Georgia, Home Away From Home

Going for Repairs

We have been planning to take the coach to NIRV in Lawrenceville, Ga (Atlanta) for some minor repairs and general maintenance since we got home from our Colorado trip. Life happened, Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went plus Covid cases seemed to increase and hit home when people we knew had it. When one of our acquaintances died it emphasized the need to stay close to home. We finally worked it out with NIRV and planned to leave Thursday, February 4, and arrive early on Friday, February 5 knowing that they wouldn’t be able to begin work on the coach until the following Monday. Frankly, I think Jerry wanted to be in place to watch the Super Bowl but he denies that was in his thinking. Oh well.

On Monday of that week, we got a call from Jerry’s sister who lives in the area telling us to watch the weather because they were predicting a big snowstorm. Oops – what to do now? We quickly decided that it would be best if we got ahead of the storm so after contacting NIRV to make sure we could get in we headed to Kinston on Tuesday to pick up the RV. We took it to Goose Creek State Park which is near our home. Since we could overnight there for $27 and given the predicted below freezing temps forecasted we thought that was a better choice than taking it to our home where we had no electrical hookup. We quickly got it set up and transferred the items we had previously packed in the car. We left the fridge cooling (not sure it even needed that!) and the heat warming the inside and headed home to get the other things we would need. We got all of the fridge/freezer contents and returned to the campground. After getting everything in we buttoned up the coach and then returned home where we knew we’d get a good night’s sleep (and a good shower) before a couple of travel days.

We prepared some dishes to take, spaghetti sauce, chicken salad, broccoli salad, cheese straws, and then prepared enough dinner to have leftovers for the next night. While we were cooking Jerry’s sister called to say that oops, the forecast had changed and now there was no snow predicted. Oh well, we were too far into planning to back up now. The forecast still called for heavy rains and then temps in the 20’s for Friday night so I still thought it was wisdom for us to arrive early. Since our accident in the rain, I’ve gotten antsy about traveling in bad weather especially if temps are going too low.

Wednesday morning dawned with sunshine (a rarity recently) and cold temps. We headed to the campground where all was well. The road from the campground to the major highway is very narrow and very curvy so Jerry decided not to hook up the car until we reached Washington. That was accomplished easily in the parking lot of a former grocery store. We were on the road headed to Spartanburg, SC for the night by 9:10.

We thankfully had an uneventful travel day stopping only twice, once for gas and once for a quick lunch. We arrived at Gaffney/Spartanburg KOA a little before 3:30 and quickly set up. The campground is very nice and looks like it would be a nice place for an FMCA chapter rally. We took a brief walk around and saw where they were adding some new paved sites complete with fire pits and picnic tables.

We knew the temperature was supposed to get down to 25 tonight so we were concerned about the heat going off during the night. It did! We woke up to a mighty cold RV and it was hard to get out of bed. We finally pulled out a space heater and put it in the bathroom so I could get dressed.

Since we only had 175 miles to go we didn’t rush out and left just before 9:30. Because the temperature was still below 41 we didn’t even try to turn on the generator and the heat pump and rode along with blankets (I had on my coat) and the dashboard heat. It wasn’t too bad though.

A nice uneventful ride got us at NIRV before lunch. Since we were only going to have an electrical hookup we went around back, emptied the tanks, and filled the freshwater tank. Then we were set up for several days. We actually are dealing with two departments, service and body shop so we ended up talking with both of them to verify the necessary repairs. Of course, the top of my list was the furnace repair!

After a frosty morning wake-up – yep, no heat, and a tin box is cold when there is no heat! We decided to run a few errands. US Cellular had been our cell phone carrier since Jerry got his first cell phone years ago. I switched to Verizon a couple of years ago when we realized that US Cellular did not work for us when we were traveling. Jerry’s iPad was slowly dying so he finally decided it might be a good time to switch to Verizon – if it saved us money! Off we went to a local Verizon store. The young man that waited on us was very informative and gave us a lot to think about however we decided to wait on changes until we returned to North Carolina. A quick trip to a grocery store and Sam’s and we were done for the day.

Saturday afternoon we took off to visit Jerry’s sister, Debbie and her husband Terry for dinner. It was so good to see them plus we got a meal that we didn’t have to cook! I had told Terry how much I loved the snow but that no matter the forecast if I was around the snow would go in another direction. Imagine my surprise when he ran in to tell me it was snowing! Yea!!! By the time we left it was coming down pretty good and the ground was beginning to cover. Little did we know that our drive back to NIRV would be so treacherous. At one point I suggested we return to Debbie’s since the roads were very quickly deteriorating. Of course, there was nowhere to turn around on the two-lane highway so we kept on going. As we neared Lawrenceville it turned to sleet and then rain. Dang!

Sunday dawned clear and sunny with only a very few patches of snow – naturally, the first thing I did when I awakened was look out of the window for snow but was greeted by brown grass! We “attended” our virtual church service Sunday morning/ We are so blessed to belong to a church where the Word is being taught and we can view it online as we travel. We spent the rest of the day taking it easy AGAIN. The weather was nice enough though for us to take a nice walk around the grounds.

Finally, Monday morning arrived and they picked up the coach around 9:30. We went over to talk with them to see how long the repairs would take. In the meantime, we had discussed the crack in the windshield. Do we repair it or do we replace it? I had talked with our insurance company and they suggested replacing it. After we found out that it would take about 5 days for a new windshield to come in and then a couple of days for installation we decided to leave the coach and head to North Carolina. At 10:30 Monday morning, we headed out and by 8:00 p.m. we were home and had the car unloaded. We have both elected to take the Covid vaccines and actually have had one. Our return to NIRV to pick up the RV will have to scheduled around the dates for our second shots so we’re unsure of exactly when that will be. Right now it feels good to know the RV is stored inside in Atlanta and I don’t have to worry about freezing temperatures or flooding.

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The Angst of Storing a Motor Home

Our motor home has been stored in Kinston for quite some time.  Initially it was stored in a former tobacco warehouse.  That was not ideal but it was inside – until the roof began to cave in and the road to the back door was nearly always muddy and had holes big enough to fall in.  We finally found a nice storage facility near our house. It was indoors, had easy access for us, was gated and the building was locked as well. All good and well until we had our accident.  By the time we were able to bring the coach home the entire facility had been rented to FEMA and there was no room at the inn for us. We finally located another empty warehouse where we could store it inside so that is where it has been since then. Unfortunately, it is close to the Neuse River which tends to flood when there are continually heavy rains.

Just before Christmas I got a notice that the Neuse was rising so we went out to the warehouse to check things out. Indeed, the waters were rising but we thought we would be ok and since we really didn’t have anywhere to take it, we left it.  The next morning, we got a call from the manager of the warehouse telling us that indeed flooding was anticipated so off we went to Kinston again – an hour and half away. Both highway entrances to the warehouse were barricaded due to high water but we were able to get to the warehouse.  The encroaching waters had definitely gotten closer but after assessing the potential for it entering the building Jerry decided that we would be safe.  Getting it out of there at that point would have been very treacherous as there was standing water all around.  Actually, the safest place for the coach was right where it was sitting.

Fortunately, no water came in the warehouse.  We have tried to find a closer location for the coach but thus far have not been able to located any place where it can be stored inside and that is very important to us so I guess we’ll keep going back to Kinston periodically to check on things. 

Colorado, Home Away From Home, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee

Headed Home

Travel Day One: We slept until 7:00 this morning so a real early departure was not in the cards although we got ready quickly and were on the road by 8:10. We stopped at the nearby Flying J and topped off both the gas and the propane and were on Interstate 40 by 8:35. Our plan was to drive to Little Rock, Arkansas, and stay at Maumelle COE again. Although the traffic was not heavy we were in Oklahoma “where the winds coming sweeping down the plains” and it was windy, 16 mph making it a tense drive for a man whose shoulder was already hurting. As we got nearer Oklahoma City the winds tapered off some and despite the ever-present road construction on the east side of Oklahoma City for miles, it was an uneventful drive.

I began to look for a place to stay for the night. Our preference was of course for Maumelle and after a lot of searching, I finally claimed the very last 50 amp site in the park! I must admit that as we got closer to Maumelle my stress level began to rise. We had had one auspicious arrival at that park and for some reason, I was anxious about arriving again. All was well though. We checked in, detached the car, and while Jerry emptied the tanks at the dump station I rode around the park looking for E1 which was a good deal further back in the park than when we had stayed before.

I then led Jerry to the site and we parked the coach and set up with no problems plus we were level! We sat outside and enjoyed the cool autumn evening for a little while before dinner. It felt good to be outside in the late afternoon while temperatures were just right.

Early to bed as tomorrow will be another long day.

Travel Day Two: I couldn’t go to sleep last night despite the fatigue so I was dragging this morning. We had forgone our usual morning routine of quiet time and coffee for a while so we were getting on the road more quickly. We pulled out of the site, rode to a parking area where we could hitch the car, and then were on the road. I had worried about early morning traffic in Little Rock but it wasn’t a problem. The only slight problem we encountered was exiting on a curvy ramp and we got a slight Jeep death wobble. Jerry slowed down and all was good. The last time we had the wobble was weeks ago in Little Rock. Um…. going down a curved, bumpy ramp a little fast to the Interstate. I think we may have finally discovered what precipitates the wobble.

Traffic was the normal Monday busyness all the way to Nashville and then…. Going through Nashville is bad on a good day and this was not a good day. Just before we reached the exit for the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home, we came to stop and go traffic. An accident three miles ahead slowed us all down which wouldn’t be too bad if people had not kept cutting in front of us trying to change lanes. After six years of Rving, it still amazes me that people will cut in front a large RV with no regard to their safety. When in traffic like that Jerry is sure to keep a good distance between us and the vehicle in front of us but it is difficult because of drivers in a hurry. To get where? All lanes were stopped so they made no progress. Oh well!

As we rode along, we kept trying to decide where to spend the night. Jerry had looked at the map the night before and Cookeville, Tennessee seemed to be a good stopping place although it was 462 miles. I loaded my Harvest Host app and found Delmonaco Winery right there so I called and they said to come on. They did ask for my HH number which I had never been asked for before so I had to locate it. Took a picture of it so it will be in my Google photos now like our license plate numbers, easy to find if necessary.

When we arrived, there were two other RV’s there and lo and behold one was from North Carolina. It was so good to hear that North Carolina accent and she said the same thing! Of course, the Jeep battery was dead AGAIN! What is the problem? The North Carolina gentleman had a handheld battery booster and loaned it to us. What do you know? It worked! The problem was then I couldn’t get it out of the transfer mode. I played with it a few minutes and finally got it out. We left the car idling, parked the RV, leveled it somewhat and then took a ride around in the Jeep to recharge the battery. Something is draining the battery on the car and we have no idea what. Wonder if it could be the Stay and Play Braking Assist? No clue but hopefully we will find out soon when we get the Jeep serviced.

We went over to Delmonico Winery and unlike other wineries we have stopped at where I bought wine for friends because I didn’t like anything they had, Delmonico had two wines and a port that I really liked. I ended up buying one bottle of wine and two mulled cider packets for friends. I really wanted a bottle of the delicious port but decided we had probably spent enough money in the last month!

When I got back to the RV, I got the chair out and sat outside for a while. The gentleman on the other side of us came out and we talked for a few minutes. Both he and his wife recently retired, bought an RV on September 2, sold their house, and both of their cars since neither would tow and now they are full-timers. They had never RVed before. Wow – braver than we are!

We had leftover steak and a salad for dinner and then a quiet and early night for both of us. The night was cool enough that we opened windows. With no generator running it was a good night for sleeping

Travel Day Three: We took our time getting ready to leave this morning. Since we were waiting until we arrive in Clemmons for showers and had no hookup to dismantle, we pulled out around 8:00. I had forgotten that we would lose another hour today or I probably would have encouraged Jerry to leave more quickly. The North Carolina coach pulled out just before us headed toward New Mexico and the Pennsylvania coach appeared to be getting ready as well. It was a good place to stay and if we had been level it would have been perfect!

Travel Day Four: North Carolina! Ah, what a welcomed site although we were again in the mountains and I knew that we would have to descend Black Mountain on the other side of Asheville. That has always been a concern when traveling to Asheville and still is but compared to the passes in Colorado I guess it’s not that bad.

We still were not home but we were in our home state at a very familiar campground having stayed at Tanglewood Campground numerous times. We pulled in around 4:00, got ready to unhook and of course, the car battery was dead again. Dang! We left the car in the designated spot, parked the RV and then walked over to the camp hosts to ask about jumping the car. They too had a handheld battery booster. Needless to say, that will be a necessary purchase as soon as we get home.

We were soon ready to go see our Clemmons grands. Eli was at baseball practice so we went to the baseball field and got to watch him on the ball field. Emma joined us when we left around 7:00 and per her request we had dinner at her favorite restaurant. After dinner, we headed to their home and had a nice visit. It was good to see everyone again and I am already anxious to see the rest of our crowd.

Travel Day Five: Today was a nice, easy, short drive to Raleigh to the Horse Complex at the NC State Fairgrounds. Despite the state fair being canceled, the horse shows were being held but with very limited attendance. Since we are affiliated with Woodbridge Farm, we were able to enter the grounds. It was a good show but very different as there was little to no socializing. Generally when there are no horses showing everyone gathers at someone’s coach to pass the time but there was none of that this time. After the morning show where we were socially distanced and masked in the arena, we returned to the RV and spent the afternoon being lazy and recuperating. In retrospect, I think that spending three restful days in Raleigh was a great way to end the trip. Before we left, we got the coach thoroughly cleaned inside and had the outside washed so it would be ready for storage.

On Sunday we returned to Pamlico Beach and quickly emptied the coach of everything. Got the sheets and towels washed and put back in the coach and it was ready for the warehouse. On Monday after taking care of some appointments we headed to Kinston to drop off the coach for an oil change and tune-up so it will be ready to go whenever we decide to travel again. We also got a much-longed visit with three of our grands. Traveling is so nice but we surely do miss our family when we’re gone for an extended time.

We thoroughly enjoyed our Colorado trip and although it was surely fraught with issues with the Lord’s help, nothing disastrous happened and we were able to address the things that did occur. I still maintain though that the best part of a trip is returning home. It was mighty nice to see my Pamlico River Sunday afternoon!

Home Away From Home, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas

One More Pass

Despite our good intentions to leave by 8:00, it was nearly 8:30 before we pulled out along with two other coaches, one headed to Texas and one headed to Florida. We were just ahead of them both. The Florida coach passed us, then we passed him stopped on the side of the road. A little while later he passed us again and then we passed him again on the side of the road. He passed us by later as we were eating lunch. No clue what was going on with them and we never saw them again. Odd

Going uphill is daunting. Going downhill is downright scary and there we were going up and down yet another pass, the Mosca Pass, hopefully our last. I couldn’t look as we climbed but I could hear the motor and feel the speed which was much lower than the posted speed limit. Impatient drivers always make a difficult situation a little worse and we have certainly seen our share of those on this trip. I have begun to realize that the yellow line in Colorado apparently doesn’t mean the same thing that it means in other states. Cars pass even when there is oncoming traffic. Again, scary.

As we came into Alamosa yesterday we no longer saw the beautiful aspens but we saw cottonwoods that were nearly as pretty and we continued to see them today. Their colors are more muted but still showing the gold and limes amidst the evergreens. A beautiful view always makes the drive better – when I can look!

Driving through New Mexico and Texas we saw no rest stops and few gas stations in the very small towns. It was nearly time for lunch so I finally started searching for businesses that might not be open and might have a large accessible parking lot. Bingo! Happy State Bank in Texline was closed and had a small circular driveway. We pulled around back, put tonight’s dinner in the crockpot and ate our lunch of chicken salad that had I prepared the night before. We were quickly back on the road with a little over a hundred miles to go. Though we lost an hour it was still fairly early so Jerry suggested driving further than Amarillo. I started looking for somewhere to stay and according to what I found there were no overnight Walmarts along our route after we left Amarillo. I did find a city park in Sayre, Oklahoma. Could we make it that far? Would they have an available site? It was a first-come, first-serve park so hopefully it wouldn’t be full. Normally I wouldn’t have been concerned about it but in the RV travel frenzy due to Covid the park just might be full on a Saturday evening.

As we approached Amarillo of course, the Clarion and the Garmin gave us two different routes. Since I had programmed the Flying J into the Garmin we opted to take that route. We went right through downtown Amarillo. In fact, I think I saw more of Amarillo today than I did when we stayed in Amarillo a few years ago. We did ride right by the Big Steakhouse where we had enjoyed a limo ride there for a delicious steak dinner.

We had an easy fill-up at Flying J and then were back on the road to Sayre. We arrived at the park about 6:15 and found only two RV’s among the 80 sites. We found a site and quickly set up. Setup at previous campgrounds in mountainous Colorado had created no problem leveling despite uneven ground. Jerry even mentioned that when we got to flatlands it would probably not be as easy and wouldn’t you know? I let the jacks down and got a “slant” message so we had to adjust them manually. No problem and quickly done but we were on flat land!

We had decided that each time we stopped we would start the Jeep and turn off the brake assist so Jerry went out to do that. He came back and said the car was acting “wonky” with all sorts of messages. The battery was not dead because we could unlock the doors so what now? We detached the car, turned off the braking assist, and took the car for a brief ride into Sayre. It is a very small town with a population of just over 4,000 and they definitely roll up the sidewalks on Saturday evenings. We saw a beautiful courthouse and three large churches but no restaurants to speak of. In fact other than two or three cars we saw no one, not one person. It’s amazing that a town of this size could have such a nice park with a golf course, a pool, a putt-putt golf course, a campground plus other features. Were we missing something?

We returned to the park and ate our nice beef roast with potatoes and onions that we had prepared earlier. Unfortunately for Jerry, I had forgotten to put the carrots in. He set up the Dish and watched some football and I read a bit. Not a bad day for 472 miles.

Colorado, Home Away From Home

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Had we known about the drive from Pagosa Springs to Alamosa we would surely have panicked. Oh wow! Since we only had 97 miles to go today we didn’t rush, taking our time leaving. We pulled out of the campground at 10:15, stopped at a nearby station for gas, and finally hit the road at 10:45. It was a very slow gas pump!

Jerry took off in front of me and of course, I caught every red light in town. I eventually caught up with him and thought boy, this is going to be an easy drive, good highway, and wide lanes. Well, I was wrong. Only after we arrived at Alamosa KOA did we find out that we had gone over Wolf Creek Pass which is world renown for the highest pass in the United States. I googled it and found that it was made famous by a country music artist who wrote a song about it calling it “37 miles o’ hell – which is up on the Great Divide”. I surely couldn’t use those words to describe it but it was indeed tortuous. At one point Jerry was going 24! Yes, 24 miles an hour! Going up the mountain was nerve-wracking but going down was terrifying. I hated to keep using my brakes but didn’t have much choice. We went through one tunnel and one snow shed and thankfully there was no snow around. That would have just been icing on a very scary cake, no pun intended!

We finally got over and down the pass and from then on it was smooth driving. Check-in at the KOA was different this time as we waited until someone approached the car to check us in. Then a gentleman led Jerry to our site. Jerry told him about our drive and then asked about our trip tomorrow. He told Jerry that traveling east we had one more pass but it was no big deal. No big deal to someone in Colorado may be quite different than no big deal in North Carolina. Guess we’ll see tomorrow morning. We decided we would again try to tow the car as we knew we could always stop and unhitch if things got too dicey.

We had a quick lunch and then headed to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The sand dunes are absolutely amazing especially realizing that they are in Colorado. As we stopped and gazed at the sand dunes a lady asked us if we realized what the black dots on the distant dunes were. No, we didn’t. They were people! It actually did look like ants crawling around. The Great Sand Dunes developed when the erosion occurred in the nearby San Juan Mountains. The nearby streams and surface winds brought the sands to the Music, Medano, and Mosca Passes creating a pocket for deposited sand and thus, the dunes were formed. The main dune is no longer getting new sand so it’s not growing anymore however other dunes are continuing to grow.

After a long wait in line to enter the Visitor’s Center I was a bit disappointed to see that several of the exhibits were closed due to Covid and others were just written information that we could have gotten on the Internet. The merchandise area was small and there was little room to avoid others so we made a quick exit. Since we were not interested in climbing the dunes we headed to Zapota Falls.

Someone had told us earlier to be sure to visit there and we had noticed the entrance on the way to the dunes. We turned in and oh my, what a mess of huge rocks and a very rough terrain. The falls were a couple of miles further and Jerry quickly said he did not want to drive the car over such horrible conditions. We had already seen several falls so back to the campground we headed.

As we have traveled through Colorado I have noticed numerous pastures with grazing horses and there was one right across the road from the Zapota Falls entrance. What a view. How I would have loved to go on a trail ride sometime while visiting the state.

It was a nice evening so we took a long walk around the park. There was another coach from North Carolina but we never saw anyone there. A few people were sitting outside and called out as we passed by but no one was visiting, everyone social distancing. It quickly cooled off so we headed inside. Dinner and early to bed was our plan as we knew we had some long days ahead.

Colorado, Home Away From Home

Chimney Rock and Hot Springs

We got out early this morning, at least early for us, and headed to Chimney Rock National Monument. Poor signage led us astray for a few miles but we finally got on the right road and arrived at Chimney Rock Visitor’s Center around 10:00. Unfortunately, though a national monument, the America the Beautiful pass only gave one person ½ off and full price for me for a self-guided tour. $18 seemed a little steep for a self-guided tour.

Turn off of the highway was yet another dirt, graveled road as was the road up to the Entry Gate and Gift Shop Tent. After paying for our admission, we put on our designated blue bracelets and drove the 2 ½ miles up to the trailheads.

About 2000 years ago the Pueblo people began to build villages along the Piedra Rivers, the farthest north of all of the villages. The Chaco people built and lived in the two villages closest to Chimney Rock. They learned to determine when to plant crops and when to begin their festivals by studying the movement of the sun. One of the crops took 78 days of frost-free weather to grow and there typically there were only 80 days. That’s cutting it close!

There are two trails. One, the Mesa Village Trail is a paved walk of about ½ mile loop that leads to a 44-foot excavated Great Kiva as well as an excavated pit house and other structures. No one knows why the Pueblo people left the region or why they burned their homes but pottery remains indicate that some went to Mesa Verda while some went to New Mexico. Interestingly, excavation is not completed as there is hope that future excavations with newer technologies will lead to more accurate information

Yep, that’s the trail!
The second trail, The Great House Trail, is a hike up to the nearest point to the Chimney Rocks. It is not far but it is very strenuous. Oddly enough this was the hike that affected me the most. I struggled to get to the top with several rest stops along the way. It was in the bright sunshine and warm and I think that may be what bothers me the most. I don’t do well in the heat. Jerry seemed to have no problems.

The trail was steep and rocky and at times a narrow path, 200 foot gain in elevation. In fact there was a sign indicating that we were entering a “pinch point” meaning it was the narrowest section of the The Great House Trail and ran along the cliff edges with no rails.

A little bedraggled but we made it!
There are several unexcavated structures at the top. There is also a sign “Made it to the top” and I made sure we got a picture there!

We noticed that that were no aspen trees here and asked about it. The volunteer told us that the area was more arid and that there seemed to be almost a line in Pagosa Springs when the climate changed. The entire landscape resembled a desert area, very unlike the other side of Pagosa Springs.

One of the most interesting features is that every 18 years the moon shines between the two rocks for 3 ½ years and it is supposed to occur again in 2021. I can’t imagine seeing such a beautiful sight. It is the only place in the world that this natural phenomenon happens. It occurs at Stonehenge but Stonehenge was built to accommodate that. Chimney Rock was not built for that. It’s all-natural.

We met a family from Dallas who said they were traveling and homeschooling this year as their district began with virtual school. Having a kindergarten student made their decision easy. It seems that we have often discussed the current educational chaos on this trip. Wonder why?

After lunch, we did something we have never done before and we loved it! We went to a hot springs spa, Overland Hot Springs Spa, and sat in the springs on the roof! The view was an added bonus. I don’t think I have ever felt so relaxed. The odd thing to me was that my arms and my legs were just floating. My body felt weightless and I thought about the astronauts and their weightlessness. What an eerie feeling. When I got out and sat for a while I felt like my body was liquid, no tension, no stress, no worries. My mind was blank. It really was a neat experience. After we left I asked Jerry what his favorite part of Pagosa Springs was and he answered by saying if we were going to be here another day he’d go back to the springs! It was that good. He also said if we had gone the first day we would have gone every day! Surely wish we had one nearby. It was our first experience but I bet it won’t be the last!

After burgers on the grill for dinner, we quickly went to the nearby Walmart for a few items and so ended our trip to Pagosa Springs. Tomorrow we will be going to Alamosa to visit the Great Sand Dune National Park and then Saturday we head to North Carolina.

Colorado, Home Away From Home

Opal Lake Hike

What a fun day! We headed out this morning for Opal Lake and a 2.4-mile hike. Little did we know that it would take us over an hour to get to the trailhead which was only 20+ miles away. We drove about 10 miles and then turned on a dirt road that eventually turned into a single lane graveled road. As we rode along, we suddenly realized we were in an open range area as there were cattle alongside the road. A little further in and we saw guys on horseback and a lot of cows. I have no idea what was going on but I surely would have like to stop and ask!

We continued down the graveled road until we finally reached the trailhead for Opal Lake. Though it was a little cool we both decided to leave our jackets in the car. Armed with my Camelbak water bottle around my waist we took off. It was quite a climb! Immediately we were trying to go uphill over large rocks and roots. Needless to say, we stopped for a rest several times. There weren’t many people on the trail and when we did occasionally meet someone either everyone was masked or they turned their heads. The quietness of the trail was so pervasive for the entire hike. At one point I thought I heard either a chipmunk or a squirrel. Other than that, it was total silence, not even a bird to be heard. There were a couple of streams that we had to cross over and they were a bit challenging. Someone later told me that we were too old to do that. Shame on them! We’ll do it as long as we can!

We finally reached Opal Lake and in itself, the lake was a bit disappointing. It really looked more like a pond but the surrounding landscape was absolutely stunning. Everywhere we looked were bright golden aspens shimmering in the sunlight. What a beauty to behold. Joyce Kilmer wrote “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree” and she must have been talking about aspens. I have never seen anything to compare with their beauty and their statue. The lovely white trunks with the golden leaves floating down like rain is a sight to behold. We sat around the pond for a while taking pictures and just taking in the lovely landscape. We were finally able to see some mountains that were not shrouded in smoke.

As we were hiking, we met a fellow who suggested that as we left we should go further up the single lane road where it forked for Opal Lake as it was quite beautiful a little higher up and he was right. The road was bumpy for sure but the beauty was worth it. We began to see colors of reds and oranges interspersed in the golds and greens. Think of a big box of Crayola crayons and imagine the many colors. That was our view today. WE again saw pine trees looking like decorated Christmas trees with the golden aspen leaves on their branches.

We had planned to visit the hot springs today but it was 3:00 before we got back to Pagosa Springs so we decided to save that for tomorrow when we could spend more time. We walked around town a bit looking for a Pagosa Springs t-shirt for me and then returned to the coach. What a grand day. We didn’t do much yesterday because Jerry felt so bad but today surely made up for it!

Colorado, Home Away From Home

A Slow Day in Pagosa Springs

We started today off with a visit to the Pagosa Springs Visitor’s Center where we got lots of very good information. Though we couldn’t enter into the building the lady had much of the information on the tables and was able to answer all of our questions.

We began with a walk around the Riverwalk. Along the way we saw people sitting on the rocks with their feet in the waters. One guy was sitting in a little pool where he had stirred up the mud. Guess he was taking a free mud bath. We continued on and saw the geothermal greenhouses that looked like something E.T. might have had. There was also a small community garden but it looked like the drought had killed any hope for vegetables. We walked for just a few more minutes and then as we were not interested in what lay ahead, we turned around.

We then took a walk down Main Street and looked into the shops. Overlook Hot Springs Spa is right there on the street so we went in to see what it was about. A very nice young lady answered all of our questions and we are planning to go before we leave the area.

By this time, we decided to return to the campground and get some lunch. Also, Jerry was fading quickly. A low sugar this morning and late lunch sapped his energy so we took the afternoon off. The altitude is still bothering him a great deal so we are trying to pace ourselves.

He rallied enough to grill some pork chops and I prepared some potato salad, something we have not had since he started his diet. Why has he lost 20 pounds and I have lost 3? Maybe because I have still been eating those delicious potatoes!

Colorado, Home Away From Home

On to Pagosa Springs

I just love it when Jerry comes in with “we’ve got a problem”. It seems this trip has been fraught with problems and most of them have revolved around tires. Apparently when he put the tire pressuring monitoring disks on the back tires of the Jeep yesterday the air leaked around them and both rear tires were as flat as could be this morning. So off monitoring disks came and out came the big air pressure machine. Thank goodness we have it! A little air and a little time and all was well. I’m very thankful for a husband that can fix things! Not sure how much that would have cost if we had called a tire service. Also, again honor and praise to the Lord. Jerry put the system on yesterday so the tires leaked overnight. Had he put them on this morning they would have leaked as we were traveling.

We knew today would be a stressful day but we knew we were in God’s hands and He would lead us each mile of the day. Praise God that we can come before Him asking, believing and receiving. Thank you, Jesus. We had earlier decided not to tow the car so I was behind Jerry today. We finally left the campground at 9:50, stopped for gas in Montrose, and then headed out at 10:15.

The San Juan Skyway is absolutely beautiful but beauty was not on my mind today. As soon as we turned at Ridgeway and began the first ascent Jerry’s top speed was 33! He finally increased it but most of the drive to Pagosa Springs was up and down. I didn’t realize that we would be going right back by Mountain Village where we were yesterday on the gondola ride. Yikes! I did get to see some of the glorious color between the Telluride turn-off and Rico even seeing a brilliant bright orange at one point but mostly I kept my eyes on the road and the coach in front of me. We both pulled off several times because traffic was backing up behind us. At one point I thought two Class C‘s were going to run over me. The one right behind me was following so closely I could not see his tires.

We didn’t stop for lunch as there wasn’t really any place to pull over or if there was, we were upon it and nearly passed it before we realized it. We got to Mountain Landing RV in Pagosa Springs at 3:15 and upon arrival, I just bowed my head and thanked the Lord for safe travel today.

Check-in at Mountain Landing RV was quick and set up was fast as well. As soon as we were settled, we both started grabbing anything we could find to eat! Since we were both pretty exhausted, we decided to spend the rest of the hot afternoon resting and getting ready for three days in Pagosa. Dinner was left-overs as we are trying to clean out the refrigerator before we get too far down the road. Three days in Pagosa, one day at Grand National Sand Dunes, and then we are headed to North Carolina with hopefully no RV or car issues!

Colorado, Home Away From Home

An Afternoon in Telluride

We got out by 9:00 this morning headed to Telluride for the day. For the third time, we traversed the highway to Ridgeway where we took a right through Ridgeway and onto the San Juan Skyway. Oh my word! There was such a perfusion of colors – yellows, golds, limes, reds, rusts – absolutely indescribable. The colorful trees were everywhere and just kept going on. Jerry commented that it was the prettiest drive we’d been on. God’s paintbrush was hard at work. We stopped to take a picture of the landscape but because of the haze, the colors didn’t show up as vividly. We don’t know what the haze is – smoke, fog, mist, smog – no idea but it surely blurred the beautiful landscape. (We later learned that it was smoke.)

Unfortunately, we had to stop for gas in Telluride. Boy, was it expensive! $3.00 – we only got 6 gallons! Then we headed into downtown Telluride. As we neared the center of the town we realized that part of the street was blocked off so tables and chairs for restaurants could be set up outside. There were quite a few people about.

Our goal was a gondola ride from Telluride to Mountain Village. Mountain Village which was incorporated in 1995 officially opened the gondola to the pubic connecting with Telluride in 1996. It was initially built to address the air quality concern and has kept countless cars off of the eight-mile trip between the two towns. It is the first and only free public transportation of its kind in the United States. There was a long line but it moved quickly. Again, everyone was masked and staying 6 feet apart. Only one party was allowed on each gondola so Jerry and I had one to ourselves. Despite my claustrophobia, I was able to ride with no problem. Jerry said it was because it was all glass and I definitely agree plus there was outside airflow coming in. The ride up was as peaceful and pretty as you can imagine and 10,500 feet in the air!

The gondola made two stops. We rode all the way to the bottom, found a bathroom, and then headed back to Mountain Village. Once we got there, we found a table and had our lunch – jerky! It is a nice snack but it is not a meal, at least not for me! We walked around a bit and then got into an even longer line to ride back to the top at Telluride. Suddenly about halfway up the gondola stopped, yes, stopped. I didn’t panic but I did look out to see how far away the ground was! It was a long way down! It lasted about a minute and a half. I have no idea what caused it but I surely was glad when we started up again. The ride up was just as beautiful and Jerry remarked that the pine trees looked as though they were decorated for Christmas with the aspen leaves dotting the limbs.

Once we got back to Telluride we took a seat on a nearby bench and people watched for a few minutes. Then we walked around for a bit. Strangely enough, walking around was more difficult for me than at any other time. Telluride is over 8,000 feet but we’ve been higher and I’ve had no problem. I think I am really getting ready for the flatlands of North Carolina.

On the way back to the campground we again marveled at the beautiful scenery and stopped to get a few pictures.

When we got back to Montrose, we found a gas station that we think we can get into tomorrow to fill up the RV before we leave town on our way to Pagosa Springs. Regrettably, we will be driving some of the same route we took today, turning off just before Telluride. It is very mountainous and curvy so we have decided not to tow the car. Instead, I will be following Jerry. It is a bit daunting to say the least. As we were returning today, we saw an accident that had apparently just occurred right where we will be driving tomorrow. It appeared to be was a one-car accident and possibly they just ran off of the road and overturned. Scary!