Sent: Monday, 9/1/03
To: Friends and Family
Subject: Luder's Creek Campground to Stunner Campground
August 30 - Luder's Creek to Storm King Campground (25 miles, 3160 feet)
I went with Jim this morning while he moved the motor home. We were hoping to get a nice ride in after we parked. Just a few miles into our ride, the rain hit. We huddled under a tarp waiting for it to pass, but it seemed like it would be around for a while. We made a run for camp.
When the rain cleared, I was ready to go again but Jim was engrossed in a novel and decided he'd rather stay put. I found a four-wheel-drive road on the map and headed that way. The road was rugged, with lots of big rocks and tree stumps to maneuver around. I had some second thoughts about riding on a road like that alone and without anyone knowing my route, but I went anyway. I'd been reading "Amsterdam" by Ian McEwan. During a solo hike in the forest, one of the characters felt the "unease of outdoor solitude." During the entire ride, I vacillated between the intimidation and exhilaration of my own outdoor solitude.
Back at camp, I was surprised to find Judy and Michael White enjoying a beer with Jim and Evan. They were riding their ATVs in the nearby mountains. I didn't expect to meet up with them until tomorrow. Debbie Robertson showed up a little while later. I was delighted to see them, even though they brought with them the unwelcome news that our dear friend Corey Prentice has breast cancer. She's been in my thoughts and prayers ever since.
August 31 - Storm King Campground to south of Del Norte (49 miles, 2940 feet)
Debbie and I rode into Del Norte while Jim drove Debbie's car to Del Norte and did the laundry. When Debbie and I were miles from nowhere, two dogs ran up to us with tails wagging. They were friendly enough and began to follow us. We tried unsuccessfully to get them to go home, but it was soon clear to us that they were lost. Once we thought they had gone their separate ways, but we saw them in the distance, trying desperately to catch us. We waited for the exhausted animals. One of them accepted water from Debbie's bottle; the other shied away from all attempts to give him water. We rode slowly into Del Norte with the dogs limping along with us. At the first house on the edge of town we called the number on the dogs' collars. The owner was distraught that the dogs had gotten away. They had traveled about 15 miles over waterless terrain.
Debbie and I met Jim and Evan for lunch, then Jim and Debbie went back to Storm King to get the motor home. Evan and I did the grocery shopping and stacked the groceries in Evan's BOB. Since tomorrow's ride over Indiana Pass promises to be the biggest climb of the entire trip topping out at 11,910 feet, we got the first 14 miles out of Del Norte out of the way today by camping part way up the pass.
Michael and Judy really know how to pamper their friends. They brought take-out filet mignon dinners from a restaurant in Monte Vista. It felt wonderful to spend an evening with dear friends.
September 1 - South of Del Norte to Stunner Campground (29 miles, 3490 feet)
Judy and Debbie took off on the ATVs this morning and Michael helped us shuttle cars to our next campground. The road over Indiana Pass was rough, which made travel in the motor home slow. Our progress was slowed even further by the "traffic jam" we encountered -- 4 cowboys on horses herding about 100 head of cattle down the road. Neither the cows nor the City Slicker cowboys seemed to be in a hurry.
Jim and I rode through a magnificent stand of tall aspens, through a pine forest, and topped out above timberline at the Summitville Superfund site. Even though mining had contaminated the surface water, the view was incredible.
Every day my husband does something to amaze me, usually in a good way. Today I was impressed by his patience and his problem solving ability. The bumpy roads are starting to take a toll on our bikes and the motor home. At one point in today's ride, I was having trouble getting my shoe to click into my pedal. I looked at it long enough to tell a normally stationary part was wiggling; Jim knew immediately I had a screw loose. He fixed that in a flash.
As soon as he opened the door to the motor home, he noticed the indicator light on the refrigerator was not as it should be. We also found that the stove was not working. For two hours, he patiently eliminated various causes. He was on his own for this; I did nothing more than hand him tools and hold wires and Evan sat in his tent and read a book. Finally he discovered the culprit: the head of a screw in a ground wire to the LP gas switch had broken off of the screw body. Success!
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