A Colorado Adventure!

It’s June and Time For a Colorado Trip!

May 31 – June 8, 2011

Day 1, Tuesday, Home to Winnemucca, NV via SR88, I-80: 346 miles

For Lavonne, this would be her first motorhome trip in over eight months, and she didn’t miss the RVing for a minute. For her, it’s the destination and this journey was to her son, Allen’s in Colorado. For me, it’s always the journey, and of course I, too, look forward to visiting the kids in Colorado. But I love the adventure of planning, preparing, loading up the coach and the long, long drive that lasts for days.

We had a very busy first day. Although the coach was prepped during the preceding days, we had to load all our clothes, food, water, gas, etc. It was a good, two hour workout for both of us. We drove ten miles out of our way by going to Costco, on the other side of town, to gas up at the “discount” price of $3.86 per gallon. By 1000 everything was on board and we headed to highway 88.

As we started over SR 88 from Stockton, it all looked very normal…

It was a beautiful, awe-inspiring drive over SR88. Our springtime had been very wet, and the amount of snow in the Sierras was unbelievable. We drove to an elevation of almost 8000 feet as we topped Carson Pass. While the beauty was breath-taking, the wind was atrocious! We dealt with winds to about 40 MPH as we crossed the Sierras and dropped into Nevada. Fortunately, it was mostly a tailwind, but when it was a cross-wind, it was a handful.

It was a snowy winter and spring in the Sierras.

Caples Lake was a chunk of ice!

It was a beautiful drive through the snowy Sierras.

A lovely Nevada home after crossing the mountains. Note the wind!

Jacks down for the night at Winnemucca’s Walmart.

By the time we drove into Winnemucca, Nevada, the wind had calmed considerably. We settled in for the night, watching our satellite TV and, for Lavonne, an evening cup o’ joe was in order. For me, a stout Vodka Collins was just the ticket after a long day’s drive.

Day 2, Wednesday, June 1, Winnemucca, NV to Tooele, UT via I-80: 332 miles

We spent a very comfortable night in the parking lot of Walmart. While some folks may sneer at the idea of over-nighting in a Walmart lot, it is a very safe and cost-effective way to travel. Walmart lots are well lighted, usually have 24 hour live security patrols, and video cameras that record everything that goes on in the lot. They are safer than any roadside stop, and no doubt safer than most RV parks. Many years ago Sam Walton opened his lots to RVers, knowing that we’re generally a well-mannered bunch, and also good customers. Thanks, Mr. Sam!

Heading east on I-80 after leaving Winnemucca.

June 1 dawned partly cloudy and calm. Calm was good, and after the windy drive of Day 1, calm weather was especially welcome. But it didn’t last long. The further east we drove, the windier it became.

By the time we got to Wendover, the state line of Nevada and Utah, there was a flashing sign “Caution Winds 40 MPH”. We had no choice but to continue driving through the wind across the Utah salt flats ‘til we arrived at the Walmart store in Tooele (“too-ella”), Utah, just before Salt Lake City.

It was a pretty miserable day of driving, and very tiring. It was almost like arriving at home when we pulled into the Walmart lot at the end of a long day. I was pooped! We settled back and watched our TV, Lavonne with her coffee and me with my Vodka Collins.

There were dining choices all around our Walmart lot, and I walked over for some Panda Express which I brought to the coach. We spent a restful night at Tooele, and once again, thanks, Mr. Sam!

Morning dawned at Tooele’s Walmart – blue sky, mountains, and NO WIND!

Day 3, Thursday, Tooele, NV to Laramie, WY via I-80: 402 miles

The wind subsided as night fell, and by morning it was pretty calm. Weather reports indicated more wind beyond Salt Lake City, but that didn’t diminish the lovely morning in Tooele, a very scenic town with the snow-capped mountains and clear, blue sky above.

The Great Salt Lake along I-80 as we headed toward Salt Lake City.

Coalville, Utah is one of the most beautiful places in the country. It lies
 high above above Salt Lake City along I-80, southwest of Wyoming.

The weather was fine as we drove through Utah that morning, with little wind. As we entered Wyoming, the wind kicked up, but it was mostly a tailwind through much of the state. The last 50 to 100 miles to Laramie, the wind became a crosswind, and much of that time it was a strong wind. Driving became very tedious as I fought the gusts that tried to blow us off the road. By the time we got to Laramie and checked in at the KOA RV Park, I was bushed.

Here we stopped at a Utah Parking Area for breakfast as we neared Wyoming.


Stark Wyoming landscape along I-80.

This must have been an old Wyoming homestead now well cared for and looking well maintained. Such sights must have great stories that I’d love to hear.

We always spend the last night of the trip at an RV lot so that I can dump the holding tanks and arrive at the kids’ home with empty tanks to begin our trip home. After signing in, we settled in at the KOA Park, and then watched cable TV for a few hours as I imbibed a couple of Vodka Collins.

Day 4, Friday, Laramie, WY to Allen’s in Greenwood Village, CO via I-80, I-25.

It was a cool night in Wyoming, as usual, and the coach was only 50° in the morning. After turning on the heater, plus an electric heater, I went back to bed as the coach warmed up. I began the day with the usual chores, I caught up on this travelogue, and we enjoyed a perfectly calm morning. 

Jacks down at the KOA RV Park in Laramie Wyoming. We saw the wind change from what must have been 40+ MPH gusts to flat calm by morning.

It was great to be out of the wind for a change. I took a morning walk around the RV park, dumped the trash and the tanks, then drove to the nearby Pilot Truck Stop to gas up. $220 later we pulled onto Interstate 80 and continued our trek east toward Denver.

Our drive was wonderful; there was virtually no wind for the 150 mile drive and that was our prayer. The skies were blue, the sun bright, the traffic light. Until we got to Denver that is, and then the traffic was pretty heavy but without delays. We pulled into the kids’ driveway shortly after noon. I dropped the jacks, hooked up the electricity to the house, and we had arrived. The weekend was ours to enjoy with the kids!

June 3 – 6, Friday to Monday: Jacks down and time to visit with the kids!

We were at the kids’ home when they arrived after work. We kicked back and just enjoyed the time together. Our visits include laid back conversations, cooking, eating, eating out, more eating, and table games.

We enjoyed every moment we spent in the kids’ backyard. It’s a restful, beautiful place to while away the hours visiting.

Lunch guests in the backyard. The kids’ home is just a couple miles from
 Denver, but the green belts in the area are full of wildlife.

Friday we stayed put, but Saturday we all headed over to PJ Chang’s Chinese Bistro (I think Bistro means noisy) where they serve splendid Chinese food. I pigged out, as I tend do when it comes to Chinese food, but the noise was just too much. While we had a good time, I was glad to get back to the peace and quiet of the kids’ home.

Allen and Nancy’s beautiful home – and our coach at rest.

The family wages war over Mexican Trains, a domino game.

Patio time! 

Sunday was a stay-at-home day for me, while everyone else seemed to stay busy shopping and running around for any number of reasons. Erica and Norma came by Sunday afternoon, and Erica, our granddaughter, stayed over Sunday night. Norma had things to do, and had to leave before dinner. We had a grand patio dinner of barbecued tri-tip and all the trimmings. Following dinner, we all played dominoes ’til I called it quits and went to bed while the others played on.

A grand patio dinner of tri-tip and all the trimmings!

Day 7, Monday, June 7, Greenwood Village to Rock Spring, WY via I-25, I-80: 358 miles

Our visit came to an end on Monday morning as Allen and Nancy headed to work and we headed home. After our farewells, we pointed the coach north on I-25 toward Cheyenne, WY. We stopped at the new Walmart in Ft. Collins for Lavonne to do a bit of shopping, and we had breakfast aboard the coach before getting back on the road. My plan was to eat on the coach the entire trip back to make up for the sins of overeating earlier in our trip.

Monday sunrise – and nearly time to head back home.

A few miles west of Cheyenne, we came upon this wrecked big rig and 
the cleanup operation. The trailer was barely recognizable.

A fascinating pine tree along I-80. Story is below:

The day began a bit breezy at the kids’ place, but the drive was fine ‘til we were about a hundred miles east of Rock Springs, our destination for the day. The wind blew from the south, making it a tough cross wind to fight. 

West of Cheyenne, the highest point on all of I-80 is reached at over 8600 feet. My new navigator showed our elevation as we reached the top.

When we finally pulled into the Walmart at Rock Springs, the wind was blowing a good 40+ MPH from the south, and likely gusting to 50 MPH or more. I went to the trouble of firing up the little generator which is a bit of a job in a hurricane.

I went into Walmart to buy a few things, and when I returned the wind had shifted to the west, and harder than before. I had parked the coach facing the south wind, and then needed to face it into the west wind. Facing the coach into the wind makes for a lot less rocking. I put the little Honda generator away in order to move the coach.

Faced into the west wind, I dropped the jacks and made the coach stable. I fired up the big generator and used it the whole evening as I wasn’t about to mess with the little Honda again in such terrible conditions.

The wind blew as hard as a wild thunderstorm in Oklahoma several years earlier when we watched shopping carts careen through the a Walmart parking lot at 20 MPH. And again, we watched carts blow through the parking lot as though it was a cart race.

By 2100 we’d had it for the day and headed to bed. We slept warm and cozy and well in spite of the foul weather just outside. Life is good aboard a comfy coach.

Day 8, Tuesday, Rock Springs, WY to Elko, NV via I-80: 400 miles

We awoke to a continuing wind, the flag atop Walmart standing straight up in the wind. It was blowing much less than the evening before, but still it must have been blowing a good 20 MPH.

This was the only photo from our stay at windy Rock Springs that shows any wind blowing. Note the flag in the background. This was the morning we left and the wind was blowing only 20 MPH or so. It had been more than double that. Note this big rig with the 5th wheel RV. And how about that gigantic satellite dish? That rig is overkill!

There were about 18 RVs at the Rock Springs Walmart lot as we left on Tuesday morning. I reckon many of them simply parked there to get off the windy highway for the night.

We hurried to hit the road and outrun the higher winds that were sure to increase as the sun rose. I tried to gas up in Rock Springs, but the gas was the most expensive we’d seen on the trip at $3.90 per gallon. When the pump cut me off at $100, instead of swiping the card and buying more, I decided to just head down the road and find cheaper gas.

We were on the road by 0630, heading west and hoping for a much calmer day.

Wyoming is a beautiful place as long as it’s viewed as one drives through. It is cold, windy, and very desolate. Here is a good shot of typical Wyoming landscape along I-80.

The farther west we drove the calmer it seemed to be. By the time we dropped down into Tooele, UT, beyond Salt Lake City, it was nearly calm. The morning’s drive was uneventful and downright comforting after the windstorm of Monday. We pulled into the Flying J in Tooele and gassed up at just $3.61. While there we had breakfast in the coach.

This seems a harsh place to live. Yet it’s not uncommon to see mobile homes of every description along I-80 in Wyoming that have survived many years of punishing weather. 

We continued on our trip in tolerable winds, much better than the prior day. We stopped at Wendover, Nevada’s Peppermill Casino for an hour or so, dropping about $10 into the local economy. We checked out their buffet, but at $13 each decided to head on down the road.

We stopped at Wells, Nevada’s McDonald’s for lunch. My plan to eat all meals in the coach was intact, as we ate our burgers there. But that wasn’t exactly my intent; I need to get back on my diet! After a leisurely lunch, we continued our drive west to Elko, 50 miles away.

Another view of the Wyoming landscape. These giant wind turbines are not an uncommon site along I-80; there must be hundreds of them. Obviously, windy days are not uncommon, either!

We arrived at Elko’s Walmart at 1615 and promptly fired up the little generator in perfect conditions; the wind was a comfortable breeze and the air was about 70°. It doesn’t get any better than that. We spent the evening in the coach watching satellite TV and updating this travelogue and editing photos. We spent a very comfortable night aboard.

Day 9, Wednesday, Elko, NV to Home! via I-80, SR88: 477 miles

Jacks down in Elko Nevada’s Walmart. What a view of the mountains!

We awoke early to flat calm air and what appeared would be a perfect day for travel. So, after a brief and cooperative effort through the morning chores, we were back on the road, heading west on I-80 at 0630. We didn’t know if we’d go to Boomtown Casino for the night, just west of Reno, or take SR88 over the Sierras to the Jackson Rancheria Casino in Jackson, CA, which we passed as we began our trip.

Another view of the Coalville, UT area as we headed home. It’s hard to leave the camera alone as we drive through this gorgeous area.

It really was a perfect day for motoring across Nevada. The wind was very tolerable, the sun was bright and yet it was a mild day. We had missed the usual June heat throughout the entire trip. We stopped at a rest area for breakfast in the coach, and enjoyed the early drive through the desert all morning long. 

My lil’ Wifey checked out the Utah salt flats in person, up close and personal.

Although this sign is pretty dated, these salt flats are near the famous Bonneville Salt Flats raceway.

For lunch we stopped at a large travel plaza with a McDonald’s. Lord knows we try to stay on our usual home diets when traveling, but now and then ya just need a Big Mac. And fries. And for later, a McFlurry and a senior coffee to keep alert. Mmmmmm.

Lunch of Mickey D’s aboard the coach along I-80 in Nevada.

More of Nevada’s desert landscape along I-80.

As we neared Fernley, NV, we had to decide whether to take SR88 over the Sierras or to continue west on I-80. We chose to miss the hectic Reno and Sacramento traffic, and to head over the Sierras. It is a beautiful drive.

We needed to gas up, and I passed many gas stations looking for the final, best price. I chose to try the last one, about 14 miles out of town, heading up Highway 88. Unfortunately, that station was only in the Garmin navigator, and not in reality. I had to drive 15 miles back to town to gas up! We wasted 30 miles of driving and about an hour’s time making up for Garmin’s mistake and my foolishness of passing so many gas stations.

Back in Kalifornistan where we don’t fix roads; we just state the obvious!

Caples Lake along SR88 in Kalifornistan. Note the busted up road!

The drive over 88 was scenic and splendid, but very tiring. At one point we pulled over and made sandwiches just to get ourselves through the drive to Jackson.

The rest and nourishment helped – when we got to Jackson we just kept on driving on home! It made for a long day, but after almost 500 miles of driving, we arrived home at 1700.

It was a challenge to unload the coach after such a long day, but we set about the task and were finished in a bit over an hour. We were plumb gassed, but it sure was great to be home.

Driving the foothills – note the Central Valley in the distance.

The next day I still had to dump the tanks and scrub down the front of the coach to remove the 2500 mile bug collection. It was a grand trip for me, but dear Wifey struggles with the long days of traveling. Still, she loves the destination when it includes getting to visit the family in Colorado. Life is good.

About FishWisher

Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.
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