After the last newsletter was printed, we did a little shopping in Cheyenne. The downtown area looks western and we figured that it would be a good place to get some new duds. I bought a nice cowgirl hat at the huge Wrangler store, Ron purchased some new jeans at Cheyenne Outfitter and I got a new dancin' dress at Just Dandy. All of the stores had a wonderful selection of western clothes.
We left Wyoming on I-25 and in no time at all we were in Denver. After spending four months there last year, it seemed like we were coming home. The week went by fast because it was filled with medical check-ups (all okay) and visits with old friends. We also included a night out to the IMAX theater to see Titanica and highly recommend it if you are where it is playing. From Denver we made a short stop in Colorado Springs before heading west into new territory.
While visiting with Bobbie & Rich Brockmann in Colorado Springs, they suggested that we should include a visit to Bishop Castle and pointed it out for us on the map.
We left I-25 just after Colorado Springs and headed southwest on state route 115. It was an easy, beautiful drive. At Florence we continued on route 67 but passed route 165 which leads to the castle. There is a national forest pull-out just north of 165 but we missed it, so we continued on all the way to Westcliffe. At Westcliffe, we did something we have never done before, but promise to do again; we unhooked the car, left the motorhome parked and drove the car back to search out the castle. Bishop Castle is about 10 or 11 miles south on 165 and believe me, you won't miss it. There in the midst of the San Isabel National Forest is a huge castle in various stages of completion. The first thing that is visible is the towering gray serpent sticking up out of the trees. We couldn't believe all the detail and creativity. Parking was just along the highway and as soon as we walked up the driveway, we were greeted with several, huge, crudely lettered signs. After we read them, we weren't sure if we were being warned or welcomed---perhaps both. There are donation boxes here and there but no admission is charged. We wandered around a bit examining the unfinished structure---even ventured up and down some stairs and finally followed some hammering noises up another stair way. Unlike most construction sites, there are no restrictions; you can walk anywhere. On the second floor, we entered a huge room which was really quite handsome. Jim Bishop was sawing a floor board; I decided to ask him about his castle.
Jim boasts that he is a high school dropout who has a successful ornamental
iron business in Pueblo. The iron work in the castle is very impressive.
When he was 15 years old, he bought the land the castle now stands on.
Originally he built a one room stone cottage on the property. Everyone
said that it looked like a castle so he decided that he would, single-handedly,
build a castle without plans or building permits (or inspections). He has
been working on his "world class, monumental art form" since June of 1969.
When completed it will have a pipe organ and interfaith chapel, three
We drove back to the motorhome, hooked up again, and continued on to Coaldale where we spent one night in the Coast to Coast park there. While we were snugly parked in this pretty place, Ron remarked, "Imagine, here we are up in the mountains, deep in the woods, but we have all the comforts of home---heat, shower, computer, good music, comfortable bed, etc. What a life!"
The next day was exciting. As we headed into new territory, we ran into a mountain. Heading west on route 50, we crossed Monarch Pass. Seeing a pass on the map didn't concern us because Ron has become an expert at driving mountains. After all we did the notorious Donner Pass. As we started up, Ron shifted down into second gear. For the first time ever, the Bounder struggled. We really wondered if we would ever make it; we were going that slow. But we made it and sat up on top for both the engine and our nerves to cool down. At 11,400 feet in elevation the average snow fall there is 350 inches per year.
We parked in front of the Gunnison visitor center about lunch time and I gathered some information about that area. We didn't plan to spend time there, but should have. There is lots to do especially in and around the Blue Mesa Reservoir which has a 96 mile shoreline and is the center of the Curecanti National Recreation Area. From looking through the lovely 56 page book about the area, it is obvious that one can keep very busy. And it doesn't matter if you are an RVer or not because there are a variety of hotels and dude ranches for your pleasure.
While parked just south of Montrose, on highway 550, we toured some delightful towns and areas. There just isn't enough room to describe all that is available in this part of Colorado. Towns such as Ouray, Ridgeway, Telluride, and Silverton each deserve a week (preferably a month) to properly discover all of their charms. We will come back some summer and spend at least one month in each of three different towns.
Ouray (34 miles south of Montrose) is just as beautiful and delightful as we had been told it would be. We were interested in the hot springs advertised and a woman at the visitor center informed us about her favorite springs which are at the Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa and Lodgings. Their springs are in a cave underneath the lodge. For $10 each we had three hours to use the vapor cave and springs pool. All of the facilities are superb. We changed into our bathing suits in private changing rooms in the lower level, showered, then opened the heavy metal door to the cave. Immediately we were surrounded with warmth as we walked the short distance to the heavy oak door. A trickle of water runs down the stone walls leaving lovely mineral colors behind.
The vapor cave at the Wiesbaden Hot Springs and Spa
Once inside the cave proper, we discovered a cement pool about two feet deep. The spring water in the soaking pool is 110 degrees and once we got ourselves used to it, we languished in the hot, dim, mysterious, luxury of it all. When we got too hot, we would go back to the showers and cool down or go outside to the mineral spring pool which is only 102 degrees. There we paddled around in the non chlorinated warm water and rested in the lounge chairs. The sun and fresh air added a new dimension to our spa treat. Also available for both guests and non guests are massages, facials, acupressure, a float tank and what I imagine would be sheer ecstasy---tonal music therapy. Rooms at the lodge are reasonable for the services and location and include unlimited use of the spa facilities and discounts on all services.
Silverton is about 25 miles south of Ouray on highway 550. This part of 550 is called The Million Dollar Highway because of all the gold mined from the areas on either side of the highway. We didn't need to make a special trip there because we had reservations to take the train to Silverton from Durango. But after having driven the Monarch Pass and knowing we had to go south on 550, we decided to drive to Silverton to see what the road was like. Just as we were leaving town, we discovered the first switch back and a sign pointing toward the Box Canon Falls. Do take the time to investigate these interesting falls which are not far from the highway. Back on the highway after the falls, the road went up as fast as any we had ever been on. There are no guard rails and the sheer drop-offs make the passenger hang on for dear life. The inside lane hugs the mountain. There are no shoulders either. It was a scary drive in the car and I could imagine how much more scary it would be from the passenger seat of the motorhome. I'm pretty adventuresome, but no thank you! The road to Silverton was gorgeous---the entire length.
Silverton has a rustic charm---like right out of a cowboy movie. The mountains there are breathtaking and we enjoyed wandering all of the dirt streets---not just downtown. In fact we picked out the campground (there are three to choose from) where we will stay someday. Jeeps are the big rental item in the mountain towns. They say that from Silverton there are over 700 miles of four wheel drive trails which lead to ghost towns and beautiful scenery.
Telluride which is famous for skiing and mountain biking is a more sophisticated mountain town than Silverton. It is located about halfway between Ouray and Silverton but on the other side of the mountain. It can be reached by driving west of Ridgeway on route 62.
While still in the Montrose area, we visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument which is quite impressive. It gets its name from the fact that the canyon is so narrow that it looks black when you try to look down. The river running through it must be something. Early explorers built extra sturdy boats to go down the river; they traveled 21 days and only got 14 miles. After the second boat completely broke up, they had to scale the sheer cliffs to get out. At "painted wall" is a sign proclaiming that to be the highest cliff in Colorado at 2300 feet. For a better visualization, it further states that if the Empire State Building was standing on the bottom, it would only reach a little more than half way up.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison Downtown Telluride
Our trip to Durango over that breathtaking highway was uneventful mainly because we drove separately. Although we crossed two high mountain passes, the Bounder had no trouble without the Toyota behind. It is a spectacular drive.
Barb boarding the trail in Durango Ron on the train (notice that you can see the end of the train)
Durango is another town that deserves much more time than we gave it. There are plenty of things to do, places to eat and all sorts of drives. The most popular thing to do in Durango is to take the Silverton-Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad to Silverton and return. It is not cheap and the trip is long, but it is beautiful. Round trip is $42 per person and one way is about three and one half hours. Once in Silverton, we were only given about two hours to eat lunch and explore the town. Good thing we had spent some time there on our own; that was too little time. And the trip back to Durango was way too long; we hadn't recovered from the trip up yet. We strongly suggest that you hook up with another couple and buy just one set of round trip tickets. One of you drive a car up; the other take the train. In Silverton you can switch. That way you will both be able to spend more time in town, take the train, and enjoy the mountains two ways. And the trip by car is a lot quicker.
seeing one, they all seem to look the same; some are bigger, some are smaller and all have pretty much the same history.
We had been tourists since we left Desert Hot Springs last February
and we are ready to settle down for awhile. We skipped a few stores, restaurants
and sights, but we do know that we will go back sometime when when we can
enjoy it all at a slower pace.
I guess my campground report has been a little pricey lately (see Coffee Break, page 4). I'm glad that this month's report includes three Coast to Coast campgrounds at $4 per night. We have stayed at two before, but are including them for the benefit of our newest readers.
Colorado Heights Camping Resort, Monument CO. This park has a great location for visiting the Air Force Academy and it's not too far from Colorado Springs. It has good hookups in wooded sites right off of I-25 (some road noise). Use exit 163, even when coming from the south---exit 161 is too complicated.
Cutty's Resort Coaldale, CO. A beautiful resort, but definitely not for large rigs or for an overnight stop. A two mile uphill dusty washboard road off highway 50 (best to unhook your towed car on 50) will be worth the trip if you plan to stay awhile. Although the sites are large and the hookups are good, the trees will make them tight (we had about one foot clearance on each side of the motorhome). The indoor pool, hot tub and lovely mountain scenery make it all worth while.
Country Village RV Resort, Montrose, CO. This is not a fancy resort and it only has a few trees, but the hookups are good, sites are level and the location is terrific. Close to Montrose (Black Canyon) and just a short drive to Ouray, Silverton and Telluride, it is a good jumping off point for heading south over the mountains to Durango. The folks there are friendly and they have the usual potlucks and activities.
Hermosa Meadows Camper Park, Durango, CO. Here we go blowing the budget again, but nothing's cheap in Durango and the weekly rate of $128 (includes 8% tax) was within reason (cable is $1 a night extra). The park is located 8 miles north of Durango, is on a river, well off the highway and away from the railroad tracks. Sites are level and shaded with good hookups.
Lyman Lake State Park, St. Johns, AZ. This beautiful state park is right off Hwy 180 which is a good route south into western New Mexico. The campsites and interior roads are all paved. The sites are all terraced (overlooking Lyman Lake) and each has a covered patio with picnic table & grill. There are some pull-throughs and plenty of sites with water & electric. The nightly rate of $13 includes all admissions.
Silver City KOA, Silver City, N.M. Sometimes it's handy to use KOA's and this was one of those times. Jim & Jackie, the young owners there, will treat you well. This well maintained campground has a complete store and nice pool and patio area. Don't miss their pancake breakfast on Sunday morning. Daily rate is $16.65 with a KOA discount card.
Dream Catcher RV Park, Deming, N.M. This is an Escapee Rainbow
Park just being established. It was formerly a commercial park and they
have plans to further develop the park. The sites are level with good hookups.
The park is handy to I-10 and well maintained. You will be welcomed by
friendly SKPS and will value your Escapee membership when you only pay
$6 a night plus elect.
Barb loves Colorado and I like Texas..... maybe we should split the difference and settle in New Mexico. Just kidding. Better yet, we will just keep wheels on our house.
If we ever decide to settle in southwestern Colorado, our book would have to make the New York Times best seller list. Those little towns nestled in the mountains are very beautiful, but tend to be expensive.
I like it when the nose of the motorhome keeps heading south. In less than a month, I will be wetting a fishing line in the Gulf of Mexico.
You should have seen Barb dancing with her father at the Buckhorn Saloon in Pinas Altos. The cowboys at the bar in this old time saloon and restaurant were all watching. Father and daughter are both very good dancers.
Speaking of dancing, I wonder if I remember how to do the Texas two-step. Barb will surely encourage me to find out when we get to Outdoor Resorts.
For now, I have seen enough mountains, Indian cliff dwellings, tourist
towns, steam trains and high desert. Next year we will enjoy the mid-west
and beyond. It will be time to be moving on (sounds like a good name for
a newsletter, doesn't it?).
(Remember that this report was written many years ago and the restaurants may or
may not be in business or as they were.)
Jose O'Shea's Cafe & Bar, 385 Union Blvd, Lakewood (suburb of Denver). Bud & Libby Frank introduced us to this wonderful Mexican restaurant. The large menu provided us with many great choices. Everything from the chips and salsa to the fajitas and taco salad were delicious. The service was fast and friendly and the atmosphere was festive.
Mc Kay's Steaks, Buffet & Bakery, South Academy, Colorado Springs. Tubby & Audrey Watson (yes, we keep running into them) took us to this place where you can eat till you roll out the door for one low price. The "all you can eat variety bar" is only $6.29 for dinner ($4.99 for lunch). As always happens at these places, we ate way too much.
True Grit Cafe, Ridgeway. The service was slow but the hamburg and wedge cut fries were out of this world. Ron loved his cream of broccoli soup and said the raspberry vinaigrette dressing on the salad was excellent. We would definitely go again.
Gold King Dining, Silverton. Good home made soup and sandwich. Daily specials are worth looking into too.
Ariano's Fine Italian Dining, 160 E 6th Street, Durango. Thanks
to Ray & Ethel Parker, we were introduced to the best Italian food
we have ever eaten. Although there are pasta dishes on the menu, you won't
find spaghetti, or pizza. This is a gourmet restaurant with prices to match.
Ron's baked trout was exceptional and Barb's pasta special was fantastic.
We were seated next to a large, loud party and that diminished what should
have been a wonderful experience, but we would go again.
Take a break. Get a cup of coffee and let's chat.
Joan & Everett Syphus of Rancho Santa Margarita, California, have some wonderful news for handicappers. "Regarding Joan Baker in your September issue, you might want to pass this info on to her regarding her electric scooter.... We have looked at every trailer, 5th wheel, and motorhome made. We decided on a trailer and would store the scooter when traveling in the back of a pickup or suburban and would have had an electric lift installed in the vehicle to lift the scooter up and in (If by chance you have a Rascal scooter, they sell these lifts.) Now, as far as using a scooter inside an RV it would depend on the RV. You might consider having the RV customized at the factory. Our trailer has an extra large rear door. Allowances would have to be made as to the placement of the bed, or if using a motorhome, the passenger seat may have to be taken out. RINCON, 12450 Montague St, Pacoima, CA 91331 sells and installs all types of electric lifts. Their phone number is (818) 899-7588." See Letters pg 6 for more from Joan.
Bob & Donna Hueftle from Scottsdale, Arizona, have concerns about campground fees. " We will be selling our small business that is getting to be more than we can handle.... We are too young to retire and our pockets will not be overflowing so we hope to work a little.... One thing that has bothered us is the prices of the campgrounds that you have been quoting in your newsletter. Many are nearly $20 a night. I'm hoping we will be able to see a lot of our country but not at that cost per night. Any ideas? We have not joined any campground memberships yet."
Ron answers. Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to clarify our recent campground reports. It's true that some have been expensive and full-timers really need to keep control over this major budget item. Lately our experience has not been typical because of two things. For three weeks we were staying in touristy spots with granddaughters and paying for such things as location, pools, petting zoos, etc. The second reason relates to book promotion and the newsletter. Both require us, at times, to be in an urban setting where costs are high and quite frankly the campgrounds are not that attractive. As we state in the book, you have many tools to keep campground fees low. Membership parks are a bargain if purchased at a low price. Likewise the fifteen Escapee parks are very reasonable and don't forget volunteering (free campsite). Monthly rates also help keep fees down. Many of our readers boondock (dry camp) and/or use state and national forest campgrounds keeping campground costs at a minimum. Remember that two months of volunteering (no campground fee) would allow you to spend a little more than normal at a tourist spot.
Gary from Missouri is wondering about the legality in their plan to avoid paying high sales tax. " Since we will be selling our home soon and buying a truck/5th wheel at about $100,000 value, we would like to know if you have heard of this plan working out without complications. Plan: join a mail service in Oregon (no sales tax) to establish residence. Buy our rig and license it in Oregon, sign up to vote etc., so as to avoid sales tax for one year. Then reestablish residence in Texas. We assume this is legal and that it can be done. Any comment would be appreciated."
Ron responds. As long as you meet the legal resident requirements for each state, I don't see how anyone can keep you from "moving." The danger here is an announced "intent" to avoid taxes. If you bring a lot of attention to your plan, a taxing authority may take exception based on intent. We are not including your last name or city for that reason.
Mack Ely from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is curious about Ron's comment last month. "You touched on your preference for a diesel MH and Barb didn't like the wide body. Why? I'm in the process of shopping to maybe buy this winter."
Barb answers. I said I didn't like the
wide body coaches before I saw the new Bounders. The first ones had the
couch going sideways and that made the coach look smaller. The new wide
Bounders look just like the old ones, but there is more walking room in
the aisle. I would still be very concerned about the added weight unless
the coach was a diesel.
Found the perfect RV
...We are so excited! We've done it---even though it's a year earlier
than we had planned (we can't start full-timing until
Joan & Everett Syphus
Enjoy Corps of Engineer Parks
Enjoyed your west coast newsletters. We are on east coast---will do west coast on way to Alaska in spring of 96 so will use your info then after wintering in Mesa, AZ. We are enjoying Corps of Engineer Parks. Keer Dam---Va and N. Carolina border. Big, big sites---$14-water and electric. 36 X 20 mile lake—85o water, and sandy beaches.....
Linda & Lee Schroer
Don't have a big party
...We decided to give a big bash and invite friends to the party so
we could say goodbye to everyone at once. A word of
Sandy (Sanford) & Sherry Harper
Full-timing is still on hold
...Clarence is still playing with trains, cranes, and forklifts. Kae
keeps gainfully employed through temp agencies....We
Clarence & Kae Elliott
...Well the “Big Day” is coming. Sept 30 is John's last day at work
and Oct 7 we leave for Bounder Rally and Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque,
NM. Our first for both. Yes, we are still in 34J side aisle and love it.
We have done some changes to suit us. Took out the couch---put in 2 recliners
and small table. Replaced dining booth with "L" shaped cabinet or bar what
ever and store PC stuff, and other underneath. We now have a larger kitchen
area and also living room. Anyway, we're going to spend winter in desert
boondocking on BLM [see vol 6 #6]. We have met some
John & June Rutherford
Off to a new life
It's finally time. The house is sold, had the closing on 8-10-95, my last day at work was 8-31-95, my retirement party is 9-14- 95, then I'm off to my new life. Even without Joe, I'm so excited. There have been so many things to do--- settling Joe's estate, all the paperwork re:my retirement and of course preparing for the full-time lifestyle. And without you (your book and newsletter) I never would have been able to do it.... I'm headed for Livingston, after the Ohio Escapade, to take care of car/Bounder registration, insurance, etc. I do hope I get a chance to meet you along the way. In the meantime your newsletters make me feel as if we're old friends.
Have all the time in the world
...We finally hit the road the end of July. The temperature hit 1250...[in
Yuma] and we said we are out of here! Since we have had the benefit of
your newsletter all these years, and you guys and your friends have shared
all of your experiences with us, our trip has been wonderful!! Our biggest
problem in the beginning was to take it easy and not rush from one place
to the next!! We were still under the old mentality---only two weeks---rush,
rush, try to see it all and get back home! But alas, we had to retrain
ourselves that we have all the time in the world. Once we did that boy
what a great life!!!
Carla & Dan Stotts
Excellent BBQ in Missouri
...9/30/95 will be my last day of full-time employment.... We are so
excited that we are acting like a couple of kids. What a thrill to be free---to
be able to pick and choose, to do or don't do, to come or go, etc. Freedom
is not overrated!! It's fantastic. We will, however not be on the road
or a while. Family needs require our attention for the time being and family
comes first. Our time will come....
Gary & Lori Agron
Never knew about full-timing
...We never even thought about becoming full-timers until I read your book. We never realized so many people live full-time in an RV, with no permanent address. Although we have not yet decided whether we will be full-timers, we do plan on being on the road at least six months out of the year....
Phyllis & Tim Fredericks
Learned about octane & altitude
...I was very interested to note Ron's remark about lowering the octane
with altitude. I'd never realized this although I
Wait until the plane takes off
...after reading about your granddaughters' visit, I had to write and
tell you about our granddaughters' travels. Tabitha (age 15) and Vanessa
(age 13) live in Streamwood, Illinois.... Plans were for them to fly to
Denver, where Vanessa would spend three weeks visiting Colorado with us.
Tabitha had about an hour layover, then was to fly on to Portland to spend
three weeks visiting our son, his wife, and new baby.... We waited at the
airport for Tabitha's flight to be boarded, then went to get Vanessa's
luggage.... We talked to our daughter (Beth) a couple of days later and
found out that Tabitha's flight had been cancelled! She got off the plane
and didn't know what to do. She called her mother,
Lois & Allen Maywald
This 'N That
It has occurred to us that we probably know the United States like most people know their town. If we read about a place, we can picture it. If we hear that someone is going from here to there, we can name the route and see the scenery.
Do you still travel the interstates most of the time? Coming to New Mexico from Durango we took red (U.S.) routes. We traveled south on 550 to 64 to 666 then jumped on 1-40 West for just a minute (36 miles). Just inside of Arizona we turned south on 191 to 180 and took that all the way to Silver City. Except for the short time we were on the Interstate, I know we didn't see over a few dozen cars and there were no big trucks to blow us away. It was a wonderfully relaxing drive and beautiful too.
If you haven't explored the Silver City area in New Mexico yet, you will want to put it on your itinerary. That whole area from Silver City west into Arizona is not heavily populated, is full of magnificent forests and we just know you will fall in love with it.
Deming, New Mexico, (where we are now) looks like an affordable place to winter. There are many nice campgrounds with posted rates of $100 per month. I under stand that winters here are quite mild.
We are running into more full-timers with 35 foot plus fifth wheel trailers who tell us they are downsizing because the big "house" is too big for the places they want to go. And they are finding that moving a "big house" often is a lot of work. If you plan to move much, you might want to consider a smaller RV first then when you slow down, trade up to a bigger one.
I hope you try the recipe on the back. It really is scrumptious and easy to fix even in an recreational vehicle.
Did you happen to read about Denver's big snow storm the third week in September? Wow! We just got out of there in time and are still wearing shorts.
I need to write a regular sized newspaper each month. I just don't have room to put all that I want to write. And it is so hard to pick from all of your wonderful letters. I hate to chop them up the way I have to; they are all so interesting and helpful.
I hope you try out the calling card we write about on pg 9. Speaking of telephones, I just called Southwestern Bell in Texas today and ordered our phone for the four months we will be in Port Isabel. They even gave me our phone number, but ask that I not publish it yet. They must have been reading my mind because that is exactly what I was going to do.
Well, I gotta hitch up my horse and mosey into Texas. Hope to see y'all
2003 note: Obviously this is old news so please do not reply. In fact no one was willing to expose all. There will be another chapter to this story in the October 1996 issue of Movin' On.
If picked to be the one couple, they will come to you, interview you, photograph you and your story will be several pages in length. Incidentally we will be the full-timer advisor who along with a financial expert will help analyze your situation and come up with ideas to help you.
If you are willing to be interviewed and have your finances published
for all to see, please send us a letter right away giving us an idea of
your situation. We will submit all the letters to the editors of Money
Magazine and they will pick the one they want to use. This really is a
great opportunity to help yourself and thousands of others. Thanks in advance
for your help.
Good News! We want to share a new calling card which we are using; the
rates are great. But first let's review our
Trying to get the best rates for long distance telephone service when
you have a home on a foundation is hard enough; add this lifestyle and
it is almost impossible. When we were parked in Mesa, Arizona, for two
months last winter, we had our own telephone which we paid a monthly rate
for just like we all did when we had a “regular” home. We had AT &
T long distance service and enjoyed very inexpensive long distance calls.
For example, a one minute call to our
I went back through some of our old AT & T bills from before we
switched to the Escapee (SKP) AT & T card to get
Chuck Woodbury, editor of Out West, told us about the American Travel
Network when we visited him in April. We
To enroll call 1-800-*** **** (9-5 ET, Monday thru Friday). They will
send you an application which must be filled out and sent back to them
first. It will take about a month (because of mail forwarding etc.,) to
get set up with them. We kept our AT & T card with SKPs too just in
case, but really there is no need to do so. American Travel Network uses
World Com telephone wires and if you have never heard of them, don't be
They are number four in the communication business. Since there is no "set-up"
charge, you really can't lose if you give them a try.
Pork Harvest Dinner recipe first debuted in this issue. I have linked it to the recipe section where all of our newsletter recipes are posted.
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