We’re still here in our lovely mountain meadow boondocking spot.
Our intention was to find a new spot to camp closer to Durango, but we had no luck. Our first stop was Junction Creek, a national forest campground about 5 miles north of town. We took a drive to check it out, only to discover that its location amid a tall Ponderosa Pine forest resulted in no usable cell signal.
So we drove on, past the campground and up a steep switch-backed dirt road. For some reason dispersed camping is not allowed in the national forest until seven miles past the campground. Unfortunately, when we reached the seven mile point there was a gate across the road. Apparently this portion of the road doesn’t open until the end of May. It was too bad because from way up there we had excellent cell reception. There was also some awesome views of the valley below with white capped mountains in the distance.
Our other option was an RV park, but there were none in town that we could get excited about. Also, it’s looking like we’ll spend a week at an RV park when it finally gets warm enough to head up to Silverton. The thought of two weeks in a row at an RV park is not appealing, so we made the decision to stay in our little meadow for awhile longer. Or at least until we need to go dump our tanks.
Not too much has happened that’s been blog worthy in the past week. One day we drove over to Mesa Verde National Park for the afternoon. We elected not to go on a guided tour, instead just exploring some of the park on our own. Below is one of the largest ruins in the park. You can get a pretty good view of it from above, but if you want to hike down into the ruins you must go with a guide.
This is the Spruce Tree House Ruins. It is the only ruins in the park that you can hike to and explore around without a guide.
It was pretty impressive up close and amazing to think that years ago roughly 200 people inhabited this mini city in a cliff.
We also took the two and half mile hike out to Petroglyph Point.
The rest our our week was pretty uneventful. We went on a few more small hikes near our camping spot, and lucky Phineas got to return to the nearby river. The weather has been gorgeous with temps in the 70s and bright blue skies filled with the most perfect puffy clouds.
On Friday we made our way into Durango to take care of some errands. The plan was to pick up some packages, do some laundry and get the oil changed on the truck. We left the house a little before 9:00 with the intention of returning home no later than 1:00. It didn’t work out that way. Instead we spent most of the day in the waiting room at the Goodyear tire place and returned home with two baskets of dirty laundry and a rental car.
Here’s what happened. After getting the oil changed at Jiffy Lube, Tim decided to stop at a garage and see about having new front brakes put on the truck. He purchased the brake parts awhile ago, but due to a tricky bolt was not able to get the old brakes off. At first he was just going to ask them to loosen the bolt, but since they agreed to use the parts we already had, and could do it right away, we decided to let them do the entire job. It should have only taken an hour.
An hour and half later the guy came into the waiting room and showed us the bolt that Tim had not been able to remove from the brake caliper. It was stripped and they suspected that whoever last replaced the brakes (before we owned the truck) had screwed it in wrong. Great. The really sucky part was that since the bolt couldn’t be put back, the truck wasn’t drivable. The even more sucky part was that the only way to fix it was to get a new caliper — a new $200 caliper.
It gets worse. Apparently there were no calipers to be found anywhere nearby. They finally located one in Cortez and told us someone would go pick it up on Saturday and the truck would be ready to go by noon the next day. Pretty sucky right? The next hurdle was finding a way to get back to our boondocking spot 25 miles away. After calling all the rental car places in town we finally found a place that had a car we could pick up right away. Of course, it was at the airport which is almost 20 miles outside of town. One $40 cab ride later we had our car. By the time we got home it was nearly 4:00. Not how we thought the day would go.
On Saturday morning we drove back into town with the intention of doing our laundry, picking up the truck, returning the rental car, and getting home no later than 1:00. Once again, thing didn’t work out as planned. Laundry went off without a hitch and we even got a chance to walk over and check out the farmers market. It was only the second market of the year, and since the growing season is just starting around here there were more goods than produce for sale. I did find an awesome jar of strawberry jam called “Not Yer Mamma’s Jam”. It was strawberry mixed with jalapeño and had just the right amount of kick to it.
I was pretty excited because earlier in the week I came upon a recipe for Balsamic Strawberry and Chicken Pizza with Sweet Onions. It called for a sauce made of strawberry jam and balsamic vinegar mixed with a bit of Sriracha for heat. I just knew this jam would be the perfect thing for what sounded like an amazing pizza.
We showed up at the garage at noon. Since we hadn’t heard from them we assumed everything had gone smoothly. Never assume. The guy at the front desk (who we later learned was the manager) tells us that the caliper showed up defective. For some reason instead of immediately trying to locate another one they decide to try and fix it. He informs us that he has a guy working on it now, but if they can’t fix it a new one will have to be ordered. Not sure why they didn’t call to tell us that hours ago when they first discovered the problem. At this point we’re still holding out hope that we’ll get the truck back in one piece by the end of the day, so we headed down to the river to have a little lunch while we waited.
After lunch we went back to the garage to see if any progress had been made. We spent more time in the waiting room, occasionally getting updates. At one point it sounded like some progress had been made. Finally, a little after 2:00, the manager guys comes out to tell us that they’ve given up on fixing the part and will need to order another one. He’s already called around and the soonest they can get one is Tuesday. Needless to say at this point we’re both pretty annoyed. Keep in mind we’re just taking their word that the part was broken when it arrived. For all we know it was perfectly fine and they are the one’s who broke it. I mean otherwise why would they spend all day trying to fix it? If it came in broken why not send it back immediately?
Tim says as much to the guy who in turn gets all defensive and tries to claim that he’s giving us a deal by not charging us for the six hours of labor wasted trying to fix the part. WHAT? Of course you’re not charging us! Finally after some back and froth arguing the guy ends up handing us the keys to the company truck so we can return the rental car. It was a good move on his part but we’re still pretty ticked off about the whole fiasco. So we return the rental car and make the drive back home, once again arriving home at almost 4:00. At least this time we have clean laundry.
We had originally planned on going to the Taste of Durango festival on Sunday afternoon, but after driving into town two days in a row neither of us felt up to it. Instead we had a quite day at home. I replanted my traveling garden with a new grass that will hopefully be drought tolerant. This container started off full of herbs, but since we’ve been doing a lot of boondocking and every drop of water must be conserved, this combo of plants seems better suited to our lifestyle.
It was one of those cloudy over the mountain kind of days, and the while it never actually rained the clouds kept rolling in and obstructing our sun.
Since our hiking shoes got left behind in the truck we couldn’t go on any ambitious hikes, but we did walk up the road aways in an attempt to at least get a little exercise.
Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get the truck back and things will be back to normal. Oh, and by the way that pizza I mentioned earlier — It was incredible!