Category Archives: Truck Camping,

Truck Camping,

El Paso, Ft Stockton, ​and Fredericksburg

Texas is a big, big State! Leaving El Paso, one finds endless flat land and on the first 114 miles, the Interstate road surface is serrated making the truck tires sing constantly, “Singing Sam Tire Song.” I also noticed that the oil boom is going on also in the I-10 area as it was on I-20 further north. Loads of drill equipment going and coming all the way for 300 miles!

 

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Historic Fort Stockton

 

Fort Stockton and Camp Walmart

Fort Stockton is a charming old historic town. It was time for a driving break and a little exploration. An overhead wrought iron welcoming sign invited us into the old town. Typical brick and adobe storefronts lined the old main street. Signs pointed to the old fort and museum, but we were looking for a local restaurant. Nothing that jumped at us. One store was loaded with ornaments on the sidewalk. It was still opened and we walked in just for curiosity. Some items were junky tourist stuff, but others really caught our eye. This store was linked to a furniture store. I walked in and was amazed at the bedroom sets. King and larger! Massive head and foot boards. I kept walking in deeper. To my surprise, I spotted two dummies sleeping on one of the king size beds. Oh, they weren’t dummies! I started to tiptoe away when some other kids came running by. It must have been the owners family members waiting for closing time at 6pm.

The one thing that I didn’t expect was “Spring School Break” week! It may seem that this wouldn’t have affected us, but it surely did. It is truly spring here in this part of Texas and many families head to camping areas! All State Parks were full, all privately owned RV Parks were also full. Hence, we settled for “Camp Walmart”! I recently read that there will be an additional one million more RV’s on the road in 2018. That’s fine, but I also read that there will be a shortage of RV campgrounds and more importantly highway upgrades (smoother pothole free highways). I’ve seen many RV’s along the roadside changing tires! Even the military campgrounds are running nearly full capacity!

Walmart was full of RVs, maybe dozens and no problems staying there. The interesting thing was in the early morning as three van loads of young oil field workers were leaving for work in the fields. All wearing class 3 safety vests with hardhats! Oh, yes the oil boom is here also.

The Decision ~ Austin?

In Fort Stockton, I made a decision not to head for San Antonio. We’d been there a couple of times, don’t get me wrong, it is a great city to explore, but it was time for a new adventure. In Junction, TX, I took US 290 straight for Austin. A four-lane rural highway with 65 mph speed limit instead of the 80 mph on I-10. It wasn’t long before trees (Live Oaks) filled the landscape. Pastures, cows, and horses were more abundant, the elevation dropped and we were in Texas “Hill Country.” The further we drove more wooden fenced properties came into view. This was Lady Bird Johnson’s country! Did you ever hear of “Blue Bells” flowers? That was Lady Bird’s passion, to line the highways with these and other types of flowers. They were in bloom!

 

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Wisteria in full bloom!

 

 

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Fredericksburg

 

 

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Limestone Block Building

 

 

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Town Gone to the Dogs!

 

 

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Fredericksburg Meeting Hall

 

 

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Outside Dining

 

Fredericksburg, TX ~ The Town That Is Alive!

Driving into town, it was unbelievable. Activities everywhere! People, kids, families all walking around the main street. I had to find a place to park on a side street. It was some sort of old home days or in reality, it was “Spring Break!” People occupying a town during mid-week makes you want to take part in what they are doing, watching or even eating. This was our sign to stay the night. A walking self-guided tour was a perfect focus for us. Old buildings and their original occupants kept us taking pictures, studying architecture. Local limestone blocks were used in many of these structures and have survived the test of time. Dinner was at “Cultures Grill and Bar”. Live music, good food and a perfect end to a good day!

 

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Outside Dining

 

Did I mention that all campgrounds in or near Fredericksburg were full? Camp Walmart to the rescue again. It’s nice to be self-contained and safe!

That is what we saw and did!

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Friends in Yuma

From our two days in El Centro, CA, it is just 69 miles to Yuma. Our Key West friends, John, Cheryl, Len, and Elizabeth have been there for nearly a month. I contacted John and he gave me info on their RV park. I was able to make a reservation for a week. Helen was interested in getting a crown fixed and John was having dental work in Los Algodones, Mexico. Arriving around 10am, we checked in to River Front RV Park. Made contact with John, and were on our way to Mexico by 11:30am.

 

 

Algondonas Street View

Hussle & Bussel of Algodones, Mexico

Hussle & Bussel of Algodones

Helen & Cheryl @ Restaurant

 

 

Algodones, Mexico ~ The Experience!

Everybody talks about Algodones as a place to go for dental, eyeglasses and pharmaceuticals. I do know that there are at least 500 dentists in a very small four-block area!

I along with many Americans, initially, have a fear of crossing the border because of the unknown, the fear of the “Cartel,” the fear of getting locked up for whatever! I must say that I now have a different outlook on this particular border crossing.

The first thing that everyone seems to recommend is crossing the border on foot. A large parking lot on the American side is available for daily parking for a fee of $6.00. A note, the parking lot is large enough to accommodate several thousand cars and it was nearly full at our arrival at 12:15pm. With passport in hands, we walked through the parking lot and through the turn-style. Voila, we’re in Mexico! No check-in points at all.

As expected, you immediately encounter vendors selling their wares. All spoke very good English! All had good sales pitches, but none got into our faces. Three streets down and to the right about a block and we were at the dental office. Our friend had an appointment and Helen was just trying to get an opinion and a cost. After John’s appointment, Helen was able to get not only an opinion but actually work on her broken crown. Today, as I write this portion of the blog, Friday, she will receive her permanent crown! How much? Well, it is 1/3 the cost of the same procedure in the States! Quality work, you bet! At least, to our new friends that have been coming down here for years! Footnote: I write this segment on, Saturday morning after the crown procedure was completed. Everything went fine! The Dentist went as far as having the crown replaced after noticing that it should be a little longer. He sent it back to the lab and they made a new one. A courier delivered the new crown within an hour. Excellent service, and fine attention to detail by the Dentist! ★★★★★ Rating!

 

Yuma Friends! Len, Elisabeth, John, Cheryl, Me & Helen

Yuma Friends! Len, Elisabeth, John, Cheryl, Me and Helen

 

 

Speaking of Friends

While John was having his appointment, Cheryl took us to a restaurant about a block away. It had a courtyard full of customers. While looking for a table, Helen spotted Diane, from River Land Resort in Earp. (It’s a little confusing about these resorts all having “River” in their names.) Diane’s husband, Glenn, was having dental work done. Diane said that they’ve been coming here since 1989. They are from British Columbia, Canada. We had an enjoyable lunch with Diane and the Margaritas weren’t bad either!

Check Point Charley ~ Entering the US!

The big point is coming home, right? John said there can be a long line of people waiting to walk back in and the last time, for them it was. As we walked towards the border, John pointed to the long overhead canopy, maybe 300 feet long. He said the last time they came to the line it was all the way to the end. Not so today, we only had 50 feet before entering the custom house. The customs agent asked Helen if she was bringing anything back from Mexico, she said, “Only my temporary dental crown,” “Next,” the agent said. I was next and being of the same last name the agent said, “Next,” back in the USA with no problem! A good experience on this crossing.

 

The Colorado River getting smaller

Colorado River Getting Smaller in the Background!

West Wetlands Bike Trail, Yuma, AZ

West Wetlands Bike Trail

19?? Ford ~ Ready to restore

19?? Ford ~ Ready for Restoration!

 

Yuma in General

Yuma is a good size city in land area. One of its best assets, for us, is the miles and miles of dedicated paved biking paths especially along the, now narrowing, Colorado River! The four-mile river run took us along many city parks. The parks, well landscaped with ponds, fountains and bird life made it difficult to continue riding and not stop to smell the roses! Starting at our campground on the Yuma West Wetlands Park Trails, through town and ending on the East Wetlands Park system. It is and was a very enjoyable ride.

55 Year reunion

55 Year Reunion Class of 1963!

A 55 Year Chance Encounter

Can you believe a chance encounter with a fellow classmate from the class of 1963! Pete LaCombe lives in Phoenix some 3-1/2 hours away, but on this day he was going to Algodones, Mexico for a pharmaceutical run. He gave me a call and we set a meeting place for lunch on his way home from Mexico. How cool is that! We spent a good amount of time catching up on a lifetime of living! Helen did the same, Joyce. Wow, how time flies when your busy living life! I’m sure our paths will cross again if it’s in God’s will! Thanks, Pete and Joyce for the visit!

Saturday Night at Midnight At The Oasis

Midnight @ the Oasis

V-8 Engine!

V-8 Engine ~ Cool!

The 26th Annual Midnight at the Oasis Classic Car & Music

I’ve never seen so many classic cars in one spot! I’m told there were nearly 800 of them! On Thursday afternoon, the old Downtown Main Street was shut down for them to park & shine! I took many pictures and details that impressed me!

The other part of this event was the music concert at the Civic Center. On Friday night three bands played 70’s and 80’s “Rocking Roll Tribute” music. On Saturday night another three bands played ~ Turn The Page (Bob Seger Tribute) ~ Mirage (Fleetwood Mac Experience) ~ Hollywood U2 (World’s Greatest Tribute to U2) It was an impressive weekend for us, John, Cheryl, and Len.

Another footnote: The WiFi here at River Front Rv Park is nearly nonexistent and therefore I would rate this park a ★ 😢😢😢😢 rating. WiFi is the first requirement when looking for an extended stay!

That is what we saw and did!

Bisbee ~ The Artist Town

Nov 21, 2017

Even The Sanitary Sewer Covers Have an Artistic Flare!

Getting back to the Bisbee story. After the mine tour, we walked a short walk to downtown Bisbee. You can tell, in its “Glory Days”, this place must have been booming. It still is in the tourist sense. There seems to be an abundance of “hippies and free spirits” living in the core of the community. There are many historical buildings to checkout, both inside and out. We enjoyed walking, taking pictures and finding a good place to eat. It turned out to be a Mexican restaurant. Now, I am not usually fond of Mexican food, but I can attest that this place called Santiago’s was excellent! Helen & I split a chicken fajita plate. Actually it came on two plates. Super good! I’ve change my opinion on Mexican food!

 

The local hotel was full of history. John Wayne was a regular and had his own room, when he was in town to film a movie. The hotel has a second floor outdoor pool. This was because the town sits on a hillside. We had a  good time for our visit in the town of Bisbee.

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Now That’s Art!

Key West ~ Refugee Reunion!

On this Fam Camp bus excursion, we met a couple who have played Bocce in Key West with us. They were Sigsbee Shuflers. So here in Tucson, Arizona, we have encountered Lisa and Rob, Sally and her lab Angel, Ernie & Bert, Mary, Tom, not forgetting Michael and Stephanie and us for a total of eleven KW refugees! How cool is that! We might miss KW, but we are surviving in the dry desert of the southwest!

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Tom, Mary and Helen ~ Sabino Canyon

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Key West Friends

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Jazz in the Shade!

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The Emporium Hotel

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Isn’t That A Gem?

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What is He Looking At?

Lowell, Arizona

The very next town, Lowell is just three or so miles down the road. There is one huge open-pit mine next to the Queen Mine. This not the main attraction. The Main Street can’t be more than 500 feet long, but the attraction is all of the old vintage cars and trucks parked along the Main Street. It is not a deserted town, just a town that lives in the past. It was a 5 minute drive by tour, but an interesting one.

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Sturgis Patrol ~ Looking in the Rear View Mirror!

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1940’s Plymouth?

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1940’s Gas Pump!

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19?? Dodge

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1956 Dodge

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1956 Ford Country Squire

Warren, Arizona

The last town on our $5 bus tour was Warren. It’s claim to fame is that it has the oldest multi sport ball field in the country. Babe Ruth is said to have played base-ball in this park.

On the way home Glenn said we had enough time to stop in Tombstone, AZ. We had been there just a week or so ago, but it was good to again see “The Town to Tough to Die”

That is what we saw and did!

 

The Lighthouses and Shipwrecks

The Pioneers

I couldn’t forget to write about the many lighthouses along the Northwest Coast! I can’t help thinking of the pioneers, such as William V. Langlois, in the mid eighteen hundreds coming by sailing ships to the treacherous coast. Fog, strong tides, very rocky shores made for a rough landing. The lighthouses, the high tech of the day, helped save many a ship, but many were lost as evident at the lighthouse museum that we visited. Yaquina Lighthouse, being the tallest, was 93 feet tall. It was built with 400,000 bricks brought in, by ship, from San Fransisco, California. Just getting the bricks to the site, on a primitive road was a monumental accomplishment!

If I remember there’s around sixteen of these lighthouses in Oregon. Each one was subject to inspection, that is, with a white glove, inspected on unannounced visits. Even the light keeper’s wife had to have everything whistle clean and orderly. The lighthouses were of prime importance!

Boomers On The Move! Every turn is an Adventure!

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The Lance and the Ford enjoying the view!

The Decision

Heading North, near Newport, the traffic was starting to get heavy. It seems that people in the interior were heading to the coast to cool off from the high 90’s to the mid 60’s. It was time to make a decision! Keep moving North along the coast or head inland to high terrain. I made the latter. A little north of Lincoln City, I took route 18 towards Portland and into Washington. What I didn’t figure on was going through Portland around rush hour! This was a 61 min traffic jam, but making the best of this meant that we could enjoy viewing the Portland City scape from the high bridges we were on.

Night Stay

Where to stay after leaving the hustle and bustle of the cities? The Allstays app didn’t provide many options. After gassing the truck, I located, yes, a Wal-Mart a few miles away, in Battle Ground, Washington. This would be our first Walmart since 2012 trip to Alaska. Allstays reviews said that this Walmart permitted overnight parking for one night. I asked the store manager and he said, “Ok, for one night as long as you park over by the garden section.”

A few teenagers were hanging around in the parking lot, but they weren’t interested in us and they disappeared in the night as we disappeared into sleep. Around 12:30 am, a refrigerated box truck parked next to us. This was annoying as the refrigerator compressor runs nearly continuously. I noticed no one in the cab. I got up and moved our TC about 300 feet and all was fine for the rest of the night. That’s the price for a Wal-Mart night!

That what we saw and did!

Aug 9, 2017 ~ Walmart ~ Battle Ground, WA

190 miles traveled today

Home on the Range

Second day in Salt Lake City area and its was a full day of sightseeing. First, we started with a ride over to Antelope Island State Park and then downtown Salt Lake City to the Mormon Tabernacle and the LDS Convention Center.

History

Let me start with the State Park:

Artifacts reveal prehistoric people inhabited the island 6,000 years ago. John Fremont and Kit Carson made the first known Anglo exploration in 1845 and named it after observing several pronghorn antelope grazing on the rangelands.

Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River. The lake is a remnant of pre-historic Lake Bonneville, which covered more than 20,000 square miles during the last ice Age. On average Great Salt Lake is 75 miles long by 28 miles wide. the average deepest depth is about 33 feet.

The island has several freshwater springs found primarily on the east side supporting island wildlife. Bison are the island’s most famous residents. Twelve animals were introduced to the island by Kit Carson in 1893. Today the herd is around 700 animals. Many bird species also inhabit the island. The above info came from Utah State Parks.

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Causeway to Antelope Island

Our exploration of the island started fairly early to beat the heat and also to view the Bison while they were active. The causeway is several miles long and gave us insight into this island geology. The park attendant directed us toward Fielding Garr Ranch for the best view of the Bison. With one or two cars on this road it wasn’t long before we spotted our first Bison walking about 200 feet offshore. The salt crust is strong enough for his weight. I took pictures and drove on until another small group were grazing down by the water. Just before arriving at the ranch, large herds were observed. I got many photos!

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Not a bad scene…just Bison in the wild!

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Geology

 

Garr Ranch

Rock Salt ~ Antelope Island State Park

Rock Salt ~ Antelope Island

At the Fielding Garr Ranch, we were the first to arrive and the volunteer guide was very informative. He had lived in this area all his life and boy did I ask him questions. I was especially interested in Promontory, a place that the East and the West railroads meet. It was 61 miles from Hill AFB. That meant that would be 122 miles round trip. I asked him if I continued on the way out of town and circled around Salk Lake and picked up I-80W in Nevada. He told me I could do that, but earlier this spring some of the county road had been washed out. There went that idea. The best two tips he gave me was to take the “Legacy Highway” eliminating the I-15S traffic. The second and absolute best tip was how to visit the Bonneville Speed Way going South and than West on I-80W. I’ve been waiting 52 years to visit the Bonneville Salt Flats! In 1965 Craig Breedlove held the honor of being the first man to go faster than 400, 500, and 600 miles per hour. His record of 600.601 miles per hour, set on November 15, 1965. I was a teenager at the time and that was of great interest to me then.

Driving back towards the Visitor Center, a different type of terrain was encountered. Down closer to the shore, the rock formations were very different from what I’ve seen before. It was explained, later at the Visitor Center. Frankly, it was a little complicated in terminology, but interesting to view the samples. Helen and I both enjoyed our visit to Antelope Island!

Salt Lake Tabernacle

Next came a forty mile ride into Salt Lake City to visit the Mormon Tabernacle Convention Center (LDS) and the Mormon Square across the street. Non members are not allowed into the church. We were allowed into the LDS Convention Center. Wow, what a massively large convention hall! It is the largest in the world and holds 21,000 people! A tour guide took us around the four-story building ending on the roof, with a waterfall cascading down over the four stories. On the interior, massive atriums with paintings of their religious beliefs are displayed. Naturally, they gave us their religious views.

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Picture Perfect

Across the street, we visited the largest pipe organ in the world. Everything including the grounds outside were perfect! Everyone has their own beliefs and that is what makes this country great.

That is what we saw and did!

Aug 2, 2017 116 miles traveled (locally)

Trouble uploading this morning!

Utah ~ Most Scenic!

The Road Trip

Road trips are great, even though long days on the road can be strenuous. This journey is to do the Pacific Coast highway from Crescent City California to Olympic National Park in Washington State. Part of the real adventure is getting there. This country is so diverse and beautiful, it is nearly unbelievable. Take for instance, yesterday, at the first visitor information center in Utah, we stopped and as we were walking up to the building, we both noticed the lavender in bloom. This wasn’t so abnormal, but what really caught our eyes was the bees pollinating the lavender. They were huge, about an inch and a half long. It is these little wonders that make the road trip a learning adventure.  

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Inch and a half long Bee

Leaving Fruita, Colorado, a town that we visited back in 2013, left a second fine impression on this community. The Visitor Center has a large parking area even with an RV dump station and fresh water fill. (5 stars)

On The Road

Landscape dramatically changes leaving Colorado into Utah. Colors are golden wheat, brown, reds, creosol green clumps of darker greens high up on the Mesa. From flat land to high Mesas this land is different and very scenic. Some spots on the road have signs that say, “No services for 110 miles”. Speed limit is 80mph!

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Flying on I-70!………

I cruised around 65mph, a little higher than my usual 58mph. Following I-70W for part of the way, than US-6 to Provo, UT for the rest of the journey to Ogden, our stop here for a couple of days at Hill AFB, Famcamp. Let me say that once we reached Provo on I-15N, the traffic was heavy, four lanes, 70mph, for about 50 miles. All the way through Salt Lake City, it was heavy concentration!

Let me talk a little about temperature. The late afternoon has climbed to 115 degrees, but it is very true that it is very dry! Ok, this is how we deal with it. When we stop, all windows are open and four fans come on to evacuate the heat inside the camper. It literally takes three to five minutes to do that.

A restaurant takes care of dinner time and than back at the Famcamp, the community room has A/C with TV and high speed WiFi. By now it is after sunset and the temps are dropping fast. It is very comfortable to sleep with the windows open. Early morning finds us actually under the covers. That’s life in the sunbelt! Remember some people come from Phoenix, Arizona to Salt Lake area to escape the heat! That’s life in the sunbelt!

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Welcome to Utah

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Amazing Geology in them there hills!

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It took alot of Din-o-mite to put this road in!

That is what we saw and did!

Aug 1st, 2017 …..330 miles traveled today

 

2,667 Miles to say “Hello Neighbor”

Grand Lake to Colorado Springs

Instead of heading due west, I had a wonderful idea to travel south to Colorado Springs to visit Jerry Rouleau, my hometown neighbor and friend from New Hampshire. He was dog sitting. It was well worth the side trip to travel 186 miles south. Jerry and I, along with Helen and not mention Katie (the dog) had a good visit. Jenna and Scott (Jerry’s daughter and son-in-law have a beautiful home!)

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Jerry, Lucien and Katie 

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It did take long to make a new friend!

The trip down US 40 from Grand Lake was extremely scenic! It had extreme elevations, hair pin turns, forested mountains, ski areas, excellent paved roads! The Ford F-250 handled both the climb and the braking downhill.

We stayed in Jenna and Scott’s driveway, not that Jerry didn’t invite us in to sleep, but we have a policy of being “Light Footed” when we visit and are very comfortable in our truck camper. Thank you, Scott and Jenna, for the offer to do laundry and showers anyway. Oh, for the rest of the blog readers Scott and Jenna were gone down to do some of the National Parks in Arizona hence, Jerry was dog sitting. There is a big bond between Katie and Jerry. You see Jerry had the dog for three years while Scott was deployed.

The Continental Divide

Monday, we said our goodbyes to Jerry and headed towards the West. Another wonderful surprise was taking US 50. A super scenic ride all across Colorado. We reached Monarch Pass at noon and parked the Truck Camper right in the middle of the Continental Divide and at lunch in the camper. The elevation 11,312 feet above sea level. Now, I’m not sure if that was the Atlantic or the Pacific! Remember, the TC was parked in the middle, everything flows one way or the other.

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Driver”s side ~ Atlantic…Passenger’s side Pacific

It was a long day, as we drove 330 miles to Fruita, CO. Our campground on this night was a 5 star campground! Monument RV Campground had a site for us. We did a self-registration at a designated site, changed into our swimsuits and jumped into the pool! Oh, ha, I forgot to mention that in Colorado Springs, it was 54 degrees when we left and in Fruita it was 103 degrees!  This evening made the 12th night on the road! Loving every minute it of it!

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US Route 40 Grand Lake to Colorado Springs, CO

That is what we saw and did!

July 31, 2017 ~ Fruita, Colorado