The end of the last post left the imaginings of our humble audience close to the apex of the Colorado Rockies, and it is here that we shall pick up the story.
Having somehow made it to Keystone, located high in the mountains, there was only one direction to go and that was down (well, 2 directions really, if we’re examining this on a 3D perspective – down, and west). Unsurprisingly, the RV was more than happy to comply with this change of angle, and we made good time. Once again, the scenery was quite impressive, and we made it without incident to our next overnight destination of Glenwood Springs. A particularly spectacular part of the drive was the last 10 or so miles before Glenwood Springs, which takes the lucky driver along a stretch of highway heralded as a feat of American civil engineering. We were inclined to agree, and would highly recommend the Glenwood Canyon drive if anyone is passing through the general area.
Glenwood Springs was in possession of a Walmart, but it turned out that most of the Walmarts in Colorado are RV-unfriendly, so we had to find other means of overnighting. Once again, freecamping.net came to the rescue, and we soon found ourselves in the “No Name” rest area beside the Colorado River. The next day, we headed back along Glenwood Canyon in order to do the half-day walk up to Hanging Lake. The walk was a tough one, with many boulder climbings and some seriously steep ascents, but the rewards at the top were well worth it. Hanging Lake was very cool, with crystal clear emerald waters positively writhing (in a non-gross way) with a sizeable population of cutthroat trout, complete with waterfalls and hanging gardens spilling down into the lake. A short walk from the lake was Spouting Rock, where (as the name suggests) a waterfall cascades from the middle of a cliff.
At the end of the walk, whilst conducting some compulsory casts in hopes of landing the “big one” (or just anything, for that matter), I noticed some movement on the far shore of the Colorado River. After closer inspection with the monocular (far superior to the more mainstream binocular, in my opinion), it was determined that a family of otters was in residence! A number of entertaining minutes were whiled away watching these rambunctious ragamuffins doing their “thang”.
Having got our walk-on for the last 3 or so hours, it was time to sit back in the comfort of our luxurious motorhome and watch the mountains slide by as we continued our descent. The afternoon drive traversed an impressive array of landscapes, and by the end of it we found ourselves in Rabbit Valley, our first taste of the desert. Here, we camped out for the night (free dispersed camping having been located down the dirt road a-ways) and next morning went to check out the rather cheesily named “Trail Through Time” – a series of pathways which wound through an active paleontological dig site, complete with cool dinosaur bones still visible in the rocks. And yes, we saw some rabbits.
Jumping back into the equally archaic RV, we fired up the engine in order to continue across the border into Utah, but once again disaster struck. The darn thing turned on, but then kept trying to turn on (even with keys removed), to the point where the whole thing burnt itself out and the battery went completely dead. So, here we were, once again in the middle of nowhere, this time smack bang in the middle of a desert (rather than a very picturesque lake) and presumably with a similar starter/solenoid issue but also with the possibility of having fried a number of other electrics in the process. A number of helpful males stopped by to try and assist and offer mostly useless pieces of advice and trivia, but to no avail. One guy generously offered to try and jump start us, which I accepted, but as soon as I connected the jumper leads the darn battery terminals started melting!! Amidst a shower of sparks I quickly removed the cables, but not before we presumably did even more damage to the RV’s electrics. Not good.
Needless to say, my Premium Gold RV CAA coverage once again came into play, and within a couple of hours we had a tow truck on the premises. In order to tow us, the guy had to disconnect the drive line, which presented something of a difficult task considering that the drive line was securely rusted on. Having bashed about under the RV for 20 minutes, the tow guy handed us a couple of twisted bolts and informed us that our drive line was broken and we ought to get it fixed ASAP. Excellent. Not to be daunted, the tow guy secured the RV as best he could and towed us at a snails pace all the way back to Grand Junction, the nearest large town with mechanical fixing capabilities. The situation seemed vaguely familiar…hadn’t we been through this before? Yes, yes we had – back in the lovely town of Golden, BC.
As with our experience in Golden, our breakdown at Rabbit Valley coincided with the onset of a long weekend. Thus, we were plonked in the parking lot of Zarlingo’s auto repair store and had to wait it out for 3 days and four nights before the freakin place opened for business again. Faced with paying yet more of our quickly depleting monies on hotels as well as the repair costs, we opted to camp out in the RV and hope nobody chased us off the premises with a broom.
We aspired to make the most of our second forced encampment of the trip, and set about exploring the city of Grand Junction. Luckily, we still had the bikes as a means of alternate transport (aka The Escape Pods), and were able to get around and see some of the city. Most of what we saw wasn’t all that flash, but there were some nicer areas as we got closer to the city centre. We had a couple of meals out, enjoyed a few alcoholic beverages, chilled at the park, went swimming at the swimming pool, and fiddled with the RV (luckily, it turned out that we hadn’t fried the electrics and the battery was just completely dead and therefore not taking any charge – it was looking like the starter was at fault, and it was at fault because the place in Golden had installed inferior parts). When Tuesday finally came around, it was a relatively easy process for the mechanic to replace the starter, solenoid and relay and fire the old girl up. It was a slightly more difficult task to replace the bolts holding the drive line, but we got there in the end and were happily on our way for a very modest price.
Having been given the green light, we shot along the I-70 as fast as the RV would carry us (not very fast, as it happened), and eventually crossed the border into Utah.
With a choice of two routes to access Moab, the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, we opted for the more scenic one. Our eyes appreciated this choice but the RV did not, with the road in varying states of disrepair and bumps the size of a small mountain range every 20 metres or so. The last section of the route was fairly spectacular, though, and more than made up for the presumed irreparable damage to the RV’s shocks.
Eventually, we trundled into Moab and our lodgings at Riverside Oasis RV Park, ready to take on some canyons.