Wednesday, June 24, 2020

How Challenging Was It??

Seventeen days / sixteen nights & 5,200 miles later, I think we've given the Silver Subie a pretty good test. It has its limitations, but some of those are likely to keep me out of trouble. All in all, it was a very successfully trip!

I decided to do the trip in a clockwise direction to give as much time as possible for snow melt in the Rockies. Much of the trip was high country, intentionally, to keep temperatures reasonable. I crossed the Sierra twice and flirted with it one other time. I lost count of the number of times I crossed the continental divide.

Day one was primarily a positioning day. Day two was a bit emotional as I spent time at what remains of Manzanar, one of the camps where we interned citizens who were the wrong color. This happened to be the same day the President was using military to move protesters so that he could do a photo-op in front of a church.

While BJ and I have driven Highway 395 and California 49 with the Scamp, it was much nicer driving these narrow (sometimes VERY narrow) and curvy roads in the car. It was much easier to find places to pull off and enjoy the views.

Very nearly all of the National Forest and National Park campgrounds in California were closed as they were in some other areas. Those that were open seemed to be open only if you held a reservation. It just helped confirm my intention to social distancing by boondocking.

My eye is always drawn to abandoned structures, especially those that reflect some quality construction. This one was in Harney County, Oregon, not far from the one and only geocache I've found in Harney County. With the exception of the broken windows, this place looks like it could be livable. The barn was built of stone as well.

I wasn't surprised to see visitor centers and other businesses closed. I was a bit surprised at the number of caches that weren't available because they were inside businesses or visitor centers without noting any access limitations in the cache description.

By the time I got to the high country of Colorado, most of the snow was gone. There was a big bank of snow on a side road  just a few hundred feet from the top of Rabbit's Ear Pass so I got to do a bit of hiking to pick up the first cache in one of the counties.

Choices, choices. 

I lost count how many times the Subie and I crossed the Continental Divide. At least twice on this day approaching Leadville. Leadville was a disappointment but the South Park region of Colorado was amazing! High elevation, rolling hills, open grassy meadows, etc. I want to return and spend more time there!

As is so often the case, the highlights weren't anticipated. One of the highlights for me was a cache that I'd selected because it sounds like it had a good view. Turns out, it overlooks the Arkansas River as it enters the Royal Gorge. The cache had not been found for over three years. Rust, history, railroad, whitewater, lonely cache. What more could you want?

Before the trip, I'd checked online and it looked like none of the pie places in Pie Town were open, but when I came through mid-afternoon on my last full day, the Gathering Place was open. They didn't have the New Mexico Apple that I was dreaming about, but...

A blueberry / peach pie had just come out of the oven. I made a place for it in my kitchen drawer and let it cool down while I put some more miles behind us. I could honestly say it didn't keep well, but I don't think I'll clarify that statement.

All told, I added 56 counties to the map and completed the Utah's Nearest Neighbor Challenge (GC2375Q) that had been the primary impetus for the trip. This challenge has only been claimed 14 times since it was published over 10 years ago. I also got the last two altitude bands I needed to complete Altitude Belt Challenge (GC56F47). It would only be honest to admit that I signed the log for the Absolutely No Life Challenge (GC56GY8) but I'd qualified for it before I left on the trip.

I've got a couple more projects to do on the car before I do another major boondocking trip with it. It needs a sliding shelf under the foot of the bed and I need to create a windscreen / shade for the open hatch area. The kitchen setup worked well EXCEPT that it needs an effective windscreen (or trips that aren't as windy as this one was.) More power and a low range gearbox would be nice but those are the things that likely keep me out of trouble!