Camping, Finally…Fall in the Colorado Mountains

We finally have gotten around to camping this year. While we would have liked to go much more, Martha’s surgeries this year made that impossible. We do try to get out and camp at least every Columbus Day weekend, and we were happy that we were able to do that. . We stayed at Spruce Grove Campground in western Sedalia, Colorado, near Tarryall  Resevoir. This campground is part of the Pike National Forest and it is really just stunning.

Our camper is a 2016 Lance  model 1995 /w 4seasons package. This package includes better insulation and heated tanks. Last year we ran out of propane and woke up very cold…multiple times, actually. This year we made sure the tanks were both full. As the camper has spent the last year sitting, Kevin double-checked all the systems were working properly. He would do this anyway, even with regular use.

              

The trip to the campground takes, generally, 2 – 21/2 hours, depending on traffic. We left early Friday afternoon. The entrance is easy to drive by. Spruce grove is small but scenic. The sites are mostly level. Setting up our camper takes about 20 – 30 minutes. We were set up by 4.

After we set up we went for a short ride to see the foliage. We stopped at the out flow of the dam the creates the Tarryall Reservoir. We let the dogs wander a bit and took a few photos.

The aspen were quite something. On the way back to camp, Kevin took mental note of the dirt roads, off the main road, for future exploration. Back at the camp site, Kevin took the dogs for a walk and to see who was there. There were not many people that night. We had a nice meal of sausage, onions and peppers with Shiratake noodles. It was very tasty and the noodles  added good texture to the meal. It also rained and was in the 30’s in the morning.

There next day we slept in a bit, because there was no reason not to. Kevin did take the pups out during the night and at first light. After  a hearty breakfast of hash, eggs and bacon and some chatting, we headed out to Buena Vista, to the Brown Dog for snacks and beverages. There is a dog walk area near the regional airport nearby and it was uncrowned, which was nice for the dogs.

After a walk with the dogs we headed back up 24 to 285 towards FairPlay, where we filled up with gas.  We  drove up to Jefferson and turned onto 77 to head back to camp. Back at camp we made a fire and sat by it for a bit, before we added some things to the prior night’s supper, made a salad and settled in for the night. . 

We rented a Honda generator for this trip. The generator was quite quiet and welcome as the heater was run in the evening, and to charge the batteries.

Sunday morning we lazily packed up, hitched up and went home, smelling like the campfire. We can think of a lot worse things.

 

  • Breakfast in Georgetown, CO
  • Foliage through Leadville and Buena Vista
  • Where to find GREAT coffee in Buena Vista

Fall Foliage Foray Failure


A Foliage Ride Through Colorado That Did Not Go As Planned But Still Was  a Lot of Laughs

One of the things we really enjoy doing is getting into the truck with the dogs and heading out to enjoy the stunning scenery in Colorado.  If they think we might be going somewhere, both dogs will hang-out so near to us or the truck that they are a nuisance! The fun of herding dogs…they herd you so closely you cannot make a move without them.

We started out our day underprepared but excited. Normally we would have taken a little more time to get our act together but on this particular morning the crew renovating our kitchen showed up quite a bit earlier than we expected.  That meant we had no chance to cook breakfast and the dogs started freaking out about the noise.  So, we set off anyway and decided to grab some breakfast closer to our destination.

This ride was planned to be about 3 – 4 hours, because it was the first lengthy ride we were planning since Martha’s four spine related surgeries since October of 2017, two of which were in the prior 4 months.  We estimated 4 hours would be the max bearable, and that this ride would take about 3.

Setting out, thinking we are going to Guenella Pass

Our destination was Guanella Pass.  The Pass is  in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, west of Denver and south of Georgetown.  The pass links Highway 285 to the south and Interstate 70 to the north, and the whole thing is paved. We had heard from friends that the foliage was looking great and that the ride was gorgeous.

 

We had a really nice ride out to Georgetown.  There was some work-day traffic but it wasn’t too terrible.  As we began to get hungry, we saw the first sign for Guanella Pass and decided to stop in historic Georgetown for breakfast. We chose the top-Yelp-rated restaurant to eat breakfast.  We had seen a suspicious sign that stated the Pass was closed on weekdays but decided that couldn’t be true.  While at the restaurant, though, we learned it was indeed true. No Guanella Pass for us that day.

In Georgetown, laughing at ourselves for not checking if the pass was open

So, we ordered breakfast (which turned out to be a pretty disappointing experience) and Kevin did some replanning of our route, deciding to go down toward Pueblo and Buena Vista and then back up through Colorado Springs and home again Not our original plan, but who cares?

 We had a relatively pleasant ride to Leadville which is an elevation of 10,200 feet. Kevin thought the foliage and views along the way were beautiful but Martha unfortunately started a headache and nausea and “weird feeling” the higher we climbed and thus did not notice the foliage so much. That little bit of altitude sickness left as we descended a little bit until it disappeared entirely.

En Route to Leadville, CO

After stopping at rest area outside of Leadville for some exercise (necessary both us and the dogs) we continued on Route 24 to Buena Vista.  . There is a great coffee shop there called Brown Dog Coffee so obviously we stopped!  Martha’s time sitting was getting a little too extensive so instead of eating there we  took them along for our next exercise break. Pro tip: their coffee is excellent and they ship it anywhere in the U.S.  And if you’re interested, here’s our Yelp review.  

https://www.yelp.com/biz/brown-dog-coffee-buena-vista?hrid=eoSDS4qzGCFwDjFEPZWjDg&utm_campaign=www_review_share_popup&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=(direct)

Treats from Brown Dog Coffee!

We swung into the Antero Reservoir south shore, but it was actually pretty crowded and full of campers so we did not want to let the dogs out. It is gorgeous there, however, and we’ll return to camp at some point. We moved on to a wildlife vantage point for the snack (which was great!)  then next stop Weston Pass visitor center for a view and rest stop. 

View of Mount Massive from one of our stops

After that, smooth sailing all the way home, without traffic or incident, and the construction noise was over by the time we got home…bonus!  The only down side was the total length of the trip, which turned out to be about 6 hours instead of 3-4.  The good news? Martha lived through that.  But it wasn’t so pretty for the last hour and we’ll bear that in mind for next time.

Next trip together…camping at 8,400 feet in the Pike National Forest in two weeks. We’ll tell you how it goes! In the meantime, Kevin is visiting Massachusetts and there might be apples to talk about.