Loveland

July 15-31, 2018
Loveland, Colorado

Occasionally while we drive, the road is rough enough to bounce open the door to our food pantry, and surprises such as this one await us upon entry. This was a new combo – cocoa powder mixed with a few savory spices. Perhaps this time, we should have seen it as an omen….?

If I had written this blog post during the beginning of our stay in the Loveland/Fort Collins area it would have been different.

It would have perhaps been about the lovely little creek right behind our campsite.
It would have been about the wonderful dinner we shared with friends we hadn’t seen since 2004 and how delightful it was to meet their 3 kids.
One of the evening’s highlights for the kids was chasing this toad.
It would have been about the excitement of Coral losing her first tooth.

 

It would have been about the fantastic Fort Collins Parks & Rec camp that the girls attended for a week, an all-girls Lego engineering-focused STEM camp where they learned new words like axle, lever, pivot point, and J beam.

 

It would have probably been about the great new friends that Sunny met at camp and the play date we had at one of the coolest city playgrounds I’ve ever seen. Lego BFF bracelets for new long-distance friends.

If I had written this blog in the middle of our stay, my words would have oozed with joy when I shared about our week with our dear friends Alicia & Josh Moore and their girls…about how we hiked and looked at sculptures and listened to (horrible) live music and caught frogs. I would have described our hike around Lily Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park where we saw so many ducklings, red-headed kooks, muskrats, a beaver, AND A MOOSE. I probably would have even gone into detail about our drive up into the highest part of the part and our picnic in the clouds.

We watched the guy munch leaves for a good long while, until our happy little crowd of spectators turned around and realized a beaver was swimming around just behind us on the other side of the boardwalk!
A short hike started off our magical day at Lily Lake with some of my favorite people in the entire world.
Perhaps the coolest moose-viewing experience for us yet!
Have I mentioned…I love moose?
Other impressive wildlife was nearby at the same time!
We drove up into Rocky Mountain National Park (see the giant mountains?…), but rather than mountain views we spent the day up in the clouds.
Exploring the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.
Swearing in as Rock Mountain National Park Jr Rangers.
So fun to share our Jr Ranger routine with friends!
An evening hike at Devil’s Backbone near our campground.
Dancing to live music at the campground pavilion with friends.

Maybe at a different point in the visit, I would have focused my story telling around the people we met at our RV campground.

An interesting woman who lived in a tiny house at our campground, who seemed very fairy-like herself, had constructed a magical fairy land all throughout her lawn with all sorts of lovely, tiny treasures.
Tiny magical doors leading to tiny magical places.
Sunny put her LEGO camp skills to good use at a Lego Derby Race at our campground where her car won first place!
Lots of fun new friends to play with on the campground playground.

But instead I’m going to leave that to another author.

I am writing this blog at the conclusion of our time in Colorado. In fact, I sit typing this post as I often do – in the passenger seat of our truck with a wireless keyboard on my lap & my phone propped on the glove compartment door. We have already crossed into the state of Wyoming, where we hope to boondock for about 5 days until a month-long reservation in Idaho begins. And I hate to say it, but I’m so relieved to get out of Colorado.

So many wonderful things happened there, including the things I mentioned above but also many more. We met new people, explored new places, and made the most of the experiences that came our way, just as we always hope and try to do.

However, some issues with our truck (that we first thought had to due with buying cheap diesel…a major no-no for our truck) that ended up being a whole exhaust filter-EGR value-fuel injector-fuel particle separator-diesel in oil tank-cluster whoops. Our awesome F250 has required no repair on the entire trip beyond routine maintenance, so maybe we just had it coming. But the expense rocked the boat a little bit. We’ve had a small savings account that we’ve used through the whole trip for truck & RV maintenance/repair, or other large expenses that came along unexpected. The great news is that we still had enough in this account to cover the repairs. The bad news is that the account is now empty, so it feels a little bit like swinging on a trapeze with no net underneath. This fund was supposed to last us for the remainder of our adventure.

I know that I have no reason to complain, and that’s not my intention. But I’ve always wanted to be honest that this lifestyle isn’t all fun adventures and watching remote sunsets while we sip cocktails. Sometimes, even 2 years in, it still feels super risky & scary. So I totally admit that these are “first world problems”, but in my attempt to bring you along with me through this experience I’m trying my best to be honest about both the ups & the downs.

And you know that thing about “the rule of three’s”?  Well during the extremely stressful day of hearing that our truck needed thousands of dollars worth of repair so immediately that they recommended Brad not even drive it home, I was trying to research options for where we could spend the weekend – we needed to park somewhere and be without our truck. (Our reservation ended on Saturday & the campground was full after that, but the Ford place needed to keep our truck until Monday) In the middle of my frantic searching…my MacbookPro died.

I knew it would be on its way out sometime soon. It’s a hand-me-down from Apt Design, as my computers always are, and he doesn’t pass them down until he no longer feels comfortable using them for his business. So again…a very middle class problem. But I’ve been using this machine for my part time virtual assistant job for the past nine months, so I’ve come to lean on it pretty heavily. PLUS, I just accepted another virtual assistant position for another business last week!! So the tool that I use for my (now TWO) part time jobs, completely died in the middle of trying to figure out how a manage another small crisis. (The conversation with the truck started like this….is it worth paying this much for a repair? Or should we just sell it? THAT’S JUST HOW EXPENSIVE THIS REPAIR WAS.)

Setting up the new laptop that could not have chosen a less stressful time to make itself necessary.

Now let me jump back in time a couple of weeks to explain the 3rd thing that broke. As we got ready to leave our boondocking space in Crested Butte, Colorado, the hydraulic motor that raises & lowers the front of Stumbo wouldn’t operate. We need this function to be able to hook up to our truck and to level. Thankfully, Brad knew where the manual crank shaft was, so we were able to get out of that boondocking spot without too much trouble, and planned to have a Mobile RV Repair come take a look in Loveland.

However, when we arrived in Loveland, the motor worked again! (Our favorite way to fix most problems is to ignore them until they magically fix themselves.  You would be SHOCKED to know how often this actually works for us!)

So we wrote the Crested Butte malfunction off as a fluke – our battery was COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY dead the morning we were trying to leave, so we thought maybe it was just a power issue after all, and settled into our stay at an RV park near Loveland, CO without bothering to call a technician.

Remember how I mentioned that we would need to move sites while our truck was in the shop?  The campground where we were staying figured out a spot for us to park, but we had to move sites – with no tow vehicle.  This meant that we had to call a towing service to come hook up our RV and pull it about 300 yards from one site in the park to another – and that’s when it decided to stop working again.

Stumbo getting moved across the campground by this truck-for-hire.

So with a new laptop purchased out of necessity, our safety net depleted on truck repair, and one additional repair to Stumbo still waiting for attention, we rolled out of Loveland, CO a bit deflated, feeling like our empty pants pockets were pitifully sticking out on either side.

 

 

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