No thanks, you keep the mud

We’ve had a very difficult time keeping you up-to-date on our caravanning progress. The crash of our laptop was a pretty good excuse for interrupting our posting. Not really, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to spend writing time without first trying to either restore or replace our primary laptop.

The laptop problems started somewhere about Chinle, AZ, or shortly thereafter. Simple logic allows us to blame for our electronics problems the horrendous dust we daily endured in Chinle. The campground had no utilities, so we were dry camping with only our battery power and the water in our fresh water tank. Not such a bad condition to be batteries only, but we couldn’t run the air conditioner and close up the camper. Therefore we could not keep the insidious dust from inside the camper (and inside everything inside the camper).

Dust everywhere, but so much more

Doesn’t it help to blame something, anything, when things aren’t right? We’re going to blame the Chinle dust. And the Carlsbad dust. And the Albuquerque dust. And the Pojoaque dust. And Antelope Canyon and Bryce Canyon dust. We might as well include them all, they’re every particle present in our RV in the cracks and crevices and drawer boxes and anywhere else dust hides.

And the dust is in our cameras and laptops. Back east the dust would collaborate with moisture to conduct electricity and short-circuit our electronic devices integrated circuitry. But in the American west and southwest the arid climate provides plenty of dust and very little moisture. How can we still blame the dust for our electronics problems? There’s gold out here, and silver and other precious metals. What’s in the ground is in the dust, right?

There you have it. We’re blaming the dust for our inability to maintain an orderly blog during the past six weeks of caravan travels with our Airstream club. The caravan ended three days ago, we’re finally on our own again. We have great Verizon signal. Go figure, we’re in National Forest land on western slope of Rockies near no town. We’re up early and dispensing with our driving by very early afternoon so we have all afternoon and evening to ourselves.

No more excuses, we’re gonna catch up now. Wait a second, I need a refill on my tea cup and you probably do too. Let’s both take a five minute break and meet back here again, okay? Alrighty then, meet you back here in five. I have a lot to share if we’re gonna catch this blog up.

While my tea water is heating I connected the water filter and camper to the hydrant. Might as well save our good Moab fresh water. I already had two water hoses connected to this site’s water hydrant, not much point in putting them away instead of connecting the camper. Why did I have two hoses connected to the hydrant if I wasn’t going to connect the camper, you ask?

Okay, while the tea finishes steeping I can take another minute to tell you about our almost stealing 35 pounds of Colorado mud. Whoops, the timer just went off so I’m gonna take care of that first, then I’ll tell you about nearly stealing mud, then I’ll get to the caravan, maybe. Hold on just a minute while I pour us another cup of tea, I’ll be right back.

I’m back, cup is full, opened another window, the one behind the sofa because I was getting too warm sitting in this unventilated front corner without any circulation. Everything’s just about right so now I’ll get started.

The mud and two hoses? We left Rifle Gap State Park, near Rifle, Colorado, early this morning and headed generally for Rocky Mtn Natl Park. We figured we could easily find any number of state or national campgrounds along the way. We crossed Vail Pass at 10,662 feet six miles northeast of Vail, CO, after a lengthy but easy climb with our truck and trailer. Another hour or less and we arrived at Lake Granby, the second largest storage reservoir in Colorado.

Lake Granby is surrounded on three sides by National Forest campgrounds operated by a division of Thousand Trails. Name ring a bell? They try to sell campsites membership in something like 80 Thousand Trails parks throughout the United States. And, they have some sort of agreement to operate over 200 National Forest campgrounds.

We checked the entrance kiosk maps, determined which campground, and headed across the lake’s dams on a ten mile dirt road to Roaring Forks Campground on the other side of the lake. Two watering trucks and two large motor graders are working on this ten mile access road to the two campgrounds. Good news, the water makes the road far less dusty. The graders are scraping up the rocks and wet dirt and re-organizing it into a smooth road service. Bad news, the very freshly soaked dirt is really mud.

A great campground at any price, we say, as long as it doesn’t cost too much. We see a motor home and a fifth wheel in our destination campground from across the lake. Good sign! One half hour later and after artfully dodging a speeding Thousand Trails camp host truck heading the other way and very carefully passing both motor graders, dragging their huge blades back toward Highway 34, we arrive at the Roaring Forks Campground. It is not open, has been closed since it closed last fall for the cold season.

Yes, there are two RVs encamped therein. We can only guess they belong to the forestry crews cutting out the numerous beetle-attacked dead pines. Who knew? UST Wilderness Management/Thousand Trails/Trails Management Co knows. They’re operating these campgrounds throughout the Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forest and the White River National Forest in Colorado. These campgrounds in Arapahoe are wholly subcontracted to a subsidiary of Thousand Trails, Inc. We asked a friendly work camper in a nearby campground if he might help send a recommendation up the chain of command.

This should be easy, right? He told us, the concessionaire (Thousand Trails) isn’t allowed by the Forest Service to post hand-written signs on the Information Kiosks. Okay, how about a printed and laminated sign, I thought? I asked him to please relay our displeasure anyhow. And don’t try to go online and find a “contact us” comment line for these subsidiaries — won’t work. Hmm, maybe the remaining two employees at U.S. Forest Service can help?

Yeah, yeah, what about the mud? We found a turnaround by the Roaring Forks gate and returned to the Information Kiosk at the campground road intersection with Highway 34. Nope, no sign advising the closure of the two campgrounds at the other end of the ten-mile dirt road.

Our camper’s front is covered with a hardened mud, the wheel wells and tires are a blob of mud, and the sewer connection and valves aren’t visible for the mud. The truck’s mud flaps are coated two-inches thick in mud (then they filled the excess went to the trailer). The truck’s back bumper and wheel wells are heavily coated in a thick and cementitious mud. I connected two lengths of hose to the hydrant and, using a deck sweep nozzle, rinsed the piles of mud from the camper and truck.

It wouldn’t be right for us to sneak off with all this Colorado dirt. We’re pretty close to our GVWR on the trailer and can’t really carry much extra weight, no matter how valuable. Some of the mud, surely, has valuable minerals and even precious metals in it. Hated to give it up, but had to give it up. What happens in Colorado stays in Colorado, as they say.

What about the Caravan we just finished? I need to take a break, drink my tea while it’s hot, and give you a break. I’m at my 1000 words limit anyway. Look for Part 2 very soon. We really need to catch up on this caravan highlights thing!

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

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