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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Well, Jawed was right and the Internet lied to us. 

When Todd told Jawed that he wanted to Boondock in CO and get away from people, Jawed told him Colorado was not the place to get away from people. Our experience suggests he knew what he was talking about.

When the Internet told us that Gross Reservoir is a hidden gem that's never crowded, we believed it. We should have known better. 

We arrived at the site where we ended up camping around 8:30 last night. The ride was harrowing. Personally, I do not like off-reading. I don't know if it would be better if I could ride up front with Diane and Todd, but it is no picnic from the back of the Big Rolling Crate. Not all of the cubbies back here have doors and as we bounce along, everything falls down all around me like the world is ending! And then there's the noise and rocking and swaying. 

To quote Mark Twain, "Ours was a strange and swaying carriage." (We're listening to the audiobook of "Roughing It," which we are all quite enjoying)

To be honest, the paved road was actually worse in some ways than the dirt road. From the minute we turned onto Magnolia Drive, we were climbing a series of hairpins that were essentially a ladder for cars. Even in first gear, we had to stop four or five times to avoid overheating, and all Diane kept saying was, "Yeah, but even if we get up, we have to come back down!" 

And Todd said, "What? Do you want to go find some Walmart 30 miles from Boulder?"

And Diane said, "Sounds great."

And Todd ignored her and kept driving.

Eventually that road came to its high point, but where the descent began, it turned to dirt. All alone the way there were houses and cars kept zipping past us like it was nothing. People in Colorado have some crazy ideas about where to live and what makes a sensible road!

At last we came to the gate into the dispersed camping area, which was where the road turned truly rough. Unlike our Boondock in South Dakota where we could choose our own place to camp, here there are 20 sites that labeled and available first-come, first-served, and our plan was to take the very first thing we came to because we'd all had enough of the crazy driving, but the first site was taken. By an RV! A big bus-sized RV! How did they get that thing up here? 

We kept on down the road and passed four or five more occupied camp sites. We also encountered a couple of vehicles who were heading back out. We flagged one of them down to ask if there were any camp sites open or if they were leaving because there were none. Guess what they told us. The camps were all occupied. 

It was nearly dark, we'd hardly eaten a thing all day, and we were exhausted. No chance in hell were going back tonight. On that we all agreed.

We kept on down the road until we came to a large site where three very nice women, students from the University of Colorado, were tent camping. Diane begged them to share and they were super nice and said of course! Since they were only staying one night, and we planned to stay a few, they said they'd happily share. They were our angels and saviors--no exaggeration. 

They even moved their tent so we'd have a better spot to park the Big Rolling Crate. To thank them, Todd chopped some firewood for them and we gave them some ice since we had more than we needed. 

When we finally got the Big Rolling Crate parked, we paused long enough to see the end of sunset:

As awful as the drive out here was, the camp site is fantastic. When it got dark, we could look down into the valley and see the lights of Boulder glittering below, and behind us the sliver of moon was light in the sky. There was a great breeze and it was a cool evening perfect for sleeping.

For the first time since we set out, Diane and Todd actually made a real, hot dinner on the camp stove (pasta with meat sauce) and made a small camp fire in the fire ring. Todd decided right away that we would stay here for several days, basically until we run out of water, because it's nice here, and because we need to relax before tackling the drive back out.

This morning (July 9), after our saviors left, we moved the Big Rolling Crate into the shady spot where they had parked, Todd set up some awnings and we all got right into relaxing camp mode. 

Well, actually, first thing when we woke up, Todd turned to Diane and said, "Okay, I'm exhausted. I'm ready to go home." It seems that none of us understood how exhausting travel like we're doing would be, or just how long a month is. But once he had some nice coffee, he was right back in the swing of things. 

One thing we can all agree on is that we have to take the rest of the trip at a slower pace. We've been on the road a week and a half and we've been running a sprint. If we're going to keep this trip going--and keep having fun--it's time to slow things down. 

Here are a couple more pictures from our Gross Reservoir camp site:

Todd put one side of the bus up no blocks to make the bed more level, but then it was so high up, we had to move a rock for a step in the door. I like hanging out under the bus in the shade where it stays cool because it is really hot and dry around here. Today it was almost 100 degrees but only 13% humidity! None of us can used to the lack of humidity. We first noticed just how dry it is out here in the West when we were in South Dakota, and we've all been dry-mouthed and thirsty pretty much continuously since then.

Here's proof that we are indeed camping legally. We're at site 7, and it's all on the up and up.

And this is smoke rising in the distance from a forest fire out in another canyon. We had only just gotten all set up and relaxed when we saw the smoke and we briefly wondered if the next thing would be an evacuation. Fortunately the fire was quite far away and we were safe. We called 911 and made sure, so no need to worry about us! Scout's honor!

And lastly the view from our campsite, looking down the slope towards Boulder. 

We're going to hang out here until Monday and then head back to Boulder and a hotel for a night to rest and clean up. We're all already totally filthy, and we don't want to waste water on showering, so we're going to properly dirty by Monday morning. Personally, I love it. The dirt here is so much fun to roll in. Diane is less excited about it, but she's in no hurry to make the drive out, so she's going along with it. Once she had a hotel reservation for Monday, she figured this camping stuff wouldn't be so bad.

It seems we may have broken one of the new rear shocks on the Big Rolling Crate getting in here, so we have to get that fixed when we get back to town. Hopefully they can do it Monday and have it ready for Tuesday so we can roll out again towards our next destination.

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