Week 19: Big Celebrations, Changes, and Good Luck for the Long Weekend
This week started out with us planning to leave for New England on friday morning, thinking of something to do for our 8th wedding anniversary, and being excited for a long weekend start to our vacation. After more research, which we had been doing daily to keep an eye on the Covid situation and how it might affect our plans, we found out that NY, NJ, and CT had placed travel restrictions on people coming from hotspot states like TX, AZ, and FL. This later opened up to about 8 total states. With a $10,000 fine on the line if caught not quarantining, we decided to cancel our trip to New England. We had too far to travel and too much on the line to chance driving for 3 days only to be either turned around or told that we had to spend our whole vacation in quarantine. We cancelled the reservations at the campsite in NH, they were nice enough to give us a full refund under the circumstances, and we started notifying our families. This was a huge disappointment for us and them as well. We had been planning this trip for months and were looking forward to seeing our families for the first time in about four years. However, it was the right decision.
We still wanted to get away and take a vacation but we had to find a place that would not be so far away from north Texas and where we would not be driving through places that were in distress already. We talked about far west Texas, Palo Duro which has great biking trails. We decided that this wasn’t going to work either since it is a state park and currently we would need to pre-purchase day passes to be able to ride there and those passes are selling out as soon as they come up for sale. Also many of the campsites are dispersed camping and we are not set up for that yet. Our next option was to head back to Colorado. We really enjoyed our trip this same time last year. This year we wanted to try a different area though, we planned to head west to Grand Junction, CO.
We looked up news on the state’s .gov website to check for restrictions and any other important information. We saw that they were requiring masks when out in public, no problem as we already do that. We also looked for news out of New Mexico since we would need to drive through there for a few hours and we planned to stay for one night in Raton, NM at the KOA where we stayed last year. We found the same restrictions and rules. Please don’t go out unless you have to and if you do then wear a mask. It sounded like this might work as an alternate vacation plan. We found a KOA Holiday campground in Grand Junction, CO near Fruita, CO and we called to renew our membership and see if they had openings. They had a spot for the days that we were looking for (except that check in would need to be Sunday instead of Saturday) and they were accepting out of state reservations. We booked it and then called the Raton, NM KOA Journey and booked one night while holding the next night as a possible stay in case nothing opened up for saturday in CO. We were ready to go!
We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this week. We didn’t get to celebrate the way that we had hoped. But it was still good as we got to spend it together, we are both healthy, and we had the puppies with us. We picked up Hurts Donuts for dessert, Yummi Thai for dinner and watched a movie with the puppies as a family. It was a relaxing way to spend some time together in this crazy world.
On Wednesday we talked about our trip and looked at some trails that we might want to ride. We looked up Lunch Loops, the Kokopelli trails, and the Colorado National Monument. There was so much to choose from to ride and that is why we picked this area to explore. After work we took the puppies for a walk and met up with some neighbors who we had met a few days prior and they let us know that they were interested in starting to bike. We had said that we would get together to talk to them about it and discuss the different options for bikes to help them choose what to start looking at. We had time so we went to their site to discuss bikes and see what terrain they wanted to ride. When we got there, they had put our sticker on the back window of their truck! Ahhhh our first sticker placement that we had seen. It was very exciting for us. We determined that they probably should start with a gravel bike since they were looking to be able to ride either green level off road trails or around the campgrounds that they stayed at. It was great to be able to talk to other people and help them out with the research and experience that we have gained.
The next day I went grocery shopping for our trip, I picked up my new eyeglasses (my new sunglasses were still not ready after 3 weeks, bummer), and we hitched up the RV in preparation to leave the next day so that we would have less to do in the morning and the loudest stuff was already done. We also got to take a walk with our neighbors, Pierre and Leslie and their dog Pepper, who happens to be Drac’s girlfriend right now.
Friday morning we had coffee and breakfast then we finished packing the inside and securing all the movable items. We put the puppies in the car and pulled the slide in, pulled up the stabilizers and picked up all the pads and we were ready to go. We drove west then north. It took all day just to get out of Texas! As the temperatures rose on our way out west, we drove through a storm that brought the temperature down outside from 98 to 58 degrees in about 20 minutes. Why does this happen every time we travel long distances? The last time we drove to New England in 2016 we hit a storm like this but with much higher winds. That storm caused our brand new brake rotors to warp.
We also learned something on this trip about our new diesel vehicle. There are 2 kinds of diesel nozzles at gas stations. There are ones that are high volume for the big trucks and there are ones that are regular volume that are attached to the gas pump. I’ll let you guess which one we pulled up to first because it was not busy. After finding out about the different nozzles, performing a u-turn in the gas station parking lot, and waiting 20 minutes for the u-haul truck in front of us to pay in cash, pump, then go get change, it was our turn to fill-er up. On this trip we were trying to minimize our interaction with others and not use any common areas. We paid for fuel by card, wore gloves to pump, and wore a mask anytime we exited the vehicle. We also brought enough food for several days, in case we got stuck somewhere and so that we wouldn’t have to go inside anywhere around others. This worked out great. We also used our own bathroom which, though it required gymnastics at the worst time (when we had to pee really bad) was nice because we knew it was clean and it was always close. With the slide pulled in and the table in the table position because we didn’t think this through, we had to sit on the counter, swing our feet over the table, step one foot on the slide floor, then step down onto the kitchen floor and go into the bathroom. We will not forget to make the table a bed in our future travels for easier bathroom and kitchen use. We also filled up 3 gallon jugs to use to flush the toilet and wash our hands during travel since we didn’t want to fill up the fresh tank and have to use the water pump.
12 hours of driving later we reached Raton, NM. It was nice that we already knew the campground from last year and so we were able to easily check in (everyone was wearing a mask and the desk had plexi-glass to also help keep any sneezes or coughs from spraying the employees or guests), say hi to the same guy that checked us in last year and share our funny story from last year as well. Last year we were in our T@g teardrop camper and so we asked to be as near to the bathroom as possible. We got the site right next to the bathroom and the kitchen where they have their pancake breakfast. In the morning when we opened our clamshell kitchen to make coffee the waiting crowds thought we were there to make them pancakes from our “kitchen trailer”. :) We explained that this was indeed our whole trailer that we were traveling and sleeping in and the people from their class A’s and fifth wheels were amazed.
We got the updated rules which included not walking your dogs outside your site if you were traveling from out of state, not leaving your camper if you were traveling from out of state and wearing a mask at all times when you are outside your camper. We were ok to comply with these rules as we were only here for 2 nights and had no plans to go anywhere anyway. We were tired from the drive and had another long day of driving ahead of us. We set up, had dinner and went to bed.
In the morning, as I checked FaceBook for news, I saw a post in one of our RV groups about someone traveling from Texas through New Mexico and how NM had enstated a mandatory quarantine even for people traveling through NM and staying even one night. We immediately looked on the NM.gov website and confirmed the information, then we headed to the CO.gov website to see if anything had changed there. CO was still the same, wear a mask, only go to inside places when you have to, and interestingly enough - they were encouraging outdoor activities when they could be safely done while staying away from other people. We discussed this over breakfast and called our campground in CO to see if anything had opened up for today. They had one overflow spot that we could take for the night before moving to our two week spot that we had reserved. We packed up quickly and headed out.
We left Raton at 10 AM and crossed the state border at 10:15 AM. We drove north then west through CO and some of the best scenery that we’ve seen so far. There were vast open areas, huge plateaus and snowy peaked mountains. We snapped pictures and took video when the road got interesting. The diesel engine chugged up the mountains without issue and the brake controller and shifting to a low gear helped to control our descents. It was driving through these mountain passes that made us the most happy to have our new-to-us diesel jeep.
We drove for 9 hours and pulled into the campground to check in. We were happy to see that everyone was wearing a mask inside the office and they had the same plexiglass in front of the desk. This KOA Holiday won two awards this year and it is easy to see why. All sites are leveled gavel, many if not all have a flat brick patio, picnic table, fire pit and a small grassy area behind the patio. Also there is a fence between each site to keep the boundaries clear. All of the sites that we saw had hookups at the front of the site so make sure that you have at least 25-50 foot hoses and cables and don’t back in too far to make sure that everything will reach. There are also tent sites and cabins for rent. They have a pool, mini golf, playground, outdoor movie theater, a small and large dog run, pedal bikes for rent, dump station (though most sites have full hookups), laundry room, small store, and restrooms with showers. It is also located next to the fairgrounds if that is part of your plans for your trip.
For mountain bikers, the Lunch Loops trails are 15 minutes from here and Fruita, CO is about 25 minutes away. There is a trail out of the back gate that we were told is about 7 miles that we plan to check out early next week.
Our overflow spot was A1 and our long term spot was A8. The A1 spot was tight for our 21 foot long and about 10 foot wide with the slide out, travel trailer but we fit and were able to put our slide out and use the patio and firepit. It would be good for a class B van or teardrop trailer. We were glad to have it though and overall, it wasn’t as small side to side as the sites we’ve had at the KOA Journey campgrounds we’ve been to. A8 was a better fit for us with more room, some shade from nearby trees and grass for the puppies. We were happy to have found this campground and to have it be so nice.
Our first full day in Grand Junction, CO was like being on Crematoria (Pitch Black reference). The temperature only got to 96 degrees according to our weather app but, with the low humidity (around 20% or less) and the beaming sun, it felt more like over 100 degrees to us. We decided to take it easy after so much travel and setting up the camper 3 times in as many days. We took the jeep through a car wash, picked up asian food and watched a new Will Ferrell movie, EuroVision. Once the sun got down behind the mountains we were able to hang out outside for a while with Drac and write and edit pictures until we got tired. Tripp wanted to stay in his bed as it is his favorite place.
We are so happy to be on the road, though it is different due to Covid from what we pictured when we decided to go full time. We are still very excited and feel blessed that we are able to bring our house on adventures with us now. We can’t wait to share the upcoming week of adventures with you. See you here next week!