Setting Up and Checking Out the Area
Day 6 Log for April 1, 2005:
Grand Junction, CO & Fruita, CO
Sleeping in a Camper
WOW talk about a good night’s sleep, I was dead to the world until I woke up with the sun streaming into our windows at 7:30 am. From what I can see, there are a bunch of others here as well. But quiet time in these campgrounds are from 10 pm to 8 am, so I am going to upload a bunch of pictures from yesterday and the day before.
These pictures are of the camper, inside and out:
I know you all are wanting to see what we are doing. I am using a 3.4 MegaPixel (MP) Nikon camera that we got three or four years ago when we went to the Grand Canyon. We have three batteries, wide angle lens, and other accessories for it.
Sidebar – I thought I lost the accessories a couple of months ago and I bought my own camera, a Canon 3.3 MP camera and got batteries. When we were getting ready for the trip, I found the accessories again and so we brought his camera.
Today is going to be a hiking day; we are going to check out Colorado National Monument which is right down the street from us. We just have to cross the Colorado River and then we are there.
Good Sam Club
But first, I went over to pay up for the weekend, we are at spot #18, which is great, because it is right across from the bathrooms and there is a high fence behind us. The woman at the counter was very nice, and she gave us a discount, after I got a card (called Good Sam Club.) So that was cool. I also picked up a bunch of brochures about all the things that we can do out here, including going dinosaur digging. I don’t think Sasha would do that, but there is a dinosaur museum a block away from the campground.
I then went back over to the truck and made breakfast for Sasha and I while Sasha took a shower in their bathrooms, and he came back raving about the showers, the bathroom, and the whole park. He absolutely loves it. I must say, I do agree with him. They just renovated the bathrooms and the showers look better than ours do at home, with pink-red tiles 15 tiles, soap in the bathroom and hand dryers as well.
[Future Laura – As our traveling changed, we tend to spend more time in our own rig’s bathrooms. Does this happen with you as well? Please comment below]
The Log of Day 6 Cont.
Starting off our first Camper Adventure!
Once we had breakfast, I went to take a shower and then we got ready to go to the Monument. No more jeans, we switched to khakis and long sleeve cool mesh TravelSmith shirts. These shirts are great; they have vents and can be converted to short sleeves.
My pants also came from Travel Smith and they can be converted to shorts. TravelSmith is a great place for traveling clothes, but can be a little expensive.
Colorado National Monument
Pictures: First and foremost, even though we have been in Colorado since Tuesday, March 29th, we have not really visited parks or seen real nature, until now. So these first pictures are from our visit to Colorado National Monument, a true treasure that should be seen by all who are able to walk. It IS better than the Grand Canyon in that there are less crowds and just as much to see. Plus, it is in the Dinosaur Triangle, three points that have had many sighting of dinosaur digs, footprints and quarries. Hopefully we’ll see some of that soon.
We started out on the road at 1 pm, a little late start [Crack of Noon Club again], but a gain we are on vacation, so I think it is allowed. We crossed over the Colorado River, although narrow, is still fast moving, probably because of the snow melt. We then went to the Monument. There is a 23 mile Rim Rock Drive Road from west to east, starting in Fruita and ending at Grand Junction. The west side is more concentrated with overlooks, campgrounds, and the visitor center. The east side has less drop-offs but still gorgeous views.
You actually go 4 miles into the park before you get to the visitor center and have to pay. So we saw a lot beforehand. We checked out a few views and took lots of pictures.
Pictures of Colorado National Monument:
For the engineers out there, this road was developed in the early 1900s and paved during the Depression by Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC.) CCC made several of the trails that we took as well. There are at least 3 tunnels through the rock at the park. We checked out the campgrounds here, not like where we are now, but suitable for living in the park.
We then went to the Visitor Center, and got a Golden Eagle Pass, which is different from a National Parks Pass, ours is $65 which is a year’s pass to National parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U. S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management parks.
So more parks and a little more money. I think it is great, and that we should do this every year. Giving money to parks is a great idea, and so I bought a few more things at the visitor center, including a couple of maps, information on the geology and history of the park and the general area, including Grand Junction.
Trails Seen and Taken
From the Visitor center, we went to Otto’s Trail, which took us to Independence Monument, a place where John Otto, (the man responsible for making this place a national monument) got married. He used to climb the monolith and place an enormous flag at the top for special holidays. We are just in awe of this area; we think it is almost better than Grand Canyon. It is just as pretty, but there are fewer crowds. Actually, there are no crowds and no commercialism, probably because it is a monument, not a national park.
We then went on Coke’s Trail, a short jaunt to a cave. As we did not have flashlights, we did not go in all the way to see where it leads. I think we might do that again to see what it looks like. But the trail was washed out, so we took a shortcut and went back onto the road and hiked back the short distance to our truck.
An Epiphany & Change in Plans
We had an epiphany at that point, as it was around 4:30 and we felt that we had hardly seen the park at all. We decided then and there that we were going to stay at the campground until Wednesday or Thursday and then go back to Five Star to get a check up with the camper and then go home.
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day, Nor Can You See US in a Week!
We were planning to go to Dinosaur National Monument, but it is too much, we can take a day trip but not overnight. After Coke’s Trail (which was so short), we decided to go on CCC trail, a 1.5 mile trail that took us up to the mesa top. We were kinda bummed; it took us 20 to 25 minutes to get to the top while the brochure stated that it should only take 15 minutes. My guess is that we are not in the shape we thought we would be, but that is the way it goes. Of course, going down we did it in 15 minutes or so.
From there, it was becoming dusk, and I was very hungry, we had had breakfast, but our lunch was a Clif bar – unbelievably delicious as they are – and lots of water, but still, I was hungry. So we finished up the drive through the park, we did stop one more time to take pictures and we took a picture on the way down, but then we went into Grand Junction.
We went back over the Colorado River again, and came into the town of Grand Junction. After reading information on websites, it is always interesting to see the real thing. I think that Grand Junction is a happening town for out here, but you can see homeless or downtrodden people in this town (we came in from the back end or west end I think) and where we parked, there were some people fighting outside of a bar (don t worry, they were not near us, but we could here them fighting.) It is part college town, part ski area town, and part big town feel.
What I did like was all the restaurants that they had, so you could pick and choose. I found one restaurant from the brochure I had picked up before called The Winery.
Sasha was like, it will be snooty and are we dressed for dinner? But it was not. It was nice, but expensive. I said to Sash, it was less expensive than the last tank of diesel, so chill, dude.
We had wine from this area, a cabernet sauvignon (1999) from Canyon Wind. We are going to have to take a winery tour, there are over two dozen wineries in the area. I had steak and Sasha had lamb chops. We sat right in front of the kitchen, which normally is a bad spot, but the two chefs were cooking out in the open, so we were able to watch the show that they were putting on. It was fun to watch them cook and Sasha kept asking them questions about what they were preparing, as well as them making sure our meal was perfect.
It was so nice and the people here are great. We then went home and went to sleep in the shadows of the mountains and the Monument.
-Sidebar- when we came back to the camp, someone had taken our spot that we had paid for, so we had to go to the next spot over. We were a little annoyed but there was nothing that we could do about it. See April 2 for the resolution.