This summer’s trip has been one full of maintenance issues. Most folks we talked with also had mechanical problems this year. Maybe like wine there are good and bad years, and 2017 is a bad truck year – lol.
As we made our way south towards Colorado, our turbo-charger blew. With the much more limited power we limped down the front range and found a large parking lot to let the rush hour folks drive home at maximum speed. After waiting an hour we left the parking lot, but the truck became a white smoke generating machine when we started down the road again. Now with no power and creating a cloud behind us, we pulled over into another parking lot and called for a tow truck.

The towing process was a good learning experience for us, having never towed the Roamer before. The tow truck that showed up later that night was too small to tow the Roamer so we sent him away and spent the night in Freddy’s Steakburger parking lot in Loveland, CO. It won’t make our top camp spots list.

The next morning we discussed our situation with the Denver Ford service center, EarthRoamer, AAA and a tow company that had a medium duty tow vehicle. A lowboy trailer is recommended for EarthRoamers for long distances, and due to its height to safely make it under overpasses. However, you can disconnect the driveshaft and use a regular medium duty tow truck if just towing for shorter distances, less than 100 miles.

This was good news for us because we’ve been camped in places when both of us have looked at each other and wondered how a lowboy would ever get back to anywhere near where we were if the truck broke down. Now we know towing it is not as restrictive, but hopefully it’s not something we’ll need often.

We were on our way to the EarthRoamer factory for our rig’s yearly service. The blown turbo-charger meant we had two days to kill while it was being fixed at the Ford service center before it would get its yearly camper tune-up. Without the roamer we were just normal travelers so we booked a couple of nights at the The Niwot Inn. It’s a cute B&B in Niwot, a transitioning farm community along the rail line between Longmont and Boulder.

We met up for dinner with my cousin’s son Matt, who works in the Denver area. We ordered the meat platter at Avery Brewery. We saw the smoker when we walked in so we had to try it. The food was really good and beers were even better while we caught up with Matt and updated news of our relatives back east.

After we got a new turbo-charger and exhaust filter, which sucked up the oil once the turbo-charger blew and produced the smoke show, we took it to the EarthRoamer factory for the yearly tune-up and some new paint to fix the oxidation on the top corners after 4 years on the road. This work was going to take a couple of weeks to complete so we took our rental (F-150 4×4 truck) and headed west to Fruita, CO.

We stopped on the way in Vail, CO for lunch. Neither of us had been there before. It was a lot smaller than I envisioned, more like a ski resort than a ski town. The food and scenery were good, but we jumped in the truck and continued onto Fruita.

Fruita is where our EarthRoaming friends Lou and Nancy recently bought a place. It’s a nice small town just outside Grand Junction, CO, where most folks know each other and the place is surrounded by great off-road and mountain biking trails.

It’s a town that likes the arts, where sculptures line the main street. This is a sculpture of Mike, the famous Fruita rooster that lived for days after his head was removed. I guess if he had a brain he would have known he was dead.

They also have a couple of breweries in town. Here was our selection from the Copper Club. All were good beers. Pam and Nancy even helped to harvest some hops that this brewery uses at a local friend’s farm.

While Moab-like mountain biking is the main draw for the area, we checked out some great hiking areas. This was just outside of town, overlooking the Fruita valley. It was before the western fire’s smoke blew in and turned the normal blue sky to a yellow haze at the end of our stay. The smoke wasn’t heavy in Fruita, but it was noticeable.

We also hiked Rabbit Valley, a beautiful canyon area along the Colorado–Utah border off Interstate 70.

There were hieroglyphs on the canyon walls from the folks that lived there many years ago. The canyon ends at the Colorado River and water flows through the canyon most of the year.

The Colorado National Monument is on the outskirts of Frutia so we had to visit. The canyons there were much grander in scale compared to Rabbit Valley and gorgeous.

We did a couple of hikes within the monument, but could have done many more.

With time to kill waiting for the Roamer, we decided to drive home and catch-up on things there since we had been gone since June. Being in western Colorado we shot down Hwy 128 to Moab, which is a breath-taking drive if you have never gone on that road before. We then jumped onto Hwy 191 and headed south into the Navajo Nation.

We stopped in the Comb Ridge Bistro for a great lunch in Bluff, Utah. The small restaurant had great food and some interesting art for sale.

We hit a monstrous wind / dust storm going through Chinle, AZ on the reservation. We were glad we had a rental and not sand-blasting the Roamer with a new paint job.

We stopped at our cabin on the Rim to enjoy the cool air one more night before dropping back down into the 100- degree valley. Once the peanut feeder in our side yard was replenished it did not take long for the jays and squirrels to find the food.

While the west coast and northwest had a horrible forest fire year, the northern Arizona forests looked a lush green with full ponds of water from the winter snows and summer rains.

We got back into the valley and our planned stay was extended due to delays with the Roamer. While at home we caught the Diamondbacks game when they clinched the wildcard slot, a really good game.

Sadly we also attended the funeral service for Brian, who lost his fight with cancer. Pam’s brother and sister flew in for the service of their childhood friend so we had a chance to catch-up with both. Having the rental pick-up turned out to be handy. We sold our F-150 truck years ago, but having one again was rather nice.

Next trip is back to Colorado to pick up the Roamer.

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