Grand Lake, CO

For our attendees, departing Alumapalooza or Alumafandango is a sad moment, saying goodbye to friends new & old.  But for us organizers, it’s always a great feeling to be pulling away from five days of intensive work, and just winding down.  We spent our Sunday evening in the overflow lot of a nearby RV park, cleaning up the accumulated dust and re-organizing the Airstream.  For us it’s a time to take long showers, eat a leisurely dinner, and get a good night’s sleep.  So we did all of that and then we hitched up for points unknown.

Our intended goal was Dinosaur National Monument, 370 miles away, but we quickly began to be tempted by the many mining towns and natural sites of Colorado, and before long we detoured the scenic way up Rt 40.  This route winds north from I-70 through some fantastic mountain views, all the way up to Berthoud Pass at 11,314 feet.  Halfway up we found we could roll down the windows and open the sunroof to let the 64 degree air chill a week of Denver heat from our bodies and psyches.

Less than a hundred miles from Lakeside, we ended up in the Arapaho National Recreation Area near the town of Grand Lake, CO.  We’re set up at Stillwater campground, a beautiful site atop a bluff that overlooks Lake Granby and the mountains to our east.

Everything here is reserved for the Labor Day weekend, but we are only staying for one night.  We got here early enough on Monday that we had time to go to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and check out the historic Grand Lake Lodge, then the RMNP visitor center, then tour the historic Holzwarth dude ranch, and walk downtown Grand Lake.  We got caught by a torrential thunderstorm while walking the boardwalks of Grand Lake, and had to take refuge for a while before I finally ran two blocks through the rain to get the car.  It was a great & full day, and now the dust from Lakeside (both literal and psychological) is washed off.

Our plan today was to do a pair of hikes in the RMNP but we woke late.  We’re still catching up on sleep.  Also, a mouse came into the trailer last night to eat my stash of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bars (we’d left them on the counter in a plastic bag), and we heard his attempts to drag an entire mini-bar away for a private nosh.  So around 5:30 a.m. Eleanor and I were awake to secure all the goodies.  Eleanor spotted the culprit, a chocolate-colored beast himself, with large “cute” eyes, before he disappeared somewhere in the kitchen.  He will abandon ship later today when we start towing; they always do.

Given that we’ve blown half the day already, and with an eye to the fact that Labor Day is this weekend (so many popular campgrounds will be full) we’ve decided to move onward to Dinosaur today.  We’ll spend a few days there and then work down through Utah back to home by Sunday or Monday.  Along this route are many lesser-known campsites that don’t take reservations and rarely fill (Dinosaur’s Green River camp, Hovenweep, Navajo, etc) so we’ll follow the path less traveled and have a nice flexible weekend.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine