The Xscapers SoCo Convergence is located in a beautiful spot. Set 2,000 feet lower in elevation than Leadville, the climate is distinctly dryer. The tall lodgepole and aspen forest farther north is replaced here by open fields complete with cactus and more sparse and shrubby pinon pine. This makes it easier to see the mountains surrounding camp on all sides. The openness also makes my solar panel happy, and the lower elevation means nights are frost-free.
Our boondocking area is located northwest of Poncha Springs, CO. From 50 west of town you turn north onto country road 250 and drive until the pavement ends, that’s where the public land starts. The Xscampment is in an open field on a small rise offering a view of Salida to the east. Winds frequently buffet camp, but it’s a small price to pay for this view.
On Wednesday the 21st, I finally get Bertha back! Christie and Brian drop me off in Leadville just as my truck is rolling out of the shop. Final damage? $3,745.69 – the shop had estimated $3.5k on the Tuesday after Labor Day once it was discovered what the problem was so accounting for taxes they were pretty much dead on. This price included both head gaskets (my Dakota has the v8 engine), thermostat, water pump, exhaust manifold, tie rods, two ball joints, and an alignment (and a couple other odds and ends including the burst radiator hose and an oil change and spark plug). The tie rods, ball joints and alignment were not an emergency but as long as I needed to do work, might as well get it all done at once.
This illustrates perfectly why it’s so very important for RVers to have an emergency fund. Instead of being unable to pay for repairs, or paying for them and then not having enough money for gas, groceries, and camping fees, I shrugged my shoulders, paid, and went on my merry way. Full-timing is much less stressful when you have the money to cover unexpected expenses like this. If you don’t have an emergency fund right now, I’d recommend starting one as soon as possible and building it a little at a time. Even just a few hundred dollars can make a big difference if you breakdown. You can afford a hotel room or a weekly RV spot with that, pay for a pretty long tow, or rent a car.
It feels great to have Bertha back, and I’ve arrived in Leadville at peak fall color. The roads near town look like the halls of some great mansion, gilded with gold. The drive back to camp is equally pretty, with carpets of yellow and orange blanketing the mountainsides.
All in all, I spent a whopping 18 days without vehicular transportation, which would put a crimp in most RVer’s plans. When time permits I intend to write an article about what to do when your RV/tow vehicle breaks down and things you can do to make the experience of being stuck without transportation more pleasant.
The convergence officially ended Friday, and Saturday when the weather is more travel-friendly, I’ll be making south for Texas and my fifth season at Amazon. It’ll feel good to be back on the road, but I’m also really glad I had the opportunity to spend this week with my fellow working-age nomads. This is serendipity at its finest, for had I not broken down I would have already been in Texas during this time.
At the campfire Thursday evening, we all said our goodbyes. Community is a fluid and interesting experience when you’re a traveling. I likely won’t see these people for months if not longer, but I know that when our paths cross again, we’ll be able to pick up where we left off like old friends.
In the meantime, the road is calling, and I’m eager to see where it leads.
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