Montrose to Dinosaur National Monument

Montrose has grown so much over the years. We used to live 70 miles north and went through Montrose often going back and forth to see family in Colorado Springs. I always thought it and Gunnison looked similar and were about the same size. Not anymore as Montrose just keeps growing and growing. If someone held a gun to my head and said I had to live in Colorado and to choose a town, it would be Montrose. This western side of Colorado is not nearly as congested as the Denver/Colorado Springs corridor and I think it is much prettier and has closer access to more beautiful mountains.

The reason we stopped in Montrose was to visit friend Janet who had recently relocated from the Oregon coast. She and her boys had just moved into a new townhouse less than two weeks prior to our visit and although she didn’t ask, Steve made some repairs for her and installed a new kitchen faucet.

While in Montrose, we stayed two nights at a nearby municipal park that allows free RV parking and as an added bonus it was quiet and on the Uncompaghre River that has a few miles of walking and biking trails.

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One day we all drove to the next town south,Ridgway. It is a cute little western styled town with wonderful views of the San Juan mountains, also known as Little Switzerland. Ridgway has an old western cafe called True Grit for John Wayne whose movie of the same name was made in the area. The walls are covered with his pictures and movie posters. We had eaten at True Grit several years previous and knew it had great food. I was jealous of Steve and Janet with their tacos,burgers, and sweet potato fries but stuck to the vegan offering on the menu which although healthy, wasn’t too good. So I made up for it afterwards with bread pudding and rum sauce. Absolute heaven! The best bread pudding I have ever had and enough for all three of us to share.

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Normally the views of the San Juans are stunning from Ridgway but the weather did not cooperate on this day.

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This is an old picture, so old I had to scan it, taken from Ridgeway State Park of the San Juans.

Our next stop was Grand Junction but just for one night as the next morning we had a new windshield installed. The upper corner of the windshield shattered and the cause was torquing or flexing the body of the motorhome due to incorrect use of the levelers. I could write an entire post on all the things that have gone wrong in this motorhome and in each case it was human caused. Sigh……

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Next we headed to Dinosaur National Monument in the corners of NW Colorado and NE Utah. Because Grand Junction is well west of big mountains, I assumed the drive north to Dinosaur would be flat and I didn’t do my homework which unfortunately is now necessary with a bigger motorhome and tow vehicle. There was a pass to cross called Douglas where the climb seemed to go on forever with many very sharp and steep hairpin turns. I did get nervous.

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Near the top of Douglas Pass

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It is much farther down than it looks.

I have never been interested in going to Dinosaur National Monument because I thought the area would be very desolate and barren and also I don’t care to see bones, no matter how old they are. But we were tired of driving the same familiar highways to the northwest and decided to try something different. It was a big surprise to find out the area is just beautiful with multi-colored cliffs, the swift flowing Green River, and even some mountains.

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This is Split Mountain Campground with mostly tents but it is where the rafters enter the river

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So many colors in every direction

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The Green River isn’t green here – maybe somewhere else along it’s course?

We stayed at the Green River National Park Service campground in a shady spot along the river. No hookups but there was good water and bathrooms and best of all the price was a very reasonable $9 per night with our Golden Age Pass.

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Horses across the swift river from our campsite

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Green River Campground from above

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Great views of Split Mountain from the campground

After Dinosaur the plan was to drive to the Flaming Gorge. This time I did my homework and should not have. Several of the RV forums had threads about the highway from Vernal, Utah through the Flaming Gorge and recommendations NOT to drive it with a motorhome as it was steep and winding. I looked at Google Maps terrain feature and it looked like we had to go straight up a steep mountain. What to do? Should we detour way out of the way?

Mt. Princeton, Colorado

Affordable campgrounds are hard to come by in Colorado Springs during high season. From May 1st through the end of September campground spots just about double in price. There is a state park on Cheyenne Mountain but every spot was booked for May so we renewed our Passport America membership for the 50% discount at Goldfield Campground. It is a nice enough park on the west side with full hookups, cable, and pretty decent internet but the big drawback is major highway noise right out front and most of the sites are pretty narrow. The management is super nice and didn’t hesitate to move us when we asked. They had to juggle quite a few reservations to make it work too.

After being a way a month we found out what we didn’t need in the motorhome and what we were missing and made several trips to our storage unit very close to the RV park.  We don’t anticipate going back to Colorado Springs with the motorhome for a good long, long while.  Our goal is to keep it out west and use other modes of transport if we go east….fingers crossed that nothing proves us wrong.

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Not all the sites were this close together and we only stayed one night and moved to the end of the row when the neighbor set up his chain smoking station outside our bedroom window in this narrow space.  It was warm out and we couldn’t open our windows as a result. What was he thinking?

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What were we complaining about….THIS is a tight fit!

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Finally the day came to head for the mountains.  The Mt. Princeton area, between Buena Vista and Salida is one of our favorite places for true relaxation.  We like to stay in the Mt. Princeton National Forest Campground along Chalk Creek and explore from there. It’s close to the hot springs resort, a nice lake, waterfalls, and the semi-ghost town of St. Elmo.

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The swiftly running Chalk Creek right beside our camp site is pure music to sleep by.

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The website for this campground states there is a pump for water so we came with practically empty tanks. The water from the hand pump is from a well and is quite dirty with sand in it. We drove 30 miles to buy drinking water and the camp host nicely gave us 10 gallons of his personal water for our tank that we stretched until we left. The camp host fills up a 50 gallon drum from a city plant in Buena Vista about once a week.

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Chalk Lake is 3 or 4 miles farther west and is near the Chalk Creek National Forest campground.

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There is now a $6 day use fee to visit this little lake.  The King of Fees award goes to Colorado.

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This campground only has 17 sites but all are level and although a couple of them could fit a 40 foot RV plus tow vehicle, we were the only Class A in the canyon.

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The forecast called for snow on Monarch Pass for the next 24 hours so we decided not to linger as our time for the next few days was accounted for and we couldn’t be delayed.

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Once over the pass, we always stop in Gunnison for a meal break. There is a large park on the eastern edge of town with plenty of room for multiple RV’s and semi trucks.  Gunnison is home to Western State College and about $20,000 of my and Lauren’s father’s money while she partied here for two years.  End result:  One half year’s worth of credits and peace at home while she was away.

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This route to western Colorado takes us along the 20 mile length of Blue Mesa Reservoir

I am four days behind real time on this blog and hope to catch up eventually. Either we have been extraordinarily busy, as we were in Colorado Springs, or we have been somewhere with no cell phone data or wifi.

The Last Picture Show and Tell

We are now house free and today is the first day we are not aching in every joint from moving and cleaning. For some reason this move was harder than any we had done before. An hour before the closing at the title company I had to take a few last pictures of our most favorite house.

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Even Molly is sad to leave the panoramic views

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After cleaning the carpets Steve worked on the motorhome’s carpets and we quickly discovered they were actually a much lighter color. 

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These wide and short windshield-like windows with the ever changing views depending on the weather, always reminded me of going to the drive-in movies when we were kids.

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Hard to leave our peach trees, not that we ever had more than 4 peaches total. Normally a frost gets the blooms or the squirrels eat the peaches. It is supposed to snow tonight and the blooms may be gone tomorrow. I almost hope so.

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Look what I found hidden in a corner behind Steve’s coat! 

Alice the motorhome is parked about 3 miles away from our house at the Garden of the Gods RV Resort where we made trip after trip with our belongings. And of course trips to the storage unit we had rented. And yet even more to my mother’s house about 10 miles away. When it came down to it, I could not sell several pieces of furniture that I like very much and we ended up hiring a moving truck to take some sofas and a bedroom set to her house.

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Our view driving home no matter where we had been. Will miss this so much but not the high altitude and dry dry air.

The shortcut to my mother’s house goes through the Garden of the Gods park. Trip Advisor readers rated this park the number one in the nation, ahead of Central Park in New York, and number 2 in the world. Our family has been visiting this park since I was nine years old and I always took it for granted and never really gave it a hard look. Each time we drive through it or stop and take a walk, I appreciate it more.

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Garden of the Gods is known for it’s red rock formations

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Cheyenne Mountain in the background

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Pikes Peak in the distance

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The Garden of the Gods is very popular with rock climbers

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We held one garage sale at our house and took what didn’t sell to my mother’s house for another garage sale last Saturday. Now my brother is selling more items for us on Craigslist. He has been such a big help and for payback we are letting him have Molly Dog for two overnights before we leave the area since he adores her. With all the trips to my mother’s house, she never failed to put a 5 to 7 course meal on the table within moments of our arrival. It was good not to have to cook for the past week and we sure enjoyed all those yummy meals.

Tomorrow or the next day we will leave for Kansas to visit Steve’s parents.  I should have more to show and tell as we will stay in a nice park with a botanical garden.

Three Months Overdue

It’s been so long since my last update that I’m not sure if I know how to write anymore.  We are back in our house as you might have guessed, but for how long remains to be seen.  It hasn’t taken long for the urge to be back on the road to strike again but we need to sit tight over the winter before making a final decision to sell the house. But then again we could list it tomorrow if the mood strikes us. You never know!

We left you right after leaving Oregon in July the last time I wrote so now I shall attempt to bring you up to date.  Our last nights in Tulip were spent at Rifle Gap State Park in Colorado.  Rifle Falls State Park is nearby and of course we had to see the falls. This park is often described as a bit of the tropics in Colorado because of the lush vegetation that the overspray from the falls creates.  It had been 10 years or more since we had seen the falls and this time they were hardly recognizable.  All the rain this past spring and summer has made for three forceful and thundering water falls.

The campground at Rifle Gap State Park

The campground at Rifle Gap State Park

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Rifle Falls State Park also has a campground but it is very small and rarely has a site available unless reserved well in advance. It is along a creek and close enough to hear the falls.

We moved back into our house in early August.  That same week Molly tore a tendon (ACL) in a rear leg and had to have surgery. If it had to happen, this was the place because we have a wonderful and affordable veterinarian nearby. The surgery cost less than the series of office visits Molly had in Yuma last year that turned out to be a complete sham as there was nothing wrong with her.  It will take 4-5 months before she is completely healed and walking normally. Her hair grew back light blonde where she was shaved so that leg is a different color than the rest of her.

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Our roof was getting old and we had some leaks so the first order of business was to get a new roof put on. Painful $$$ but we knew it had to be done, especially if we sell the house. These six roofers got it all done in one day.

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Steve only went back to work week before last and so he had two months to do a lot of chores around the house without having to rush.  He painted all the trim after the roof was done and some even had to be sanded while he practically hung upside down leaning over from the second floor.  He is back with the company that laid him off almost three years ago which allowed him to join me in Mexico https://wanderlets.com/2013/01/06/nada/.  We would not be too upset if that happened again this winter.

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The weather has been absolutely fabulous for all the outdoor work that needed to be done.  In fact, we still have windows and doors open with this summer like weather which is abnormal at this time of year. However, that can quickly change and we will be in the deep freezer with a few feet of snow.  In the meantime, the nice weather is keeping our gas and electric bill low.

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Steve washed all 43 windows on the outside which is quite the job because most are large and many are pretty high up. Now we just need to get all the insides done and the house will shine.

The very day after the renters had the carpets professionally cleaned we had to call back their carpet cleaning company two more times because of awful stains everywhere. We bought a Bissel Green Machine and then Steve did them again……and again……and again….and again. Yes, four times!  And each time the water was filthy.  For the first time our carpeting finally looks like it did when we had it installed 9 years ago.  That machine does a better job than the carpet professionals or any machine we have ever rented.  Too bad we didn’t buy it years ago and save ourselves a lot of money.

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It is SO nice to have a roomy kitchen back. The main thing I dislike about our motorhome is having a small kitchen with no place to spread out and the inability to bring all of our appliances.  We have looked online at many motor homes and see several where the kitchen would be much more workable. Strangely enough, one of the shortest class A motorhomes out there has the best kitchen along with a roomy pantry. It is the Winnebago Vista 27N which also has 123 cubic feet of exterior storage. Our Tulip only has 16 cf which is nothing in comparison.  Too bad the Vista is gas and not diesel though.

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Steve and I can cook at the same time again too. Here he is today making his speciality that is one of my favorite dishes. It is a caramelized brussels sprouts tofu dish that requires time and patience which Steve has plenty of. While he made this for lunch I made an Italian Smoothie (2 cups spinach, 1 cup raspberries, 3 dates, 3 figs, 1 apple, and a bit of water for the right consistency) in addition to a chocolate zucchini bread along with a salad.

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Our renters did leave our yard in better shape than we left it with new flowers and even an heirloom tomato plant that is still producing tasty tomatoes.  All in all, it is good to be home to regroup. And plan for what is next.