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Old 07-19-2015, 04:42 AM   #211
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Thank you for posting the pictures! Hopefully, we will sign on for next year!
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Old 07-19-2015, 09:25 AM   #212
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Woo Hoo. Thanks Chris and Maggie. I'll bet I speak for all of us sharing the adventure vicariously "More, More, More ...""
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Old 07-19-2015, 12:44 PM   #213
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- a few more; campsite panoramas and an aluminum sunset in Taos... finis!

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Old 07-19-2015, 12:52 PM   #214
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We made it home from this little adventure yesterday. I can't thank Ray and Nancy enough for their generosity in sharing their years of exploration of the area. The group of attendees was remarkable. So much knowledge and varied experiences. It was fun hearing of everyone's travels and careers and visiting each others campers. We got to explore an area that we would have otherwise probably never have found. We got to play in the mud a little bit and do a little four-wheeling, and experienced some amazing geology. Hopefully we can do this again, maybe in County #24.

Our trip started on July 5th. We left Buffalo, WY and headed south. We stopped at Independence Rock, which I have driven by many times for work, but never explored. We walked around the entire thing, and found that most of the interesting history is on the back side, where most tourists never venture. Truly fascinating and inspiring. We then headed to the Medicine Bow National Forest (NF) to find a boondocking site. We arrived during a heavy rainstorm, to pick the first site we could come across, and set up in the mud. The Med Bow appears to be largely a spruce/aspen forest, that I suspect would be quite striking in the fall when the aspens are turning.

The next day we set off for Glenwood Springs Colorado to meet up with Connie's sister and nephew. We spent the next couple of days exploring the area around Marble and Crested Butte. We pulled the trailer over Kebler Pass (9980 ft.). The rig got very muddy as the road is mostly unpaved and it had recently rained. It is an extraordinary area worthy of further exploration. We had hoped to boondock around the Taylor Reservoir area per recommendations here on the forum, but a sign told us that camping was only allowed in developed campgrounds, so we stayed in a FS campground.

We parted ways with the sister-in-law and headed out looking for good campsite off the grid. We ended up in the Uncompahgre NF near Owl Creek Pass. The campsite we found was at around 10200 feet, surrounded be towering mountains and massive spruce and aspen trees. It was the most beautiful campsite I've found since being at the Ramparts in Jasper National Park.

Sadly we had to leave the Uncompahgre because we had reservations at a commercial campsite at Mesa Verde. Connie always wanted to visit Mesa Verde, so there was no better time than the present. This was only the second time in my life I had stayed at a commercial campground. We chose to do so because the National Park Service hates dogs, so we thought we could leave the dog at the camper if we had electricity to run the AC. As it turns out, it was cool enough to not need the AC. We ended up only spending the morning at Mesa Verde because we were too worried about the dog back at the camper. It's a beautiful place though, and we were able to take one of the tours of the ruins. After we collected the dog, we headed out for a hike in the San Juan Mountains NE of Deloris.

After Mesa Verde, we headed to Chaco Canyon in NM. After reading about the poor road conditions here on the forum, I had to see for myself. Surely they couldn't be that bad. Well, they were. The last five miles into the park on the northern route was very badly rutted from the abnormally wet spring/summer. The trailer took a beating, and I was driving as slow as possible. I popped a few rivets and ripped out some screws. One wall has pulled out from the track on the wall. After arriving at the campground, we went for a walk to the Wijiji ruin near the campground. While on the trail, a very fast moving thunderstorm moved in and caught us with very heavy and sustained rains. We couldn't have possibly gotten wetter. The lightening was very concerning. Since the weather was good when we left, we didn't close the windows and vents in the camper. Fortunately the bedding didn't get too wet, but the floor was drenched. The heavy rainfall created beautiful waterfalls off of the cliffs behind the campground. The next day we got up early and took a walk up some of the trails around the park, then took a ranger led tour of the ruins. Quite amazing! Around noon, another storm rolled in and it started raining again, and didn't stop until late evening.

On Monday, we had a schedule to keep. We needed to be in Quemado by 2:30. With all of the rain, we were concerned. The park was strongly recommending that one not travel the southern road. So we left on the northern road as early as we could get out. The road was mostly passable, actually better than on the way in because most of the rutted areas were softish. However, there was one 1/4 mile section that was badly rutted and saturated. I put the truck in 4-low and went for it. We got through it alright, but I suspect if I has stopped, I wouldn't have gotten going again. We definitely wouldn't have gotten through it without 4WD. We ended up on county roads heading to Thoreau which were just as bad as the Chaco road, if not worse. Eventually we reached pavement, but it was severely frost heaved, and I was trying to make up time. It was a bad day for the Airstream. We finally reached I-40 and off to Grant then to Quemado, which we reached with over an hour to spare.

I cannot say more about our time at Quemado than Maggie and Chris have already said. A wonderful time was had by all! Unfortunately, we were so busy, we forgot to take pictures.

We left for home on Thursday morning. Unfortunately we missed the pit houses. We made it to Raton NM and stayed at Sugarite Canyon SP. It's a beautiful park and a nice campground. However, we had a "gentleman" across from us that ran his generator half the night, a couple next to us tied a barking dog to a tree for half the night, and a group a few sites over that literally left a lantern running all night into the morning (scared of the dark I guess).

We got out of Sugarite as early as we could and headed north via eastern Colorado in order to avoid the Denver metro area, and stayed with Connie's mother in Fort Collins, then home yesterday

Mowing today!

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Old 07-19-2015, 01:50 PM   #215
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Thinair, that Aluminum sunset in Taos is splendiferous.
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Old 07-20-2015, 11:15 AM   #216
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Thanks Hittenstiehl!

Brent - glad you and Connie made it home safely - great trip report too. Sorry to hear about your rain/mud treachery, but understand... It's the same story everywhere I've been all year. I'm curious about your campsite in the Uncompagre NF... I'm not familiar with that pass, what road is it on? It looked lovely and I've never explored that region.

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Old 07-20-2015, 11:32 AM   #217
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Roads into Chaco are currently good....I'm going!


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Old 07-26-2015, 08:50 PM   #218
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We are home and I have been looking at my chalcedony rose gathered up....I feel like a hoarder.

Now....what to do with it, and how to best clean it.

it really is lovely.....but I have quite the pile of it.


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Old 07-27-2015, 02:14 AM   #219
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Starry Starry Night in Nevada...

We were camped a few days east of Pioche, Nevada with 37F mornings and 87F days and worked our way to Las Vegas getting readjusted to the lower elevation and 75F to 108F range of temperatures. Oddly, we have seen ZERO rain and not one cloud for a week now that everyone has left Quemadao, NM. There are some volcanic areas in this part of Nevada that have potential to provide equally unusual chalcedony/agate rosettes and other forms thought only found in New Mexico. After three days prospecting the rugged ridges, we know where NONE are to be found! There were some Nevada Rosettes that had been transported in the gravels over time... so I know WHERE... it is how do I get to the possible source.

The alternative campground at Quemado Lake State Park offered all of the campground advantages and on top of a mountain among the thick junipers and pinon trees. I am sure everyone on this last trip would highly recommend this remote area with modern conveniences. The Quemado Forest Service in Quemado, NM and contact Dorothy for any information. Some sites have full hookups, although the days and evenings are cool and comfortable with just opening of your windows.

I was pleasantly surprised how easily everyone attending, adapted to random stops in the mountains and slopping through some of the muddiest roads I have attempted to exit after a downpour when near the Gila Wilderness!

Glen with his 2wd mud slogger kept us waiting for his arrival in the event my 25 foot strap would be needed to remove him from a mud pie Gila Deluxe. His blue pickup so nicely prepped, cleaned and detailed it was a shame to watch the mud fly 25 feet in all directions and not be on a video. Much of it remaining on the exterior of his truck.

There are some potential "rock hounds" among this group. Not in the sense of knowing anything about rocks and their geologic context, but figuring out how to find and later which were true gems among their finds. Several specimens were among the best to be found since my finding this remote location in 2006. I just was not quick enough to beat them to this new area discovered by accident on this trip!

There were as many dogs on this camping trip as people.

After owners introduced their furry family members and letting them get the sniffing ID's and pecking orders settled, it was a camp where dogs and people wandered freely without leashes or any restraints. Absent among the dogs, that is. If people could get the sniffing done like this group, we all would live among friends of the forest. This was a great opportunity for everyone to appreciate that dogs socialize much easier than people... This would not be possible at a more domesticated camp, like where I am presently in southern Nevada AND having a WiFi signal at midnight. But at least some contact outside of the trailer where several days ago even a radio station was a treat to hear.

One thing I miss from Quemado was the absolute best tasting well water available at a camp! You "city slickers" have no idea of what water should taste coming from a flowing pump at 58F! Nancy and I know of a number of western mountain water sources that make bottled water something you wash your car. We are down to about 15 gallons in our fresh water tank and use it for drinking... only.

Several have asked about a 2016 Caravan to the unknowns of Wyoming. Just setting up this ONE STOP at Quemado, NM took a lot of time to find alternatives to whatever could go wrong... which it did with actual Monsoon rains in each forecast coming to fact! Even the unpredictable was predictable. Now that we have left... so did the clouds and daily showers.

A small group of us gathered around a Wyoming road map while relaxing at Quemado and only two of us really knew what a group like ours were really asking to be involved. Laying pennies upon stopping points on the map and working the stops in a way that some could split to the Yellowstone and Tetons, where the lasting survivors could cut over a mountain range or two for real Off the Grid searches for "known" campsites that could be found among the trees and hunter's camps. The northwest quarter of Wyoming is the sweet part of the State, but not for those who expect civilized sites just for the asking... and that they be empty when we arrive. There is comfort among numbers, but also "discomfort" because of the number of trailers. This is not a picnic with a tour guide on an established route of privately owned RV Parks at $75 a night campsites. These are scattered sites in many cases in an area, while other sites can handle all who endure.

Oh, sure... Ray can get you into these areas, but if anyone thought that Quemado was a bit wilder an adventure than the "brochure" painted, Wyoming is going to knock some sense back into you. Some are the photo opportunity campsites hidden from the public and some... well if they still exist, can keep you awake at night wondering what am I doing here?

IF you are thinking I am some kind of tour guide, with attendants to serve wine and cheese at each stop, while keeping everyone calm after seeing "Dangerous Bear" signs posted on trees... That is not my idea of a Come and Go as you please true adventure. IF, and only IF you can get up at sunrise, wade across a colder than an Alaskan shallow... creek (river in Wyoming), can handle bug hatches, the smell of fish, livestock and fellow members... would I even consider tossing darts at the map and see what turns up.

So... think about it. Quemado was a Prom compared to Wyoming. If you have the grit, know cow s..t when you step into it and promise not to wash your tow vehicle, trailer or dog(s) while on this five to seven day dust/mud buster... I might consider doing it. Otherwise... television is full of fake situations that might suit some of you better. This could be the best or the worst possible excuse of your precious vacation time. For Nancy, myself and our two Blue Heelers... a Wyoming Caravan this is just another routine trip, that for some reason we managed to survive. Our Heelers' offer no guarantees you will find us, them, the trip, or any of the campsites meeting any standards. Other than a sincere opportunity for Fun, Travel and Adventure, you might have something to brag about, before becoming too old to actually consider this as an opportunity, but a curse you even thought it a good idea.

So... I cut this short and toss this "cow patty" to a limited number that have no clue what they are getting themselves into.
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Old 07-27-2015, 05:25 AM   #220
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I'm in.


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Old 07-27-2015, 08:10 AM   #221
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For the other rock-gatherers from our trip.....I soaked the rocks I am gifting, along with those I am keeping inside, in hot water and Dawn overnight, then scrubbed them again this morning with an old toothbrush.

This worked very well. There seem to be other mineral deposits inherent in some, which don't scrub out...part of their unique beauty.


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Old 07-27-2015, 11:07 AM   #222
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I found this photo online of polished chalcedony rose....beautiful.


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Old 07-28-2015, 10:19 PM   #223
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Sorry I missed this great sounding trip. How did the Interstate(s) do in the muddy roads? I've never taken mine off the beaten path yet
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Old 07-29-2015, 05:56 AM   #224
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We got to miss the muddy and ruddy roads into the Gila, as kind others offered us rides in their trucks.

I went to Chaco in mine, tho, and it did just fine on the washboard and rutted roads.........drive very slowly, wander back and forth across the road to find the smoothest path, and it's all good. .

No problem.


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