Monday, August 30, 2021

Morning ride with the Uralisti on last day of CZAR gathering

 Sunday, August 29

A clear warm day of riding in the Colorado mountains just west of the Denver cesspool.  I determined, with my fellow Uralisti help, that the bearings for the steering head on Scarlett are shot, hence the turning efforts/issues I'd been having the last few months before the last camping trip.  I'l be coordinating her being fixed by the new Ural dealer in Denver.  It'll be a good way to see what kind of dealership it'll be for Urals in the area.

For the ride, Dan K. obliged me and he made a point of stopping for pics at scenic spots and such.

We rode pretty much in the area around Central City, CO....doing some "urban exploration" up and down some really steep streets in Central City, seeking that "scenic" view of the town.

photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

One of several remaining mining structures that dot the area
around Central City
photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

Near the Gilpin County Courthouse
photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

Heading back to the Pickle Gulch Campsite to pack up.

We spent some time breaking down the campsites, getting vehicles packed up and doing a final police call in order to: "Leave it better than you found it" in terms of the campsite.

We all then adjourned a few miles to "The Last Shot", a Bar and Grill on the Peak to Peak Highway for a late lunch and enjoyable conversation.

Too soon, it was time for all to make their way to their respective homes and for me to return to my campsite in Cold Springs.

Monday, August 30.

I packed up and left Cold Springs campground by 9:30AM.  Some notes.  Cellular data signal is iffy, and often slow, even with the weBoost helping.  I stayed at site 30 but site 34 is the better site if there's a next time.  Plenty of water spots but not much else.

I got home by 11AM, unloaded the VRRV with the help of Thing 1 and 2.  Good to be home until its time once again to hit the road later in September.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Riding with Uralisti, camping with Martha

 Friday, August 27

Did some exploring of back trails and such with Yagi, my Yamaha TW200 dualsport.  Encountered an old timer, Vietnam Vet, sitting outside his old motorhome, enjoying the sun while seated on a stool.  We talked for quite a bit about many subjects.  I found out info about dispersed camping but all of it quite unreachable by the VRRV.  He then expounded on family history, politics, and background....sometimes quite vehemently.

The encounter was pleasant enough, but it did fire off a warning in my head, that without due care I could be such an old timer solitary cuss, sitting in the woods, rambling on to passing strangers.

Mountain view (Mt Warren?) near where I chatted with the old timer

I think the above is junction of FR 7161 and FR7131

I spotted a female Moose and her calf at the Apex Valley Road junction, near the few houses located there.  It would have been great to have my Sony HX80 with its zoom function but alas, it's on the way to the shop for repairs.

In due time, I arrived at the Pickle Gulch Group Campsite to be able to help Dan K and his lovely wife Yuen cart supplies to the walk-in group site he'd reserved.  (I should have delayed my arrival by 30 minutes! )  There were several wheelbarrow loads of stuff to be moved.  Luckily, the campground people had supplied common use wheelbarrows!

Uralisti started to trickle in.  John and Cookie S., Tim L. arrived and set up their tents and we caught up on past doings.  It's been quite a while, mostly due to the pandemic, that we'd gathered as a Uralista group to ride.  I believe it was SEP of 2019 to be exact.

Once things were in order, I returned to camp to await Martha's arrival.  Martha drove up from the overcrowded cesspool that is Metro Denver after work and by 5:30 or so was at my campsite.

We drove in her car the 4 miles or so to the Pickle Gulch Group Campground and met up with the rest of the gang as they prepared their dinners and we caught up on past rides, stories and happenings.

Two more fellow Uralisti showed up around 8PM, Jay and Deana, completing most of the nucleus of the CZAR group.  CZAR: Colorado Zidecar Adventure Riders.

Saturday, August 28

Riding Day!  Boy did we ride!  Dan K. led us through quite the route which while not long in terms of distance, was quite extensive in terms of twisty canyon roads, dirt roads, sharp switchbacks and simply riding fun.  Not many stops for pics though.  Just as well as cellular data signal here has degraded from past days, I'm guessing the weekender load on the system.

Here's a ReLive video produced by Jay and Deana, shows you the route we took.

video courtesy of Jay and Deana

There were many vehicles on some of the paved roads we traveled on, reminded me how crowded things get up here in the mountains near the cesspool that is Denver.

Some photos taken by Deana as she rode in the sidecar with Jay, that's Dan K as he lead the way through the ride:

photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

We even, against large odds, ran into another Uralisti who'd missed our departure time from the camp in the morning.  Mark L and his blue GearUP found us at a road junction and joined us for the remainder of the road to our lunch location!

photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

Riding towards Kittredge, CO
photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

Lunch was in Kittredge at the Smokehouse.  

photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

Across the stream which bordered the smokehouse where we ate, was this perilously situated deck:

After lunch, some more riding during which Tim L. and Mark L. split off from the group to head on home while the remaining four rigs 

photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Dry Camping in the Cold Springs US National Forest Campground

 Wednesday, Aug 25

Drove through the overcrowded cesspool that is the Denver Metro area, using US285 to reach the western portion of the C-470 "beltway" to get me to CO 93 and from there towards Golden, taking the Golden Gate Canyon Road into the mountains.

This route, offered by google maps, isn't for large vehicles such as the VRRV.  She really had a hard time maintaining speed on the uphill portions, and the twists and turns of this canyon road are not enjoyable in an RV!  Next time, I'll take CO 119, the Peak to Peak highway.

Anyways, made it to the campground just fine.  Had to change spots a couple of times due to some confusion within the app and reality on the ground as cleared up by the area manager for the campground!

Ended up in a double wide site, with a tent camper on one side, and me on the other:

Temperatures were warm but nice in the shade.  Cooled off nicely towards evening, and it would get into the low 50's overnight!

Thursday, August 26

Relaxed most of the morning away under partly cloudy skies though I did do a small hike up a nearby hill.  There is a faint trail leading one up to the top of a rocky outcropping, with some pretty good views of the surrounding countryside.

After lunch I decided to move the VRRV back some in order to create some room for Martha's car.  She's joining me Friday evening and will be camping with me through Sunday morning.

So I detached the trailer and pulled it to the front of the site.  I then turned it and pushed it over the wooden border and into the weeds, out of the way.  I then backed up and re-leveled the VRRV with its tail end overhanding the rear wooden border of the parking area.

Right as I was finishing the above setup, it started to rain.  It then moved onto hail!  Luckily it was only pea-sized hail but it reminded me there's no such thing as a warm summer rain in Colorado!

After the rain/hail storm, I walked around checking for damage and pics:

No damage to the vehicles I am happy to report!

Later, around 4PM, I got geared up and took Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol Sidecar rig down to the towns of Blackhawk and Central City.  Both are gambling towns here in Colorado, and a somewhat major tourist attraction of sorts for the gambling crowd.

Me?  I just pootled around on Scarlett, taking pics of picturesque vintage looking storefronts in Central City's downtown area.  It looks nice, but most of the shops looked empty.  All for show, gambling and casinos are the main event here.

Back at camp and after dinner, I walked up to the "Vista" trail head and up to the top of the same hill I hiked this morning.  The object was of course to catch the sunset from this view point.

I know, not much of a sunset, but it was OK.  Tomorrow, the small gathering of Uralisti at the nearby Pickle Gulch Group Campground is set to start.  The gathering is the reason I'm camping this close to the Denver Metro cesspool, usually my Colorado camping spots are further afield.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Westward, Whoah! Home again.

 Got home shortly before 4PM today, those six hours of driving were quite the exercise in staying awake!

None of my usual "stay awake" techniques were working so I stopped more often than usual.  Still, I'm home, the VRRV is still running fine and the Sammy seems to be OK as well.

The whole trip was 4887 miles round trip, lots of lessons learned, not too many repairs on the Sammy, and Martha was still glad to see me back.  So I'm calling it good!

I camped with Martha for 44 days, 19 more days of camping by myself.  11 days as guest in friends' homes. 

So the trip was 74 days long, longer than my longest camping trip so far which was 4 days in NM and AZ this past winter.

Assuming an average of $3/gallon, that's close to $2100 in gas alone.  Yikes.  Basically $28/day for fuel.  Roughly $630 for camping fees for the trip.

Not cheap but not too bad overall, great experiences, meeting new friends, visiting with old friends, the sorting out of the Sammy, Yagi proving as reliable as ever and Uma the VRRV coming through with only one minor sensor issue.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Westward, Ho! Day 22: Rocktown Trail

 Last full day of camping today.  

Tomorrow, I drive the six hours or so back to my home in Colorado and into the arms of my loving family.

This assumes they remember me, of course.

Spent the morning hiking to a set of rock formations called Rocktown, using the trail with the same name.

Some details about this trail:

I took the trail that led off to the right, not sure if its shorter than the left branch....the sign says its 2.75 miles to the rocks.  Easy hike, the cloudy skies kept most of the sun's rays off me, and soon enough I was seeing the rocks by the water:

As a bonus, there's a small swimming beach by the rocks with a nice sandy bottom.  Perfect way to cool off from the hot hiking.  

These rocks were quite nice and colorful, though I had to wait at times for the sun to break through the clouds to illuminate them well.

Flying in a small swarm, there were what I think are Swallows.  They flit about, sometimes landing on rock crevices and where I could see evidence of mud-based nests.

This one looks like he's annoyed at having his picture taken

I had the place to myself for over an hour, and thoroughly enjoyed the solitude.  Alas, hikers did appear, coming at me from the left branching trail.  So I left before they arrived, letting them have the place to themselves.

Made my way back to the Sammy with no issues, encountering a couple more hikers heading in towards the rocks.  

Returned to camp, had lunch and just whiled the afternoon away sitting in the lounge chair and finishing another e-book.  Enjoying one last lazy afternoon before returning home and all that entails.  

I'm looking forward to it!  Not to the six hour drive but being home, at least for a while anyways.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Westward, Ho! Day 21: Sunrise at Clinton Lake, KS and Sunset at Wilson Lake, KS

I woke before dawn and couldn't get back to sleep, so I figured I might as well go see what kind of a sunrise I'd get today.

I walked down to the swim beach, paused to get the branches of the trees in the pre-sunrise light:

No clouds in the sky so the sunrise was not great, though the haze/smoke did make the sun appear to be a big reddish ball slowly rising from the east.  I was in a good position to capture the following shots involving the sun and the local flock of seagulls.

I returned to my campsite once the sun was well up from the horizon and too bright to shoot.  Got some coffee, breakfast, and finished breaking down camp and getting ready for the road.

I think I was on the road by 9:15 or so, drove on county roads till finally getting to the I-70 super slab and heading east towards Topeka, KS.  It was about a four hour day, including three stops.  

First stop was to try and visit the U.S. Cavalry Museum in Fort Riley, KS but the guard at the gate informed me the museum was closed due to the pandemic.

Second stop was for groceries at the nearby Walmart and finally the third stop was for gas before once again getting back on I-70 and continuing west.

I'm now camping at Sylvan Park, near Wilson Lake, another COE campground and the last one  it seems for people heading further west.  It's BLM country from this point on, along with Bureau of Reclamation in terms of water resources.

Having actually done a good map and google satellite image recce, the spot I had reserved was perfect!  As you can see, bushes and trees isolate me from nearest neighbor; and the campground is really not even a third full!  HHJJ.

I went exploring with the Sammy and took this view of the dam from the scenic overlook on the other side of Wilson Lake:

Returning to camp, I finished setting up and cooked dinner.  I relaxed till it was time for sunset pictures and headed out once again in the Sammy.

Found a spot at the Spillway Boat Ramp suitable for framing the Sammy with the setting sun:

The plan is to stay here tonight and tomorrow night, and then head home on Friday.  I'm about six hours from home, but today's drive left me exhausted.  We'll see how I feel in the morning.