Monday, September 17, 2012

Plan? We don't need no stinking plan!

The first thing that happened, before I left, is I could not find the car keys that I'd had moments before I went to leave.  And Vicki had the other set in Kansas City.  No going anywhere without those.  I looked all around the front seat and in the ignition four or five times, and in the house about that many times as well.   Finally, I remembered that I'd thrown some stuff in the back seat, and I went to look to see if I'd thrown the keys there along with it.

Sure enough.  There they were.

Then the GPS  had me get off of 70 before I had expected to, and then I missed a turn, but it guided me to Crown Center anyway, after I re-routed myself around a large bicycle tour.  I picked Vicki up, and then I remembered... it's hard to figure out how to get on I-35 south from here.  No worries.  My British Lady GPS will guide me.

Except she didn't so well.  The intersections are very angled and the distances between them close enough that they were close to the margin of error, and I couldn't figure out where I was supposed to turn.  "In 400 feet, turn left on ... recalculating ...."  So after several false starts, we eventually found an on-ramp (after waiting for an extraordinarily long and slow-moving train) ... which ended up not being the closest on ramp but it got the job done.

We cruised to the Groves house, went out for lunch to some pub place with good burgers, and hung out at their place.  We don't see them often enough, and the fire last year didn't help matters.

I had never done anything like this on this kind of scale before.  We had no reservations, anywhere, and really little idea where we would be camping and when.  I had a vague idea that we'd spend the first night up Montezuma Rd outside of Dillon, CO.... but timing would be key.  We'd need to be there at least a couple hours before sunset to find a spot and then to set up before dark.  Staying with the Groves in KC really helped that out.  We were out by 9:00 though next time I try that I'd want to leave there no later than 7:00 am.  We ended up cutting it a little close for my comfort.

It was hazy across Kansas.  We figured it was a front coming through.  There was one ... but the haze didn't let up and in fact seemed to get thicker and thicker as we drove west.  We hit Denver about 4:00pm, and traffic on 70 wasn't that bad considering it was Denver.  We came to a full stop once, in mid city, but we were out of the metro area before 5:00 and headed up toward Idaho Springs and Loveland Pass, the site of the first mountain we climbed (2002), the one Mark and I climbed in 2003, and the one from which I started my Grays and Torry's attepmt in 2010.  I'm fond of this area.  On the Continental Divide, way up high, and relatively quiet.

We popped over Loveland Pass and got off at the Keystone area where was looking for the camping areas off of Montezuma road I had seen before.  I only really saw one (with several camp sites) along the Snake River.  There were a few people in them... but I thought hey, Peru Creek is just up the road a couple of miles ... we'll see if there are any more between here and there and then come back to this one if there aren't.

Peru Creek near our
We got to Peru Creek, and Vicki was game to try to drive back there.    I remembered from 2010 that road was fairly rough ... and it still was, but somehow seemed better.  Maybe because it actually was, or maybe because the Taurus is a bit more stout than the Escort with a back rack loaded down with too much stuff.

And she spied a spot ... probably less than a mile down the road, about 10-12 feet down from the road with a relatively steep but navigable drive down to it.  We could also pull in, detach, and maneuver the popup where we wanted it and have plenty of room to turn the car around sans-a-trailer to get out.  I was a little skeptical at first, but I, in my typical border-line damn the torpedoes manner. went for it.


Peru Creek 50 yards away, crashing down the mountain with clear mountain stream water.  Lots of trees.  No neighbors.  10,120 feet up in the mountains.  It's gonna get cold tonight.

We set up -- Vicki taking care of the clothes and bed, me setting up the shelf outside and sheltering the equipment, getting the electricity and propane hooked up and the heater hooked up inside.  And I gathered some firewood.  Got the stove out to cook dinner.   And darkness fell.

Vicki warming by the fire on
our first night out
The sky was dark black dotted with bright blue-white diamonds, and after 9:00pm you could see the Milky Way easily.   We had one of our rice and texturized vegetable protein quick meals, and sat around the fire until about 10 or 10:30 and turned in.  It was already close to 30 degrees.  I'd turned the heat on low around 9:00.  We turned in, and I hepped it up to full blast.  All night long.

I'd brought an indoor-outdoor thermometer to keep track of temperature and temperature differences.  The outside temperature dropped to 25 º, while we stayed a cool but tolerable 57 º.  Better blankets would have helped.

57 º is a lot colder in a vinyl tent when it's 25 º  outside than it is, say, in your house.  Not only is the air near the walls colder and pouring down, you are also exchanging radiative heat with surfaces much colder than the interior walls of your house.  Still, like I said, it was tolerable.  Looks like this thing at full blast can keep the temperature inside ~32 º warmer on a still night than the ambient outside temperature.   That'll do, pig.  That'll do.

But how much propane did we use?

Got up in the morning, and I scooped the coffee pot full of mountain stream water and filled my silicon nylon bag-bucket with stream water for washing dishes and such.   We made coffee on the old-school Coleman gasoline stove, and had Grapenuts with this milk you don't have to refrigerate before opening (handy on a trip like this -- you go, Vicki!), and started breaking camp down.

It's hard to complain about
the scenery near Dillon, CO
But Vicki could NOT get warm.  I think a night of being slightly chilled all night and probably inadequate clothing for people acclimated to a hot Midwest Summer took its toll.  So I re-built the fire for her, which she utilized off and on the whole time we broke down and packed up, hooked the trailer back up, and easily made it out of the campsite with minimal scraping of the trailer hitch.

We pulled over at the Montezuma Road campsite.  Someone was in there with a neat old little "Scamp" camper which I purposely did a close fly-by ... but what I really wanted was to stick my tennis-elbow stricken elbow in the river.   It was acting up.  Sore.  The water would be cold and reduce the swelling.  It did, quickly, and we headed west, to Dillon.

One of these would be neat.  But
it's not what we have.
The tarp cover for the camper did not stretch out to the back far enough while cold to catch the velcro in back, so while we gassed up in Dillon I let the sun beat down on its black surface to warm it up.  By the time we left, I was able to stretch it and attach it completely.  Off to new territory for me.  I haven't been west of Dillon in Colorado since ... 1972?

A check on the gas mileage showed that we were getting 23 mpg rather than the normal 27 mpg (highway) the Taurus usually gets.  Not bad at all, especially considering the gas mileage of the RV rentals we'd considered.

No comments:

Post a Comment