Back On Track

After some work in the morning, it was time to leave Chatfield State Park Campground and resume my solo travels. Since I was at a full hookup site, I took advantage of all the amenities. I dumped all my waste, refilled my water jugs to the top, and plugged into power to give my batteries a 100% full charge overnight. I didn’t really need to plug in, but it was there, so why not? Finally, I was back on the road.

But not very far. I needed supplies, particularly before venturing off into the wilderness over the long weekend, and the local Walmart delivered most of what I needed. Everything this morning took twice as long as I expected, so I rushed back to the van to get online for a work meeting, conveniently mooching off Walmart’s free WiFi. Strangely, Walmart had no beer, but I discovered Bevy’s Liquor World across the street, which has absolutely anything you could ever imagine wanting in the world of alcohol. I went straight to the enormous cooler filled exclusively with local area brands and picked some up. And then, finally, it was time to leave town.

Two exits down, I picked up US 285 and immediately started a slow, curvy climb up and over a mountain pass. The engine still feels the extra weight of the trailer up those hills, but all those new suspension parts have completely transformed the ride and handling of the van. It now feels very much like my old Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, complete with its extra strong suspension and rather good handling for a car that large and heavy. It doesn’t soak up the bumps as well as it used to, but it’s still a comfortable ride, and control has vastly improved. This repair/upgrade wasn’t cheap, but it was worth every penny. I’m glad I went with the big tough Bilstein shocks.

After a while, I was treated to a wonderful back road drive through trees and fields alongside a river, with rocky hills that give this mountain range its name. There was nowhere to pull over and take pictures, so you’ll just have to take my word that this was one of the most enjoyable drives I’ve had in a long time. I entered Pike National Forest through Cheesman Canyon and soon turned onto a decently maintained dirt road. It was slightly rough in places, but nothing I couldn’t handle, especially now. My only fear is being overconfident about my van’s capabilities and giving the trailer too rough a ride. I took it easy, and everything made it through just fine.

My destination was one of several dispersed camping sites I found on Freeroam a bit outside Goose Creek Campground. I’d spent more than enough money on campgrounds, and with at least 12 dispersed sites to choose from, I figured I’d have a good chance to find at least one available to occupy before Labor Day weekend, and just wait out the madness while everyone else goes camping on “the last week of summer.” My summer is far from over, so others can have their last hurrah while I stay out of the way for a few days. Then things will quiet down a lot.

In an uncharacteristic move for me, I took the first campsite I found. It was big enough for me to fit (with a little fancy maneuvering), and the view across the mountains is absolutely amazing, definitely the best I’ve ever had at any dispersed campsite. That said, I do plan to hop on the bike and go exploring farther down the road to see if I can find an even better site. I’m quite willing to move if I find something better, but if not, this site will work just fine for my purpose, which is to wait out the long weekend and try to relax a bit after a very stressful week. How can I not relax with a view like this?

Although this is a National Forest, there are very few trees here. The Hayman Fire, the largest in Colorado’s recorded history, tore through this area 20 years ago, destroying everything in its path. The underbrush has recovered, but clumps of trees are few, far between, and fairly small in size. The occasional dead burnt tree still dots the landscape, even now.

I should also point out that there is absolutely no cell service through Verizon or T-Mobile here. Without Starlink, I wouldn’t be able to camp here, since I still have to work today. But I have it, so I can stick to my plan of hiding out here through the long weekend. I can also put this view behind me for my weekly department meeting, and make all my co-workers envious.

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