Back to the Mountains

After a month in north Texas during the dog days I headed back where I know I belong —the mountains. My last trip to the east coast was less than stellar and after a week of swelter in G’Vine I was ready to amscray. Ironically, the day I left Impact Guns shipped my new pistol so it’ll have to just collect dust at the FFL until I return in October. At least I’d completed the course, qualification and application to carry license, which should be back by then too.

Leaving Texas is always hard. Because it’s so damn ugly and boring until you get to New Mexico. A full day drive across west Texas took me to Clayton and a past its prime campground. Is was good enuf for the night. On a side note, the MORryde suspension upgrade definitely improves the ride down the road, especially in my truck. Interesting…

Raton Pass Video A relatively short day drive to Alamosa, Colorado was lengthened by a truck moving van fire on Raton Pass. Full stop for 45 minutes but it could’ve been worse as it occurred just before the road narrowed to one lane and no shoulder. Thankfully looked like no injuries either.

After setting up camp I made an appointment for the morning to get the truck’s oil changed and then found a couple breweries in town. Square Peg Brewerks poured me a decent First Cut farmhouse ale and excellent MFU pale ale, but I wasn’t really feeling the vibe there so I went next door to San Luis Valley Brewing Co. I tasted their Valle Caliente because I love hatch chilies. Good but needed to be colder. The Sinner and the Saint Mexican lager seemed to fit me (not the Mexican part, lol) and went well with the BBQ pork tacos I had for dinner. SLVBC made me wish I hadn’t already reserved a site in Pagosa Springs for tomorrow. It’s my latest favorite brewery!

After a late start in Alamosa I dropped Synko off in a dirt lot and took the truck in for the oil change. A quick hour later and a stop at Locavores for a locally sourced sandwich and I was on my way to Pagosa Springs. Was nice to get up into the mountains again after crossing the wide San Luis Valley. I like Pagosa Springs. Cool town.

At Pagosa Springs Brewing Co I ran into Ron & Blanch, a couple I’d met a year ago here. A cool, interesting couple who run a hunting lodge in Charma, NM. We shared our common political persuasions and disdain for how our country has overacted to Covid. Twice this year I’ve come across people I’ve met on previous trips. And in both cases neither of us is from where we run into each other. I think that’s pretty cool!

Ended the day at the campground community center where a local band was playing country western music. On a nice Colorado evening, it worked just fine! A glass of rye accented the music!

A couple hour drive took me to Silverton, one of my favorite places. It’s just such a cool setting at 9300 feet. One road in town is paved, the others are well-maintained dirt/gravel. I love the valley setting surrounded by high mountains. Silverton is a Mecca of off highway vehicle riding. Gotta do that sometime when I’ve got company.

As small as it is, Silverton has two breweries. Golden Block Brewery was closed because they’d run out of food. I recall from last year they have great pizza so I was kinds bummed. A block down the street Avalanche Brewing Company was in their new location. They used to be on Blair Street (aka Hooker Row) and I liked that location better. Not because of the hookers . I had the Sultan IPA, which was just ok. The pizza was also just ok. I was amped up for a pie from Golden Block.

The next day I drove some of the forest service roads and kicked around town, enjoying the 70s drop into the mid 60s. Feasted on an elk burger and dinner salad at Handlebars Saloon and then wrapped up the day watching the RNC on TV. Good stuff.

In the morning I was heading over the Million Dollar Highway to Ouray. I’ll pick up there in the next post.

Silverton to Laramie

Note: this post is a tad late in finding its way to the site. Don’t really know why but a couple posts are gonna hit within a couple days. Read on.

The drive north over Red Mountain and Molas Passes on the Million Dollar Highway is always a thrill. I’ve mentioned before I’d only do this with a fiver in tow in good, dry weather. Nothing has changed. Approaching Ouray crews had the narrow highway down to one lane with alternating traffic halts and flows. The concrete barriers had the one lane down to maybe 10’ wide. My rig is 8’ wide. I spent half the time looking in my mirrors as I rounded curves making sure all was clear of the cliff side.

Spent a couple uneventful days in Ouray. I had managed to misjudge the distance from my seat to the ground when I stepped outta my truck on a slope so my knee and lower leg were sore enough to discourage hiking. I’ll get over it hopefully in time for some light treks at Beaver Creek.

Visited Red Mountain Brewing and Ouray Brewery. The Tropic Thunder English IPA and the cole slaw at Red Mountain were delicious—and I’m a slaw snob. The IPA I had at Ouray . . . Meh. I headed back to camp to watch the RNC.

A 2-3 hour drive to Gunnison included a stop at Horsefly Brewing for lunch and their Hop 101 pale ale. Decent on both accounts. I cut it short because I was parked along the highway and more than a couple degrees out of level, side to side. That’s hard on propane reefers and I didn’t want to overwork the system. It was warm enough (80, lol) that the reefer would be cycling on while it sat there.

My second stop along the way was for road construction—a 30 minute full stop just 2.5 miles from my campground turnoff. Oh well . . . it was a nice day sitting there listening to the thunder roll. After checking in some moderate rain started just as I was setting up. Oh well . . . it cooled things off ten degrees!

The Gunnison KOA is nice because most of their sites are on soft, lush fescue. How they keep the grass in such good shape with RVs driving on it is a mystery to me. But I love stepping out and sitting on grass. So much nicer than dirt or gravel! 

Friday dawned chilly and turned showery. Decided to clean house and futz with a couple minor repairs. Successfully adjusted one drawer catch so the damn thing wouldn’t slide open during travel and, stopping just short of fixing it with a sledge hammer, decided another drawer needed a new catch. Going magnetic this time.

Having no real food on board, I went into town and landed at The Dive for lunch and to stay out of the light rain. During the couple hours I was there the temp on the bank across the street dropped from 62 to 55. Not too bad for a day in late August. I taunted friends in Texas that I was enjoying a full 40+ fewer degree day. Despite their colorful responses I know they still love me!

From Gunnison I headed east over the pass to Salida. I’d been through Salida many times and always wanted to stop so this time I did. Enjoyed a beer or two at a couple breweries. Nice cool August day. Scratch that. Nice cold August day.

In the morning after watching church online I headed a few miles north to Buena Vista, another drive-thru town I’ve never stopped in. Met up with Rob and Mere for lunch and a walk through town with their cool dog, Hank. Good time.

My next destination was Beaver Creek to join Shelley & Brett for a few days. We’ve played this game a few times before: a couple hikes, a couple visits to local breweries, a couple visits to local favorite restaurants in Avon and Edwards. Fun times, always.

My next stop was Laramie to hook up with Julie & Brad for a couple weeks. We were going property hunting. Well, at least location hunting. I’d like to have Plan B in my pocket for when the shit hits the fan in our great country. The Left is doing everything they can to ruin this country. I’m fighting back. But a Plan B just makes sense. I wanna be in a fairly remote place where I can see the enemy coming. My favorite road sign reads, “Private Road. Owners have guns and backhoes. Turn around now.” Yup. Xactly how I feel given the bullshit the Left is bringing.

Next up: a week in Wild, Wonderful, Maskless Wyoming!

Wyoming

Wild, Wonderful, Maskless Wyoming!

I met up with Julie & Brad in Laramie September 6th, just in time for the season’s first cold front and snowfall. The 18 inches forecast didn’t happen but about 3-4 inches accumulated. It was nice. The day after the snow we drove around the Snowy Range south of Laramie looking at properties, mainly to get a feel for different regions within Wyoming. Why? In case the country makes a horrible mistake in November by electing democrats to the White House and Senate. That would certainly F America. Take a look at any of the democrat-run cities and states to see how well their loony policies work out.

We liked a couple areas, namely Ryan Park and the Mortenson Lake Wildlife Refuge area south of Laramie but no particular properties lit us up. On to Casper…

The drive north to Casper was beautiful with snow covering the hills and fields. Casper is a cool town along the North Platt River. One of its most attractive areas is Casper Mountain. The mountain is a quick 10-15 minutes from town and the day before we got there had received up to two feet of snow. Many of the roads are private which kept us from seeing the specific properties Julie had researched. It’s one thing to explain that you’re on a private road looking at potential properties to buy; it’s another to ask for a tow. We opted for discretion over valor… Plus, we were in Brad’s Ram truck and I was concerned it’d get stuck (it’s simply not a Ford!) 😂 Anyway, we spent the afternoon checking out Casper’s breweries and then in the morning we were on to Greybull, east of Yellowstone.

Greybull, well, you can keep it. It’s pretty enough but just too small. There’s really nothing there to compel a 365 day-a-year commitment. The drive to Lovell and through the Bighorn National Forest was pretty but no particular places hit us as investment worthy. We enjoyed a simple lunch in Shell after viewing Shell Falls. But it was time to head on through Cody & Yellowstone to Dubois.

I’m very glad I’d visited Yellowstone last year because it was so smoky from fires dues to California’s forest mismanagement; it was hard to even see across the lake. We did see a couple elk fighting it out for mating rights. Very cool. We might’ve done the southeast section of Yellowstone in record time, just rolling through. With the rigs in tow pulling off to see sights we’d visited just last year didn’t make sense. We continued on toward Dubois.

Dubois is a nice small town but, like Greybull, not too much there for year-round living. Did see some nice lots and homes up on the hill, but the Dubois/Lander region wasn’t quite cutting it either. While in Dubois for the three nights we made ourselves regulars at the Rustic Pine Tavern. Cool 100+ year old joint with a cool and pretty bartender. Played lots of dominoes. From Dubois… back to Casper to meet with a realtor for access to some of Casper Mountain’s properties.

About 100 people live full-time on the mountain and there are a couple vacant lots we liked but they had water access challenges—like about 500 feet of drilling challenges. Just not sure I’m willing to throw $40K at a water source… Other lots did not have year-round access. Gonna keep Casper Mountain on the short list but I’m not convinced just yet.

Julie & Brad headed back to Frisco and I headed to Saratoga for the night and then into Beaver Creek for a couple/few weeks. Frankly, I was a little tired of driving and my truck had developed a steady oil leak that I needed to get fixed. So, as I post this I’m hanging at friends’ awesome condo in Beaver Creek just chilling, hiking and watching football and hockey. Mid-October I’m heading back to G’Vine for the fall and winter so unless something exciting happens I’ll post a trip summary then, which will be it for a while. Until the road beckons once again… (And I gotta say, I already miss maskless Wyoming. Hopefully the rest of the country soon finds its senses on the stupid mask charade.)

Beaver Creek & Trip Summary

Chillaxing

When leaving Wyoming I considered whether to revisit the Black Hills of South Dakota, the vastness of Montana, or spend some lazy time in Beaver Creek, Colorado. BC won out.

My good friends Walter & Doris own a condo in Beaver Creek and were kind & generous to let me stay there a few weeks. The earliest I could get into the Vineyards in Grapevine without having to relocate from site to site was October 12 so I hung in BC until the 9th. Three weeks stationary—a change of pace that would resume once I got back to G’Vine. . .

I dropped Synko off at the Wolf Lot in Beaver Creek, set her up with the solar panel juicing the batteries to keep the ice in the freezer and a couple beers in the reefer cold, and then settled into Borders Lodge.

The timing was good, as my truck had developed a significant oil pan gasket leak; I poured six quarts of oil into it within a weekish. Finding a diesel mechanic was a challenge in the Vail Valley/Frisco/Silverthorn area. So I ended up driving 82 miles to Columbine Ford in Rifle. I can’t recommend them enough. They worked me in and, although the parts had to be brought in from Denver, had my truck squared away in a week (oil pan jobs on Ford diesels are a 2-3 day event). Although the work was covered by warranty, the dealer didn’t have loaners available or a car rental on-site. I ended up renting a Hertz SUV at the Rifle airport. When I say renting I actually mean it felt like buying. I may take that up with Ford later. . .

The rest of the time I took a few hikes (but not while my hiking gear was safely stored in my truck in Rifle), hit Vail Brewing Company and Bonfire Brewing, and perfected being a lazy bum. I didn’t even find the motivation to visit Vail, Frisco or Breck. Been there; done that.

So on Friday morning the 9th, I hooked up Synko and headed back to the flats. I was ready to be “home” but not looking forward to the drive. I am not a fan of the long, first/last day drive from Grapevine; it’s just boring, familiar scenery. Initially I planned to stretch the 1-2 day drive into three so I could watch some college ball and see what creative way the Cowboys could find to score 38 points and likely lose—again. #WorstDefenseInFootball

Instead, I muscled through to Amarillo the first day and then Day 2 I detoured through Denton for a badly needed rig wash (with a 90 minute wait). As the Vineyards was full up, I stayed in the beautiful Elk’s Lodge parking lot for two nights. Spent Sunday at Ryan’s watching the Cowboys win the game and lose a quarterback. Ugh, there goes the season. . .

All-in-all, ’twas a decent trip.

Trip Summary
  • Racked up a total of 4315 miles
  • Synko hung with me for 3320 miles (77%); most of the non-towing driving was in Wyoming looking at potential property purchase locations)
  • Drove a total of 111 hours
  • Traveled through 4 states
  • Crossed the Continental Divide just a few times, unlike last summer when I lost count of how many times I crossed the Divide
  • Visited Yellowstone National Park (but just a quick drive-thru)
  • Saw a couple elk fighting for love rights, a moose when I stopped to pee, and several antelope.
  • Enjoyed an early season winter storm in Laramie
  • Stayed in 17 different campsites and one condo (twice) over 56 days
  • Averaged 11.2 MPG in fuel consumption
  • Got oil service in Alamosa and oil pan gasket repair in Rifle for the truck