The Ride Home

Due to partial day road closures north of Silverton, several of the folks cut out before the sun rose. Since Pam and I were heading south towards home we left at a more reasonable hour. The road back down into Silverton from our last campsite was picturesque in the morning light. The road is not what you would consider wide, but luckily the rush hour traffic was light.


We dropped south out of Colorado and crossed into New Mexico near Chaco Canyon and the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Neither of us had been there before so we decided to stop in and see the place. “Near” is a good description since no paved road is within 20 miles of the place. Chaco Canyon is the ancient Pueblo center that thrived between 800 and 1200 AD. What remains are the ruins of the great houses that were once the cultural centers along the migration and trade routes in the beautiful valley.


Much of these multi-storied structures have collapsed and the wood beams of the roofs and ceilings eroded with time. However, most of the walls still stand as well as the ceremonial pits.



The drive south from Chaco Canyon was through the Navajo Reservation along some wide open roads.


We intended to camp at El Morro National Monument, but we spent too much time hiking Chaco. The 9 spots at El Morro were occupied by the time we arrived. We instead continued across the Zuni Reservation and into Arizona, camping at Lyman Lake State Park. They had “beach” campsites, which meant you could park down by the water and had no hook-ups, which was perfect for us. It was not very crowded at the beach – lol.


One of the things we learned at the rally was that we needed to operate our diesel systems a little more often than we were to keep then working correctly. This includes our diesel water heater, diesel air heater and the diesel cook stove. We fired up the stove, literally, and cooked a batch of bolognaise sauce and pasta for dinner. It was yummy.


I was just about to toss some water out of the Roamer and Pam said, “don’t open the door”! We turned the outside lights on and the inside lights off to see the hundreds of bugs gathered outside waiting to get inside. While we didn’t need the insect protection we put in before our trip to Alaska up there, it came in handy here. Not one of the buggers got in through the screen or hatches all night.


We stopped the next day at our place up on the Rim for the weekend before dropping back down into the valley. While the snow was a little lighter than hoped last winter, this summer has been wet and the forest looked great – sorry California. Had to take care of some house maintenance issues and I’m sure there will be more when we get home after nearly 4 months on the road. It rained 3 more inches while we were there.


We dropped out of the clouds off the Rim and there were more clouds south of Payson than I can ever remember seeing this time of year.


The sky broke open as we approached the valley and we passed by the first saguaro we’ve seen in many months.


We’re home now after 13,585 miles on the road. This does not include the 1700 miles on the ferry getting to Haines, Alaska. It was a total of 113 days for Epic Trek 2 and my sticker collection in the utility box is growing.


What a great trip.

The Rally

Once a year the EarthRoamer folks put together a rally for the owners. It’s a great chance to meet other owners, talk with the EarthRoamer personnel and learn more about the capabilities of the vehicle. Pam and I went to the owner’s rally two years ago, right after we bought the Roamer. It was held in and around Monument Valley for an unforgettable week. Last year, Pam and I were still on the road back east on our Epic trek number 1 and missed the rally in northern Colorado.

This year’s rally would all be at campsites in excess of 9,000 feet and started near Silver Jack Reservoir. The road over Owl Pass to get there was very colorful.


Lou, Nancy, Pam and I arrived a day early to relax and hike around the area. Just beyond the campsite location was a nice pond with the fall colors in full force.



The campsites are typically just open fields that require 4 wheel drive to get there. Here are a few of the rigs backed up to the trees at the first campsite. We had a great campfire and watched the eclipsed moon come up over the mountains the first night of the rally.


The rally moves as a convoy to get to the different campsites. Here’s one of the lineups along the remote roads the rally typically travels before moving out towards the next site.


The next campsite was up in the hills above Telluride, Colorado along the Last Dollar Road. The drive there had some incredible vistas.



The campsite was in a field off the road. There were some incredible campsites along the road, but it was amazing how many folks were out camping during the week to see the fall colors.


The next day we dropped down into Telluride and the valley looking up into Telluride was pretty picturesque.


We then made our way up into the hills behind the Purgatory ski resort outside of Durango, Colorado.


We spent a couple of days here, going over the design features of the rigs, and back-road travel basics like winching. I got to break out my chainsaw to section a downed tree for the roaring campfire that even included a great guitarist in from Boulder and a bourbon and apple cider concoction that was perfect for the fall season.


Some of the rigs had to leave early, but we got a group shot of the remaining folks before heading to the last campsite.


The last campsite was in the hills outside Silverton, Colorado up near Stoney Pass. There was a horse corral where we camped that seemed fitting since our Roamer is our new-age steed and pack animal.


The rally was a blast. Great people, great scenery, learned a ton more about the capabilities of our Roamer and had a great time. Can’t wait to see where the rally is next year.

Colorado Fishing

Colorado has been our destination for a couple of weeks. We had an appointment at the EarthRoamer factory, located in Dacono, to have the camper part of the rig serviced after our trek to Alaska. We also planned to attend the 2015 EarthRoamer owner’s rally in the San Juan National Forest, and to meet up with Lou and Nancy, other EarthRoamer owners, prior to the rally for a week of fishing and hiking.

To get to Dacono, which is just north of Denver, we crossed through the Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive was very scenic with the fall colors everywhere at the higher elevations. We stopped at the summit visitor center to climb to the peak at 12,005 feet. This is above the tree line so there was only the tundra vegetation up there.


The stone path up to the peak was exposed to the 40 mph wind that was blowing across the range. Luckily, it was a tailwind going up so it helped to push us up the hill.


Shortly after we descended back to the parking lot it began to drizzle over some parts of the park. As we drove down the other side of the mountain we saw a rainbow in the valley below. Neither of us has ever been above a rainbow before. There was an overwhelming feeling to break out into song – “ somewhere …..”, but then again we weren’t in Kansas.


We got to Dacono and had the rig serviced. Besides the planned work they also fixed a couple of other issues. The right front lower shock’s 3/4 inch mounting bolt had broken somewhere along the trip and finally worked its way out the day we arrived for service. Our shock was just dangling from the upper mount. The air suspension system covered for the shock, but it’s hard to explain to the service folks that you know what you are doing when major components are just dangling below.

Also the front light bracket we had welded in Whitehorse failed again so we had new, better brackets installed to eliminate this issue for good – we hope. Or maybe it will now allow us to explore rougher roads – lol.

After we left Dacono, we stopped in Golden, Colorado for some great pizza and beer at Woody’s and camped nearby at Chatfield State Park for the night. The next day we made our way south and west to the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area near Salida, Colorado.

We met up with Lou and Nancy at Ruby Mountain campground. While they live in Colorado, they were returning from a trip back east for the last two months in their rig, named Gus.


The campground is next to Brown’s Canyon National Monument, one of the newest designated national monuments. It’s a huge recreation area with both fishing and many dirt roads running into the mountains. We stayed there a few days to take a break from driving. We hiked the area and found three geo-caches among the rocks along with Apache tears and a minuscule flake of garnet that we left for future scavengers.


Some of the roads back into the canyon area require a little more than just 4 wheel drive. Here was a tricked out jeep with maybe a little more than normal articulation in the suspension to make it through some of these back-country spots.


The area is best known for its fishing. We spent a few hours in the Arkansas River pulling out rainbow trout. It’s also an open grazing area so a couple of cows made their way across the river to the better grass on the other side.


Pam caught a picture of me in the stream with the pole I picked up in Missoula. I need to switch back to my fly rod at some point.


We visited Salida and had lunch at the Laughing Ladies restaurant downtown. Salida is a neat little town that could be on the list of future hometowns. The 4 of us left there and headed west across Monarch Pass to Gunnison and Montrose, Colorado. The leaves along the drive were in full fall colors.


We camped at the Ridgeway reservoir, also known for its fishing in the ponds and streams along the campground. We had a night on the town in Montrose, at the Horsefly Brewery. It was “open mic” night and the folks that stopped in to play and sing were amazingly good, along with the beer and food. We also did some hikes around the reservoir and campground while we were there. Montrose could also be a future home site – too many choices…..


The EarthRoamer Owner’s Rally is next week, and the 4 of us will be there with 16 other rigs. This year’s rally will be in the back-country of the San Juan Mountain range, just over the hills towards Ouray, Colorado in the picture below. After the rally Pam and I will be heading home, ending the 2015 Epic Adventure. We’ve already eclipsed the 2014’s driving distance (12,600 miles) and days on the road (100 days). We’ll see what the final values are when we roll into town early next month.