Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fun Time In Colorado

Monday 6/27

Checked things out on the truck this AM while Nancy did her Spanish, then we drove into Geneva, lunch at Barrel & Rye, a stop at library, Blue Goose, and a couple of mattress stores & Bed Bath & Beyond looking for a new TempurPedic pillow. Found what I was looking for at American mattress. One last stop at Trader Joe’s and back to Big Rock in the late afternoon. Beautiful day, lower humidity, but a stiff breeze.

Last day with the Jeep - bummer. It goes into Joan’s garage tomorrow. Will be there until we get back to pick it up in September.

Tuesday 6/28

Off to Joan’s this morning to put the Jeep in her garage for the next two months. We’ll be back the first week in September to pick it up and drive back to Tucson. Joan has been a real lifesaver storing my cars like this for the last nine months!

Had Joseph’s sausages on the grille for lunch and went to Culver’s for dinner. Nancy did laundry, I tucked the Jeep into the garage and sorted through some insurance issues on-line. Also caught up on my regular website visits. We have been working Joan’s WiFi pretty hard this visit since we are using our Verizon data at the campground. Did I mention she is a lifesaver!

Back home late, TV and bed.

Wednesday 6/29

The parts lady from Holiday Hour RV in Cortland called yesterday, the spring cartridge for our toilet came in. The spring on the toilet pedal broke last week.

Ran up to Cortland on the back roads and picked up the part. Back home to fix the toilet. Nancy’s phone decided to crap out trying to do an update during the night - needed a WiFi connection to do the update! How crazy is that! 

So she ran into the Verizon store in North Aurora to get it fixed while I scrambled around on the floor fixing the toilet. Both tasks got done in a timely fashion. The toilet works better than it has in long while and Nancy’s phone just needed the WiFI at the Verizon store to finish the update.

Picking up and packing away various items the rest of the day. Headed into Hinkley for one last rib fix at South Moon BBQ. Back at the Campground I loaded the smart on the truck, first time for this one, went just fine. Ready to hit the road in the AM.

Thursday 6/30

Smooth start this morning, out of the RV park a few minutes after 9 after dumping the tanks. Uneventful trip, some very light showers, but never drove on wet roads. Stopped at Cracker Barrel (of course!) in Davenport for lunch.

Tried to stop at Maytag Farms in Newton, IA for Blue cheese but the factory store was closed for remodeling! Would have been nice if they would have put a notice on their sign on I-80!

Arrived at Timberline campground about 4 PM. Lots of trees, satellite cannot connect, but good over the air reception. Will miss F1 this weekend.  Sights are also pretty tight and very small and close together.

Friday 7/1

Pretty day in the 70’s. As close as the sites are in this campground, it was very quiet last night.  One of the quietest parks we have stayed at, in spite of it's being a holiday weekend with lots of kids around! Walked around the campground this morning and saw a couple of sites where our satellite might work. We get really good over the air here, but I would like to be able to watch the F1 race this weekend. Asked if we could move and they said yes, so we moved to a site where I thought it would work, no luck and while it was searching it came up with a message that a motor was “stalled” Oh oh! When I powered off it did stow OK, so we will see what happens when we get to a spot where we know it can see the satellites. That is the one drawback to the permanently mounted Traveler - you get onto trees and you cannot move the dish around to find a hole through the trees. I had carried our portable dish for a couple of years and never used it, so we don’t carry it anymore.

Saturday 7/2

Cool and drizzly all day, never got out of the 60’s. We headed out early to go to the Farmers Market in downtown Des Moines. Took the truck as we had not bothered to unload the car for a short stay. Turned out the parking lot I had searched out on Google Maps was a private lot. The market website had showed parking there, but that was a garage - no go with the truck! No place to park on the street either so we skipped the market.

Stopped at a Perkins for breakfast, so, so. Then a Hy-Vee for groceries. Turned out to be a really nice supermarket. Nancy wishes there was one in Tucson!

Went to the movies to see Dory. It was good, but not as good as Finding Nemo. Always amazes us that everyone jumps up and walks out as soon as the movie is over. Particularly with animated movies there is always some great stuff during the credits and the final big joke of the movie was after all the credits were over! By that time there was only one other couple still in the theatre!

Back home and relaxed. Listened to the last Prairie Home Companion show with Garrison Keillor. We however, will be among the privileged few that will see some additional, non-broadcast shows on the Alaska cruise in August.

Received some pics of our house from Pauline Herder. Not as far along as we thought it might be, framing just getting started!

Sunday 7/3

Quiet day at home. Unable to watch the F1 race (see above) so we followed a live blog on line. Looks like we missed a pretty eventful race. Watched CBS Sunday morning, then relaxing and reading with a couple of short walks around the campground.

We will be able to watch our favorites on PBS this evening.

Monday 7/4

Up fairly early and dumped tanks before leaving Timberline. Left at 9:02! Seems no matter what we do we are on the road right around 9 AM.

Uneventful trip, nice weather and fairly light traffic. Only fly in the ointment was lunch. We decided to hit the Cracker Barrel in Omaha even though it was a little early, but as we came off the exit we could see the lot was jammed with people waiting outside! No place to park and probably a long wait. McDonald’s right there with a dirt parking lot next door, pulled in and parked. Walked over - nope - doors locked, drive-up only!

Back on the highway we pulled into a Flying J and ate at the Denny’s, good food, but really slow!

Arrive at Sunny Meadows - a real misnomer for a gravel parking lot with RV hook-ups! - just before 4 PM. Time to relax and unwind. We’ve stayed here before and will again. An easy drive out of Denver and right off the highway plus a Passport American rate. Bumped up to $20 this time, used to be $12. WiFi worked really well this time. 

Tried the Winegard Trav’ler that had issues in Iowa and it worked fine. Apparently the “stalled” message that we got was due to it’s inability to see the satellites. That was good news!

Hot and humid here! 10:30 PM still 74 degrees and 84% humidity. AC will stay on tonight!

Tuesday 7/5

Uneventful trip into Denver. Stopped for lunch at a McDonald’s in Sterling, CO. Lunch spots on this part of the trip are far and few between.

Settled into Cherry Creek State Park and then headed over to Connie & Laurie’s for a nice dinner. The Winegard Traveler stalled the first time I tried to put it up, but worked fine on the second try.

Wednesday 7/6

Nancy did laundry first thing in the morning, then we went over to Cherry Creek shopping center to the farmer’s market. What a traffic nightmare! They are repaving the main street outside the center and the traffic from every direction was virtually stopped! 

Managed to weave around on side streets and get into a parking garage near the Whole Foods. Picked up some fruit in the market and lunch from Whole Foods. Then back to Connie’s for the afternoon and another great dinner! Laurie’s homemade ice cream is fantastic.

Greg and Emily are in Boston with the kids this week.

Thursday 7/7

Truck maintenance day! Nancy went over to Connie’s while I took the truck up to Flying J for a fill up, then a stop at Speedco for oil, lube and filters, followed by a nice wash at Blue Beacon and then back home.

Friday 7/8

While getting the truck serviced at Speedco the tech spotted a failed bushing on the rear torsion bar between the rear axle and the frame. I called Volvo of Denver, local heavy duty truck dealer Thursday afternoon and Jake said bring it in right now. Could not do that as I had an appointment at SafeLite to have a windshield chip fixed. Got that done and then Nancy followed me up to Volvo of Denver to drop the truck off. Sure easy to spot that bright yellow smart with it’s LED running lights behind me in the traffic.

Spent the rest of the day at Wood’s house, then out to Tag Burger Bar for dinner with Connie and Laurie.

Saturday 7/9 

Emily, Greg and the kids returned from Boston mid-day. Connie, Laurie, Nancy and I trooped over there for dinner, which Laurie had made. Really nice evening with the kids.

Volvo dealer called this evening, truck is done. Really fast service!

Sunday 7/10

Watched the start of the F1 race and then went up to Volvo of Denver to pick up the truck. What a great dealer! From the look of their lot all they work on are heavy duty trucks which  is nice, means parts are in stock (everything I needed was in stock! First time that ever happened!) and their techs know their way around our trucks. Most detailed repair order I have ever seen. A great experience over all.

Monday 7/11

Cleaned out the storage compartments in the truck first this this AM. I had taken our safe and my toolboxes out before I took it in for service. Good time to take everything else out and straighten things out.

Nancy did some laundry here at the park, then we stopped at Bed Bath & Beyond, followed by a stop ay Home Depot for some PVC elbows. Nancy found a plan on the web for making a kids periscope out of PVC pipes. 

Then we went over to Wood’s and Laurie and I spent about two hours figuring out how to grind slots in the elbow with the Dremel  and get the mirrors properly placed. Actually worked out pretty well! 

Laurie cooked fresh salmon on the grill tonight, followed by homemade ice cream again. We are getting spoiled!

Tuesday 7/12

Miles’ fifth birthday today. We have a family celebration in the late afternoon. The big shindig for all his friends will be on Saturday.

Wednesday through Saturday

Pretty uneventful the rest of the week, just visiting and enjoying being with family. Wednesday Laurie and I, along with his brother Bob, went to the Clive Cussler Museum in Arvada. Quite a nice collection of cars and a very enjoyable visit. Before the museum Bob gave me a tour of huge shop with his motorcycles and a 1941 Cadillac that he is restoring. Most impressive was his massive license plate collection covering all the walls of his shop. Plates with a number themes like the plates from every state and province for the year of his birth, complete runs of plates for several states, etc. He also has one of our Illinois “FOR TWO” plates from the smart and the “JAG 1952” plate from my XK120.

Laurie continued his gastronomic feats with a couple of great dinners including seriously impressive bar-b-qued ribs on his Big Green Egg grille!

Nancy’s other sister Joan came in from Chicago for the weekend and Miles’ birthday party. The three sisters always have a good time together.

Saturday afternoon MIles’ birthday party was a great success, including a massive birthday cake, a bouncy house complete with a water slide and pool, and a massive pile of gifts! I don’t think he even got them all open by the end of the day!

I spent some fun time helping Miles put together a couple of Lego models. Actually somewhat depressing since often by the time I figured out the next instruction he had already found the piece and put it in place!

Monday 7/18

Dropped Nancy off at Joan’s house in the AM and went back to Cherry Creek to load the car, do some cleaning and a couple of maintenance items. Then took the truck over to Britt’s house so Miles, his brother Oliver and their sister Hillary could climb all over the cab and push all the buttons and switches. 

Tuesday 7/19

Departure day since we have hit the 14 day limit for our stay in Cherry Creek. While hitching up I gave the trailer a pretty good whack with the truck - not good for the spring hangers. All looked OK, but as we were heading out of the park I could see that the trailer was dog tracking - oh, oh.

Stopped outside the campground office and while Nancy went to pick up some ice for the cooler, I looked at the springs and sure enough, one broken! I have the bolts and bushings with me but it is a bit hard for one guy to do it. The last time I got lucky and caught it while the broken bolt was still holding the spring in place and I was able to drive the new bolt in.

This time the bolt is gone and the spring is several inches away from lining up with the bracket. We spent the better part of two hours trying to find a mobile RV tech or a shop where we could take the trailer in. No luck, all the mobile techs were booked for the day and the shops were booked for a week or more!

Finally I decided there was nothing for it but try to get it done myself. Fortunately we can jack the trailer using our BigFoot levelers, so Nancy operated the jacks while I watched the spring and it slipped almost back into place! Using a pry bar I was able to get it lined up close enough to get the bolt started and drive it into place. Better to be lucky than good!

So we finally got on the road to San Luis State Park at 12:30. Skipped a lunch stop and arrived at the park at 4:45. The truck did great up over 9,413 foot La Vita Pass. Ninth gear all the way and only one tap on the brakes coming down the other side! Love our Volvo!

San Luis State Park is disappointing. To start with no one on duty at the entrance at 4:45; then a seriously bad washboard road to get to the campground. All the water bibs - and the electrical hook-ups - are on the wrong side.

This place is a serious rip-off at $24 per night plus a $7 per day vehicle pass! Cherry Creek, much, much nicer and close to Denver, is only $26 per day. We already bought an annual pass for the truck for $73, so at least we did not have to pay that part.

San Luis is in the middle of nowhere, a screwy layout with semi-paved roads and gravel sites, no water or sewer, electric only (we knew this going in). We located the site we had reserved - and paid for in advance - only to find two tents pitched there and a permit for one night on the post!

Found another site, not many people here anyway. There is a beautiful view of the Great Sand Dunes National Park across the lake with mountains behind the dunes, but that is all this place has going for it. We will see tomorrow if we can get into the park in Cortez a couple of days early and get out of here.

I won’t even talk about the full glass of red wine that we managed to spill during dinner! Looks like we got all of it out of the carpet and most of it out of the upholstered chair. 

Oh well, all minor hiccups, fortunately nothing serious.

Wednesday 7/20

Took our time getting going this AM, left San Luis about 10:30. I will be trying to get a refund for the other four days.

First couple hours of the trip were fairly boring, San Luis is in the mountains, but on a large flat plain. Stopped at Boogies Cafe in Del Norte for lunch, very good.  After Del Norte we started getting back into the mountains.

Beautiful scenery all the rest of the way. The Volvo performed beautifully over Wolf Creek Pass! 10,850 feet with no issues at all. To make the climb even tougher and more interesting, there was road construction which meant only one lane was open most of the way up the East side. The single lane stretches were long, which meant long waits for the other direction to come through.

The first stop was not too long, the second on was 15 to 20 minutes! Biggest problem though was restarting from a complete stop on a 5% grade! No sweat with the Volvo though!  One benefit, after the road opened up at the top the few cars that had been behind us at the last stop went by and we had no traffic all the way down!

Speed limit for trucks over 26k pounds was 25 MPH (we weigh 37k) so I just put it in 6th gear and let the engine brake hold speed all the way down, never touched the service brake pedal!

Towards the bottom there is a 180 degree curve and as we went around we could see the remains of a semi on the side of the mountain between the two roads! Several hundred feet down a 45 degree slope!

Sundance RV Park in Cortez is very nice, sites are a bit tight. A lot of trees, but our satellite dish managed to lock on to all three satellites. Unable to get the HD channels, but we are getting all of the Denver stations in standard def. Will be able to get the F1 race this weekend as well.

Thursday 7/21

Quite day today, both of us kind of tired from two weeks of family activities and two long travel days. Took a short walk in the morning and then just vegged at home. Nancy a bit under the weather.

Received e-mail from Paulette Herder with four pictures of the house! Looking really good, framing is complete. Looks like a house now!

This is actually the back and the garage, but it gives a good look at the view of Golden Gate Mountain that we will see from the great room.

This one shows the front door and entryway, although the opening for the sliding doors in the great room is blocked in this view by the palo verde tree!

Friday 7/22

Off to Mesa Verde this morning, spent most of the day there. We did not bother to unload the smart here, no place to do it in a fairly tight RV park and easy enough to just drive the truck around. Truck did just fine on the climb up onto Mesa Verde.

After stopping at the Visitor Center we entered the park, used our Senior National Parks pass. We were able to run the speed limit all the way up onto the mesa. Beautiful views in all directions on the way up.

It is 20 miles from the visitor center to the pueblos and cliff dwellings. Stopped and had lunch at a park cafe on the way and then looked at a couple of pit houses and pueblos, then we stopped at an overlook where there was a really good view of the cliff dwellings. Stopped at the museum and watched the park video and looked at the exhibits. By then we were both pretty worn out. Hot day and high altitude most likely.

Back into Cortez and the RV park after a stop at the grocery store.

Saturday 7/23

Took our morning walk a ways down the main drag this AM, checked out the City Market grocery store, then stopped at a Colorado Welcome Center right across the street from the RV park. Really nice one with a lot of info, picked up a number of brochures and found out about another scenic route in New Mexico that we will check out in September.

Watched F1 qualifying in the AM, then about Noon we headed up to the Anasazi Heritage Center in Delores to check out info on Canyon of the Ancients Park. Turns out this is great museum in itself! Well worth the visit. We spent most of the afternoon there and did not really get a good look at all of the exhibits. Lots and lots of info on the Pueblo culture, the archeological sites around the area, and the history of the area since the arrival of European Americans in the late 19th Century.

After our visit we walked up the paved path to the top of the hill where the museum is located, about a half mile. Seemed a lot longer in the 88 degree heat! Great views from there, including a number of the fourteener mountains.

We had spotted a barbecue place on the East end of Cortez and thought we would stop there since we had skipped lunch. Turned out to be out of business! Went back West into the old part of Cortez and found JImmer’s Back Country Barbecue, which turned out to be pretty good.

Back home, turned on the AC and relaxed!

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