After a fast blast across the plains, we’re back home in Minnesota.
Sights & Scenery
All of the places we visited on this trip were new to us:
- Fossil Beds National Monument
- Unita and Wasatch mountains
- Great Salt Lake area
- Bear River and Bear Lake wildlife refuges
- City of Rocks National Reserve
- Great Basin National Park
- San Rafael Swell
- Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison
- Colorado National Monument
The San Rafael Swell, Colorado National Monument and the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway were the highlights of the trip. We’ll go back for those someday. The Salt Lake area and the Great Basin NP areas were unique and interesting.
Our ‘Where We’ve Been‘ is updated to include the new sights.
The weather was near perfect. In 21 days of camping we barely hit 90F and never hit freezing. Perfect for camping.
We camped in State Parks more often than not, generally because they were convenient and reservable. Few of the State Parks had decent hiking & many had no trails at all, so we used them only as overnighters. The other downside of State Parks is cost. In most cases when you include park stickers we were above $30 per night. It’s good to support the State Parks though – we consider that to be money well spent.
We camped in National Parks and National Forests the remaining nights. With our senior pass discounts, the National Forest and Park campsites were as cheap a $3.50 per night and never more than $15/night. The lifetime senior pass covers entry fees, so we could visit the US Fee areas as we pleased.
The COVID-crush is affecting camping. Campgrounds are busy enough that we ended up either reserving a day or two ahead or checking the reservation systems for walk-in availability.
Mask use and social distancing was spotty. The more ‘red’ the area, the poorer the compliance with rules. On National Park trails the compliance was good, with at least half of the hikers wearing masks and nearly everyone leaving lots of space when overtaking or passing on the trail. I find it ironic that the parts of the country that supposedly value compliance with rules & law and order are the most flagrant about ignoring rules and social order. Rules are for others, it seems.
A Mouse in the House
One night while we were sitting and reading, I thought I saw brown fuzzball scamper across the floor. I figured there was no way a mouse could get into the campervan & dismissed what I saw. The next morning we noticed that a bag of nuts was scratched and torn slightly. I again dismissed the possibility of a resident critter. The morning after that the Ziplock bag of nuts was chewed open and Kleenex’s were shredded.
Definitely a mouse.
We bought and set traps around the camper, but over the next few days got no nibbles and no more evidence of a mouse.
The campervan was somewhat of a headache. I suspect that’s simply part of the lifestyle. Campers have the same stuff you have in your house, except it’s cheaply made, assembled as fast as possible, with craptastic quality control – and it’s being shaken to death on rough roads evey time you travel. Imagine how badly your house would fare if it were subject to mild earthquakes six hours per day.
- Our WFCO charger/converter failed. I ended up using an automotive-style battery charger to keep the AGM batteries charged. It didn’t work very well. Now that the converted has failed, I have an
excuseopportunity to re-think that part of the electrical. The WFCO was as dumb as a brick & incapable of charging a battery with a proper charge profile, so I was looking at replacements anyway. I’m leaning toward a greater dependence on the lithium batteries and alternator charging and less on the AGM’s, and I want every charge source to be programmable, intelligent & Bluetooth capable.
- The plumbing leak returned. This time I just pulled the insulation back and left it drip down into the rocker panels & through to the ground.
- The replacement Nova Kool fridge worked – sort of. It kept stuff cold, provided that ‘cold‘ is defined as ‘some random temperature between 30 and 45F that is superficially dependent on the position of the temperature knob‘.
- The Lagun table, lithium battery, custom battery monitoring and portable solar worked great. The solar panels are a pain to store.
- We slept comfortably under a midweight down comforter with the furnace set to 60F. We have a pretty good system for making and un-making the couch/bed each morning/evening.
- We cured a couple of rattles and created a handful more. A never-ending battle.
- The pump & plumbing rattles were worse than normal.
- The Truma furnace/water heater combo misfires with an ‘E 81 H’ error occasionally. Truma says it needs to be replaced.
- Out list of camper ‘thing to fix’ got longer. Most of the items are things that will make camping more convenient. Some are to fix busted stuff
After camping in National Forest and primitive National Park campgrounds, we are very appreciative of having a campervan. It’s far easier to stuff into a small space than a trailer or larger RV. Because we moved almost every day, not having to level a trailer and go through the ‘camp setup’ routine was nice. We generally just parked in the camping spot – perhaps driving up on a couple of blocks to get closer to level – and immediately hit the trails, cooked dinner, or relaxed.
After driving the rim road in the Colorado National Monument & the road up to the trailhead in the Great Basin National Park, I would not want a wider or longer vehicle. I would want one that handles rough roads better and more ground clearance though.