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4/24 thru 5/5/14 - Rocky Mountain Hi

We left Las Vegas on Thursday morning (4/24) with our rig all repaired and looking brand new.   Our destination was the Denver area via I-15 and I-70 thru Utah and Colorado.   This was our first trip with the rig through the Rockies!

The drive through Utah was beautiful - unfortunately it's not that easy to pull over for photos when we are driving with the rig so the  photos were taken from the car.

We could easily spend a few months in Utah starting in the North around Salt Lake City and heading south towards Zion National Park.  We just need to time it right so we have nice weather. 

We stopped for the night in Salina, Utah at a hole-in-the wall place called the Butch Cassidy RV Park.  Butch Cassidy was from this area and the locals take great pride in this claim to fame.  The manager at the park has read many books about Butch Cassidy and based on what she's read believes he did not die in Bolivia but lived a long life and died of old age in Utah. 

The unique feature of this park was their aviary.  Here we are in the middle of nowhere and they have an aviary - you never know what you'll find in this country.

White Peacock
Wild Turkey
Chinese Golden Pheasant
On Friday morning (4/25) we took a drive to the nearest post office to drop off flat Stanley. He is on his way back to Chicago :(.   Then we stopped at Denny's for breakfast and headed back to the rig.  We were all hitched up and back on the road by 11:00. We drove about 260 miles to our next destination, the Walmart parking lot in Rifle, Colorado.   It's free (except for what we buy) and it was right off the highway.   There was even a Starbucks across the street - what more do you need?  When we started our travels we thought we would spend more time in Walmart Parking lots but so far have only done 3 Walmarts, 1 Lowe's, and 1 Camping World.  They are wonderful places to spend one night.  They are usually right off the interstate and it's much easier (and cheaper) to pull into a Walmart than try to find a campground for just one night.

From the time we left Las Vegas on Thursday I was looking for a place to stay in the Denver area.  It was much more difficult than I expected I and was beginning to panic.   We have never had a problem finding a place but as the weather warms up it looks like it may be getting harder.   It didn't help that we were looking on the weekend.   The state parks were all booked up and the private parks were more money than we wanted to spend.   I even posted on a FB RV group to ask for advice.  We had found one park that might be a possibility but the office closed at 4:30 and I called at 4:37 (left a message and sent am email)  This was all on Friday!   The thought of getting to a busy city like Denver with no place to stay except Walmart was driving me nuts. Luckily, Debbie from the Boulder County Fairground Campground in Longmont, CO called us early Saturday morning and had room for us so we will be there thru Sunday or Monday (5/4 or 5/5).   That made the drive thru the Rockies much less stressful!
Driving through and over the Rockies (photo taken from car)

Our drive on Saturday was 217 miles mostly on I-70 going east over the Rockies.  The highest point was over 11,000 feet high and our truck handled it just fine.    We got to our campground around 2:30 and got set up.  They don't turn on the spigots at each campsite until May 1st so we filled up our water tank at the main pump (they've had frozen pipes in the past all thru April).  There is even a possibility of snow here on Sunday.

This campground isn't anything special, campsites are close together and there's only a few picnic tables but it works just fine for us.  It is a fairground so there are barns and exhibition buildings and even an indoor and outdoor arena.  The campground is separated from the buildings by a small road.

On Sunday morning we were all set to go for a walk and explore the area but when we cut through the fairground buildings we discovered there was going to be an auction.  Goodbye walk and goodbye Maddie, we took her back to the rig and we headed back for the auction.   It was amazing how much stuff they fit into one big room!  The auction was scheduled to run from Noon until everything was sold, they anticipated finishing up by 8:00 p.m.  We lasted about 6 1/2 hours with one break! There was a lot of furniture and a lot of knick-knacks and by the time we left around 6:30 things were going for pretty cheap.  The auctioneer even handed one young man a dollar to buy an iron bed that no one else would bid on! 
I had my own number and wasn't afraid to use it!
They sold all these hats as one lot and they went for about $40.00

The weather in this part of Colorado has been pretty blustery.  Winds were blowing about 40-50 miles an hour and further east on I-70 there were quite a few overturned semi's.   West of us, in the Rockies, there was more snow.  It looks like, even with the cooler temps and high winds, we chose a good place to spend the week.
On Tuesday we played tourist.  Our first stop was in Boulder where we saw the house that was used in the TV Show "Mork and Mindy".  This show ran from 1978 until 1982 and I was a huge fan (I even had a Mork t-shirt).  Does that make me a Mork Dork? 

The house is a private residence located in a historic section of Boulder.  The owners don't mind you taking pictures as long as they're taken from the sidewalk. 

After that trip down memory lane we drove to the headquarters of Celestial Seasoning for a tea tour.
We saw a short movie about the company and about tea production (very short because we came in late).  Then we took a tour of the factory and got a whiff of the peppermint room - wow!  We also saw the different conveyor belts packaging up the tea for shipments all over the world.   When the tour ends they open the door and you are in the gift shop - how does that always happen?  We skipped the gift shop (for the moment) and went to the Tea Tasting Room.  I have never been a tea drinker but did try most of the samples and I really liked the Bengal Spice Herbal Tea.  Of course that meant we had to go back to the gift shop so I could buy some :).  It looks like I may become a tea drinker, who would have thought it?  It only took me 50+ years to start drinking coffee so I guess I'm just a late bloomer.

We learned one other thing about the Celestial Seasoning Company, something they're not very proud of.  Back in 1999 it was part of their routine maintenace program to posion the prairie dogs that made their homes on the plant's property.  From what I learned from a CNN article, it is legal to poison or shoot prairie dogs in Colorado if they are causing property damage.  "The pro-prairie dog community in Boulder was outraged when the company, noted for its environmentally friendly practices, didn't look into relocating the animals."    Due to the uproar from the community and their own employees, the company stopped the poisoning and now accepts prairie dogs relocated from other areas.  
Prairie Dogs now make their home on land across from the parking lot at Celestial Seasonings.
We came to the Boulder area because Marty was hired to do a job at a Funeral Home in Boulder.  They needed photos for their website.  We drove over to the funeral home on Tuesday after our touring to check it out.  It's very close to where we're staying and after talking to the Funeral Director Marty was all set to do the job on Thursday.  However, wouldn't you know it, when he got there on Thursday afternoon there was a very large wake going on so the job had to be put on hold.  Hopefully they will re-schedule it soon as we are planning to leave the area by Monday (5/5).   We can be flexible and stay a few days longer if necessary (the beauty of being full-timers).

On Friday (5/2), the Mile High Merkes Family came for a visit.  That would be my cousin Duane, his wife Asha, and their children - Nissi (9), Joash (4), Boaz (2), and Rinnah (4 months).  They live in Denver, about 45 minutes away.  It was great to see them all (I really needed a little kid fix) and we had a wonderful afternoon visit with them.  We had a barbque and even though Maddie (bad dog) stole 3 1/2 raw hamburgers off the picnic table we still had plenty to eat.  After lunch we took a walk over to the pottery/glass show at the exhibition building. Two little boys and pottery on tables - are we crazy?  These kids are very well behaved and there were no problems at all.  We then walked over to the Longmont Humane Society which is right next to our campground.  The kids really enjoyed seeing all the dogs and cats and I think Asha and Duane were very glad to get out of there without any new pets.  Speaking of pets, I almost convinced Joash to stay with us and let his mom and dad take Maddie - almost but no-go.  The kids are all adorable and fun to be with, we gave them some bubbles to play with (thanks, Jan!) and they had a ball.  Duane claims his driveway is long enough for our rig so, who knows, maybe the next time we're in Colorado we'll spend a night by them.

Duane, Mary holding Boaz, Asha holding Rinnah, Nissi, and Joash (and Maddie)

Proud Papa
Who's walking who?
Joash - looks just like his daddy!
Duane, when he was young

This kid is just too cute!  Marty is holding the camera with his mouth and spinning the kid around using both hands

We did another tourist day on Saturday and drove west to the Rockies.  We went into Rocky Mountain National Park via Estes Park.  It's beautiful but there is still a lot of snow in the higher elevations so we only got to go a short distance before we came to where the road was closed. 
Why did the mule deer cross the road?  To stop all the traffic in Estes Park!

A good photographer doesn't let a little thing like a closed road stop him.

That's it for this week.  Hopefully we hear back from the funeral director on Monday, if not we will be leaving Colorado Monday and heading east through Nebraska to our final destination of Bellevue, Iowa.  We will be camp hosting on the Mississippi River near Bellevue from May 15th until July 15th.