September 8, Thursday
Yesterday, Ethan left to continue his circuit of the National Parks in Colorado and Utah. This morning, I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma.
This is my 15th day at the boondocking spot off of country road 48, I’ve officially gone over the 14 day limit. I had explained to the Forest Service what was going on, and while not exactly happy with the situation they were wiling to give me some leeway (they did appreciate me letting them know).
But more than that, my waste tanks have been full since Friday, and I didn’t make it to a dump station before the truck broke down. The porta-potties in the nearby county park are within reasonable walking distance from camp, but now that the summer season is over, they could be removed at any time. The campground I’d been going to up by Turquoise Lake to dump my trash and fill my gallon water jugs for drinking and cooking was already shut down yesterday when Ethan and I made a stop.
A plan formulates as I eat breakfast and watch the robins gather at the last remaining muddy hole for their morning bath. It’s been dry since Sunday, a fact I’ve quite appreciated.
After breakfast I ride my bike up to Turquoise Lake and check out a campground near the Matchless boat ramp that I know is still open. It’s less than a mile from 48 but uphill, a workout for someone not use to riding a bike.
It’s nothing more than a large paved parking lot with ‘sites’ designated along the edges. There are no dumpsters or water spigots here, there are pit toilets at one end, and they are still open for the time being. I check my phone: a marginal signal that constantly fluctuates between LTE, 3G, and 1x.
There are a few things going for it though. Off of the parking lot, each of the sites has a sitting area in the trees with a fire pit (except for site #3) and a picnic table. Sites 7-14 on the western side of the parking lot face the lake, and there are trails going from those campsites down the hill to the water.
Up until Labor Day, this little unmarked campground does have a fee to stay, but it’s free now and from a conversation with the camp host who is parked down at the boat launch, there is no enforced stay limit. It remains open until first snow, usually sometime in October, but the camp host will be leaving tomorrow now that the busy season is over.
Fact-finding mission now complete, I peddle back to 48 and make a phone call.
September 9, Friday
Around 9:30, the tow truck comes to pick me up. First we go to the shop to collect my sewer hose from the back of Bertha. Then we hitch up Cas and tow him to Sugar Loafin’ Campground on the corner of 48 and 4, where I dump the tanks and fill up a couple of my gallon water jugs. Cas’s fresh water tank is still about 40% full, which will be enough to last until repairs on Bertha are complete.
Then we drop Cas off at the Matchless campground lot, which is already filling up for the weekend. I snag site #8 on the water side. One big bonus about parking in a big open lot in the middle of a mature pine forest – there will be sun for the solar panel, which I set up right away.
I take the few pieces of wood I have (leftover from campfire night with Ethan over the holiday weekend) down to the seating area.
Instantly I feel better. The last camp along 48 wasn’t all that pretty to begin with and being stuck there a week after I was ready to go was weighing on my spirits. As those of you already on the road probably know, it’s amazing what a change in scenery can do. This camp is less than a mile from the last one, but it’s on the lake, gives me new roads to walk, it feels like a whole different world.
On the way down to the water from the seating area, a trail parallels the lake. I wonder if it goes all the way around? I’ll have to explore further at some point.
Down at the water, a boat is tied up on… yes, a little beach! The wind has picked up from the west and blown the boat into the sand. There are more aspen trees down by the water, and a few are already turning colors for fall. Small waves lap against the shore, a soothing sound.
After dinner, I come back down to the beach and set up my camp chair to read. The boat has since departed, I have the space to myself. A gull comes to rest on a rock and I pick up my phone for a picture when an osprey flies into the frame with a fish in it’s grasp! Wow, talk about getting two birds with one stone.
The temperature drops as the sun sets, driving me back up the hill and into Cas to read until bedtime. If it takes a week and a half to fix Bertha, this sure won’t be a bad spot to wait.
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