We began this very much last minute trip by hastily packing a few items and taking off west, with the intention of going to a place where we hadn't been before. We ended up at Clear Creek Reservoir, a place that was recommended by a friend. Although it wasn't the worst we've ever camped in, it wasn't the best. Not because of the campground, mind you, but because of the weather! It was horribly windy, to the point that everything was incredibly dusty. I'm getting ahead of myself......
We hit the road around 1PM and drove from Colorado Springs to our destination without incident. When we hit the road by the reservoir, the kids jumped with excitement, one of them exclaimed, "We should have brought the canoe!". Well, we probably should have, but not knowing what to expect, and with me + four kids, you don't know what to expect. Any more than about two in a canoe and you run the risk of overturning it, especially with young ones. Not at all a good thought....hence the reasoning for leaving it at home. One day I plan on testing the outriggers I made for it to make it more stable, but I need to be able to do that solo, and not have to supervise four young ones at the same time!
We circled the campground and looked for a spot, found one that looked good, but then didn't upon further examination. The campground was pretty much an "anything goes" configuration, meaning that you could park anywhere, any direction, and nobody would care less. We finally settled on a spot, the most difficult to back the camper in, at a 90 angle no less! Trying to explain this......think parallel parking...but with JUST the camper.. :-)
We set up camp in a nice little spot across the trail from the creek, and then watched others roll in to take the spots we didn't like. The kids made some friends, and we chatted with the other campers as they strolled by. One even delivered us some freshly caught trout for dinner! The kids really liked the trout, much to my disbelief! We helped another camping family set up there tent for the first time, and enjoyed their company as well, until bedtime arrived. Off to bed with the little ones, then I caught a quick cup of coffee in the chilly night air. Even though it was June, it got down in the 50's that night. I had to dig up my jacket out of the truck!
We got up and made 3 lbs of bacon (oh that glorious bacon), so much that we attracted every camper within 100 yards of us! With more than enough to go around, we shared our wonderful bounty with them as well. One even offered to trade trout for some already cooked bacon! Pavlov's dog.....? I dunno, but whenever my family smells bacon, it is immediately followed with the words "oh that glorious bacon"! I'd call that a conditioned response!
We headed out for a hike, drove for what seemed like an eternity over a gravel road to Winfield, an old mining camp at the forks of the North and South forks of Clear Creek, which runs into the reservoir. We went as far as we could go...and then went a little further in 4WD. The kids asked what "4WD required past this point" means, and I told them that it means that people who don't know how to drive have to stop here!
We made it to the top after quite a slow and meticulous navigation of the 4WD trail. You see, I had the bike rack on the back of the truck, which extends the hitch out nearly two feet! Maneuvering around the dips, holes, mud, trees, stumps, rocks, etc added to the already difficult passage, but we made it. A guy at the trail head exclaimed in astonishment that he was amazed that we even made it up.
"How in the world did you get that thing up here?!?" he said.
"I guess I just know how to drive," I said with a smile.
Although we were wanting to hike to Lake Ann, we weren't expecting the very unusually cool and windy weather that day, it was barely in the sixties and getting colder by the minute. We opted to explore some of the mining structures we saw on the way up, then headed back down to camp. We found a rock that really looks like it has gold in it, although I'm not convinced it is. Most likely "fool's gold", but we kept it just in case :-)
We stopped by an mining museum on the way back down, which was abruptly cut short by a child's desire to go potty......with no potty available, we beat feat back to camp. Lunch was served, then the kids rode their bikes for a while. We took a second hike on the other side of the creek, that was a highlight for the kids, they really enjoyed the hike. We headed back because it was going to be dark soon, and I still had to make dinner. After dinner, we said prayers, read our Bible that we keep in the camper, and headed off to bed. Tomorrow is going home day, boooooo!
Woke up. Packed up. Drove home. That's really all there is to say! During our pack up, our camping neighbor brought by several nicely sized trout and offered them to us to take home! I packed them on ice in the cooler, and we took off for the homestead. The kids were happy to be home, and my wife was happy that we arrived in one piece! We unpacked the camper and I prepared the trout for dinner. Again, much to my disbelief, the kids ate it up, literally and figuratively! We sorrowfully put our little lodge on wheels in storage, where it is waiting patiently for us and our next exciting adventure!