Crested Butte

Crested Butte, Colorado
July 2-15, 2018

Crested Butte was 12 days worth of boondocking in an idyllic mountain meadow, reveling in wildflowers, hummingbirds, and friends.

I mean, it wasn’t all grand theatrical numbers from The Sound of Music. There were also rainy days of cabin fever, bad attitudes about finishing up our school year, and as Coral so eloquently put it, occasional “waves of nausea”.  But those aren’t the things we take pictures of or try our best to remember. I’ll tell you all about the good stuff instead.

We came to this destination because our friends, Tom & Andrea, invited us to meet them here. We met this super cool full-time traveling couple in summer 2017 in the Tetons. We’ve kept in touch since and were delighted to find an opportunity in our itineraries to cross paths again.

Picnic dinner at our campsite.

By the time we arrived in the meadow, they had already been there long enough to know the lay of the land, so they rolled out the welcome mat for us and showed us around. We went on a few hikes, in constant awe of the carpet of brilliant wildflowers all around us.

So many different kinds of wildflowers all around – including some really lovely species that I had never seen before.
Playing in the creek near our campsite.

We visited the Colorado Biological Institute in the tiny village of Gothic. And we enjoyed a long Jeep ride up into the mountains, searching for moose but never finding them, hiking until nearby lightning encouraged us to return to our vehicle. We also enjoyed some of the luxuries that the small, crunchy, mountain town of Crested Butte had to offer, such as the Third Bowl Ice Cream shop, their ultra-funky Independence Day Parade, and the farmers market that was so overpriced we couldn’t buy anything. We got our money’s worth out of the tiny Old Rock Library, where visitor’s cards imposed neither deposits nor check-out restrictions.The girls really bonded with Andrea on this visit, who soaked up their attention happily since she has kids & grandkids to miss while she’s on the road.

Crested Butte Independence Day Parade
I’ve been to parades where they throw candy, but at this parade one float was passing out whole hotdogs from a grill!
Day trip to Gothic.
We enjoyed several fun hikes with Tom and Andrea.
We decided to park the Jeep and hike the rest of the way to trailhead for obvious reasons.
Nature was in full show-off mode in these mountains covered with every imaginable wildflower.


On one of our hikes we came across a dilapidated homestead. There was an old abandoned shed still standing, where many people had left messages on the walls. My favorite was this one “We will laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us.”
We enjoyed a short visit to the Crested Butte Children’s Museum with Andrea.

Jeep fun in the mountains!

Tom and Andrea drove us up to Schofield Pass in their Jeep. I don’t think we’re the first ones to make it up here…


Tom & Andrea’s fur babies go everywhere that they do. Sunny enjoyed some snuggles on the Jeep ride after a long hike.
Andrea & the girls enjoying some rock painting.

After Tom & Andrea had to depart for their next destination, we decided to stay in Crested Butte another week. We weren’t confident that we would find another place just as beautiful where we could camp for free and have fantastic cell service.

Our parking spot from a distance.
Not a bad backdrop for a trailrun.
Delicious Secret Stash pizza!
There were dozens of these brilliant blue dragon flies all around this mountain lake.
Sunny was wearing sandals better suited for hiking in water, so she helped her sister keep from getting her socks wet.
For a couple of evenings we had neighbors near our campsite with horses. We went over to pet their lovely animals and learned a lot about their own personal history. This man is Alex Laird, and in 1962 at age 21, he became the 2nd person to ever make a continuous voyage the entire length of the Columbia River. I believe that he co-authored some geographical land survey papers, and he was mentioned in a Sports Illustrated article in February of 1964, which you can find online in their vault. Also his horses are nice.



Before they departed, we gladly accepted Andrea’s gift of a window hummingbird feeder and watched hummingbird wars between multiple species of birds at our dining table. (We tried to name them all…we had Dot, Evergreen, Speck, Plateau, Fleck, Splotch, Star, Pyramid, Glide, Sunflower, Batman, Ruffle, Scuffle, Golden….but then there were just too many fighting over the feeder for us to distinguish all of them.) 
I had never seen or heard of these bright orange hummers, but they are one of the most agressive species of hummingbird. We became well acquainted throughout out time in the meadow.
We had so many hummers visiting us we had to fill the feeder at least once/day. When we took it back outside full and ready, they were so eager for the elixir that we were nearly swarmed!

This close up of the rufous hummer was taken by one of our campsite neighbors who was a wildlife photographer.
We recently purchased two portable 7-gallon water tanks so that we can stay out longer without needing to two Stumbo back for a refill. Also pictured, incredible mountain rainbow.

Afternoon thunderstorms rolled overhead most afternoons. I suppose that’s what you get for living up in the clouds; our meadow campsite was at 9,700 ft. One afternoon the lightning strikes were landing especially close. One bolt struck so nearby that at first we thought the camper had been struck – a deafening crack shook us at the same moment that a blinding light lit up the whole world around us. At first we wondered if Stumbo had been struck, but there was no damage to rig or persons. We all had racing heart rates for a long while afterwards, but otherwise were no worse for wear. Over the next few days, we kept our eyes peeled in the meadow for where the bolt might have stuck. We noticed a large tree down the hill from our site with a giant section broken off, and we wondered if this nearby tree was the recipient of the electricity that shook us up. Coral and I walked down the hill to investigate one day. The tree damage was old; grass and weeds were already growing up around the broken branches which had clearly been laying in this space for a long time. So we did not ever end up figuring out where the bolt touched the Earth, but searching for it led us to something even better….fantastic new friends!

Little did we know at the time that the lightning bolt that shocked us all into adrenaline rush would ultimately lead us to meeting this sweet family.

A friendship literally sparked by a lightning strike.

So AGAIN, we spent an amazing few days connecting with these great people, knowing full well that our sweet time together would be so brief. As we’ve journeyed across the states for nearly 2 years now, I continue to oscillate between feelings of “I don’t know my country anymore…I’m not like these people and I don’t fit in here” to “there are amazing people to connect with everywhere we go, and this is exactly the place where I belong.”

Playing at the mountain lake with new friends.

I’ll figure that conundrum out another day…in the meantime, I’m so grateful to have once again bumped into sweet kindred spirits, for another chance for our girls to play and giggle and share toys with new friends, and to once again walk through the excruciating “goodbye” to people with whom we’ve not yet fully explored a potential relationship, hoping that we will someday meet again.

As we prepared to depart on this cool, drizzly morning, we discovered that the motor that raises and lowers Stumbo’s legs wasn’t working. We weren’t sure if the battery was just SO DEAD that even being plugged into the truck couldn’t help, or if their was something actually broken. Luckily, Brad knew where the manual crank was. We took turn spinning this crank – it took us a good 20 minutes of cranking on this thing to raise the landing gear up so we could leave.

1 Comment

  1. Shannin says: Reply

    I’ve been wondering how the family is doing in Spokane. We are presently in Pahrump. I really enjoying reading all about your adventures. Love the pictures.
    Shannon Dickerson

Leave a Reply