Million Dollar Highway

The final ascent to Red Mountain Pass coming from Silverton Colorado

The final ascent to Red Mountain Pass coming from Silverton Colorado

Million Dollar Highway serpentines down 4000 feet from Red Mountain Pass to Ouray

Million Dollar Highway serpentines down 4000 feet from Red Mountain Pass to Ouray

cut vsnyon

Million Dollar Highway cut through the San Juan Mountains

Million Dollar Highway

Million Dollar Highway

Driving the “Million Dollar Highway” is both beautiful and frightening. The road has many steep sheer drop offs that are not protected by guard rails. I’ve now driven and cycled this road, and I am not sure which is scarier. If you fell off the road on a bicycle, you might be able jump off the bike before tumbling down the steep mountainside. If you drove your car off the highway, there would not be enough time to open the car door and jump out before the car hurtled down into the mountain valley hundreds of feet below. Neither would be a good situation. Plenty of drivers, including myself, were cheating over towards the yellow line and even over the yellow line in the center of the narrow road. The shoulder on the side or the road is only a few feet wide before encountering the near vertical cliffs.

There are several possibilities for the name “Million Dollar Highway.” One is that the cost of the road soared well over $1,000,000 back around WWI, a huge sum for that day. The worth of its views could be the meaning of the name.  Some consider the road between Silverton and Ouray the most beautiful highway in America. Red Mountain Pass is halfway between Silverton and Ouray, cresting 11,018 feet above sea level. The reddish color comes from iron oxide laden rocks that forms the slopes of the mountain.

Red Mountain Pass was the major climb on the second day of the San Juan bicycle tour back in 1997. I stumbled right out of the gate the first day of that tour, failing to make even the first climb to 10,600 feet on the way to Silverton. I read where sleeping one night at a high elevation will help you acclimate to the higher elevation. That is actually not true. The body takes about three weeks to produce new red blood cells. Having more oxygen carrying red blood cells is the only way the body can acclimate to higher elevations. That is why many endurance athletes train at high elevations. Actually, the percentage of oxygen in the air is the same at 10,000 feet as the percentage is at sea level, around 21%. At high altitudes the air molecules are more dispersed. A breath of air at 10,000 feet delivers 30% less oxygen to the body than at sea level. If you are exercising strenuously, the reduced oxygen levels make a huge difference.

Naturally, I was quite concerned about ascending above 11,000 feet to Red Mountain Pass the next day.  Climbing slowly and within myself, much to my relief, I successfully ascended the summit. A thrilling 15 mile, 4000 foot descent brought us into the town of Ouray. Cycling this road was definitely more of an adventure than driving. I was grateful to have a car this time around.

Songs To Your Eyes – Red Mountain – Composer:Alexander Okunev

How Blue Mesa and Paso Robles Got Their Names

Blue Mesa of Curecanti

Blue Mesa of Curecanti

Paso Robles de San Luis Obispo

Paso Robles de San Luis De Obispo

Continuing with the story from Telluride back in 1997 – Two days after leaving Telluride, we rode from Montrose to Gunnison. A little background for this story. PC was a dear cat of mine, one of the original three black cats. He died in 1994, and I never quite got over his passing, he was the first animal I ever experienced death with.

The following was written back in 1997, describing the ride from Montrose to Gunnison, along the Blue Mesa Lake in the Curecanti National Recreation Area. At some point during this trip, I am going to drive this same route again.

“The skies started to darken behind me. Storm clouds were brewing again. I had found during the last five days that the weather could change quickly and dramatically in the Colorado mountains. I knew I had better get started in order to have any chance of beating the rain. I had 70 miles to ride. I started back towards the steep climb that had led up to the Black Canyon. A steep six mile descent led away from the Black Canyon and essentially marked the start of my days ride. I reached almost 40 mph as the road fell away from me. I turned east on 50 and headed towards Gunnison. I had been told that today’s route would be easy, mostly up and down, no major passes. Not. The first summit was a 1,000 foot ascent over three miles. The road to Cerro summit was very steep. I thought Cerro summit would be the only climb of the day. Then I met Alison in the van to refill my water bottles. Alison said the rest of the day was like this, up and down with hard climbs. I was worried. I still had 60 miles to go and the time was past 12:00.

                                                                  Blue Mesa

We soon believe what we desire – unknown                                                     

I reached the second major climb of the day. I was not looking forward to having to ascend another summit. I had missed the notation on the route sheet indicating another climb. I thought I had completed the only major climb of the day.  This one turned out to be a 1200 ft climb to 9000 feet over 4.5 miles. I would make this climb alone. I had been riding all alone so far, and I expected to ride the rest of the day alone. Most of the riders were ahead of me. I believe three were behind me. Rain started falling lightly as I started the climb. The rain did not fall hard enough to make me stop and put on my rain jacket. Today was the sixth straight day of rain. I quickly became tired at the start of the climb. My legs felt heavy and fatigued, my left hand numb, and my lower back was aching. The strength I had felt yesterday had been an illusion. I knew now that I was in for an ordeal. The skies darkened considerably, the wind was swirling and howling, and the temperature was dropping quickly. I hoped for a tailwind to help me up to the summit. A few minutes later rain poured down violently, sweeping past me from the rear, almost at a 90 degree angle. I stopped to put on my rain jacket. The rain was extremely cold and pelting my back. I had my tailwind. I was almost thankful for the rain, as long as I had a tailwind. An obscure song from the early 70’s popped into my mind. The song was “I Can See Clearly Now, The Rain Is Gone” by Johnny Nash. At the time, I thought Carly Simon sang it. I sang the song over and over again. I remember thinking at the time how ironic it was that I was singing this song. The storm was producing very cold raindrops, the wind was blowing fiercely, and visibility was being reduced by the minute. I sang the song over and over again while climbing to the Blue Mesa Summit. I stopped several times to rest.  After nearly an hour, I approached the crest of the summit. I was near the point of complete exhaustion. I was in tears, wanting the climb to be over. I was cold, wet, in pain, and fatigued to the point of having my determination shattered. Visibility was now less than five feet. Cars were visible only by their headlights. I realized I had climbed into the cloud that had been raining on me. I transcended into a state of body and mind numbing delirium.

I reached the top of Blue Mesa Summit. I stopped to rest and gather in the ethereal scene at the summit. Normally on a summit, you can see for miles around you. I could barely see the road or the scenic turnoff that I was standing on. The thought entered my mind that maybe I was dead and nobody had bothered to tell me. Maybe I had entered heaven. Heaven seemed  to have reached down to touch and enshroud the top of the mountain. I wondered whether PC could see me. Then I felt PC’s presence. I sensed him just a few feet away, invisibly suspended  in the sliver of heaven that had extended down to the summit. At that point I knew that the flow of events that had led up to this moment had transpired for PC, so that he could see me. The pain of the loss and separation from PC was vanquished. A very deep inner pain that had existed for almost three years healed. I knew PC was near me, could see me, and was happy. I sensed him joyfully scampering around. I knew PC understood that I was aware that he could see me. I started crying uncontrollably.

I started the descent down the mountain from Blue Mesa Summit. I was still crying, the rain was still coming down, and the road was very wet. These were definitely not conditions for a safe descent. I continued to sing the I Can See Clearly song. I braked often and kept my speed down below 30 mph. I descended out of the cloud and into a beautiful canyon covered with sparse vegetation. I started another climb during which I met Alison in the van. She gave me fresh water and some cookies. She was having a rough day as the cycling group had spread out over 40 miles. The rained sputtered on and off  the rest of the way up this climb. The sun almost came out. I had hardly seen the sun the entire trip. I took a picture of a very small wisp of a cloud drifting left to right directly in front of me. I believe this cloud contained PC’s spirit and whisked PC back to heaven. The sun finally came out when I reached Blue Mesa Lake a few minutes later. The sun shined very brightly for the first time on the trip. The sunlight seemed especially bright since most of the trip had been so dark. The sun came out and stayed out. I knew the sunshine was a sign, telling me that PC had seen me earlier, and how excited and happy PC was.  Even though we had been together only for a few minutes, the experience thrilled PC. I was never to be rained on again the rest of the ride. The sun shined brightly each and every day during the rest of the trip.

At this point I still had 30 miles to go. I still had a strong tailwind at my back. For the first time on the trip, I felt powerful and strong. My legs felt coiled with strength and energy. My breathing was deep and controlled. I cruised along over 20 mph. If I could keep this pace up, I would finish in 1.5 hours, around 5:00pm. The climbs were behind me. The road was mostly downhill or flat, with a few small uphills. My ride through heaven had inspired me. I continued flying along, feeling stronger as the miles went by. I was riding along the Blue Mesa Lake, the 2nd largest lake in Colorado. The lake must have been 30 miles long. I criss-crossed the Blue Mesa Lake for the third time when I saw the van parked. I stopped to refill my water bottles.  Inside the van were three riders who had given up in the cold rain and wind at Blue Mesa Summit. They were sitting comfortably inside the van drinking beer. What an incredible difference attitude makes. The wind and rain had defeated them. The experience at the top of Blue Mesa for me was one of the most inspirational moments of my life.

Only 20 miles remained until Gunnison. CA had ridden in the van with the vanquished riders. She exited the van to ride the rest of the way into Gunnison with me. We rode in very fast, covering the last 20 miles in about an hour. The sun was shining the whole time and the temperature was rising. I reached Gunnison, completely exhausted from the pace CA had set. Everyone else had already arrived in Gunnison. The time was already 5:00. Today would be the latest I would finish of any of the days on the tour. Some of the riders were eating pizza in Joe Football and Eric Dahmer’s room. They offered me a piece. I ate it slowly. I sat there not saying a word. The slice of pizza kept me from collapsing from a lack of energy. Alison told me that I had ridden really well today, especially considering the atmospheric conditions. She didn’t know about my special advantage that day. I struggled into my room, with barely enough time or energy to shower and dress for dinner. We went to an Italian Restaurant for dinner that took two hours to serve us. Everyone was getting edgy and mad. I sat next to Alison that night. I think Joe Football wanted my seat. I was just sitting there in a daze, reflecting what had happened to me earlier that day, trying not to break out in tears. Today had been an outstanding day. I made it back to my room around ten and took a hot bath. I slipped into bed and quickly and peacefully went to sleep.”

The following year in 1998, a very sweet beautiful and loving Blue Russian kitten came to live with me. I knew what I would name him long before he arrived. I named him Blue Mesa in honor of PC and the experience I had that extraordinary day in Colorado back in 1997. Blue Mesa lived with me from August 1998 until he passed away in March of 2011.

Once again, this part was written a few years ago, this part was written five years ago, and this post ties together the story of PC, Blue Mesa, and Paso Robles.

Fast forward 14 years. Blue Mesa passed away on March 30th 2011. A month after Mesa passed above the earth plane, I was on another bicycle tour. This tour was along the California Coast near Big Sur, from Carmel to Santa Barbara, along PCH1. Cloudy skies created a surrealistic atmosphere as we pedaled south along the California Coast. Rained fell on us from the very beginning of the tour. Just like the tour in Colorado back in 1997, the rain started at the very beginning of the bike tour and continued for the first half of the tour.

Four days later, we left the coast and climbed up over the coastal range from Cambria. The rain turned into a downpour as I made my way up the climb. At the top of the climb, exhausted, soaked and very cold, I felt once again pushed against the edge of my mental and physical limits.

“After a 2000 foot climb from the Pacific Ocean, I met Blue Mesa at the top of cloud shrouded summit. On the top of the summit, rain continued to pour down. I was frozen, and winds were whipping around from all directions. Then I looked up and saw a lone hawk circling.  I instantly knew the hawk was Mesa’s spirit. Mesa was telling me he was fine now and in a better place. I cried. I stayed on the summit for a while, watching the hawk circling. Then the hawk flew away. I started the descent from the coastal range summit. The rain stopped about an hour after I met Blue Mesa’s spirit. The rest of the ride consisted of rolling steep hills up and down through wine country. I didn’t even think about stopping and visiting any of the wineries. I knew the rest of the afternoon’s ride was going to take every ounce of my energy just to make it to destination of the day’s ride. We ended the day’s ride in a town called Paso Robles.

The next morning, I awakened to a surprising sight. Rays of sunlight beamed through my room. I saw sunshine for the first time this morning during the bike ride. The sunshine lit grounds of the lodge looked so bright after all the dark skies of the previous five days. The sun shined brightly the rest of the tour, just like the sun shined on the second half of the tour back in 1997.”

On top of Blue Mesa summit in 1997, I met the spirit of my dear departed black PC. A year later, a Russian Blue kitten came into my life and I named him Blue Mesa in honor of that place.

Fourteen years later, Blue Mesa passed away. During this ride, in a town called Paso Robles, history repeated itself. So I named my next cat Paso Robles. And the cycle of life continues.”

I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash. I think this song might be perhaps the positive optimistic song I ever heard.


Jud Wiebe Trail

Box Canyon of Telluride viewed from the Jud Wiebe Trail

Telluride nestled in a box canyon viewed from the Jud Wiebe Trail

Beautiful Aspen groves along the Jud Wiebe Trail

Beautiful Aspen groves along the Jud Wiebe Trail

The town of Telluride surrounded by mountains on three side

The town of Telluride surrounded by mountains on three sides

Finding myself winded within one minute of starting the hike up Jud Wiebe Trail, I struggled during the entire hike. The trail is only a three-mile long loop, but gains 1300 feet of elevation in little over a mile, averaging over a 20% grade. The trail climbs steeply on the east side of Telluride. The trail zigzags through groves of aspen trees, open meadows, and provides stunning panoramic views of Telluride and the valley floor.

The hike took me three hours which means I averaged less than one mile per hour. Breathing was difficult for a flat-lander like me. The starting elevation was 8,800 feet, which meant with the 1,300 feet of elevation gain, most of the hike was about 9,000 feet and crested somewhere around 10,100 feet, or nearly two miles above sea level. I don’t know which was harder, climbing up the side of the mountain or walking back down. On the way up, my heart would race close to my max heart rate. On the way down, my legs ached.

Fortunately I had my new Salewa hiking shoes which were a size larger and much lighter than the hiking boots I used on the extremely painful Appalachian Trail hike back in May. My big toenails are still black, purple, and red from my painful day back in May on the Appalachian in North Carolina because of those old boots . The new shoes were extraordinarily comfortable, while providing excellent grip and traction on the rocky trail. During the ascent, I stopped many times along the way to rest and get my heart rate back down to a manageable level. Walking back down I stopped often to rest my legs.

The steep descent Continue reading

To Hell You Ride

Telluride Colorado, nestled inside a box canyon in the San Juan Mountains

While driving up the road into the box canyon that cradles the town of Telluride, memories came streaming back from 19 years ago when I bicycled into this town. Barely finishing that day in 1997, I was totally exhausted, arriving in a state of glucose deprivation. I was on a bicycle tour in the San Juan mountains that I had no business being on. I was in way over my head. This was only my second bicycle tour, and this tour was probably the hardest out of the 40 listed in the Timberline Adventures catalog.

The ride started in Durango Colorado. As we rode towards Silverton, the first real climb was a 2000 foot ascent to Coal Bank Pass. The air around Coal Bank Pass is supposedly the cleanest in the nation. I know why, because there is not enough air up there to get dirty. As I approached the 10,600 ft summit, I started to see stars, and my peripheral vision started to black out. I barely remember the tour leaders dumping me in a van just 100 yards from the summit. They shuttled me to the top of the second pass of the day while I recovered. They let me back out of the van and I coasted downhill into Silverton. I remember laying in bed that night, wondering what I had got myself into to. I didn’t even make it up the first climb of the tour, and there were eight more days to go, and about another 20 similar or harder climbs. Everyone else in the tour group had made it the entire way, and I was dreading the humiliation from failing again in the days ahead. I now knew I was in for an ordeal.

The next day we climbed Red Mountain Pass on the way to Ouray. Red Mountain Pass is over 11,000 feet. I rode slowly, trying to ride within myself and keeping my heart rate down to a manageable level. I was quite concerned about the elevation. Yesterday I almost blacked out at 10,600 ft, and today we were going over 11,000 ft from a starting elevation of 9300 ft. I managed the pace and the climb well and ascended to the summit of Red Mountain Pass without blacking out. We descended into Ouray, and I started to gain a little bit of confidence.

The route the next day to Telluride had two major climbs. The first climb was a ten-mile 2000 foot ascent to the Dallas Divide. Along the way we passed by Ralph Lauren’s Double R Ranch. I really struggled again that day. The group was all so much more advanced than I was. I do think I was the oldest member of the tour. Once again, they were miles ahead of me. One of the tour leaders hung back with me to encourage me. I think her name was CC, or CG, or CK, or CJ, something like that. Actually I think her name was CK. After making the ascent to the Dallas divide, there was a long downhill to Placerville where we would make a left turn to start the ascent up to Telluride. The directions this day were simple, turn left from the motel in Ouray, turn left in Ridgeway, and turn left in Placerville. CJ stayed close by, probably worried  that I would crash and end up unconscious in a ditch along the side of the road somewhere. Reaching speeds of 40-50 mph during the long winding descents was easily attainable. Keeping the speed down below 50 mph required quite a bit of hand braking. Also sitting straight up in the saddle helped slow the bike due to wind resistance, but sitting up straight was not an ideal posture from a stability perspective. I had to stop every ten minutes or so just to rest my fingers from gripping the brakes to keep them from cramping up.

After the steep winding descent, next up was a 1500 ft climb into the town of Telluride. Situated in a box canyon surrounded by mountains on three sides, there is only one way in and out of the town. Telluride is where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid robbed their first bank. They made their get away by using multiple fresh horses they staged along their escape route. The element Tellurium is where the name Telluride comes from. Tellurium is primarily used for electro-optics such as infrared sensors and night vision goggles. Tellurium is also used to make copper wire more ductile. Interestingly, mining of Tellurium never occurred in Telluride, but gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc mining did occur there and still is mined today. There are enough mined out tunnels around Telluride to stretch out the same distance as from San Francisco to Los Angeles, 560 miles. When miners got on trains to head to Telluride back in the 1800s, the conductor would shout out, “To Hell You Ride”. Now Telluride is a world-class ski resort. My ride from Ouary to Telluride also felt like a ride to hell.

The ride up to Telluride was simply beautiful even though I was really struggling with the second climb of the day. Lining the road were aspen trees, one of my favorite trees. Aspen trees have delicate oval heart shaped leaves with beautiful white bark. The endless rows of Aspen trees on the way into Telluride was simply beautiful, God’s own white picket fence. Two hours after making the turn in Placerville I slowly rolled into Telluride. My energy stores were completely spent. I managed to  make my into my room at the Viking Lodge, the same place I am staying now. Staying there 19 years ago is how I knew to look for this place this year. The Viking Lodge was one of the nicest places I ever stayed on 18 bicycle tours (over 200 places). I remembered back then thinking how nice it would be to have a layover day in this town and rest. But the tour continued for the next six straight days, with even harder days ahead. I figured some day I would come back to this quaint old mining town, the return only took 19 years.

After briefly settling into the room, I walked with the group in the afternoon to get some pizza. At this point I was so hungry and exhausted, I could hardly walk. My sugar stores were completely depleted. Later that evening, while heading into the restaurant for dinner, two of the women in the group saw Ralph Lauren get out of a limousine with a girl on each arm and walk into a movie theater. That is the kind of town Telluride is now. Many A list Hollywood types come here to ski. Ralph sold just under 50% of his company about 10 years ago for $900 million dollars, and he still owns over half his company. I would love to see his ranch house near the Dallas Divide, but the setting of the ranch was too far back off the road to see. Having the backdrop of the San Juans mountains behind your ranch would be very nice.

After dinner we took the gondola up to Mountain Village. The night was cold and raining. This was a pretty hard drinking crew for a bike tour this difficult. Usually bike tours compositions are mostly made up with vegetarians who don’t drink. Because of the rain, or some other reason, the gondola got stuck for a while. I had to pee so bad from all the beer consumed at dinner. I remember at one point I actually thought about opening the door to the gondola and peeing out the side of the little capsule hanging from the wires. I imagine others in the group were in the same situation. Finally much to my relief, the gondola started again about 15 minutes later.

Driving on these same roads I bicycled on 19 years ago, I wondered how I had ever managed to bicycle all those long distances. But I was 19 years younger then. Those tours, while awesome, were so fast paced. You would get up early in the morning, pack, eat breakfast, ride until late afternoon, unpack at the next hotel, eat dinner, come back to your room and go to sleep. Then you would get up early the next morning, and do the same routine all over again. There was very little free time during the tour. I am finding now that staying in just once place for a while is so nice. I’ve been so fortunate to see so many places on these tours while I was working. But I always had to return within a few weeks to go back to work. Now, I can return to the places I loved the most and spend as much time as I want there. I have more places I want to go back to and relax than years I have left.

I am glad I did all those fast paced strenuous tours while I was younger. A dear Canadian friend once told me, that her parents advised her to do the hard rides and hikes when you are young, instead of waiting till you are older and retire. She and her parents were very wise. I could probably do one day of a ride like this now, but then I would have to rest the next day. My body just does not recover as quickly as it did 10 years ago to ride day after day after day.

By the way, on that tour back in 1997, I was able to complete each days ride for the rest of the tour after that agonizing first day. After staying in Telluride, the next day we headed to Montrose. Then the next day we rode to Gunnison. Little did I know that two days after leaving Telluride, during the ride to Gunnison, I would experience my first spiritual experience of meeting a soul of a dearly loved departed cat who now existed above the earth plane.

Long Hard Ride – The Marshall Tucker Band

What Have You Learned, Dorothy?

Mountain Lioness crawling into my lap while I am sitting in the captains seat

Mountain Lioness crawling into my lap while I am sitting in the drviers seat

An interesting mental exercise is to express all your dreams and hopes with only six words. The purpose of only using six words is to focus on what you most value in your life. Using only six words to express your life’s dreams is difficult. Try sometime when you get a chance. I came up with, “You are free, live life outdoors”

If I had to sum up this trip in one word, the word would be “Freedom”.

What I enjoyed most about the trip was not having an extended plan. I am so used to planning things out in such detail. I was very apprehensive leaving not knowing exactly where I was going or where I was going to stay. The best part of the trip ended up being not having a daily plan. Instead of having a destination for the day, I drove until I became tired, then I would find a place to stay. Sometimes I would see a sign for a campground while driving. Other times I would pull off the road and get out this huge 4 inch thick campground directory and look for a place to spend the evening. Knowing that I could always just stay in the RV in a parking lot made not reserving a site easier. I never did end up having to spend the night in a Wallmart or Cracker Barrel parking lot. Several mornings I did set off thinking my most likely parking spot would be a rest area or Wallmart parking lot. Each evening, I would get out the map, and decide where to head toward and which roads to use the next day. Rarely did I reserve a site for the next night. And several times, I liked where I was so much, that I decided to stay another day.

The RV was big enough for a comfortable extended tour. A larger coach would have been more comfortable, but I soon easily adapted to living in the 175 square foot space. While driving with the slide pulled in, the coach was tight and cramped. After a few days, whenever I extended the slideout, which added three feet of floor space of width along 6 feet of length, the coach actually started to seem large to me. I found you really don’t need much stuff or much space to live in.

The cats did great. I think they could live in the coach forever. They settled into a routine with their food, water, cat litter, and both found their favorite places to stay while we drove. While parked they also had their favorite places to hang out and loved looking out the windows.

Here are some thoughts from the trip.

  • The smaller size RV was good for pulling into gas stations, MacDonalds, Cracker Barrel etc. Traveling in a larger RV would have been more difficult.
  • Diesel, definitely glad I got a diesel rig. The average fuel mileage was 15 mpg. More importantly, was the power the diesel engine pulled the rig up the many steep hills. The entire trip was around 2750 miles. At 15 mpg, the trip took about 180 gallons of diesel fuel, costing about $400. Between fuel and campgrounds, the trip cost averaged about $50/day.
  • Interstate driving is mostly boring, but also easy. There are lots of services for gas, food etc, I also found it quite depressing to see the same chains across America, MacDonalds, Dennys, Comfort Inn etc. I know exactly what Charles Kuralt meant when he said, “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.”
  • People are friendly on the road, Charles Kuralt also said, “There are a lot of people who are doing wonderful things, quietly, with no motive of greed, or hostility toward other people, or delusions of superiority.” And he also said, “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.”
  • I found not having a plan was very nice, giving me the freedom to just do what I felt like doing each day.
  • After a few days, I quit worrying about appearances. Often I would go a day without a shower, and wear the same clothes multiple days. Some days I just washed my face, put on more deodorant, brushed my teeth and tousled up my hair with a little water. I also noticed the same of others on the road. While boondocking along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I talked to two girls from Colorado who were brushing their teeth literally out of the trunk of their car.
  • I never worried too much about campground reservations, usually just pulled into a campground, sometimes would call ahead but mostly because I didn’t want to waste time driving to campground to find out it was full. Maybe because of the the time of year, but I never found a place that full, and I always knew I could boondock (no external electrical, water, or sewage connections)
  • Boondockling over the memorial day holiday was interesting, amazing how you can have a self contained house with all the modern convenience we expect with no external connections for electricity, water, or sewage.
  • Being able to bring cats was simply wonderful, otherwise I would have worried about them and become lonely. They are the main reason I bought the RV as I wanted the ability to travel with them.
  • Hotel rooms are nice, but its relaxing and soothing to look out the windows in the RV and see a forest.
  • I did get lonely, the trip would have been better with a kind woman. As the saying goes, it’s not what you do, but who you do it with it.
  • SiriusXm Radio was really nice to have, music without interruption or commercials and not having to search constantly for radio stations that would fade in and out. The comedy channels were great. Several days I listened to all day to the comedy channels, often laughing out loud. When tired at the end of the day, I did find out listening to new age music station is not a good idea.
  • I always seem to get a good night sleep in the small RV bed, not sure why, but I did.
  • Sometimes I would wake up and have absolutely no idea where I was. Several minutes would pass before I could remember where I was. I felt like I was a member of the lost Indian tribe, called “Wherethefuckarewe.”
  • The nostalgia was fine for a while, but then thoughts and emotions became overwhelming and mind numbing, and I had to get back to the future.
  • You have to enjoy driving to enjoy having a RV.
  • I learned a lot about how to use many of the features of the GPS. The GPS really was useful, but also found that sometimes I started to over rely on the GPS. There are actually signs on the roads that you can look at to see where to go.
  • Losing something in a RV is hard. When you are ready to leave, you look around the campground site, and if nothing is lying around, then everything is most likely in the RV somewhere, you just might not know where the item is in the coach. Somethings I didn’t find until I got home, and thought, oh yea, that is where i put that.
  • However after getting home, cleaning out the RV and cleaning the RV is quite a bit of work, much easier to leave a hotel room and let them clean. Then again, I read where many hotel staffs use the same rag to clean the entire room, so I don’t know how clean hotel rooms really are.
  • 200 – 230 miles was a good distance to drive each day, 5-6 hours. Driving further than 230 miles was tiring. Driving a RV takes a lot more concentration than a car. There is a lot more anticipation of the conditions ahead, looking at traffic in front, behind, and on the sides of the rig. Changing lanes, merging onto limited access highways, and watching out for vehicles merging onto highways since I was almost always in the far right hand lane is more difficult in a RV than in a car. And most of all, looking out and staying away from all the really aggressive dangerous idiot drivers on the road was really important to stay safe. An RV does not accelerate or stop as quickly as a car, nor is the RV as nimble as an automobile. I did not have even one single close call except for the idiot in Spartansburg SC who cut me off in a parking lot making me jam on the brakes causing me to spill my coffee all over my new Rand McNally Atlas and carpeting in the cab.  I was simply astounded at how reckless people drove on the highways, 80+mph tailgating the car in front by just a few inches, changing lanes constantly. I averaged around 63-64 mph, so everyone was passing me. Most disturbing were the many huge tractor-trailer trucks driving the same aggressive way. The truckers pretty much leave you along in the far right lane, but if you are in the passing lane, or a center lane if there is one, the truckers will get with in inches of your bumper trying to force you to get out of there way. Those truckers and dangerous drivers are another reason to avoid the interstates if possible as Charles Kuralt suggested.
  • Air conditioning is still a must have.
  • I did not see a newspaper or turn on a TV for three weeks. All the same news happened whether I watched it or not. So who cares, turn off the news. Leave the TV and radio behind.
  • If all you do all week is going to work and come home at night and watch TV, then on the weekends work on your home and yard, all you have really done is build yourself a really nice comfortable prison.
  • You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you’ve a mind to.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • If there is something you really want to do in life, do it now, or make plans to do it. You never know when your time is up, and tomorrow is promised to no one.
  • The future is now.
  • Anything is possible if you prepare and plan well, and are very organized. Then while in the endeavor, focus only on that day and the immediate task before you. Then go with the flow.
  • Always check the wind direction before peeing outdoors.
  • Stay positive and see the all the possibilities, not the obstacles. This will allow you to achieve great endeavors in your life.
  • If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.
  • I did not see any TV during the trip (okay, well twice I had the Pittsburgh Penguins/San Jose Sharks hockey game on as they played for the Stanley Cup, but really didn’t pay that much attention. Often there would be cable at campgrounds, but I would not even bother hooking up the cable, knowing that I would not turn on the TV anyways. Leave the TV and radio behind, don’t you wonder what well find.

Steppin Out – Joe Jackson

So tired of all the darkness in our lives
With no more angry words to say can come alive
Get into a car and drive
To the other side

Are young but getting old before our time
We’ll leave the T.V. and the radio behind
Don’t you wonder what we’ll find
Steppin’ out tonight?