RVSue and her canine crew are traveling and camping in Colorado this summer.
Thursday, August 11
“Today’s a long travel day, crew, so get comfortable.”
Bridget, Reggie, and I journey southward to a new camp.
We follow Route 24 to Buena Vista where we pick up Route 285. At a “Historical Interest” area, I park the Perfect Tow Vehicle and let the crew out for a walk-about.
It’s a beautiful, blue-sky day.
An information board points out the peaks in view — Mt. Shavano (elev. 14,229 ft.) and Mt. Tabeguache (elev. 14,155 ft.).
I take a few minutes to read about Zebulon Pike and his party.
I put the crew’s water dish on the pavement. After they drink we continue south to Poncha Springs where I drive the PTV into the parking lot of the Visitor’s Center.
The Best Little Trailer needs to go poo-poo!
This is another automated-pay dump station. The credit card/debit card machine says the dump fee is $7 and then it says $5 card fee.
Is the card fee part of the dump fee or is the total $12? Well, it has to be done . . . .
I set up the sewer hose at the BLT end and insert my credit card. The machine gives me one minute to open the lid and insert the other end of the hose in the dump station hole.
The job progresses without a spill, I clean out the hose and put it away, wash and disinfect my hands, and we’re on our way!
Route 285 takes us past the turn for Ohaver Lake where we recently camped for one day. Next comes Poncha Pass (9,010 ft.) followed by an easy, flat drive across San Luis Valley to Saguache. We don’t stop.
Now we’re in the heart of San Luis Valley’s agricultural land.
Later my research tells me the crops of San Luis Valley are mainly barley, oats, hay, and potatoes.
The road points straight to the horizon. Bridget and Reggie doze.
After several miles of this straight-road driving, a copse of cottonwood trees appears up ahead.
I hope that’s a rest area or at least a shady place to stop for lunch. . . . Hmm . . . a wildlife area . . . perfect!
We pull into a large, circular parking lot partially bordered by cottonwoods.
The crew and I get out and stretch our legs.
There’s a vault toilet house, some information boards about birds and wildlife, the beginning of a nature path going out into the marsh, a sign that says overnight camping is allowed, and a well with water flowing constantly.
As I return the crew to the PTV, a big, flatbed truck loaded high with huge, round bales of hay pulls in and parks behind us.
A man jumps out and lifts the hood.
I tend to the crew.
“Okay, you guys wait here and I’ll get us some lunch.”
I shut the door and turn to walk to the BLT. The man is leaning over the well taking a drink. He stands up, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, and, seeing me, smiles.
“Hello!” he calls out, walking over.
I return his greeting and he asks, “Are you planning to camp here tonight?”
“Oh, no. I just stopped to have some lunch.”
“Oh. My truck quit on me. I’ll give it a few minutes and see if that works.”
“Yeah, the electronics . . . .”
And so a conversation begins.
I estimate the man is in his fifties. He’s fairly tall, tanned and lean. Not lean in the way of a man who regularly rides a bicycle several miles or a man who works out daily on the machines at a gym.
No, this is a different kind of lean, what I think of as western-man lean. Brought about through genetics, hard physical work outside, and long stretches between meals.
He’s curious about me and my trailer.
I give him a brief summary of my life from selling the house in Georgia to roaming the western states for the past five years. For an instant I’m discomfited by the direct gaze of his dark eyes, but the feeling passes quickly. His interest is sincere.
This is a good and honest man. I can trust this man.
He listens intently.
I sense from his gaze that windows and doors are flying open in his mind. My world of RVing is on an entirely different orbit than his world.
He doesn’t move at all, except once during the telling of my story, when he tilts his head slightly and remarks with the non-question, “Is that so now.” His face remains expressionless, yet his eyes convey wonder at my words, as if I arrived at this wildlife area from another universe, where the women live in little trailers with their dogs, wandering about, happy as can be.
When I finish, he remarks softly, “Just you and your two dogs.”
“How about you?” I glance at the truck. “What about you . . . and the hay?”
For the first time he looks away, eyes toward the ground.
“Oh, I’m just a farmer. Well, I guess you could say I’m a rancher.”
“Don’t say just. You do important work.”
He looks up at me, and, after a pause, “I have a place at Fairplay (about 100 miles to the northeast). I lease land over here for my hay.”
He turns the conversation back onto me.
“Where are you going now?”
“Down to Del Norte, maybe over to South Fork,” I reply.
I don’t remember exactly how the conversation ends. He goes to his truck. I step inside the BLT.
When I come outside again, the truck’s engine is running.
“I got ‘er going!” he announces happily, slamming down the hood.
“Great!” I reply.
He climbs into the cab of his truck; I climb into the PTV.
After all, there’s hay to be hauled and a camp to be found.
Driving past my window, he slows the truck and breaks out a big grin, the first of his I’ve ever seen. He hollers across the front seats, “HAPPY TRAVELS!”
I shout back, “THANK YOU!”and pick up my camera, taking this photo out the side window as he drives away.
The crew and I share a baked chicken breast while sitting in the PTV.
How is it that we met here, along this stretch of straight road, me stopping at the same time his truck quits? We could’ve talked for hours, easily. Yeah, why not? I could’ve set up the two camp chairs under these cottonwood trees for us to sit and talk. I would’ve asked him what he does when he’s not hauling hay, when he’s not ranching. Is he happy with his life?
Funny. People — strangers — don’t do things like stop what they’re doing to sit down together. There’s a time limit on stranger-talk. Rules of engagement. Always someplace else we have to go. Someplace else we have to be. Oh, well.
Life keeps flowing like the water out of that pipe over there.
Hay needs haulin’ and camps need findin’.
THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING AMAZON FROM MY BLOG!
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Here are a few of the items recently ordered by readers:
Mini Loaf Pans, white porcelain
HurryCane – The All-Terrain Cane
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Bissell Pet Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner
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