Out of the flat and finally into the mountains — or so we thought... Colorado was one of the main destinations of our out West trip. Neither of us had been there before, so it was a new state all around. Of course, that also meant we didn't know what to expect, either. We were set to visit six different campgrounds scattered all over the state, so we were going to get a taste of everything. It was just going to take a little while to get to the stereotypical view of Colorado...
Did you know there was a lot of desert in the southeastern part of Colorado? Driving out of Minooka Park in Kansas, we were getting pretty tired of the flat nothingness. We had been on the road for about three weeks by this point, and we were itching for some beautiful mountains. We thought today was the day! But no... just desert.
When we pulled into the campground at John Martin Reservoir State Park in Hasty, Colorado, the temperature reading in the truck said 100 degrees. There was nothing but sand in all directions with a small oasis that was the reservoir. There were boats on the water, and it was definitely pretty in its own special way, but we just couldn't get over the temperature!
This campground didn't have water hookups, so we had to fill up at a spigot on the way in. Standing out in the hot sun while our 40-gallon freshwater tank filled felt like forever. We were cooking in all that heat!
Finally, we got the water tank filled and backed the trailer into the spot. Not to harp on the heat, but it was so hot our air conditioner couldn't keep up! All we could do is sit inside, hiding from the sun, and watch the temperature rise ever so slowly as we all sweated. Being so black and fuzzy, we had to put a cooling vest on Luna! (and watch her with jealousy because we didn't have any of our own...)
As the sun got a little lower in the sky, we did venture out to take a walk. It was still in the upper 90s, but it was a bit more comfortable than when we got there.
I'd like to say we had a good time at our first stop in Colorado, but it was just hard to get over the heat! Plus, there weren't any mountains yet... We only stayed at John Martin Reservoir one night before moving on to the next Colorado campground.
Off to Lake Pueblo
Our next stop was Lake Pueblo State Park in Pueblo, Colorado. Although there still weren't many mountains (and still a lot of desert), Lake Pueblo turned out to be one of our favorite stops on the trip. Why, you ask?
It might have still been hot, but these views were fire! Our campground sat right on the lake with views of the desert and the mountains beyond.
As if the campsite itself wasn't cool enough, the rest of the campground was equally (if not more) amazing. There was a swimming area on the lake where you could drive your vehicle right up to the shore. No toting your cooler and chairs all the way down to the beach; everything was right there! It was one of the coolest things we've done, if you ask me.
After a little fun in the sun, we decided to hit the town of Pueblo, Colorado. We didn't know much about it, but there was a brewery, and that's all we really needed to know.
Pueblo turned out to be super cool! There was a nice little man-made riverwalk right through the downtown area. And, as it turns out, the brewery was inside of an old police station (they called it "The Clink"). All in all, an adorable little town!
Lake Pueblo was amazing, but it wasn't the end of our Colorado adventures. There was still a lot more of the state left to explore. After a few days of gazing at the lake from our campground, it was time to move on to the next destination.
Skating on clouds
Next up: Chatfield State Park in Littleton, Colorado. We were finally in the mountains! This campground sat high atop a hill, overlooking the town below, surrounded my mountains in all directions. THIS was more like the Colorado we imagined!
Of course, the one thing we didn't imagine was the heat. It was still hot! During the day, our trailer AC couldn't keep up with demand, and we'd just sit and watch the temperature climb higher and higher.
Luckily, this campground wasn't nearly as bad as our first Colorado spot. We only cooked for a few hours in the afternoon when the sun came right through the windows. Other than that, we could just sit back and enjoy the views.
We were only at this campground for one night, so we didn't get to do much in the surrounding area. There was a little brewery in town, called Living the Dream, where we grabbed a few "sodas." And up the road, there was a store called Murdoch's. It was basically a Tractor Supply on steroids! It was amazing, and I'm pretty sure it quickly became Rose's favorite store ever. She might even be thinking of moving to Colorado just to be close to one! (I'm kidding, but just barely). I also found a sweet new bigfoot shirt there.
When we got back to the campground after a busy little outing, we got to do an amazing sunset cruise on our skateboards! The views from this campground really were something else.
The next morning, we got up bright and early, got some work done, and got ready to make our way to the next campground on the list.
Okay, technically we were staying in Aurora, Colorado, but that's basically the same thing! Rose's best friend lives in Denver, and part of the reason we wanted to come here was to see her. So we found a nice little spot in Cherry Creek State Park, only minutes from Denver.
We stayed in Denver for almost a week, which was plenty of time for us to explore. But since we were in Denver, much of that time was spent sitting in traffic...
In the campground, however, there was plenty of space, quiet trails to walk, a nice beach, and wonderful company. Jessie, Rose's friend, came to visit the campground two of the days we were there, and we all got to hit the beach one of the lovely nights.
While our time in Denver was full of adventure, the real story is all about doing laundry...
Once upon a time, Rose and Cameron decided to do laundry. The facilities at Cherry Creek Campground were amazing. There were plenty of washing machines and dryers to go around. They checked their pockets for change and found just enough for one round in the wash and one round in the dryer. With hamper bag in hand and pockets jingling with quarters, they headed to the campground laundry room.
Getting through the laundry and dryer cycle was easy enough (you all know the drill). The fun comes in after the dryer buzzes. Rose and Cameron opened the dryer to find that their clothes had somehow remained as wet as when they took them out of the washing machine. What a conundrum!
Luckily, the park office wasn't too far away. Cameron walked down the road to politely ask the cashier for some change. Their first question was, "What's it for?"
Confused, Cameron replied, "For the laundry," quietly wondering what else someone might need so many quarters for.
Immediately, the cashier replied that they don't provide change for the washers or dryers. They had change, but it was their policy not to give it out for laundry.
Cameron looked at the seemingly worthless $10 bill in his hand (thinking he should have said he wanted to buy 15 sodas from the vending machine instead) and wandered back to the laundry room to figure out a new solution to the problem at hand.
After a quick brainstorming session, the only answer the two veteran campers could come up with was to hang their clothes (which was about a month's worth of laundry) in their campsite.
Once back at the trailer, the duo proceeded to pull out every chair, table, rack, and rope they had to use as a makeshift clothesline.
Cut to a few minutes into the future, there were clothes all over the campsite. Every single surface was covered in t-shirts, jeans, shorts, and yes, underwear. It was quite the sight for everyone to see as they drove past. Even better, Jessie was on her way to visit for the first time since the Camera Couple made it to Colorado.
Luckily, the Colorado sun worked pretty quickly. Finally, all that heat paid off! The dynamic duo were able to get rid of most of the clothes before Jessie showed up, but there was still the odd t-shirt here and there to move around to make room for seating. All in all, the mission was a success.
The week went by like a blur. We had a good time in Denver (and got to go to Murdoch's again), but there was more to go! Up and over the mountains we went.
Up and over
If you look at the above picture of Rose and me standing in front of some dry grass, waaaay in the back are some snow-capped mountains. Well, our next campground was on the other side of those mountains at Yampa River State Park. Needless to say, the drive was pretty wild!
The road twisted and turned all through the majestic Rockies. At one point, I'm pretty sure we passed a sign that said the elevation was over 12,000 feet! We were putting Eugene through his paces, and he was keeping up without breaking a sweat.
The views were absolutely gorgeous! We saw huge snow-capped mountains, dramatic panoramic lake views, and incredible valleys. Some of the views were so good, we had to get out of the truck and snap a picture.
The trickiest part of climbing any mountain with a big ol' rig is coming down. It was touchy, to say the least, for thousands of feet of decline down the mountain. We hit rain, hail, 70+ mile-per-hour winds, sharp curves, and steep hills. The canoe shifted several times on the roof. It got to the point that I stopped watching it and just started repeating the motto, "If it goes, it goes."
Luckily, Eugene has an engine brake (which is arguably the greatest towing invention ever made). I didn't even touch the brakes on the way down. However, a little Toyota Sequoia towing a 30' rental trailer did not have an engine brake, and they were barreling down the mountain right behind us...
We were very happy when we got to the bottom of the mountain — and watched the rental trailer behind us pull into the KOA in town.
We finally pulled into the campground, took a deep breath, got out of the truck, and gasped once we realized how dirty the rig got during the climb. It was so cold at the top of the mountain that they had to salt the roads. The rig was completely grey from tip to tip!
After a quick hose-down at the water hookup, we parked in our spot and set up camp. Jessie and her boyfriend were supposed to meet us at the campground for the weekend, so we just hung out and awaited their arrival.
The rest of the weekend was a great time. All four of us spent a day in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which is a fun little town nestled into the mountains. It was full of unique western stores, tasty restaurants, and lovely breweries. Naturally, we had a blast!
The campground itself was pretty enough. There was a nice river that ran right through the middle of it, but the bugs were atrocious. They were easily the worst we've experienced in all our travels! I never thought I'd say this, but they put Maine to shame.
Because of the bugs, we did spend a good bit of time inside. Luckily(?), it rained one of the nights, so we didn't feel so bad sitting in the trailer watching a movie. The next morning, Rose got a haircut right in the campsite (Jessie is a cosmetologist). Before we knew it, the weekend was over, and it was time to head to our next Colorado adventure.
Camping in the canyon
After a weekend in the Colorado mountains, we hit the road and headed down — in terms of both direction and altitude. The road to our next campground essentially took us down the side of a mountain and through beautiful canyons. It was a cool drive with an even cooler finish line: our campground at James M. Robb Colorado River State Park Island Acres Section, just outside of Palisade, Colorado. (What a mouthful!)
The campground, along with the Colorado River, was nestled right into the valley between two massive cliffs. It made quite the dramatic backdrop for our camping adventures! We had a lot of fun flying the drone around the rocks and taking in all the incredible scenery.
With backdrops like these, we also took a bunch of pictures (of course).
I'd say the only downside of camping in a canyon is the wind. It whipped right between the rocks almost all day! Luckily, the temperature was nice and comfortable, so you can't really complain about a little breeze. Plus, the cliffs blocked the sun throughout most of the day, so our little air conditioner was fine to keep up — much to Luna's enjoyment.
Every time we mentioned we were headed to Palisade, someone told us we HAD to try the peaches. Apparently, Palisade, Colorado is known for growing amazing peaches. Coming from the east coast near Georgia and growing up on a family farm that grows (in my potentially biased opinion) some amazing peaches, we just had to try them out. Of course, we had to hit a brewery first....
Palisade was a quaint little town. As you come through the canyon, the land opens up, and you can see all the green peach orchards checkering the landscape. There wasn't too much going on in town, just a few little farmer's markets, some shops here and there, a restaurant or two, and a brewery with some really good nachos.
After the brewery, we stopped at one of the farmer's markets to try these "incredible" peaches! We took our first bites, and I started to wonder how much competition for "best peaches" they had way out here in the desert. I wouldn't say they were bad, but they definitely couldn't touch the flavor or juiciness of a ripe east coast peach. If anyone from Palisade is reading this, go to the east coast and try a REAL peach before you start bragging!
We also continued down the road a little ways to do a day trip to the major city in the area, Grand Junction, Colorado. After so much time spent seeing nothing but mountains, desert, and canyons, it was a little weird to see a tall building again!
Grand Junction is a neat western town. It was filled with cool sculptures, fun little shops, and plenty of restaurants. We just did a quick walking tour of the downtown, checking out some of the shops, before grabbing a pizza and heading back up the hill to our little spot in the canyon.
This campground had some great, smooth paved roads and was very flat, which made it perfect for skootz! We took the skateboards out a few times to do the loops around the campground. Because the scenery was so cool, we decided to get the drone out and capture some our our skating shenanigans.
I also decided it would be a good idea to fly the drone and skate at the same time...
In my defense, it was going pretty well for most of the video!
Don't worry; the drone was fine. It was back up in the air without any problems, ready to capture the rest of our trip.
We had a blast in our little Palisade campground, but all good things must come to an end. After a great tour of Colorado, it was time to visit the next state on our list. Next stop, Utah!
He likes pizza.