Chapter seven of The Last Hurrah.
Picking up in Idaho Falls
Saturday, July 17 - Back to town to stuff ourselves again. Dorothy had Chile Rellenos and I picked Chile Verde. I followed Dorothy's led and supersized my Coconut drink. We waddled out and went back to Winco pick up a few items including 4 pounds of flavored coffee beans.
We don't pay attention to fifth-wheels or frankly any other kind of RV. But this year we noted that all the newer ones are gray.
We know no-one reads this blog. Maybe some look at the pictures. I don't blame them. My prose is so lacking. And going downhill every year.
Sunday, July 18 - 2.5 hours south to Pinedale, WY. We parked at Fremont Lake - you know John Fremont. It's 7,400 feet, but it's still hot. We put our chairs under trees and got content with the lake breeze. Later we drove to Trails End, which is 2,000 feet higher and while it was a little cooler, it was not worth moving.
We have been in haze for over a month. The view of the Wind River range is almost totally obscured by what the locals say is smoke from the big fire in Oregon.
Here's how the lake and front of the Wind River range looked like when we were here in 2008. Today, it was just gray.
I had forgotten how impressive these mountains are. They are as good as the Sierra Nevada. Me loves me billion year old granite.
Here are some shots that others have taken doing the two day long hike into the mountains.
Monday, July 19 - The haze decreased a lot, but it still too much for photography. Maybe tomorrow.
I went to the clinic and got a CBC and will return tomorrow to get my port flushed.
We spent two hours at the library avoiding the heat and surfing. We both picked up our drugs at the PO. Kids came to and from the skate board track across the street to some room in the back of the library wearing their oversize back packs. Pinedale has free range kids. 8 year olds ride their bikes in town. It was refreshing to see.
People stay in Pinedale and make the 1.5 hour drive to Jackson. Then it's another 30-45 minutes to get through Jackson's clogged two lane streets. Prices for motels rooms in Jackson are though the roof. This must have been going on for decades as there are dozens of small dated motels in Pinedale.
Tuesday, July 20 - The day broke cool with a smoky sky. Did you see the word cool? The smoke cancelled our drive into the mountains. By 1PM, a thunderstorm threatened, but all we got were a few drops. An hour later blue skies. Could it be clear tomorrow?
I went to the clinic and got my port flushed. It was something new for the RN, but she got another RN to show her the way.
Our friends from Tennessee are spending two days here. I think they brought the improved weather. Which did not last.
Wednesday, July 21 - Even with the smoke we wanted to try to see the sawtooth Wind River range. So we drove part of the way to Union Pass and decided it just was not going to work.
We were hungry and decided to try a Mex place in Pinedale. I was not expecting much, but we got less. Over 5 minutes to get water. Another 5 or more to take our order. Never got chips and salsa. When the plate arrived they were small servings. The corker was when construction noise in the bathrooms started. We left without eating. We went across the street and had a decent Chinese meal.
We ended the day with our friends reminiscing about times 30-40 years in the rearview mirror.
Thursday, July 22 - We desperately wanted to escape the heat. 7,500 feet was just not higher enough. It is still in the high 90's in the late afternoon. The closest mountains are the Snowies in southeastern Wyoming. Way out of the way to our next intended destination the San Juans, but it seemed the only solution. Besides it's raining there and the roads are muddy when wet.
And so we took a punishing 9.5 hour drive. It started off bad at the Pinedale dump. The city wanted $15 to dump and there was no fresh water. ot going to happen. We dumped at the city dump for free and later got water for free at a private RV park.
I80 though Wyoming is featureless. The moon must be more interesting.
Dorothy thought we were going to stay at the RV park in Rawlins and was starting to register when I walked in. We were both tired but I wanted to get into the cool mountain air. So we filled the fresh water tank and headed 1.5 hours south. We were both too tired to be driving safely. My bad.
We tried Silver Lake CG, but it was full. Besides, it looked like a fire base from Vietnam days. The trees were naked splinted totems. We then tried Sugarloaf, but it was also full and teaming with day use folks. So we parked in a trailhead parking area and had a quiet night.
Friday, July 23 - I slept from 7 to 5. It was 63 at 6pm.
Low 70’s today. It is a heavily overcast today, so we will just veg and visit our friends down the road this afternoon. All the CG’s are full, I think we found the last boondock place and it has 2 bars extended, while all surrounding us has no service. Just parked in a meadow.
Everybody now has a RV and they are all out. We are going to hang here for awhile. If we could hike this would be heaven.
Mid afternoon a man, two women, an infant and a toddler walked all around our site. I guess they were trying to figure out where to set up their popup. There was really no good option. I decided our batteries needed charging and fired up the generator. They quickly left.
Our friends are 10 miles down the road. 2,000 feet lower. It is their usual place to park. This is their fourth time here. They tend to return again and again to the same places and hike the same trails.
We both feel the altitude, 10,500, but prefer the 10 degree lower temperature.
Saturday, July 24 - The heater cut on this morning. 44 outside, 62 inside. Great sleeping weather. Will the overcast last all day? Oops, it's not overcast, it's frigging smoke from the OR/CA fires.
We took a drive and short hike. Now we have seen this area. Well, all of it that we are able to see. Not being able to hike is major limiting. But, maybe not today as there are hordes of hikers out.
When we dry camped in the heat dome, our CPAP's would cut off after a few hours of use. Here in the mountains, no problems.
Sunday, July 25 - We took a long drive south stopping in Meeker, CO at a city park. Electricity for $20. We are still in smoke, but not as much.
Monday, July 26 - We continued with another long drive south stopping east of Montrose in a Black Canyon CG. The drive really exhausted Dorothy. When we parked she was down for the day. We need to keep our drives to under three hours. We did marketing at City Market. KoKo is now stuffed. Since the only grocery stores at our next destination are an hour away, we wanted to stock up.
Tuesday, July 27 - A shorter drive today. Back to Montrose, to do laundry and pick up some more roast beef and oranges and then south to Ironton in the San Juan's Mountains. We are parked at 9,700 feet and at 3pm it is a comfortable 72. Dorothy's quaking Aspens are on two sides of us. Our place is close to road, so we get a little road noise. It also means we can exit if we get a lot of rain that saturates the gravel/mud mix.
I can already see this area has teeming masses just from the road traffic and the number of vehicles parked at staging areas. I suppose once people did not have to work they stayed off work and bought an RV. Not working used to carry some penalties like not having much to spend.
Dear Blog, I don't want to brag or get ahead of myself, but I have lost some blubber. From 255 to 237. That's almost 2 inches in my waist.
Wednesday, July 28 - Surprise, it was only 52 at 6am. I expected it to be low 40's. The sun did not pop over the mountain until after 8. It turned into a gorgeous day. We went to see how busy Silverton was. Not bad. Plenty of places to park at our fav CG.
The San Juan's have been my fav mountains since I first saw them in 1994. The famed section of the Rockies in RMNP pale in comparison. The Wind River range is exceptional, but close access is by horse or foot. Here you can drive through and all around the mountains. That is unique. There are plenty of areas where hiking and scrambling is required, but at least you can get a close enough view from a trail.
Ross and Beverly spotted us from the road and came to visit for an hour or so . It was good to catch up with them. I am amazed at Beverly's memory. She is able to recall even trivial details that I have no memory of.
Yesterday, we had our large parking area to ourselves. Today, three more rigs arrived. Just before dark, I noticed a guy standing in one of the large over the ankle mud puddles. He was washing his legs in the muddy water. Perhaps a medicinal procedure?
Thursday, July 29 - A normal 42 this morning. 61 inside. We got away in the Jeep at 8:30 to drive the Yankee Boy trail. We had not done this trail before and it was Oh Wow, Look! Over half the trail is on a well grated road. The last 3.5 miles are uphill on sharp rocks. When the going gets rough the tiny little cars and full-size trucks are parked and the passengers continue on foot. Only Jeeps and scooter-puters can make it all the way. I came down in 4WD Low to save the brakes. Dorothy finally thought to have me turn off what she calls the creepy crawly thing. It is better known as the sway bar and it sure takes out most of the side-to-side motion.
The drive wore us out. We wanted to eat and get email in Ouray, but the restaurants we knew and liked are gone. Only two breweries are left. We were told the food in one of them was not worth eating and besides you have to climb up three floors. Not happening. We made it back to KoKo and Dorothy made a roast beef sandwich and we both napped over an hour. Neither of us felt peppy enough to go back down the hill to get a cell phone signal.
I would love to open a small place here and make Jambalaya, (Gumbo) I think I would only serve it with lots of okra. Or charge extra sans okra.
Friday, July 30 - Another beautiful day in the San Juans after the sunball pops over the mountain around 8:00. After wearing ourselves out yesterday, we felt much better this morning and decided to wheel Imogene Pass. We did part of this trail a decade ago, but we did not go far enough to see it's splendors. This trail shows off the San Juans like no other. It ascends to 13,100 and that's high enough to see every other mountain for miles. It was a fairly clear day.
Some button got pressed on my camera which made the images dark I could not find the reset function. So when I needed my camera the most it was on the fritz. I got most of these with the iPhone.
Now the downside, as we go up Camp Bird Road we start passing dozens of hikers. It was a competition hike from Ouray to Telluride. What road did they take? Imogene Pass! Fortunately after a bit the hikers turned off on a woods trail and we did not see them except at the hydration stations.
The other negative is that the trail was full of vehicles, Jeeps, Taliban trucks, even full size American trucks, plus a few Lexus and naturally a scattering of noisy scooter-putters.
We bought a loaf of bread in Ouray - $5.50. Dorothy decided the whole wheat she wanted at $7.50 was a stretch too far.
Saturday, July 30 - We moved down to Silverton to the forest service boondock CG they now call Kendall. More crowded than we have ever seen it. Most from Texas. Many A's. Only few hard core Jeepers. We got a spot on the river. Two bars and 21 amps from the solar panels. Life is good.
Dropping down a thousand feet got my oxygen level up a few points, but my pulse remains high at 84-88.