Thursday, August 11 (continued)
Having finished our lunch, Bridget, Reggie, and I leave the shade of cottonwoods at Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area (south of Saguache, Colorado) and resume our journey southward on Route 285.
After 15 miles or so, we turn onto Route 112 for a shortcut to Del Norte.
I have propane on my mind. One tank is empty and the other is near-empty.
Sometimes I’ll research online to find where propane tanks are filled in a town unfamiliar to me. More and more, I skip that research.
Full-time vagabonders know to scan a new town when first driving through it.
We look for likely dump stations and water spigots (RV parks, city parks, and government facilities), public trash bins, recycling centers, a grocery, a laundromat, maybe the post office and library, and a place that dispenses propane.
Driving through the west end of Del Norte, I find no big, white propane tanks. I’d better stop at this Conoco station and ask . . .
After pumping gas, I enter the convenience store.
Two male cashiers, one busy, the other not. I ask the latter about propane and he gives me directions to a place in town a few blocks away.
Then, following my rule of never passing up an opportunity to ask a local about camping spots, I mention my desire to camp on Los Pinos Road. He confirms that there are campsites “up there.”
I follow his directions to the propane store.
As I was told to expect, no one is there but a phone number is posted. I call the number and a man tells me where the tanks are at the east end of town and that he will meet me there in a few minutes.
I find the place easily and unhook the tanks.
One of my propane tanks (lower right) — The littlest one!
Propane Man arrives quickly, as promised.
He’s in his thirties, maybe early forties. Cheerful and an easy talker. I tell him I want to find a campsite on Los Pinos Road.
“Have you ever camped up there?” I ask. “What’s it like?”
He says he has camped there and then he cautions, “We’ve had a lot of rain lately. The road might be really slick. You’d be better off going somewhere like Collier (State Wildlife Area) past South Fork. There’s a campground up that way, too.”
YOU’d be better off, he said. Red flag! Red flag!
Okay. Time out.
What I’m about to write is directed at boondockers older than, say, 65, and also at female boondockers of any age. As you know, I fall into both categories.
Bridget hurries to hide under the PTV. “Too late! Gotcha!”
Here’s what to look out for . . . .
When a person who doesn’t know you — let’s say a local like Propane Man — starts cautioning you about the difficulties and dangers of a particular course of action, perhaps suggesting “easier” or “safer” alternatives, it’s important to realize that you may be receiving filtered information. His advice might be based on preconceived notions of what “old people” and women cannot or should not do. He probably isn’t even aware that’s what he’s doing.
In this type of situation, in order to gain the information I need for making a decision, I turn the situation around by asking . . . .
“What would YOU do?”
Propane Man chuckles and responds without hesitation, “I’d camp on Pinos. (Pronounced Pinnus). It’s beautiful up there. I’d be real careful because of the slick and the turns, but yeah, I’d camp on Pinos.”
See the difference?
What was first a NO is now a YES.
Paved portion of Los Pinos Road out of Del Norte, Colorado
As Propane Man described, Los Pinos Road is paved for about ten miles while it traverses “the flats.” Then it becomes a winding, dirt road (entering Rio Grande National Forest) that climbs to the top of a ridge. A deep, river gorge is off the left side of the road.
The Perfect Tow Vehicle carefully pulls us and the Best Little Trailer in second gear. Up the dirt road (which isn’t muddy or slick!) we go!
Raindrops appear on the windshield.
This isn’t a time to be fussy. We’ll take the first campsite we come across. Hey, there’s a break in the trees . . . . A road!
I pull into the road and park. The rain stops.
“C’mon! Let’s see where this road goes!”
“I hope there’s a campsite for us, Reg!”
Bridget hangs back because of my camera. “Oh, sweetie, never mind that. Let’s go!”
“Oh, my . . . This is it! We’ve found our camp and it couldn’t be nicer!”
The ashes in the fire ring have been cleaned out. No litter anywhere!
Beyond the fire ring, the land drops to the river below. We’re around 9,000 feet here. (Del Norte’s elevation is 7,784 feet.)
I find a level spot for the Best Little Trailer and set out my camp chair.
The crew and I walk further up the lane and take a shortcut back to camp. My favorite kind of forest — a mix of various evergreen trees, including Ponderosas, and aspens with a variety of plants in the understory
Does Reggie rest after a walk? No, it’s time for Joyful Zoomies! (Note the camp chair.)
Bridget and I are joyful, too, as we watch our Reggie Man run in circles.
Next . . . a game of Fetch Froggy!
After a few fetches, the game of Fetch Froggy gets ugly!
After supper the crew and I follow the lane to Los Pinos Road.
Across the road is another river gorge with a peak in the distance. You can see on a map that our camp sits on a ridge that extends between East Fork of Los Pinos Creek and Burro Creek on one side and West Fork of the Los Pinos on the other side.
That’s either the north end of Hogback Mesa or it’s Del Norte Mountain (elev. 12,400 ft.)
As darkness falls I savor the quiet of the forest.
The birds have settled down. The air is fresh and cool with no breeze.
Then . . . What’s that?
I listen to an animal — deer? elk? — make periodic grunts (low-pitch exhalations) as it walks in an arc around our campsite I estimate it’s about 50 yards away. After a while, the forest stillness returns.
A truck came up Los Pinos Road earlier and then drove down the ridge later. That’s the only human activity we’ve seen here.
The crew settles in for a good night’s sleep, wrapped in the comforter.
I’m glad I chose to venture up Los Pinos Road!
Happy Birthday, Best Little Trailer!
As I type this, it was five years ago today — August 16, 2011 — that the BLT held onto the Perfect Tow Vehicle for the first time and began life as the home-on-wheels for RVSue and her canine crew! Thanks, BLT. And thank YOU, longtime readers. It’s been a fantastic five years!
THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING AMAZON FROM MY BLOG!
“Froggy accepts defeat, Reg.”