~Friday, April 29, 2022~
Day 684 (Travel Day)
Hmmm…..the forecast was for gusts up to 35 mph in Rabbit Valley with a warning to high profile vehicles (like us). Not a good day for travel I guess. But once we got out of the valley, which took only about 25 minutes of our total 2-½ hour drive, things were manageable. First, a trip to the Fruita Welcome Station for dumping. Sure wish every state had these, as they offer great services for RV travelers…..free potable water, free dump station, and trash.
As we gradually climbed 3,000 feet to Ridgway, Colorado’s 7,050 foot elevation, it was wonderful to be back in familiar territory. Thank goodness we didn’t have to go over the shaky “Million Dollar Highway” this time, since we were coming from a different direction. The last time we were here was October of 2020 seeing everything in its Fall glory. This time…..green valleys and snow capped peaks (Jeff got his wish)! It’s so great to see those gorgeous San Juan Mountains again.
We arrived about 4:00 p.m. where we mistakenly entered the wrong park (Pa-Co-Chu-Puk) like last time. It’s part of the Ridgway Campground system so an easy mistake. About 4 miles up the road, we finally arrived at the right one…Dutch Charlie. Just like the scenery, it was nice to see a familiar face. The same park volunteer (we never forget a face) was there to greet us with a most sincere welcome. He’s originally from Washington state but volunteers at this location 7 months of the year and the remaining 5 months of winter in Arizona. He says Colorado’s great outdoors keeps his 75 year-old self, young with the variety of hiking and fishing opportunities. The Colorado State Park system has a recreation fee which has increased since our last visit. $80/year or $9/day. Since we’re only staying 6 nights, we decided on the daily fee since it will be the only state park we’re staying at this go around.
As we approached site #145, we were reminded that we had booked a pull-thru site…..always easier to get into. The last time we were here we had a Dickens of a time getting into a different site having to maneuver the tight angle, the narrow road and the trees. Even though this was a pull-thru site, it still was a bit challenging as the asphalt pad was pretty narrow and trees on one side; somewhat challenging when you have slides to consider. Then we encountered an issue we never had before. We leveled out side to side, chalked the tires, then unhitched, like we normally do. But when we tried to level front to back with our pedestal underneath the tongue jack, we realized that with the tongue jack as low as it could go, that we wouldn’t make the 1” extra we needed to level. So we had to rehitch up to remove the pedestal and just let the tongue jack rest directly on the ground. We’ve never had to do this in the 300+ times we’ve set up camp. All in all, it added another 30 minutes to our set up. We do have one added bonus…..we’re only steps away from a cell tower. Yes!!
From Ridgway, there are killer views of the Uncompahgre National Forest and the San Juan Mountains. The crisp, cool mountain air is so refreshing; a welcome change from the 4 months of desert. It looks like we’re in for favorable temperatures in the mid 60’s all week and of course cold nights in the low 30’s. And there is a ton to do here between Ridgway and Ouray. Our campground alone has 14 miles of scenic trails for biking and hiking (dog friendly), and the town of Ouray…..well, need I say more?
While we were setting up, we met our very friendly neighbors, Dan and Trudy (who just purchased a brand new 2022 Ford F-250 like ours with only 1,000 miles on the thing) and their lifelong friends, Bill and Paula. Their families grew up together in Denver, CO and enjoy the occasional RV trips as a group. Bill and Paula also own a Lance, a 2375 which they love. In fact, Lance is very well represented here…..we’ve already seen 4 others. Both families are only here for 4 days, so hope we can share at least 1 campfire together, getting to know eachother even more.
With our 3 weeks of laundry to do, we had one FUN Friday night. Jeff had read that Ouray had recently renovated a laundry facility at the Ouray Riverside RV Resort about 15 miles from our campground. It used to be open only to guests of their park, but as of recently, have opened it up to outside guests. Nice! All you have to do is pay a $5.00/month membership fee where they give you an entry code and 24-hour access to the facility. Prices were a little steep at $4.00/load. I basically throw in the towel (no pun intended) caring about whether my delicates stay separate from my colors. Just fill ‘er up. Anyway, I don’t think we wrapped up laundry until 9:00 p.m. So a popcorn dinner it was.