Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 24 - Rocky Mountain National Park

June 24 - Rocky Mountain National Park

Today was a mountain and elk day combined. This morning at the North Fork Campground in the NFS we were awakened by bugling elk. Cool! From where we were in the White Mountain National Forest to Yampa, CO was 50 miles of gravel road. This road was in
better shape than a lot of interstate highways we've been on. Saw several small
groups of elk and a lot of beautiful scenery. Elk are huge animals and move so
gracefully and quickly. Their dark brown color blends pretty well with the big trees
so once they run out of the meadows, it's hard to spot them.

From Yampa we went to Grand Lake via Routes 40 and 34 into the Rocky Mountain
National Park. You can see the Rockies from quite a ways away and they were just
glowing with snow on the top in the bright sunshine. Along the way, we saw many
miles of dead lodge pole pines with some new growth of trees around them and between
the groves of aspen. A ranger told us the dead trees were from the pine bark beetle.
There hasn't been a big fire in RMNP since the 1880s and the older trees get stressed
and infested. Fire normally controls these beetles. The park service no longer tries
to prevent forest fires as fire is a natural pattern of renewal in the forests. One
day this corner of Colorado is going to be ablaze. Some of the trees are being cut
and used but no way could you ever remove them all. You can see the dead pines behind
this elk.

Just as we entered the park there was an "elk jam", a traffic jam caused by people
stopping in the middle of the road to view a herd of elk. Managed to get through the
crowd and then had the road to ourselves for a long time. Up and up and UP we went,
finally maxing out at 12,100 feet. Many, many 15mph U turn curves with no drop off
rails up there and we took it slow and steady.

Hated to leave this park and the scenery but finally drove out through Estes Park and
back to Route 34 over to Fort Morgan. Look at this "boring" road we travel led out of
Estes Park.

We were headed for Fort Morgan town park which has spots for RVs with electricity for
a donation. For some reason it just didn't feel "safe" so we moved on in search of a
better spot - and ended up with our first Walmart (and last?)

For those of you who have never been by a cattle yard there is no way to describe the
smell. Think of an open septic syst We'd planned on staying in the Fort Morem in 90F
heat and you might have a clue. If you like beef, be grateful to these cattlemen but
hold your breath. The old romantic image of cowboys out on the pristine range has
given way to more commercial feeding in the lots. Last night was our first Walmart
camp over and we had to move the truck during the night as an empty cattle hauler 18
wheeler came in to park nearby.

Mike T - the refrigerator thermocouple didn't soot up even at over 12,000 feet.
Fridge is working great.

Tomorrow we head on east to Kearney, Nebraska and a museum on pioneer life. We're
trying to catch up with TinCanSailor and Sailorsmate who were in North Platte. Two
TCs from New England passing east/west should be able to catch up with each other
with cell phones and GPS right?

p.s. Writing this June 25 as we drive down I-76 towards a meet up with our TC
friends. My eyes are actually watering from the cattle poop smell.

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