Our first trip in our new camper! Well to us it's new, it's really 25 years old, but old things are cool. We picked up a 1993 Palomino Filly for less than $1000, and are on our first camping trip. Upon the advice of a friend, we set out for Iron City Campground near St. Elmo, CO, a ghost mining town from years past. We packed up and headed out around 5PM, not really knowing where we were going, or what we would find. The weather wasn't cooperating very well, it was threatening rain at every turn! We made it to Lake George and stopped at a little store on the south side of the road to get some ice for the cooler, and to ask about the area. We knew that we would never make it to Iron City, so we were looking for a place to squat for the night. The clerk there mentioned a place just down the road, gave us very good directions and then we were off in search of it. We found it and got set up only mere moments before the bottom dropped out of the sky! After a few minutes, Kaye asked, "Dad, what's that sound?" I could hear the sound of a drip, drip, drip into something, but couldn't quite make it out. As I got up from the table, I realized that it there was a leak in the roof vent and it had come through and was dripping on the coffee pot that was on the stove, so I just took off the lid and let it collect the rain water. Wasn't much else we could do about it until the rain stopped, so we continued on with the evening, made dinner, and then celebrated Claire's 3rd birthday in our new camper! We bedded down for the night.....hoping that was the only leak we would discover!
We woke up to blue skies, white fluffy clouds, and NO rain! We made breakfast and then tore down camp, then headed to Iron City. I wanted to get there pretty early so that we could get a spot. Our plan is to take start our trips on Thursdays, and come back on Saturdays, that way we can get to our destination before the crowds so we can get a good spot, and so that we can get back so that we don't miss church. We just don't miss church, that is a priority for our family! We headed on out and drove without incident to the destination, oh what a beautiful drive! We snagged the last spot in the place! When we got there, it was raining, so I dropped the camper in the spot, filled out or little tags and paid for the nights we would be there. We were told that in St. Elmo, you can feed some chipmunks, so with nothing else to do except setup in the rain, we opted for fun instead and set out to find the General Store. The chipmunks were easy to find, just across the street from the store. It had slowed down to a light drizzle, so we just made the decision to go ahead and get a little wet and fed the little boogers sunflower seeds. What fun the kids had! We explored the ghost town and the buildings that remain there, most are in desperate need of repair. What history! We went back, setup camp, hiked around to check out the creek and the falls that are there (not Niagara sized mind you, but they are neat nonetheless). We decided to go for a drive to see what we could see, and ended up near the Mary Murphy Mine operation. We stopped and took some pictures and then headed on down the road. We got to a sign that pointed up the hill, so we took the left and started up. It was a little rough, but not too bad, but after about 100 yards, it was getting really ugly. We have a 4WD, but it's not your typical Colorado style vehicle. When we moved here from Texas (where most everything was FLAT), we brought our Honda Pilot along. It does well through the snow and ice here, but it has a pretty low ground clearance, and this trail was getting really rocky to the point I almost decided to turn around. Until I figured that I couldn't really do that until I found a place to do that, which ended up being about halfway to the lower mine entrance, another 3/4 of a mile up the hill. I spotted another vehicle ahead, a normal city slicker pickup truck and muttered out some words about if they can make it, then I could too! Besides, if I got stuck, they would be able to help me out....maybe.
We made it to the lower mine structures without any incident, the Pilot actually did remarkably well considering the terrain. I have had considerable experience with off roading, so having the knowledge of what to avoid and how to avoid it proved useful. We snapped a couple of pictures at one of the structures, and then headed up the trail further. We got to a spot that looked a little rougher than what we had already experienced driving up, and decided not to proceed. With the rain, mist and wet conditions, I didn't want to push my luck with the Honda. As we were about to back into a place to turn around and head back down, an ATV pulled up, so we asked about the terrain. Suspicions confirmed. We were not headed up any further! It was about this time that I heard someone outside the vehicle call my name.... at 12000 feet high in the Rockies?!?! A co-worker was in the back seat of the ATV! We laughed about about the coincidental meeting on this road, and after a little conversation, found that we were also camped next to each other at the campground! Small world indeed.
We headed down the mountain and back to camp to make some dinner. After dinner we took our S'mores kit and visited our new neighbors, who filled my kids up with copious quantities of chocolatey, ooooey goooey goodness. First time my kids had ever had S'mores, and they were getting the royal treatment! Our neighbors were helping them roast marshmallows and construct their delicacies, and then would promptly make them another one!
With S'mores eaten, one of the boys grabbed a guitar and we sang some songs around the camp fire, praising the One who made the beauty that we had been enjoying all day. A great end to a great day. Jammies and bed time was all that was left of the evening.
We arose to the sounds of ATV's being cranked up, so we got up and fixed breakfast. Once that was finished our neighbors offered our entire family a ride in their ATV, which we gladly accepted! Claire was just enamored with the idea of driving fast down a muddy, dirty, slick and wet road. No fear!
We arrived back without much incident, other than Ryley and her sister turning over an ATV (nobody was hurt during the making of this memory), but I did get a picture or two so that I could show her co-workers at the office.... :-)
We ate lunch, packed up, and headed home. What a trip it was, words can't describe the beauty and awe of God's creation that He allows us to enjoy!