Nathrop, CO

Jake tricked me.

Jake assured me “no worries, there won’t be any big passes when we go through Colorado. We’ll just go around the passes!”

Like we usually do.

We always go around the passes in Colorado. Because Dyna has weenie-brakes. 40,000+lbs stopped only with a set of service (foot) brakes, and an engine brake that supposedly can hold us at a consistent speed going down grades if we go slow enough.

Well, we learned what ‘slow enough’ meant over 37 miles of 6%+ grade when Jake TRICKED ME and routed us over Wolf Creek Pass.

Slow enough is 23mph up, and 18mph down.

You’re probably pretty glad you weren’t behind us for our 45 minute traverse of Wolf Creek Pass.

Jake tried to make up for TRICKING me by DJing our pass drive with my favorite Dyna driving playlist, which includes only the greatest hits such as Ludacris’ banger “Move B*tch” and Limp Bizkit’s lyrical genius “Rollin”.

Apparently Jake really believes in my Dyna driving skills. While I was white knuckling up and down that Pass, he sat in the passenger’s seat and told me affirming things like ‘you’re doing great!’ and ‘this isn’t so bad’ and ‘please god don’t let Liz kill us in Colorado today.’

Driving Dyna is often a very beautiful experience. From our elevated vantage point and landscape showcasing front window we get picturesque views of mountains, canyons, streams, rolling fields, and people in cars picking their noses. This pass was no different. Even if the views were paired with white knuckles.

We eventually found a nice spot in the San Isabel National Forest between Buena Vista and Salida on Forest Road 272. There were several spots that we could have shimmied our big butt into, and they were nicely spaced from each other. We did have a really hard time getting level – to the point of needing to move Dyna to a new section of our ‘spot’ after an evening in our first section. Apparently our generator will glug and shut down if we’re not level enough. Probably the diesel gauge or something about something. Anyways, our second ‘spot’ in our ‘spot’ kept the generator functional. I need the generator to be functioning because coffee making is important to me. And in the morning there is not enough sun to power coffee making through solar. And for whatever unknown reason I don’t have a french press. I had one, then I broke it because I break everything that is breakable. So now, generator. It needs to run. For coffee.

Other than a bit of leveling difficulties, this was one of my favorite spots we’ve free parked Dyna. The spot was surrounded by miles and miles of dirt roads and mountain trails. Enveloped by tall pine tree type forest, we sat in a clearing that provided ample solar powering abilities in the later morning and afternoon. It smelled really nice in our forest envelope. There was area for Lucy to roam without getting hit by cars or being a nuisance to other campers, which is her typical modus operandi. There was almost zero light pollution, which meant the stars could be viewed in all their glorious star-ness at night. And it was quiet. So quiet.

I spent a lot of time basking in the walks/runs that dirt roads and mountain trails facilitated and reading outside when I didn’t need to be working. Jake spent his free, non working time doing typical Jake shit, which rarely involves any things relaxing. He worked in the water bay and fought the battle of the clogged black tank vent (eww). Don’t worry, Lucy and I weren’t tricked into not relaxing. We find that sometimes the best help is the help of staying out of Jake’s way. That is often very difficult for the furry princess.

We also used our base in the San Juan forest to bop into Leadville and Buena Vista and Salida. Leadville is a rougher mountain town – a single main street drag  encased by mountains with a cafe and a few restaurants, a run down tchotchke shop, a really great local art shop, a dispensary with a super friendly owner, and the legacy of a 100 mile mountain trail race that I don’t yet aspire to run.  The town seemed to be waiting for tourists and athletes to come visit it again. Just chilling there – at 10,000 feet. Waiting.

Buena Vista is fine. It’s a well kempt little town. There is an ice cream shop and a brewpub that serves up some ok beer. We mostly chose the ice cream shop – must have been the elevation getting to us.

My personal favorite of the towns that we bopped to during our stay in the area was Salida. Salida is mad cool. I like a town with an artsy-fartsy vibe. Salida has an artsy-fartsy vibe. And a good cafe. And a few (not yet open during our Sunday morning visit) shops to pop into.

Sick running and hiking areas, a free place to park Dyna’s oversized butt, and towns like Salida already have us jonesin’ to head back to central Colorado.

Our short stay in the area certainly didn’t help temper Jake’s Colorado obsession.

Lord hep me drag that man out of Colorado in the near future.