Honey Badger has this all figured out. She got me to Dinosaur, and now she had campsites lined up for me all the way to my meeting with Jenn. Colorado has no shortage of free and inexpensive camping available.
Just half an hour from Dinosaur was the town of Rangely, where the Rangely Camper Park can provide a pleasant stay close to Dinosaur National Monument. There are 26 campsites, and most of them were available when I cruised through there on a Sunday afternoon. It costs $15/night, or $20 with electrical hookups. Showers are available, too, even for non-campers for a small fee. It looks like a great place, but I had plenty of time to put a few more miles behind me. I would definitely consider staying here in the future, but today I moved on.
My actual destination was Meeker Town Park, about two hours from Dinosaur. I go to town parks all the time, but you’re usually not allowed to park overnight. Meeker is an exception to that rule. For $10 you can get a tent site, or $20 for an RV with electrical hookups. There’s also an RV dump station available. I had room to pull straight into a corner space right next to some picnic tables and grills. These parking spaces are extra long, and I was able to fit without even blocking the dumpster. The White River flows right through the middle of the park. Cows grazed on the other side. It was strangely soothing to hear their occasional moos. Lister absolutely loved the grass.
I had a good night’s sleep, then did some work at one of the picnic tables before it got too warm. The people there were extremely pleasant. Many passers-by said friendly hellos. I got into a few pleasant conversations. One of them was actually a park worker, who noticed Lister lounging in the grass. He said he sees a lot of traveling dogs but not many cats. We chatted a while, and then he got back to work. It was an extremely pleasant place to stay, one that I would go back to again. I stayed until noon, had lunch, then pressed on to my next destination.
After stopping for supplies in the town of Rifle (the closest thing to civilization I’d seen in a while), I hopped on Interstate 70. Most of it was a pleasant, relatively slow 65 mph drive through the mountains. But there was one section that was absolutely terrible. The bumps were so bad that they knocked open cabinets that I’d double locked. Contents spilled out all over the van. The breakdown lane was about half a lane wide, so I couldn’t even pull over. The rest areas were all close so I couldn’t stop there, either. I ended up stopping in a closed rest area off-ramp, quickly reassembling the van, then getting back on the highway.
After that, traffic came to almost a complete stop in Vail. About 10 miles of I-70 were shut down to one lane for a single truck doing some work in the median. Before the road opened up again, the long steep climb over Vail Pass began. Trucks couldn’t do more than 10 mph, forcing everyone else to slow to just over walking pace as well. Once we were back to two lanes I managed to accelerate to 40 or so without pushing the van too hard. The limit was still 65, so I threw on my flashers and waited it out. The construction zone had eliminated any chance of a running start, so the trucks and I were all stuck. Some of them managed to get up to 20 mph, and I did a little light dance between the flashers and turn signals to pass them and maintain what momentum I had. At the top of the pass I set a new “high score” of 10,600 feet elevation. The rest of the trip was uneventful.
My destination was Wolcott BLM Campground. It doesn’t offer much, but there are a few campsites with picnic tables and fire rings in addition to the day use area. It’s right next to the Eagle River, with scenic mountains just on the other side. For $10 a night, it’s a good deal. I managed to get the last available campsite.
It also just happened to be exactly the same campsite Honey Badger had stayed at a few months earlier. It’s funny how these things work out sometimes.
Lister approved of this campsite.
Despite the mountain directly to the north, Starlink approved of this campsite as well. My Verizon service was good, but I wanted to test how well (or not) Starlink would work with this massive obstruction in the way. It turned out to barely be in the way at all. Every couple of hours I’d lose my connection for a few seconds, which wasn’t noticeable at all. It was further proof that you don’t need a best case scenario of a completely clear sky to make Starlink work.
The next morning I made coffee, then worked for a while. The signs said I could stay as late as 2:00 pm, so I took advantage of that. My next stop was meeting Jenn in Silverthorne, then finding a place to camp together nearby. Jenn had work and meetings until late afternoon, so there was no reason for me to rush out of there, especially with a view as pleasant as this.
This was my final night alone for the foreseeable future. From here, Jenn and I plan to bum around Colorado for the rest of August, then teach at Overland Expo. Honey Badger would join us at some point as well, and after Overland Expo she and I will travel together for the foreseeable future. But first, Jenn and I would have a bit of a misadventure of our own.