Monday, November 28, 2016

Boondocking in and near Buena Vista, CO

The snow won't come to the cesspool that the Denver Metro Area has become, I would have to go to the snow.

In this case, I picked the area around Buena Vista, Colorado.  I wanted to see the Collegiate Peaks once again, hopefully with some snow covering them, and explore the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) camping that I'd read was in the area.

The local RV Park, Snowy Peaks, was the only one open still and it was full each time I checked.  I think it's their online booking system but couldn't find something that worked for me.

I left home Sunday afternoon and less than 3 hours later Uma and I had ridden over some sparsely snow/ice-packed roads on US285 and arrived in the vicinity of Johnson Village where US285 junctions with US24.

As I wanted to boondock, I headed towards Salida as it appeared "warmer" down that way from Buena Vista.  The Collegiate Peaks were hidden behind wind-driven snow "fog banks" and were not visible.  I saw the sign for Hecla Junction with a camping sign and after getting turned around, went down that road.

The road turned out to be twisty and winding, with some snow/ice patches, and ended in a compact but seemingly nice camping area by a raft launching site for the Arkansas River.  I picked a spot and darkness descended as I setup camp.

Weather reports called for snow and I didn't want to be trapped by snow at the end of a narrow twisting hilly dirt road.  So I left after only sitting there an hour.  Once back on US24 I headed north and I tried two other RV campgrounds and they were closed for the season.  What to do, what to do?

I spotted a Loves Travel Center/Gas Station and dimly recalled they let you boondock in their parking lots.  I pulled into a spot in the empty RV parking section, went in and asked to park there overnight. The young lady at the desk said "Sure!".  Got myself some dinner and so spent Sunday night in a brightly lit RV parking lot.

The Olympian Wave 8 Propane Catalytic heater got a workout and kept things nice and warm inside the RV so I didn't engage the furnace and its blower fan at all.  The only things on were my electronics (0.5A draw) and the refrigerator (0.74A draw) for part of the night.  Very sparse use of the LED lights as well as I was trying to see if not using the furnace = lower drain on the coach battery.

Dawn came and alas, I'd drained the battery down to 11.85V again.  Dammit.  Not sure what's causing this as the Killawat device reported .5A when devices where charging off the inverter.  I turned off the fridge and lights with very sparing water pump usage.  Sigh.

After tanking up Uma and doing a recon of the BLM camping area with Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol, I found a spot and after filling up with propane in town, setttled UMA onto this camping spot at what I believe is the Turtle Rock Camping Site.  More info on this site here: LINK

There were only two other vehicles/campers on site, with UMA being the only RV.  Got some work done via cellphone Internet and the weBoost device and then lunch time came along.

I geared up again and Scarlett and I went riding to get pictures of the Collegiate Peaks:

 View of the Collegiate Peaks as one descends along Chafee County Road 375

 A set of neat tunnels along CR 375

 The view after the tunnels of the Northern Collegiate Peaks

Scarlett and I then cruised through the main part of Buena Vista (currently choked by traffic cones and construction) and rode towards the southern Collegiate Peaks:

Sorry, I forgot to get ScooterBob out for pictures but in retrospect, it was so windy I am not sure he would have remained upright!  The last two pictures were taken in high winds and biting cold as temperatures dropped into the low 30s Fahrenheit.

It was time to return to work anyways so we headed back through town, up to the BLM campground and spend the rest of the afternoon doing work and fielding a couple of calls.

I also ran the generator a collective 5 hours to charge up the coach battery using a "smart charger" I'd recently bought.  It does the three stage charging: bulk, fill, float but it's acting a bit wonky.  It seemed to be fine but when I went to check near the end of the charging period, it had reverted to pushing 15A into the battery and calling it only half full when it had been close to full just an hour before.  Weird.  I'm thinking now perhaps not use it when using generator for AC power?

Started on battery at 1640hrs, 12.67V reading after shutting off generator...yeah, there's some surface charge there.

Sunset proved disappointing from my camping site, so no pics.  However, I did get some visitors:


RichardM said...

0.5 amps AC gives 60 amp-hours from the battery over a 12 hour period.

That looks like a great boondocking spot and I didn't know that Love's truck stops had free overnight parking. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a fun time!!! Would love to go check out those tunnels sometime.

Oz said...

I am so jealous. The Collegiate Range is awesome. I am not any help with the battery thing, but I sure do like the photos. Enjoy the snow and your stay.

SonjaM said...

Dom, you really take work-life balance to the next level. It looks crisp and cold outside, what a beautiful scenery.

Trobairitz said...

Brrrr so sunny, but so chilly too. The pics you got looked lovely though. Nice to see the deer too.

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, thanks for reminding me to substitute the voltage values when on AC vice DC! You're quite welcome as to the Loves Travel Center tip, I was glad there was one in Buena Vista Sunday night!

Motoventures, the tunnels were pretty cool....I suspect they were used for an old railroad line, which is now situated closer to the river.

Thanks Thomas Osburn, not much snow encountered by Scarlett (drat) or Uma (yay), but yeah the Collegiate Peaks area has so much to explore....just perhaps not as fun in Winter. Damn it got cold at times.

SonjaM, it was definitely crisply cold....I neglected wearing the neck bib once, and the cold wind felt like knife blades as it hit my neck area. As to work-life balance, I am trying.... :)

Trobairitz, it was a nice campground, I will probably use it again. But yeah, a bit cold this time of year. I don't think the RV would be able to negotiate the road to the campsite (in or out) if any significant snow built up on it.

Learning to Golf said...

The mobil work station is great and the change of scenery is a huge plus. Adding in a ride between shifts and it is almost as good as being retired. What gloves do you use when you ride at those temperatures?

redlegsrides said...

AZ AD, I use grip covers to block the wind and summer gloves. Goes well with low heat setting on the heated grips.

Learning to Golf said...

Thanks, I just installed my heated grips and while I don't need them at the moment I have started looking into winter gloves. I'll look into Hippo Hands or something similar.

redlegsrides said...

You're welcome AZ AD, hippo hands are pricey and there's knockoffs that are similar and work just as well.

Checkout the kolpin grip covers detailed here: