Greetings to all,
It seems every May, we begin to take on our Willie Nelson personae for the start of a new season of travel and research. (Maybe we should name our next truck Willie?) But as soon as we hit the road we settle back in to the sweet and loveable Fred and Suzi you all know.
Actually, our departure and passage through New Mexico into Colorado was uneventful for us. Can't say the same for the Forests we skirted. It was difficult to drive along and see a dark cloud of smoke over areas we visited, worked in, and enjoyed last year. We realize fire is a natural part of a forest's life but, still, it was a difficult sight.
By the time we reached New Mexico-Colorado, the fires were more under-control. And the weather was getting cooler and cooler. It is hard to believe we ate lunch our first day out in a "comfortable" 101 temps and ended the month with rain, hail, snow, and brilliant sunshine - all in the same day! Well, as we have been told - "That's Colorado."
After a pleasant few days visiting Fred's Uncle Ted, cousin Jeff, and Jeff's friend, Marti, we headed for the mountains and began this season with the Roosevelt National Forest. We stayed in a lovely campground called Jacks Gulch. To reach it you must drive up the Cache la Poudre (pronounced pooh-der) River canyon then turn left and travel up a steep and winding County Road for 6.3 miles. County roads around here seem all to be washboard and gravel. I guess that's how you know you are in a forest. The
rewards for traveling down such challenging roadways are few campers, silence, wildlife, and all that goes with a "forest experience."
Before heading for the mountains we took time to visit an REI camping store. Although REI does not cater to recreational vehicle users, like us, they do have a lot of really neat stuff. And boy, did we bring home some great stuff. Suzi got a pair of day hiking boots and Fred a many pocketed vest, new shorts and some little, useful things. We do love Bisbee but miss this kind
of shopping. But, on second thought, maybe that's a good thing.
Jeff and Marti drove up to Jacks Gulch and helped us survey a few campgrounds. One was called Long Draw which was not open - too much snow in the campground! We have heard complaints about the lack of snowpack in these mountains. For to desert rates, seeing knee deep snow along the road in late May makes us wonder how much snow constitutes "decent" snowpack.
The Cache la Poudre (so named because, in the early 1800s, French explorers hid most of their gun powder in the area in an effort to lighten their load and reach the safety of the "lowlands") Wild and Scenic River is most impressive. Since our arrival, the water level has risen more than a foot. We wondered if the kayakers were excited about the prospect of "running the river."
Our resident kayaking expert, Jeff, took one look and said, "No. The River would beat you up too much. That's no fun." As we drove past a few places, Jeff would remark, "That water is pushy, pushy." Seems like a good term for the whirlpools and churning seen up and down this river.
Remember last season we commented on how over-loved the NFs in Colorado appeared to be and how the Forest Service employees seemed stressed? We had hoped it was due to the lateness of the year. Unfortunately, it seems the problem has nothing to do with the time of year. Attempts to schedule meetings with the Forest Service have met with resistance. A fairly standard response is: "We get authors here all the time." In other words, what we are doing isn't important and the FS doesn't have time for us. Of all people, we understand and appreciate the challenges faced by FS in Colorado - they are hammered. But we would submit the FS
here has a looming public relations problem. Of course, we are expressing our personal opinion and have generalized. There are exceptions but they are far too few in Colorado.
Did we tell you another delightful feature of Jacks Gulch is electric hook-ups? With this luxury we not only have unlimited time to work on our computers but can enjoy television and radio. True, commercial TV is limited to a CBS station from Cheyenne, WY, but our satellite receiver works well. The CBS station provides a glimpse of the more interesting features of being a
good distance from a "big" city. Like what? How about ads for truck stops along the Interstate that boast of, not only great service and repair facilities and diesel fuel, but their clean showers and all-you-can-eat buffets? Or, a news story on graduating high school athletes from across the state (not just Cheyenne) and their post-high school plans. Betcha they even broadcast High School sporting events. Who needs the NBL
Rockies, NHL Avalanche, or NFL Broncos when you've got the Pumas, Bears, and Eagles?
It is good to report, we completed the Roosevelt and will begin the Arapaho National Forest the 1st of June. Our hope is to complete the Arapaho and Routt National Forests by the end of June and spend July 4th in Cody, WY. Well, May was a short but busy month for us. Hope your May was equally interesting and productive. Next month, we'll be telling you all about our
explorations in the Arapaho and Routt National Forests.
Suzi and Fred