Day 70 - Colorado In A Day

Trip Start May 19, 2008
Trip End Nov 08, 2008

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Where I stayed
Ute Creek Campground

Flag of United States  , Colorado
Sunday, July 27, 2008

What a terrible night's sleep! What we failed to notice as we arrived at the park yesterday was the railroad track on the opposite side of the road to the park. The trains began rumbling through the town early evening and continued all through the night at no more than 30 minute intervals, sounding their horns at the various crossings throughout the town as they went. And because they're so damn long, it takes 15 minutes for them to pass through the town. Then just as you're drifting off to sleep again, you hear the next one approaching from a couple of miles away!

We left Kimball around 9.30 am heading due south and within 20 miles had crossed the state line into Colorado. At this point we were still undecided as to whether to go to Denver or not. By the time we reached Fort Morgan we had decided that we would give it a miss. It has never been a "must see" place for either of us and as it's such a big city, fairly impractical for visiting in the bus as the campsites are all a fair way out of the city and at fairly high altitudes. Plus we've already seen and in fact crossed the Rockies up in Glacier National Park so we decided to crack on and head south giving Denver and the other cities down the I-25 corridor a wide berth.

Today was a lot like yesterday, miles and miles of agricultural land used either for crops or cattle with small hamlets at 20-30 mile intervals. It takes a certain kind of person to live happily in such isolation, it's definitely not for us. By early afternoon the storm clouds had built quite considerably and we were headed straight towards them. There was quite a lot of lightning around and at one point we thought that it must have started a fire off in the distance in front of us. But when we reached what we thought was smoke it turned out to be a huge dust storm. Our road took us right through it and visibility was terrible. Inevitably we also experienced some rain. However, looking west towards Denver the sky looked even heavier so we figured we had made the right decision in giving it a miss. It doesn't make for a particularly pleasant experience, wandering around a city in the pouring rain.

We had planned to camp at the town of Limon, but as we reached there by around 3 pm, we decided to carry on further south for a couple of hours. As we left Limon we passed a large "correctional facility" and a very interesting sign.

A couple of hours later we reached what should have been the first of our possible camping options. However, it was no longer a camp-site so we continued on a little further south. The next couple were down muddy roads and as the weather was still looking unpredictable we decided to skip those. The final one was just nowhere to be found so we decided to stop wasting time looking and head for our next option 115 miles away! Camping east of the I-25 is very sparse and tends to be in places with poor access.

We had another short shower of heavy rain along our next section of road but thankfully missed the centre of the storm. As we approached the town of Walsenburg around 7 pm, the sun was going down behind the Rocky Mountains in front of us and in the distance we could still see lightning.

From Walsenburg the road climbed up to an altitude of 9413 ft, gradually at first but then quite steeply for the final 9 miles. Thankfully it was dual carriageway on the steeper section so we didn't hold anyone up as we plodded up the hill at 20 miles an hour. What we saw and the others didn't as they whizzed past us at 60 mph, were a group of deer right by the road. One of them was so busy watching us that he stumbled. He was ok but it was just like a scene out of Bambi. Bless!

By the time we reached the summit full darkness was almost upon us and the lightning was not only easier to see but more prevalent in the mountains all around us. On the way down from the summit we spotted another deer, this time in the middle of the road, just ambling across. As we slowed he ran into the vegetation on our side of the road, the problem is sometimes they dart back out again. Thankfully he didn't leap out in front of us or the car behind us. From there on it was a very tense half an hour as by this point it was completely pitch black and being in the mountains we had only our headlights to be able to spot any other wildlife that may decide that they needed to cross the road. Not only would we not want to be responsible for killing an animal but the deer and elk in particular would make a hell of a mess of the bus if we did.

Thankfully our campsite was fairly easy to find (and still operational) and we pulled in around 8.30 pm. Ute Creek campground is a privately owned site, simple but fully equipped with electric and water hook-ups (not that we can use the water with our leaking pump!) and with showers that although are a little dated, were clean and hot. Perfectly adequate for $15.

Miles travelled: 372

Total miles travelled: 5966

Days on road: 50

States visited: 11

National Parks visited: 9
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