Thursday, September 20, 2018

T.Ex. 1.0 (Turtle Expedition) Week 3

This post is going to be late because there are so many places we have been this week without cell service or internet. I work from a chromebook and you can't do anything without an internet connection. So here goes.

We said our farewells to Heidi and Dan in Oak Creek, Colorado. We enjoyed a couple of evenings of good food and good conversations. Dan made us elk burgers the first night and then the second night it was elk and fish tacos. Dan showed me a couple of guns he was building and I have to say they were awesome. I even got to fire one and it was a blast, literally.

We headed south and then east along I-70 to St. Kathryn's Winery in Palisade so that Lisa could stock up on a delicious lavender wine she likes. Once fully stocked we then headed over to James M. Robb State Park along the Colorado. There are great views there nestled in between canyon walls.
The park had a wildfire this summer but the campground was okay. They added nice picnic table shelters to all of the sites. We were going to go to the top of Grand Mesa next so we made sure to be charged, dumped and filled.

Grand Mesa is the worlds tallest flat top mountain at over 10,000 feet. It was 91 in the valley and 67 at the top. It felt nice. The drive up is very long and nearly a 5,000 foot climb so make sure your vehicle is ready for that. There are pullouts to cool it off if it gets hot. I wouldn't bring a large RV up here because there is no place for big rigs. We checked out 4 different campgrounds until we found the perfect spot for us at Ward Lake campground.

Sunset on Grand Mesa

Since we are flatlanders we are not quite used to the elevations even though we have been in elevation for 2 weeks. Like I said it was over 10,000 feet here and very hard to get our breath and it was the highest (no comments please) that we have ever camped. So this was just a one nighter. Next stop, Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

We were up early the next morning because we couldn't sleep due to lack of air. So we packed up and headed to lower elevations. What a difference a couple thousand feet make. We found a store and loaded up on geocache goodies for the geocache emergency and then headed up, again, into the Black Canyon National Park. This is at 8,000 feet. Found the campground and got a spot. We have learned to get in the National Parks early to get a site and then do your exploring.

What spectacular views. To the bottom it can be as far as 1,700 ft. to 2,750 ft. down.  This was also an overnighter. It's not like I am going to hike to the bottom of that thing. No way! Next stop, Gunnison and Alamosa.

We spent a nice night in the Black Canyon and then headed down, again to take care of the geocache emergency in Gunnison Colorado. Geocache Emergency Also to buy a printer because Lisa needed to work while we had cell service and internet. Geocache emergency averted, we then went to Alamosa Colorado to the KOA. We needed power and internet for a few things. You can read all about the KOA in my campground reviews when I can get around to that one. Next day we headed to the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

Again we headed up to another 8,000 ft. elevation. We are beginning to feel like fish out of water. We have never been here and it was truly an amazing site.
We got to the campground early and got a nice site. From the campground you can hike out to the sand dunes and climb them. We thought we would just walk out there a little ways but we went further and further. About half way up we thought we could never make it.
She looks like that because I am so slow.

As usual, nobody waits for the invalids..
There are many factors against us. The main one-the altitude. We are already at 8,000 feet  and we are still climbing another 700 ft. in sand. Every 6 inch step up you sink 3 inches. Talk about the thigh master work out. The sand is hot. The air is thin. We kept telling ourselves that we would go to the next level and then rest. Then the next. Finally we got to the top.
This was the hardest hike we have ever done. I did not complain at all. Mainly because Lisa was 100 feet above me all of the time.

Going down was much easier. I was motivated by all of the cold beers in the refrigerator.  We were spent. We built a fire and ate dinner and then the next day it was off to go to Mueller State Park near Pikes Peak.
Grouse Mountain views.

See, nobody cares about the invalid.
This park had some great views also. We did a short hike to the top of Grouse Mountain. Over 9,000 feet. It was fairly close to Pikes Peak. We wanted to stay a couple of days so that we could unload the camper and not have to bring it to the top of the mountain. So glad we did. 20 miles up climbing 7,000 feet would have been way to much.

The view from the top was nothing but spectacular. You are up so high, over 14,000 feet,  that everything is so far in the distance, but if you zoom in you don't get the feel of the magnitude of the entire view. Lisa read somewhere that if you want to drive your own vehicle up, you have to go early or late in the day. Parking at the top is very limited due to construction up there so they limit the number of cars during the busy times and then you have to ride a shuttle.

We are not big thrill seekers by any means but this was a big step for us and kind of a bucket list item. So we drove our truck, "The Beast" up to the top. That was one white knuckle drive. Going up all you see is giant drop offs with no guard rails and clear blue sky ahead of you. We didn't take any pictures going up but the following pictures are of us going down.

The "Beast" turned 150k up on the mountain. I think it could do it another 100 times. We couldn't. One and done is what we said. After that we went to the Garden of the Gods. We have been to the Valley of the Gods and were curious to see how they garden. It is a free attraction so why not.

More excellent views. 

Well our time is coming to an end here in Colorado. We are so tired of not being able to take a deep breath and going "Oh yeah". 

Where will we pop up next. We had a great time here in Colorado. Now we are enjoying some good old fashioned oxygen.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Geocache Emergency

Tick, tick, tick, tick,------- tick, tick, tick,-------tick, tick, tick,tick, tick,----tick, tick.

"Holy telegraphs Batman! What is going on in the batcave?" Batgirl said to me.

"I don't know, the telegraph machine is going crazy Batgirl" I said "Read what it says."

"Goecache emergency. Stop. Can you help. Stop. Geocache missing. Stop. Please verify. Stop. In your debt forever. Stop. STD. Stop. End of message. Stop."

"Odd, very odd Batgirl. Do we have any friends with STD's?" I said. "You know it could be any number of people. Check the teletype machine. See if there is any more information."

"Good idea Batman. That probably has more information. It says 'Our geocache in colorado has been reported missing. Can you swing by since you are out of your undisclosed location and check on it. We will be in your debt forever and ever. Steve and Deb.' Oh, that's where STD comes from. I mean the initials. Sheez." a blushing Batgirl said.

So with coordinates in hand and the Batmobile gassed and loaded up we set off to Colorado to look for the elusive geocache that went missing. Normally we only go on missions like this to look for Sasquatches but we made an exception this time. The geocache was located outside of the town of Gunnison, Colorado.  The information we were given was that it was called Pirate Mack's Booty. "Booty" obviously referring to the pirates butt, but we don't judge. The cache was loaded with pirate "booty".

In my opinion, if you load a treasure with pirate "booty" and put an "X" on the map and put that map on the internet, pirates are going to get it. That is what they did. The cache was gone, so we did what we could do. The new cache has Halloween eyeballs and dinosaurs in it. Hopefully that will deter the pirates in the future.
Finished product

Me doing all of the work

Record of the new cache

We came out of the wilderness for that mission and now we have gone back off the grid.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Campground Reviews for T.Ex. 1.0 First Weeks

Just some thoughts on campgrounds for this little trip. Since the purpose is to camp in places we normally don't camp in.
Griffin Park, SD.
Griffin Park in Pierre SD. This was a city park along the Missouri River. The spots are set up like a parking lot. You have electric at your sight and there is water and a dump station available. I think it has a 7 day limit so there are no long term campers there. It will accommodate all types of campers and it is a first come first serve type of place. There are only 16 spaces and when we camped there there were only 5 campers. We would stop there again passing through. The cost for the night is $16.00.
Jim and Barb's, Pringle SD.
Jim and Barb's, Pringle SD. Free spot to camp at. There is electric, water and sewer. Plus the camp hosts are awesome. You may have to provide a little work for your camp site. Big rig friendly.
Devils Tower, WY. Site 18B.
Belle Fourche River Campground, Devils Tower, WY. This is a National Park Campground. The views are great and the peace and quiet is wonderful. There are 46 sites that are first come first serve. We got there early and got the nicest site with the view of Devils Tower. Site 18B. The campground didn't fill up but then it was after Labor Day. Cost is $20.00 for just a site. No services at all so come prepared with full fresh water. Restroom available without showers. Big rig friendly.
Green Trees Crazy Woman campground, Gillette WY.
Gillette, WY. Green Trees Crazy Woman Campground. We had to stop here out of necessity. $37.00 for a back in water and electric site only. Dump station available along with a nice shower house and laundry. No discounts here and the price of sites goes up from there. There is not a lot to choose from if you are passing by Gillette and you need to pull off for the night. All the campgrounds around here were spendy. Big rig friendly.
Riverside park, Douglas WY.
Douglas, WY. Riverside Park. This is a city park that you can camp here for free. There is water and a dump station but no electric. There is lots of road noise, flies everywhere and people race through the gravel parking lot nonstop. I think I would only stay here again as a last resort. 2 day max stay and nobody needs two days in Douglas. Big rig friendly.
Glacier Basin, RMNP
Glacier Basin, RMNP. This is in Rocky Mountain National Park and was pretty awesome to be in there. $26.00 a night and for that you get a site. There are no services at the site but water and dump station at the campground. You can run a generator during certain hours. This campground was reservable and you can pick your site. Not big rig friendly. Sites are small to medium. We watched a guy in a 24 ft. Airstream struggle to get in to his site.
Timber Creek, RMNP
Timber Creek, RMNP. Another National Park Campground. This is a first come first serve campground. $26.00 a night for a site. No electric but you can run a generator during certain hours. Water and dump station available. There were less trees here due to the beetle kill but it was still nice. There were elk that roamed through the campground a couple of times a day. Not big rig friendly. In fact nothing over 30 feet allowed.
Stagecoach State Park
Stagecoach State Park, CO. This is near Steamboat Springs CO. $24.00 a night plus the $7.00 day pass each day for our stay making it $31.00 a day. Electric only at most sites. Water and dump station in the park. There is a section for big rigs and 2 sections for smaller rigs so pick carefully.
Oak Creek, CO.
Moochdocking, Oak Creek CO. We are settled into Heidi's driveway on the side of a mountain. Not big rig friendly but we knew that in advance. That is why the pickup camper fits the bill this time. Price is right and the company is great.

$16.00X1 Griffin Park
$0.00 X5 Jim and Barb's
$20.00X1 Devils Tower
$37.00X1 Gillette
$0.00X1 Douglas
$26.00X1 Glacier Basin RMNP
$26.00X1 Timber Creek RMNP
$31.00X3 Stagecoach State Park, CO.
$0.00X2 Moochdocking at Lisa's Sisters
$218.00 Total
$13.62 a night

That is it for the first part of the T.Ex. 1.0 campgrounds. We haven't planned our route back so we don't know what we will find as far as campgrounds. That is so unlike us to not have a plan. Are we crazy or what? Don't answer that.