It will be a year for us traveling on the road since July 1, 2017. We started our journey back to Michigan to see our family. It is the busy summer travel season, so Stephen planned the itinerary and made reservations.
We traveled from west New Mexico to Abiquiu Lake and camped at Abiquiu Lake Riana Campground. The narrow mesa – Pedernal sits by the Abiquiu Lake. It was nice to spend another night at O’Keeffe country. Then we drove through Santa Fe and took I-25 to Las Vegas, New Mexico. Las Vegas has some nice Victorian style houses. We camped at Storrie Lake Campground. Looked around the landscape, we were surprised to see grass not cacti. Were we out of the desert? We walked to the lake. Campers camped wherever they want on the beach. Power generators were loud. In the setting sun, we noticed a huge column of smoke rising from the northwest on the horizon. The smoke glowed with reddish hue and blanketed the northern sky and extended to the eastern sky. It might be from the forest fire near Ute Park. The wildfire broke out early in June and it hasn’t been put out. How devastating the people who live near that area are! The moon was almost full and the it appeared reddish because of the smoke in the atmosphere.
We took Highway 25 heading north into Colorado. Our first stop was Trinidad Lake State Park. We got there at about 10 in the morning but we were told the check in time for non-reservation campers was 1 p.m. So we had to wait on the parking lot. It was hot in the morning already. I stayed in the visitor center where there was air conditioning. After settling on the campsite, we drove to Cokedale to see the structure that resembles ancient Roman ruins. They were coke ovens that transformed coal into coke. When we came back to the campground, I took a short walk along the trail but couldn’t go further because of the heat. It might be in the upper 90s. In the late afternoon, when I took another walk, Stephen sent me a text message saying that the refrigerator was getting warm, needed ice immediately! He showed me the chart of temperature of the fridge on his iPhone and told me that the fridge was getting warmer since that morning. And temperature of the refrigerator reached 63 °F! The refrigerator was packed with food.
We had to dig out the super cooler from the back of the truck. When Stephen came back from town with ice, we put some food into the cooler. Stephen switched the refrigerator to gas powered. The flame came out all right. Then he switched it back to electric. After some time, it seemed that the temperatures of the refrigerator were falling. We did not know what went wrong.
I sat in the lawn chair looking at the stairway-like Fisher’s Peak in the dusk waiting for the moonrise. A tiny arch of red appeared on the ridge of the peak. It was the rising moon! Smoke in the air from wildfires might have painted the moon. Soon an orange colored full moon appeared in the eastern sky above Fisher’s Peak. It was an ethereal beauty. Clouds shaded the edge of the moon and slowly veiled most of the moon. After a while, the moon reappeared from behind the clouds. I had to cook some of the frozen meats in the freezer to prevent them from spoil in case the refrigerator fails.
When we left Trinidad in the morning, we saw smoke filled the valley near Spanish Peaks. Aside from the wildfire north of Durango which broke out at the beginning of June, there might be more wildfire. I was expecting to see pronghorns by I-25 as we approaching Walsenburg. And to my delight, we saw a big herd of pronghorn in the same area again! It reached 105°F at Pueblo. It was hot! Traffic was heavy going through Colorado Springs. We stopped at Bass Pro Shop and took a break. Traffic was even worse near Denver. We finally arrived at Bear Creek Lake Campground in Morrison at about 3:30 p.m. To our relief, temperatures of the refrigerator and freezer seemed to hold along the way. The hot temperature and crowded refrigerator might have caused the problem.
A magpie stayed on the picnic table of the campsite greeting us. There were lots of magpies flying around. The front range of the Rocky Mountains didn’t look as majestic as they were from distance. We had electric hookup so we turned on the air conditioning to cool off. Weather report said that Denver reached 105°F which matched the record high temperature of the same period. Thankfully we only stayed in the Denver area for one night. When we left Denver driving north along I-25, it was hazy and the Rocky Mountains were hardly visible. It might be the smoke from wildfires that enveloped the mountains. Colorado has interesting topography. The western half of the state is mountains, and the eastern half is flat plains.
We passed Loveland and Fort Collins, and entered Wyoming. The image of roaming buffalo and Yellowstone National Park came to my mind immediately. Rolling grassland expanded on both sides of the highway. Herds of cattle scattered around the lush grassland. They might be happy living here. I didn’t even recall seeing the capital of Wyoming – Cheyenne, although it is close to the state line of Colorado by I-25. There are a few small towns along the highway. We stopped at Chugwater for lunch. Its population is only over 200. The rest area has a dump station. That is convenient for RV travelers. After more than four hours driving, we finally arrived at Guernsey State Park.
A busy railway carrying cargo trains loaded with coal is very close to the campground. Our campsite is only 50 yards away from the track. Sitting in the trailer, I could see trains passing by from the window. It seemed that this part of the railway was the place where the cargo trains come to stop. “A choke point.” As Stephen put it. A cargo train would stop here for a long time. After another cargo train from the opposite direction drove by, the waiting train then resumed its journey. It was cooler here and the temperature was 88°F in the afternoon. A few shower passed by and it became cloudy and breezy. The sun peaked out from behind the clouds and it became hot again. We walked to the lake after dinner. It was windy on the lake and waves crashed to the beach. Big thunder clouds rolled in at dusk. Part of dark clouds on the west were illuminated by the sun and shone as bright white. The setting sun dabbed colors on the underparts of the huge thunder clouds on the southern sky. The size and the texture of the thunder clouds were extraordinary. Right above us, white clouds and dark clouds were moving towards each other. The ever changing clouds are fascinating.
P.S. Now I checked the Internet, the Denver Post reported that Colorado is among the leading states for current wildfires ( denverpost.com). No wonder big signs of fireworks ban were everywhere in Fort Collins. The interactive map of wildfires shows current wildfires nationwide.