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.