. The office was closed, due to Covid19, but Scott seemed to think that Site 8E was the last time he was here with his dad. So, off we went in search of Site 8E. The place was deserted. There was a two-foot electrical fence that we had to climb over. I chose to stay back on the road and allow him some time alone.

The next day, we drove through Pierce, CO, so that I could see the house where Scott lived in from Grade 8 – 12. He said it looked quite different from what he remembered.

Tomorrow, we head to a KOA in Fort Collins to do laundry and catch up on chores.

Golden, Colorado: 6/11 – 6/14/20

We had just left Buena Vista and were going over Kenosa Pass when a warning light came on in the truck. The coolant level was low, and Scott knew that we would not be able to drive straight to Sterling without checking it out. So, we quickly googled the closest campground in the area. We were lucky to find a place in Golden.

Dakota Ridge RV Park is located in a small suburb, Golden, just outside of Denver. It is a popular spot for travelers that want to be near the city and the mountains. They have a number of amenities including a beautiful pool. Unfortunately, the pool was closed due to Covid19. Scott reserved it for three nights since we didn’t know how long it would take to get the truck serviced. We were still waiting for a phone call back from the Chevy Dealer.

This RV Park is also located directly opposite from a biker’s hangout, Dirty Dog Roadhouse. The next day, Scott drove the truck to the Chevy Dealer roughly eight miles away. Unfortunately, he was unable to get a ride home from Uber or a cab. Nobody was answering the phone. It took him about two hours to walk back. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I decided to walk across the street to the bar/restaurant to pick up some take out dinner. I will say that some people (like me) were wearing masks inside the restaurant, but it was a completely different scene outside. I had never seen so many motorcycles in one place at one time.

You can see our trailer across the street.

Our trailer is to the right of the yellow building behind the fence.

When Scott returned, we ate our dinner while listening to live music.

The bar/restaurant is open seven days a week until 2 a.m. During the summer, there is live music on the stage seven days a week. I find it hard to believe that a popular “family” RV Park would be located next to this type of place. I asked the manager before we left who was there first. The woman emphatically said that the RV Park was there first.

We only stopped there because of truck issues and most likely will never go back. Once was enough.

The truck was ready the following day. It was loosing coolant and it needed to have a few hoses replaced. Simultaneously, the water pump on the trailer broke on the same day. Fortunately, Scott picked up a new pump for $125 at a RV store. He was able to do the replacement himself, which saved a nice penny. Everything had to be removed from the storage area, so that he could play with all the hoses.

If you are planning to purchase an RV in your future, I highly suggest that you only do so if you have a mechanical mind or a lot of money. Things do and will go wrong. Trust me.

Buena Vista, CO, Boon Docking: 6/4 – 6/11/20

We drove to Collegiate Peaks Campground in Buena Vista with the hope of getting a site for a few nights. There were a few spots open for just Thursday night, but they were completely booked for the weekend. (I guess that the masses are beginning to tire of social distancing.) A few miles down the road, across from Avalanche Trailhead parking lot, we found a BLM spot near the stream. It was a bit tricky backing into the narrow, uneven spot, but Scott made it happen. Unfortunately, we took up three campsites. There were still more sites open for more boon dockers.

The next morning, we drove to Cottonwood Pass and took a short walk up the Continental Divide Trail. There were still remnants of the white stuff on parts of the trail. As we got higher in elevation, the snow was much deeper in spots.

The view opposite of us at the start of the trail.
Here we go.
The brown, dirt trail suddenly changed to this.

It wasn’t long before I refused to go any further up. We were just out to take a “walk” which was turning into a “get your feet are wet” hike. I encouraged Scott to climb alone up to the high point. Then I filmed him.

This was before he went further up to the high point and out of my sight

On the way back down, we encountered some deeper snow. I like when I am following Scott and am able to take a candid shot.

At least I could follow in his footsteps, even though it was slow going for both of us.

Two days later, we took another ”snowy” hike to Ptarmigan Lake. During the summer months, snow covered trails are to be expected in Colorado at higher elevations.

This is a relatively easy six-mile hike to the lake. It was a perfect hiking day with temperatures in the 50’s and mostly sunny. As we gained elevation and got closer to Ptarmigan Lake, it became windy and there was snow covering parts of the trail. It also became a bit colder.

We finally arrived at the mostly frozen lake.

We stopped to rest and eat some lunch, but it wasn’t long before we had to move again to get warm.

I had had a headache for two days and was feeling under the weather. I believe that it was a case of mountain sickness. The fresh air has a way of making you feel better, but I was a bit cranky in the beginning. That evening we had some visitors! My nephew was driving cross country from San Diego to New Jersey. As he travelled through Colorado, he visited a friend in Salida, which was only about 30 minutes from Buena Vista. The next day, we met Pat and his dog, Harley, for lunch. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was for me to see family again.

Later that day, Scott and I hiked up the Colorado Trail from the Avalanche Trailhead, which was located across the street from our campsite. We couldn’t leave the area without at least walking on part of it.

It got very cold that evening. This is what we woke up to the next morning.

The snow was gone by mid-morning. After five nights of boon docking, our next stop was the Buena Vista, KOA to take care of business.

Scott was up early to capture some sunrise pictures.

Our trailer is dead center.
Mount Princeton is dead center.

Time to head northeast to Sterling, Colorado.

East Fork of the San Juan River Boon Docking: 5/31 – 6/4/20

At this point, Colorado had begun to lift more of their restrictions due to COVID19. Restaurants were permitted to open as long as they followed strict guidelines. As we passed through Pagosa Springs, we decided to stop and have lunch. We dined “outside” at Tequilas Pagosa and enjoyed looking out at the place where we had honeymooned years ago.

Pagosa Springs Resort & Spa

I have to admit that it felt weird to be eating and drinking at a restaurant, but we enjoyed it! About 30 minutes from Pagosa Springs, we found a perfect place to boon dock along the San Juan River off East Fork Road. There are several dry camping spots scattered along this river and they are all free.

You need to see the aerial view to see how special this spot was.

We both slept soundly enjoying the constant sound of the rushing water just outside our windows. In the morning, I found my perch where I could enjoy my coffee and the view.

The trailhead for Coal Creek Trail was a short walk down the road. We hiked 5.72 miles round-trip with 1,797’ elevation gain.

The next day we took a drive along East Fork Road to Silver Falls. It was a short, steep hike to reach the vibrant falls.

We crossed the East Fork River and continued on East Fork Road. On a few occasions, we had to drive through one to two feet of water. One such crossing was Quartz Creek.

On the way back, I took the wheel. It is exhilarating to drive through water.

The next day, we hiked Coal Creek Trail again. This time, we made it to the top of the ridge. In total, we hiked 8.93 miles with an elevation gain of 2,933 feet. The trail is partially shaded by the many evergreen trees, with switchbacks that slowly gain in elevation. Although, some sections were a bit steep.

Signing In
Lush Grenery
Remnants of Winter
Lunch at the Ridge

That evening, we were relaxing in our chairs when a forest animal came to visit. This was a first for me. The skinny creature looked hungry. We were surprised that it came so close to us. He ran away before I had a chance to.

Zoom in …

The next morning, it was time to get ready to head out. I offered to get up on the roof and sweep the many pine needles off the top of the three slides.

On to Buena Vista!

Mesa Verde National Park, CO: 5/29 – 5/31/20

From Durango, it was only 70 miles west to Mesa Verde National Park. They had partially reopened the park on May 22, and we were fortunate enough to get a site in Morefield Campground in Apache Loop.

After we got settled, we took a drive and stopped at Montezuma Valley Overlook. We parked the truck, and Scott began to walk down a dirt path. In past years, it was much wider and known as Knife’s Road. The road was narrow and steep, and the instability of the soil made it difficult to maintain. Today is is a short walking path to breathtaking views.

After dinner, we took a short hike up Knife Edge Trail. The trailhead was located a few hundred feet from our site in Apache Loop.

Scott was ready with his camera to catch the sun set.

Waiting patiently for the sun to set.

There are two main roads that take you through this National Park. Chapin Mesa Road is open year-round, and Wetherill Mesa Road (which is open May through September, weather permitting) was closed due to COVID19. Although none of the ranger-guided tours into the dwellings were in operation, we were able to take a self-guiding hike. Petroglyph Point Loop Trail is 2.4 miles round trip, with many sections of rock steps and cliff edges.

About a mile and a half in, we came across the old etchings in stone.

It was a warm day, but there were several cool spots where we were shaded from the hot sun. Below is a view from the top.

Next, we decided to hike down into the canyon via Spruce Canyon Loop Trail, which was also 2.4 miles round trip. It was a pleasant hike down into the canyon…

…followed by an unpleasant hike back up. It was HOT and there wasn’t any shade to be found, just high grass along a very narrow path tickling our legs. We didn’t see any other hikers…I wonder why. Below is a view of the canyon below us.

Near the entrance to both trails, there was a paved trail where you could see the Spruce Tree House. This was the closest we would get to it.

We got back on Chapin Mesa Road and continued to Mesa Top Loop, a self-guiding auto tour of 600 years of Ancestral Puebloan architectural development. There are short, paved walkways, most of which are wheelchair-accessible.

The last stop on Mesa Top Loop was Sun Temple.

We were in awe of these homes and how much still remained. I wanted to climb through the window and run around inside, but there was a sign clearly indicating that trespassing was strictly off limits.

View from the window

The last loop off Chapin Mesa Road is Cliff Palace Loop, which leads you to Cliff Palace and the Balcony House. Tour tickets are required, but they were not for sale. We just stopped and admired the view, while Scott snapped a picture of Cliff Palace.

I snapped a picture, too.

In the morning, we will head east to Pagosa Springs.

Durango, Colorado: 4/17 – 5/29/20

We left Arizona and headed to Durango, Colorado. We decided to hunker down there and not travel around with Covid 19 ever present. All National Parks had closed down as well as some State Parks, but we knew of an old KOA that was sold and purchased privately that was going to open up on April 17. When we purchased our new fifth wheel in Amarillo, TX, we stayed at the Oasis RV Resort. We learned that those owners had purchased the KOA outside of the city of Durango on Hwy 160. They changed the name to Oasis RV & Cottages Resort and officially opened on April 17, 2020. We were their first customer! They took a picture of us as we pulled in late afternoon on the 17th. Google “Oasis RV Resort Durango Photos” to check it out.

The new owners have invested a lot of money to reshape the campground and make it a “year-round” facility. One of the new additions was a new Pickleball court. We were fortunate to see the progression.

They poured the cement during our first week here. We played on the “unpainted” concrete court without a fence or net for the next two weeks. We spent a lot of time running after the balls. Last week, they installed the fence. They plan to paint the court at the end of the month. We will be gone, but at least we were able to play while using our Superman eyesight to call the shots. Of course, there may have been some cheating going on with regards to the kitchen.

We came here to practice social distancing, and pretty much only took hikes and bike rides during the week. We hung out at the campground on the weekends, totally enjoying the sport of Pickleball. And, I was fortunate to be able to Zoom yoga classes daily.

Oasis RV Resort is located 10 miles east of the center of the town of Durango, and a short drive to great hiking and biking trails.

Here are a few mountain biking areas to check out.

Horse Gulch

It is rated as difficult, but not all of the trails fall under that category. The initial ride up a dirt, rocky road took my breath away. We learned to take it really slow in order to sustain its continual grade upward. Once you reach the top, there is a trail map with several options.

Three Springs Trail

Three Springs was less than a ten minute drive from our campground. There is a practice area for beginning riders. Then, there are two easy loops that are fun, flowing trails. It’s a great place to improve your skills and gain confidence. I know that I did.

Sale Barn Trailhead

The trails here are intermediate to advanced, with a lot of different loop options. Here is a view along one of the loops. Our campground is located on the far horizon.

There are several hiking options within a short drive from Oasis RV. Over the course of six weeks, we hiked a total of 110 miles with a total elevation gain of 21,323 feet. Here are some photographs from these hikes.

View of Durango from Smelter Mountain
Vallecito Creek Trail
Vallecito Creek Trail … Time to turn around
The Colorado Trail at Gudy’s Rest
Our Four-Legged-Friend, Maya, getting a drink.
Castle Rock Trail
Castle Rock Trail … An hour later…
Haflin Creek Trail
Hanging out on Missionary Ridge Trail after hiking Red Creek Trail
Chimney Rock National Monument
We made it!
Walked three miles up the road to Chimney Rock. Took a different path back down.
Watch out for biting cactus!!!!!
Stream Crossing at Vallecito Creek
Cascade Creek Trail
Beginning of Pine River Trail
Pine River Trail (2 miles in)
Rock Slide
On our way back out, we ran into a friend at Granite Peak Ranch
Lizard Head Pass Trail
Scott trying to keep up with me!
Mount Sneffles
Andrew’s Lake
Above Andrew’s Lake
Struggling on the incline
Taking a break to order pizza for my mom.
Lemon Reservoir, our starting point, can be seen in the distance.
We had to go off trail to get back down.
Scott leading the way as we bushwhacked through the aspens.

During our six weeks here, it was nice to be able to see Molly for some hikes and a few dinners together. We are planning to stay in the state of Colorado for a good part of the summer. We both love it here, and there is still a lot to see and do. The National Parks are beginning to open up with social distancing rules in place. Our next stop is Mesa Verde!

Flagstaff, AZ: 4/15 – 4/17/20

We needed to leave Mesa to escape the hot weather that was soon to arrive. I can’t do extreme heat, even if it is dry heat. State restrictions were still in place, however we were able to head north into Flagstaff. As we got close to Flagstaff, we could see Arizona’s highest point in the distance. The peak on the left is Mount Humphreys. Scott hiked there in April of 2019 while I was visiting family in New Jersey.

We boon docked for two nights on Forest Road 518, just west of Flagstaff off Hwy 40. Social distancing was back in full effect.

In the morning we took a five-mile hike on Elden Lookout Trail. There were remnants of snow here and there along the trail.

It was extremely windy at the peak but the view was worth the hike (as it most often is).

When we reached the summit, the tower gate was locked so this would be it for the view. We weren’t going to get any higher today.

Steps to Lookout Closed Off

Tomorrow, we head to Durango, Colorado.

Mesa, AZ: 3/23 – 4/15/20

Originally, we planned to break up the eight-hour drive to Mesa from Durango, CO, and stop about half way. Due to the Coronavirus, we thought it best that we drive straight through. We called ahead and Towerpoint RV was able to accommodate us two nights early.

As we headed west on 160, the landscape remained constant.

All of a sudden, we were in four states at one time. This place is known as Four Corners, where four states (Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona) border. I knew that it is the only place in the United States where four states border, however, I wasn’t expecting this.

It was closed (like so many other places) due to the Coronavirus.

I googled Four Corners and was able to see more of what I imagined it would look like.

We continued traveling on Hwy 160/64W to 89S to 40W to 17S to 101S to 60E. Exit 185 would take us to Towerpoint RV Resort, where we would enjoy a warmer climate. This year we had site F37.

Directly across the street was a palm tree which affected the angle with which Scott needed to be able to back in. Plus, the incline of the driveway was about two feet, and the bottom of our toy hitch was about one foot from the ground. Needless to say, it became an hour-and-a-half ordeal to park our rig. This happened next.

Here is another angle.

We were stuck. We couldn’t go forward and we couldn’t go backwards. So, Scott had to remove our toy hitch. All of a sudden, several neighbors came by to help.??? Scott had to detach our toys and then the hitch so that he could back into the spot. OMG

Toys Off. Now the hitch.

As a result of the sharp turn, our cooler that was in the bed jammed into the our brand new tool box, which we later gave to one of the resort’s workers. Now we know that it was probably not the best place to put the cooler.

We finally got settled into our new location for the next week.

The summer-like weather in Arizona was delightful, but it was unfortunate that the pools and most amenities at this 55+ resort were off limits due to Coronavirus. Fortunately, we were lucky to be able to play some tennis. There were four courts with doubles games taking place, but Scott and I preferred to play alone. The media was beginning to talk about social distancing. Besides, we were not interested in playing doubles. In addition to tennis courts, the facility also had four Pickle Ball courts. We used their equipment, remembering not to touch our face and to wash our hands thoroughly afterwards. It bothered us a little bit that the regulars were still playing doubles and moving around close together. Perhaps they didn’t care because they are all neighbors. And at this point, there were so few cases in the state. Then, on March 31, all outdoor activities were closed. Even access to water where we could play with our water toys was barricaded. With the warm/hot weather, any hiking would have to occur early in the day. There were a few trailheads in the area that were open to the public, and they were not very crowded. At this point, we realized how much our world was changing. We had begun to feel the punch of this new beast.

Usery Mountain Regional Park was still open to bikers, hikers, and dog walkers. We hiked there on four different occasions. The first hike was 8.7 miles with 1,516’ elevation gain on Pass Mountain Trail to Wind Cave Trail.

Cactus Arms on Pass Mountain Trail
Heading Up to the Cave
Hanging out by the Cave

Our next hike was 9.2 miles, 1,007’ elevation gain and a full loop around Pass Mountain Trail. This trail was not as steep, but the views to the north were gorgeous. My pictures don’t do it justice.

It was a warm, windy day and I just had to capture the sounds in the desert.

The wildflowers were beginning to bloom, which made for a colorful desert.