Thursday, May 15, 2008

Grand Mesa Solitude

We are in a clearing just inside the southern boundary of Grand Mesa National Forest (map). We are at the end of county road 3100; Forest Road 128 continues north from here, but is closed by a locked gate until the end of the month. The Forest Service has provided this clearing as a parking area for snowmobile users -- snow machines are allowed in the forest when the ground is covered, even though automobiles are not.

While we can see snow all around us, this spot is clear and dry now, and we are all alone. We consulted with the Forest Service office in Delta, and were told that this clearing is fine for "dispersed" camping, and, given that the gate is still closed, advised us that we might have company. In fact, there is evidence that folks have been camping here recently -- they left us several large split pieces of ponderosa pine and even one of those chemical fireplace logs.

We had actually brought a bundle of firewood with us from Delta ($3.50 at Wal-Mart), thinking we might want a nice campfire up here. I assembled a fire ring from some rocks that were gathered in another spot for the same purpose, plus some extras that were strewn about, and we made a roaring campfire with the fireplace log and three of the ponderosa pieces, kindled with most of the discarded items from Tuesday's mail windfall. The last embers are just dying out now, as I watch carefully from the window.

Tomorrow morning Alfred, whose cabin is maybe only a mile from here, will come visit bearing homemade muffins. We'll go have a look at the cabin as well, leaving the dog on guard duty.

It seems we don't do it very much, but this is the sort of experience that we envisioned as routine when we embarked upon our full time life aboard Odyssey -- parked on public land, far from anywhere, with not another soul around. It is, for us, the perfect, quintessential camping experience. Yesterday's spot on BLM land was close, but within sight of highway 92 it doesn't really count.

Speaking of which, my post this morning generated a private email asking about the whole concept of dispersed camping. Rather than answer privately, I think that's a great topic to share with everyone here in the blog, so look for a post dedicated to that topic in the next day or so.

Before we came up here, we needed water, and I also had to find a mailbox to drop off one of my eBay sales. We ended up having to overshoot our turn and drive another three miles into Hotchkiss. The county office there has a public water standpipe, where you deposit quarters into a slot and it dispenses about 41 gallons for each quarter. Unfortunately, it's an enormous 3" hose, intended to drop into a 12" or so opening in the top of a water tank -- no way to adapt it to our 2" water fill, especially with the whole 40 gallons coming out in perhaps 10 seconds or so (we watched someone use it just ahead of us).

Instead, we headed a bit further east to the county fairgrounds. It turns out that they have a half dozen or so 50-amp hookups there for $6, or dry camping for $3, and they were happy to let us put some water in our tank from one of their hydrants for free. We were a bit surprised that they were not listed in any of our guides.

Louise took a bit of a hike this afternoon, finding some trees where the bears have been sharpening their claws, and stopping to admire a group of tiny frogs singing their mating songs. It's just lovely here, and we'll likely just spend tomorrow night here as well, heading back down the hill on Saturday and north on highway 133 to Glenwood Springs and I-70.


  1. Thanks ever so much for the daily blogs!

  2. Ooooh I'm so jealous! We love boondocking, and prefer it over hookups almost every time...except in places like Ouray, CO, where we're freezing our butts off! Brrrrrrrr.......gave the heater a workout last night. Hope you two are warmer up there.


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