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.

Driving To Arizona

Yesterday’s drive from Ouray, Colorado to Flagstaff, Arizona was a day to remember for several reasons.  For one thing, we could not get our act together to make time.  I won’t go into the blow by blow details of how many times we stopped because I can’t count that high.  But it went something like: Stop to go to the bathroom, 10 minutes later get gas, 10 minutes later turn on the tow vehicle for it’s 15 minutes every 200 miles, 10 minutes later go to the bathroom, 10 minutes later walk the dog, 10 minutes later stop at a gas station to dump but there is no dump, 10 minutes later stop at another gas station but it’s too crowded, 10 minutes later finally dump but forgot to get water. ALL DAY LONG.

Anyhow, the views were super mainly because of the clouds.  Arizona, normally dry, has also been having a lot of rain.  So much rain, that the area we were to drive through was under a flash flood warning so we detoured to the east  going south in New Mexico instead of Arizona.  For some reason the storm, which we could see, remained right on the Arizona state line and left New Mexico alone.

Now for some pictures as we move from southwestern Colorado to New Mexico and then Arizona.  Actually, that’s not true.  We went from Colorado to Arizona back to New Mexico and back to Arizona.

DirveToArizona 1Southwestern Colorado

P1000306P1000315P1000317As we go further south the mountains become smaller and take on unusual shapes

FlagstaffToSedona 14FlagstaffToSedona 16FlagstaffToSedona 17There were some strange clouds in the distance as we got nearer to Winslow, Arizona.  Take a look.  This thin band of clouds just above the ground stretched for 15-20 miles:

FlagstaffToSedona 18FlagstaffToSedona 19It’s too bad I couldn’t take a picture of the whole length at once to show you how unusual this cloud was.

FlagstaffToSedona 20FlagstaffToSedona 22Once we passed under those clouds the wind and rain became very strong and we decided to call it a night and pulled into this Flying J truck stop where they had some pull through parking spots just for motor homes.

TruckstopUgh, no doubt we are in a truck stop restaurant and our tummies paid us back.  After we were done eating and went out front, a Flying J employee came up to us and said that a semi truck had side swiped our Tracker tow vehicle.  The thoughts that went through my head…………but the employee was wrong, the truck had hit the tow vehicle of the motor home next to us.  Poor guy who owned it.  The car was damaged from front to back and the semi had disappeared.  Which we promptly did too……after dumping and forgetting to get water. No showers for us plus a sink full of dirty dishes that had to wait another day.

FlagstaffToSedona 1We found a casino well off the highway with plenty of parking and a quiet night of sleep until the storms began again about 4 am which made for a beautiful morning.  I’ve never seen Arizona looking so green.

P1000358Our destination today was Prescott and we took the scenic route through Sedona, known for it’s red soil and rocks.

P1000359Our plan had been to arrive in Yuma today but we decided to stay the night in a real campground in Prescott with hookups so that we could cook and bake everything possible in our refrigerator, do laundry, organize our packing, clean the RV inside, and write blog posts.  Another reason is that Prescott is still high enough in elevation that the weather is very comfortable and is the last town south before we descend into the inferno.  It will be 112 degrees (144.4 Celsius) in Yuma Friday.

We will be on this first cruise for 24 days.  Internet is a very expensive add on and so I don’t know how often I will post.  I’ll do my best.

Ouray, Colorado

Ouray is one of those little towns that hasn’t grown or changed much over the years.  We have visited here often as the town has so much going for it.  In addition to being compact and having stunning scenery, there is a large hot springs swimming pool and several water falls.  Also, for being so small there are two large commercial campgrounds in town as well as the national forest campground that we stayed at plus some smaller ones in the area.

OurayOverlook 2This overlook was next to our campsite which was nice because I could walk over and get a good internet signal.

P1000291The road to the campground

P1000280Glorious scenery in every direction

P1000233Ouray itself looks like many small Colorado mountain towns…..

P1000272with many lovely Victorian styled homes.  What is surprising are the large number of houses for sale in town.  I would say every 5th house is for sale.

P1000245This was our second time to visit Box Canyon Falls.  The falls themselves are difficult to see as they are in a chute type position between rocks but the roar is unbelievable.  They are the most forceful, loud, falls you will ever visit.

P1000253The falls drop down on the left into this emerald green pool 

P1000268The Box Canyon Motel has a nice location next to the exit of the falls and like every place in town it also has views that don’t stop.

We actually left Ouray yesterday morning and I just now have time to write a post.  I have lots more pictures to show you and hope I can get another post or two done before we leave on the cruise Saturday.

While I think about it, sometime back I promised to tell why I thought we received these two free cruises. In 2004, 2007, and 2009 we took Carnival cruises and my mother went with us on the first two.  She likes to play the slot machines in the casino and on the second cruise I played with her the first night out.  I immediately hit 1600 quarters and when the casino employee paid me, he signed me up for the players club.  Since I had all that money to the good, I played for several days until I lost it again so Carnival has me on record for having plowed quite a bit into the machines…..without having a record that it was their money in the first place. The offer in the mail for two free cruises came from the Players Club of Carnival.  It’s unbelievable that $400 has returned to us a cruise to the South Pacific and Sydney as well as another cruise to Hawaii.  I shall be grateful to Carnival for evermore!

Four Wheeling

Southwestern Colorado is one of the best places in the nation for a multitude of four wheel drives.  I keep saying we need to camp in this area for at least two weeks to get our fill.  Since we only had time for one we chose Yankee Boy Basin just a mile from Ouray.  The drive is rated as moderate (blue) and is 9.3 miles long.  We drove 7.5 miles up before turning around.  Stock SUV’s do go all the way but we feel like our Tracker does not have high enough clearance for some of the extreme dips in the road.  

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YankeeBoyBasin 6 Some of the land in this area is privately owned 

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YankeeBoyBasin 2This is about 11,000 feet elevation and even Molly was getting winded.  You may be wondering what we are going to do with her while we go cruising.  It sure would be nice to take her along but Molly will be staying with a friend in Yuma who is also going to let us park our vehicles at her house.  

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There are several old mines in the area – some still active.

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Such a perfect day!