Pagosa – One Final Week

06 Sep

Next Sunday, I’ll be packing up camp here in Pagosa Springs and heading east to La Veta, CO. It won’t be a long drive … I think it’s about 2 1/2 hours according to Bing Maps … but we’ll be making a couple of stops along the way. I’d like to snap a photo of Frank at the Continental Divide as we head over Wolf Creek Pass and then take some from the scenic lookout down into the valley. If Frank’s cool with it, I’d like to take another at the top of La Veta Pass, too. The first pass is at almost 10,900 feet while the second is at 9,400. Both are along highway 160.

But getting back to Pagosa … it’s really hard for me to believe we’ve been at our current campsite for over six weeks. That’s more time than we spent in Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana combined! And yet that really doesn’t register.. No, it doesn’t seem like we arrived here yesterday. That’s not what I mean. I think it has something to do with the amount of energy output. Over the first half of our little adventure, we had to change camp three times. We stayed in five motels, and traveled lots of distance, too. Throw in the heat; the stress of Frank’s 3 vet visits; dealing with all the domicile stuff in Texas and one trip to the emergency room … the first half of the journey, in retrospect, was sort of a whirlwind.

Compare that –  the “Frank and Jeff Holy Hell Tour” – to six weeks of absolute bliss, sitting in nice temps, doing pretty much what we’ve done since our arrival! Frank and I have managed to continue our quest for the ultimate “slug” impersonation (Frank’s winning, but don’t tell him I said that). Aside from our one trip across northern New Mexico, we’ve managed to do … nothing. Well, that’s “nothing”, if you don’t include:

◊ Spending at least a dozen or so nights looking at the stars, including our spectacular date with the Pereids.

◊ Attending four community campfires and one pot luck dinner. As an aside, I had my first homemade dessert in almost two years. It was some kind of spice cake and let me tell you, it took almost 20 minutes to finish that one medium-size piece. It’s the little things in life, right?

◊ Meeting some good people. A few posts ago, I mentioned Kent from San Antonio. Well, we’ve made at least a half dozen additional friends from all parts of the country, too. I’ve gotten some good advice about things to see and places to check out.

◊ Making a little boy’s day at breakfast when he thought I was Santa Claus! I mentioned Frank and I having breakfast at the Muffin Shoppe. Well, as we headed back to the “dog-friendly” patio, this boy (probably around 5 or so – I’ve always had a hard time figuring out how old kids are) whispered to his mom as we passed. “Mom! It’s Santa Claus … on vacation … and he’s got a dog!!!!” I turned around and we caught each other’s eyes for a moment – so I just winked at him. He got all wide-eyed and quick turned around to his plate, as if he didn’t want anyone else to discover what had suddenly become a private moment between him and this fat guy with a dog who he mistook for a Saint!

◊ Relaxing. And relaxing. And relaxing. I can’t remember when I’ve had as enjoyable a six week period as this has been. I feel a lot better than when I arrived. It only took a week or so before I felt a sense of ease. Adding another five weeks has only helped that much more!

My anxiety bouts have lessened quite a bit. Up until hitting Colorado, I was having a couple a week. Granted, they were tapering off, but I think the biggest contributing factor was having to go “towards” something: I was headed for Texas to take care of business and that was really weighing on my mind. What if the car didn’t pass inspection? What if they questioned the whole “domicile” thing? Granted, everyone at Escapees, as well as the attorney, told me I had nothing to worry about … but of course, listening to them wouldn’t have been my style!  Even here, I’ve had to deal with 3 or 4 attacks.  But they’ve been quite managable with some deep breathing and positive affirmation exercises (the same ones that didn’t do squat for me in Charleston).

Anyhow, it’ll be on to La Veta. It’s about 3pm MDT – exactly one week from right now, I’ll probably be in the middle of setting up the tent. It’s going to be interesting to see how my body does having to do that again (and unfortunately, it’s going to be back to moving camp every two weeks pretty soon: once at the end of October and three more times starting in mid-December).

One thing has sunk in, though. This is the lifestyle I’ve chosen for at least the next couple of years. And now that Texas is out of the way, I can pretty much go where ever I want … within my cash constraints. I no longer have an obligation to “be” somewhere or “do” something except as it has to do with Frank’s and my everyday survival. That has been very, very freeing! It’s just a matter of managing my money. I’ve mentioned it before – at some point, I’m going to have to figure out some way to bring in around $500-$600/month. But even that hasn’t caused any real anxiety. Yet – I’ll start thinking about that this winter.

In the meantime, I’ve mapped out the next leg of our trip, from mid-March 2016 through mid-November. I’m going to post details in the “Itinerary” section of the blog. In previous posts, I’ve talked about heading back to the northeast, or possibly spending time in Tennessee and Virginia, doing genealogy research. Neither of those are going to happen. I’m done with spending summers in heat and the campground prices I’ve seen north of Washington D.C. are simply not in my budget.

The short version of “The Journey- Part 2” is that we’ll be gradually heading in a northeast direction, with stays at campsites in Texas (Livingston and Dallas again), Arkansas and Missouri before hitting Fort Wayne, IN to visit my brother. There’s a city-run campsite run that’s a 10 minute drive from where he lives. I’ll hopefully meet my nephew and perhaps a niece or two for the first time.

After that, we’ll head back west, with one more stay in Missouri before returning to Colorado for the summer and early fall. From there, we’ll head to Truth or Consequences, NM, arriving in mid-October for a three-week stay.  It’s another locale I’m checking out as a possible “settle down in retirement” place.

I still need to decide where we’ll spend winter 2016: Texas or Arizona. I’m leaning towards Texas right now – I’m not ready to hit the west coast yet, and that’s the only reason I’d head west to winter. I’ve been thinking about spending summer 2017 along the U.S. / Canadian border. I’ve never been to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’d also like to take in Minnesota and Wisconsin … perhaps do that in June and then head west to Montana and Idaho for July and August. That would put me in the longitude to head back down to Arizona for winter 2017. It would also take me up to shortly before my 65th birthday. Knock on wood that I’m still able to manage this little journey by then.

So that’s it for now. Any suggestions of places to visit in the general vicinity of the places I’ve mentioned will be greatly appreciated! Specifically, if you’ve camped in any parks, state, national or private. Let me know, please.


Posted by on September 6, 2015 in Travels


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9 responses to “Pagosa – One Final Week

  1. ekurie

    September 7, 2015 at 1:59 am

    La Veta looks not far from Colorado Springs. If you get a chance, Garden of the Gods park (not a campground) is beautiful and worth a visit. The Navigators national headquarters is next door and might be interesting. Towering over these is Pikes Peak. Probably snow-capped by now.


    • ustabe

      September 8, 2015 at 10:49 am

      I plan on getting up to Colorado Springs at some point during my month-long La Veta visit, Ekurie … Warren, one of my old high school friends retired there (I included a photo of him and I a few blog posts ago).

      Coincidentally, Warren just posted a photo of him and his son at the top of Pikes Peak yesterday, on Facebook … and he was commenting about how cold it was.

      Hopefully the snow STAYS on the peaks! I’m a bit anxious about the possibility of snow in the campground towards the end of my stay. La Veta averages about 8 inches of snow in the month of October. I looked at weather data over the last 5 years and there wasn’t any snow before the 15th. I leave on the 13th, so “knock on wood” for me, okay? :o)

      I lived in Denver for a short while back in the 70’s and visited Garden of the Gods back then. I’d really like to do it again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Donna

    September 8, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Check out Outdoor World Campsites
    You can become a member and sites are cheaper that way. Also, you could work for them for the summer. My Aunt and Uncle retired, purchased an RV and toured the country working at different national parks. They would come back East every summer and work at Outdoor World Sea Pines RV Resort & Campground in Swainton, NJ (near the shore, Sea Isle City, NJ). My aunt worked in the office and my uncle did maintenance around the park. They had their own RV, but my uncle worked with a guy that they would give him a cabin for the summer while he worked the park (taking care of garbage removal, that type of thing). The cabins were nice, a main room with kitchenette, table and benches, and a futon; full bath and a bedroom with a double bed. What was really nice, each cabin had a large deck wth a bar-b-q grill. All set in the woods, people would stay at the cabins, have RV’s and others tents. Worth checking out.


    • ustabe

      September 8, 2015 at 10:51 am

      You’ve mentioned this before Donna, but I had forgotten about it. I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks again. :o)


  3. Donna

    September 8, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Yes, I have mentioned it before – definitely check it out, even just the membership and what it would cost for you to stay at their facilities. But, if you call the New Jersey Swainton campgrounds and talk to the office, ask them about work and tell them the it was recommended to you by the niece of Kay & Lee Conkling – if there’s still someone in the office that was there when they were there, they will remember them – they LOVED my aunt and uncle, so it could be a good tie-in. 🙂


    • ustabe

      September 8, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks very much for that, Donna!


  4. Donna

    September 8, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Sure, Jeff. My aunt and uncle worked in many national parks during their retirement. They worked at Bryce Canyon, and my brother Mike and family along with me went to visit them out there. They parked in their campground and my aunt worked in the store and my uncle worked in the rock shop, they loved it. Another place they stayed in the winter was Death Valley, they didn’t work there, but lots of retirees spend the winter there. It wasn’t particularly good for my uncle because it bothered his allergies alot. They worked in another campground near the Ponderosa in Calif, too. Those are just a few I remember, I can ask my cousin for more info. But, you can probably get on the National Park website and see if there are any job posts or contacts.


  5. Jennifer Barsotti

    September 15, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Not the best option for winter I suppose, but we stayed in a gorgeous little campground in Nine Mile Canyon near Salt Lake City, Utah, when we first started our little anti-Suburbia journey. It was fairly cheap; $10-12/night I think, which beats the heck out of KOA rates. The campsites were cozy spots along a little babbling creek with breath-taking views of Utah’s red rock canyon walls, luscious greenery perfectly framing the sites… We loved it there! Also, Nine Mile Canyon itself made for a beautiful drive. Such a pretty part of our country!

    As for finding a way to bring in money… Have you considered fundraising? Bloggers have found some pretty creative ways to bring in revenue. One example: You could have a ‘Buy Frank & I A Steak’ campaign. 😉 I’ve also heard of KOAs and the like offering wages or free stays for those willing to help out around the campsites. That might also be an option? Best of luck to you both!


    • ustabe

      September 15, 2015 at 11:50 pm

      Thank you for those links, Jennifer. Yes, KOA is expensive. They offer a lot of amenities that I really don’t need, mostly family-oriented. The first leg of this journey was planned out through mid-March 2016 and I will have averaged about $490/month on “accommodations” – campsite fees plus he occasional motel when campsites are farther apart than I wanted to travel in one day. I’ve tentatively planned out through mid-November 2016 and I think I’ll be able to cut that down to under $440/month.

      A long-time friend of mine, Donna (you might have seen one or two of her comments to these blog posts) has introduced me to another option, though. I’m still looking into it nd if I decide to go that route, it’ll substantially cut the accommodation cost – potentially by another $100-$200/month. It has some drawbacks that I’m still trying to work out.

      If it does work out though, it’ll enable us to visit the northeast one more time, which would put off visiting the western part of the U.S. If I don’t go east, I plan to be in Utah during the spring of 2017 (I’ve already bookmarked your Nine Mile Canyon link under my “potential future campsites” folder – thanks again for that!)

      Donna’s also mentioned the work program thing. Her aunt and uncle did that while RV’ing around the country when she was younger. Right now, I’m focused on getting into better shape – Frank and I have started a regular walking routine. I need to be in better shape … physically and mentally … before I look into working. But I know that if I can just focus on “tomorrow’s” walk, I’ll eventually get back to where I can work again. But for the moment, I’m just focused on “now”.

      I’m struggling with the fundraising concept. I’ll look at your second link … but I have a hard time “hitting up my friends” for money, and that’s how that seems to me. It’s one thing when someone does it to raise money for a business. I’m not sure (yet) what I could offer in return. But it’s something I need to look further into and I greatly appreciate your suggestion and the link you shared!

      Thank you for your well-wishes. I’m very grateful. :o)



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