If this blog post needed a sub-title, I think it would be “The B Word”.
Our reservation at Cherry Creek State Park was due to be over on Tuesday, November 17th, and we had stayed as long as the park would allow us. We had been watching the weather, and a big winter storm (some weather people on TV even used the B word) was coming toward the Denver area on our travel day. We went to the campground office to ask a few questions. We wanted to know if the storm did come and the roads were thick with snow, would they still force us to leave because we had been there for the maximum number of days (even though the park was not full and there were empty spaces). The answer was yes, we had to go – no matter what.
Instead of taking any stupid chances, we decided to leave a day early and go to our next scheduled stop at a Jellystone Campground in Larkspur – just off of I-25. We had picked another campground that was only 30 minutes down the road for the second phase of our Colorado visit. I have a childhood friend that lives only a few miles from the Larkspur campground; and we were still within driving distance to Denver – which was convenient because we planned to go back to Aurora on Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with our friends Janet, Amy, Blaine and Sammy. You might be able to tell, my motivations in Colorado shifted from travel warrior to stocking up on as much ‘friend’ time as possible.
We pulled out of Cherry Creek around 9:30 on Monday morning and made the quick trip down I-25 to our next stop. The skies were blue when we left, so our timing was great… ahead of the blizzard. The Jellystone Campground is built up the side of a large ‘hill’ adjacent to the highway. All of the camping sites are stacked above the others as you make your way to the top. The camp “ranger” led us to our spot which was carved into the landscape about half- way up the incline. Mike had to pull past the spot and then back into it. The skies were still clear at this point, but the roads were icy from the last snow they had received. I was directing Mike into our spot from outside the rig. I was watching the front tires as he was backing into the spot when the front driver’s side tire started sliding backward with no traction. YIKES! I was a little frazzled, but he backed it in just fine on the first try. It turns out that we got there just in the nick of time. As soon as we were all set up, the snow came and did not stop until 16″ later.
We spent our first full day in Larkspur trying to stay warm and watching all drivers who tried to leave spend subsequent hours digging their vehicles out of ditches. Piper and Cessna were elated with what the weather Gods delivered in the form of white powder. We were a little less thrilled with the situation. It suddenly became clear that the campground maintenance crew was not going to plow our road. Mike borrowed a snow shovel from the office and spent several hours each day trying to clear a path for us so it would be clear when the time came to move the rig. We were keeping an eye on the weather and it was supposed to stay cold for several days. Our road was like one giant ice chute down to flat ground at the bottom. We started wondering how we were going to drive the Monaco down the slick strip of road when the time came to leave. We have seen snow on our adventure before, but not like this.
We had planned to stay at Jellystone for two weeks, but we were anxious to get to a spot down on the flat portion of the campground. If the weather turned bad again, we would have a better chance of maneuvering the Monaco with less ice beneath us and less of a steep grade in front of us. Mike went to the office and negotiated to move us to another spot at the conclusion of our first week. When the time came, he backed the rig down the hill and moved us into a better location… closer to the highway and train track so we could hear all the super loud traffic with no problem at all!
Even though this location caused lots of stress for us, it worked out just fine. I was able to spend one afternoon with my friend Tammy, which was a wonderful treat. We also got to spend Thanksgiving at the Stern’s house AND make our way to a Nuggets vs. Spurs basketball game on the Friday after turkey day. (And we got some good pictures out of the deal)!