Colorado Springs, CO

We were lucky — the weather driving up I-25 from Las Vegas, NM to Colorado Springs, CO was nowhere near as bad as I had feared.  A few sprinkles to wash the Arizona dust off the car, and gray scudded skies were the worst of it.  Even in the Raton pass the wind was not bad at all, which made the trip only mildly uninteresting, which is better than extremely interesting when you’re talking about weather.

I am really enjoying the rear-view camera we installed on the Airstream.  I leave it on most of the time we are towing, and it acts basically to replace the rear-view mirror. The wide angle lens is ideal for backing up because I can see things to the sides and above the trailer (like tree branches that might scratch the top) but the corollary is that it is not so good for seeing vehicles at a distance as they approach on the highway.  No matter — it is still great to have early warning as vehicles approach to pass, or when somebody is tailgating.  It’s also great that I can now back up short distances (like at a gas station) with positive assurance that nobody is standing behind the trailer in the blind spot.  We don’t have a blind spot anymore.

I’ve found, however, that there is no substitute for Eleanor standing beside the trailer to guide me in when backing into a campsite.   The fish-eye perspective of the camera makes judging distances almost impossible.  I tried it here at Cheyenne Mountain State Park yesterday and it was clearly not going to work.   So we’ll continue to back into tight spots the way we always have, using hand signals.

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Last year I blogged about Cheyenne Mountain State Park, saying that it was a great addition to the Colorado State Parks system, and clearly many people agree.  We had to book our weekend reservation weeks in advance, and even then we could not get a contiguous 3-day stay.  So today we had to hitch up and move to a new site for our next two nights.  It’s still worth it.  Like some other Colorado State Parks, the campsites are primo: landscaped and manicured sites with pink concrete pads, full hookups, beautifully laid out, hiking trails everywhere, and almost every site has a view. Plus a good laundry, store, an awesome visitor center, picnic areas, etc.  I should stop talking about it or the next time we won’t get in here at all…

It’s particularly ironic to be enjoying the great state parks of New Mexico and Colorado when the goofball politicians back in Arizona are busy devastating the state park system there.  If you want to camp in Arizona, be aware that the state park you planned to visit may be shuttered or operating on a limited schedule this year.  Other states are enjoying record attendance in their parks (SD) (NC) (VA) (FL) (MO) and can clearly see the economic benefits of state parks, but some of Arizona’s state legislators have seen an opportunity to raid a fund and cut a budget item.  Which will be the most sustainable long-term choice for the state’s economy?

Well, we’re spending our money in Colorado now, and thanks to this state park in Colorado Springs we will stay for three nights when otherwise we would probably have stayed only one or two.  If we hadn’t made reservations up in Denver for Monday, I would be booking a fourth night, because I’ve since found more things to do here.   State parks are a long-term investment in a state’s future economy and quality of life.

Today we had planned as a free day, but the weather was not great for outdoor stuff, since it is cool and thunderstorms have been popping up.  That’s when the errand list comes out.  There’s always something that needs doing, whether it’s a little shopping or a bit of maintenance on the trailer.  Since we just got started, I had only two items on the trailer list.  The strut jacks on the Hensley hitch have been binding lately, and that’s a problem solved with a few shots of silicone spray.   As we pulled into Colorado Springs, I also noticed the distinct squeaking that tells me the hitch ball needs lubricating.  With a Hensley, that’s a job most easily done while the car is still connected.  I’ll do that on Monday when we get to our next stop, and maybe shoot a little video to show you how we do it.

When we were full-timing we were often asked how we decided where to go.  There’s a long answer to that, which involves juggling a bunch of priorities, but part of the answer is that we try to get ideas from people we meet. That’s what happened today, when we met up with blog readers Al and Jo.  They told us about the work they do with Canine Companions for Independence, training puppies to become service dogs. We learned that these service dogs go through a lengthy training before they can become service dogs, and when they are done they actually have a graduation ceremony.  So attending one of the ceremonies got added to our list of “interesting things to see” and we might even get to see one this November.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine