(In which we get on the road)

As we decided to travel in the US again this year, we set off at the end of May, full of plans to visit Colorado, Nevada, California, and perhaps, Oregon, before returning via Canada.  Enough said!  Some of that worked, most of it did not, but we had a great trip anyway!

We started out a bit late, at the end of May, due to some commitments in Arlington and headed west. Our first two nights stays were courtesy of Harvest Hosts and we enjoyed sampling the wine at Christian W. Klay Winery Ravens Glenn Winery  We also paid a visit to the Fort Necessity National Battlefield

A reconstruction, of course, but it wasn’t much when it was built. Depending on who you believe, George Washington may have single handedly started the French and Indian War here.

As a friend of ours put it, there is not much there!  But we enjoyed our visit to the reconstruction of the site and to the excellent visitor center, and we chatted with several of the rangers who came to see our “strange” camper.

The French lines are believed to have been at the present tree line.

Next up was a visit to friends in Columbus, Ohio. We then continued our trip west with a night at the Tuscan Hills Winery  And on into Kansas which can be such a big state to cross!  The fan in the bathroom died at this point, which was annoying as we use two fans to keep the camper as cool as possible for Blue, our cat.  So we went to a Camping World, found one last fan on their shelves and bought it quickly!  We then spent a couple of nights at the Kansas City East/Oak Grove KOA where Fred spent an entire day removing one fan and installing the new one.  Murphy was, as usual, alive and well, but was vanquished in the end!

After this trauma, we gave ourselves a break and camped for two nights at the Kanopolis State Park in Marquette, Kansas.  Our campsite had a beautiful view of the reservoir and sunsets looking across it. 

Yes, we really are in Kansas!

We enjoyed some bicycling in the park, especially the ride across the dam.  As we headed out, we also visited Mushroom Rock State Park.  Just up the road but, unfortunately, too far to bicycle.  This is a very low-key park with some amazing rocks that look like, well, mushrooms!  Quite fun. 

Denise contemplates a magic mushroom.

There were actually people wild camping here. It was really very pleasant.

Still enroute for Colorado, we set off again and were horrified to discover a window had been sucked out of the camper by a tractor trailer which cut in close while on the interstate.  We can only suppose that we had not latched it correctly.  A trip to a wonderful and helpful ACE hardware store in Colby, Kansas ( produced a sheet of plexiglass to fill the hole until we can obtain a new pane.  (Three months later we think we have found a vendor in the UK and we await shipment, we hope!! Further update – the windows arrived in time for Christmas.)  So, minus an important window for cross ventilation, we continued onwards.  (Months later we realized that we should have swapped the good window from the passenger side, where the door limits its opening, and put the plexiglass in its place! Duh!)

As we approached Colorado Springs, we spotted the Paint Mines Interpretive Park on the map and, as lunch time loomed, we decided to stop and explore.  ( It proved to be an amazing place, a little like the Painted Desert National Park in miniature, but with stronger colors and various trails to explore throughout.  A great find.  Lunch was good, too.

The entire area was not that large
The colors were deep and amazing.

We were staying in Manitou Springs at a Boondockers Welcome site. (Boondockers Welcome has been acquired by Harvest Hosts. It is in Crystal Park, a gated community, up a steep and winding mountain road with incredible views toward Colorado Springs.  It actually rivaled roads we had driven in the Andes, only there you must use your horn on the blind corners.  This was not encouraged here!

Back in the 1930’s you they ran touring cars up the road which was so narrow that they used a turntable to turn the cars for the descent.  But we made it up the mountain and met our wonderful hosts and settled in.  We were already feeling the effects of a warm summer when in downtown Manitou Springs but found it delightfully cool at our 8,000-foot-high camping spot.

Looking out towards Manitou Springs.
An afternoon visitor.
Touring car turntable.

We had already booked seats on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and once we sorted out the logistics of where to park the camper and where to take the shuttle, we spent an enjoyable, bright and sunny day on the mountain.  

Colorado Springs below Pike’s Peak
These diesel railcars from Switzerland replaced the old steam engines.

We also visited the Garden of the Gods, with its interesting rock formations.  A special treat was a concert by the Peak Horn Ensemble and Woodland Park Wind Symphony, to which we were invited by our hosts, one of whom was playing French horn in the concert.  A wonderful evening which made our stay even more memorable.  A tour at the Cave of the Winds completed this visit to Manitou Springs and then we headed to Leadville for the Tiger Rally.

We always enjoy Leadville and this time was no exception.  We camped in the diverse camping area just outside Leadville, where the cell phone reception is great(!) and then met friends in town for lunch one day before heading to Camp Hale. Some will recognize Rick and Kathy Howe, ( and Ron and Ton Corbin. ( It is always fun to meet up with old friends who share our silly passion for travel.

Denise keeping hydrated.

We were prepared for the weather to be chilly but to our surprise, it was warmer than we expected in Leadville and much warmer in Camp Hale.  No coats or hats need apply; t-shirts were the order of the day.  We enjoyed meeting old friends and current Tiger owners and hearing their news.  Fred led a couple of discussion groups on batteries and how to manage them.  Then it was time to head out.

1 thought on “THE TRIP OUT WEST THAT WASN’T! (Part One)

  1. Ben


    I’ve been following your adventures closely, and have fallen in love with your truck; it has taken you to so many beautiful places! The wife and I are looking for a similar truck for our planned journeys. If you’ll ever consider or would like to discuss selling out one day when that time comes, please reach out to me here:

    Happy travels!


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