Trip to Denver: Household Retrieved

While we had settled into the condo as best we could by the end of May, we needed to keep our sights on a trip to Denver. As mentioned in prior posts, the bulk of our household left from our 2018 downsizing was in climate-controlled storage with CubeSmart in the Denver area. It would take easily ten days to make the trip and move out of the storage unit.

Our first step was to discern the size of a moving truck i.e. U-Haul or Penske that we would ultimately need. Diane revisited the household inventory list and photos of numbered boxes. One of the reasons we rented a climate-controlled space was because of family heirlooms, artwork, archives, and photos that were more sensitive to temperature extremes. Some of these items would ideally ride back to Pullman, Washington in either the backseat of our air conditioned pickup or in Tranquility the Trailer, which is nicely insulated. While our CubeSmart unit was 10 feet X 10 feet, we hadn’t packed it to the ceiling. 

Next we confirmed with our daughter, Stephanie, and son-in-love, Shane, in Denver, their availability later in the summer. Steve began to research moving truck rentals based on dates. We estimated that we would need at most a 20 foot U-Haul truck with an “attic” over the cab of that truck. Bingo! Steve had some dates for us to consider.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we weren’t keen on staying in hotels, eating in restaurants or fast-food places, or using public restrooms. Instead, it made good sense for us to travel with our trailer in order to remain self-contained. This decision led Diane to reserving campsites for ten days. The key reservation was for the Denver area. There aren’t many options for camping except at two state parks. Both are extremely popular and weekends especially, book a year in advance. We were in a unique situation where between our truck and trailer combo, we are 53 feet in length. AND, we wanted to fit the 20 foot U-Haul in our pull-through site. Nabbing a reservation for a four-night stay at Chatfield State Park outside of Littleton, Colorado, beginning on a Monday and leaving on a Friday, worked out well. Using Google maps’ satellite view, Diane was able to locate a campsite to easily accommodate all three vehicles. 

For the trip down and back, we opted to reserve sites at KOA campgrounds. Especially along this particular route, we’ve stayed at several KOAs before. Reaching out to each KOA by phone first was helpful. A caveat to our return trip would be traveling with an additional vehicle. We needed to ascertain if there was an overflow parking area where the U-Haul could be parked without incurring additional fees. A few phone calls later, we had reservations in Butte, Montana; Buffalo, Wyoming; and Cheyenne, Wyoming going to Denver. On our return we only stayed in Buffalo and Butte. The fantastic news was both of their KOAs had an overflow lot where we could park the U-Haul at no charge.

Steve reserved the U-Haul for a one-way trip from Denver to Pullman. For the distance, we could have the truck for five days. We knew that the truck needed to be unloaded and returned to the U-Haul in Moscow, Idaho on Monday, August 3. It meant that we’d have to really push ourselves on our return to Washington, but we were open to that plan. Our trip schedule was finally determined, leaving on Friday, July 24 and returning to Pullman, on Sunday, August 2.

Leaving Pullman, Denver Bound

The trip to Denver was non-eventful. Although the best part was being back on the road, towing the trailer, and watching the beautiful landscape unfold across Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Our stay in Cheyenne, Wyoming was a perfect pause. On Monday, we were able to time our arrival through Denver to avoid the glut of afternoon traffic.

The Tobacco Root Mountain Range of Montana in the distance.
The Bighorn Mountain Range near the Montana & Wyoming Border.
A pause for bathroom break provided this view of the Big Horns in Wyoming!

On Tuesday we drove to CubeSmart storage and began our work of dismantling the archive shelves, packing loose items into boxes, and loading items that could ride back to Pullman in the trailer. 

Prep work included breaking down shelving and packing up loose items.
We’re organized and ready for loading in the morning!
Our photo collection & albums were stored in the antique cupboard.
We filled cubbies and closets in the Trailer with heat sensitive and fragile items.

Fortunately, the weather was nice so that we could take walks at Chatfield State Park on two evenings. We’ve stayed here on numerous occasions and love the setting.

This familiar view greeted us at Chatfield State Park, Colorado with Chatfield Reservoir and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.
We enjoyed a couple of evening walks at Chatfield. The trails are near the campground.

On Wednesday evening we picked up the U-Haul truck. We immediately drove to Stephanie and Shane’s apartment building where Steve, Steph, and Shane moved the sofa, loveseat, and two lamps. The apartment manager gave them permission to hold the elevator in order to get two loads down to ground level. Whew! 

Early risers! We were masked and at CubeSmart Storage early on Wednesday morning ready to tackle more organizing and moving smaller items to the trailer.
After getting the 20′ U-Haul, we drove to Steph and Shane’s high-rise apartment building in Denver.
Using the elevator, Steve, Shane, and Stephanie brought down furniture to the U-Haul.
The sofa and loveseat were a challenge in the elevator! Whew! We were grateful for everyone’s muscles.

Thursday morning had us up early so we could arrive at storage by 7am. We sensed that a Thursday wouldn’t be as busy as weekend days, plus the earlier the better to avoid as many other people as possible. We were worker bees for five hours. Diane rolled carts to and fro while Steve loaded the carts and unloaded them into the U-Haul. We were two very exhausted “puppies” by the end of the day.

Up early again, we were at CubeSmart to load the U-Haul.
And, the U-Haul is packed! It took us five hours. Thankfully there are elevators and dollies.
And, the pickup truck bed is packed!
And, the backseat of the pickup truck is loaded.

The toughest part of this trip from an emotional standpoint was not getting to have the typical time we so enjoy with our family due to COVID-19 and respectfully taking precautions. We were able to have several visits with Steve’s Mom over morning coffee and lunch. Seated apart on her driveway with her in the garage worked out. Stephanie and Shane came to our campsite at Chatfield State Park on the last evening. It was nice to share a meal with them and have conversation. Yet still, it wasn’t enough!

Stephanie & Shane joined us at our campsite for dinner.

Up at the crack of dawn, we set off just at sunrise. Steve drove the U-Haul truck. Diane drove the truck-trailer combo. Despite trying to avoid traffic, we ended up in the thick of it for an insane stretch AND the sunrise was right in our eyes. Yet, once we shifted from I-70 and were a few miles north on I-25, the traffic seemed to settle into a manageable pace.

Up at 5am and off we go at 5:30 from Chatfield State Park.

The drive to Buffalo made for a VERY long day. We tried to switch driving vehicles for 60 miles or so, but Diane’s back wasn’t pleased. Needless to say, Steve had quite the ride with the U-Haul, which struggled on inclines, had no cruise control, and when the engine RPM increased, the air conditioner decreased.

Late that afternoon we arrived at Buffalo KOA in Buffalo, Wyoming.

Two more long days with a night in Butte, found us back in Pullman on Sunday afternoon. Once Jeremy and Michelle knew that we were at home, they immediately drove over to lend their support. In about an hour’s time, they completely unloaded the U-Haul and helped Steve with the pick-up bed. 

We took plenty of stretch breaks across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
We arrived home, taking up 80′ along the street curb.
Let the unloading begin!
Jeremy & Michelle completely unloaded the U-Haul in less than an hour’s time!

Aww! Now we’ve become fairly settled. We will let the COVID-19 pandemic play out, hopefully with good health and a future vaccine we can resume travels to visit family, friends, and special places in the U.S.

In the meantime, be well. And, if we encourage you to Subscribe so that you’ll receive an email notification when we have a new blog post.

Love,
Diane & Steve

Living Life at the Speed of Sanity….even in one place!

An Interlude Period, April 16-July 31, 2019

After we concluded our extensive Family & Friends Tour in mid-April, we reached for the Interlude button. As mentioned in a prior post, we were experiencing some travel fatigue and in retrospect kept our pace going at a fairly quick tempo. This Interlude coincided with an emotionally tough time as two of our dear friends, married nearly 51 years, passed away just nine weeks apart. John and Karen were frequent travel, camping, hiking, skiing/snowshoeing, and biking buddies over our 21-year friendship. In retrospect, our grief was compounded by the pace we were keeping. It seemed appropriate to collect ourselves and our thoughts. 

Our Interlude lasted through July. In May we spent nearly two weeks between Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park, Montana and Bruneau Dunes State Park, Idaho, which provided quiet time soaking up sunsets and looking at the starlit nights.

Dusk Advances at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park, Montana, May 11, 2019
Upward Trek, Bruneau Dunes State Park, May 15, 2019

From Idaho we had a lovely place to land at son Jeremy’s and daughter-in-love Michelle’s home in Pullman, Washington for two weeks in late May-early June. Our trailer fit perfectly on their driveway, but our stay was in their comfy guest quarters.

With Jeremy and Michelle, there was nothing quite like binging on TV series, sipping coffee, taking turns cooking, going on hikes or walks, sharing of our recent book reads, and partaking in ice cream bars.

Celebrating our 43rd Anniversary with Jeremy & Michelle in Washington, May 29, 2019

We hadn’t kept up with our usual activity level, so our bodies needed to get re-charged. The steep hills of Pullman were the place to do it. One can’t walk in Pullman without some inclines that really work the legs and joints. The locals earn their “Cougar calves!” It was quite refreshing, step-by-step, to kick into gear. We walked to coffee shops, Washington State University’s library, or the public library where we conducted our work. [Work for us is researching for future stays, how-to’s with the trailer, photo editing, writing, genealogy, record keeping, paying bills, dealing with virtual mail, etc.] After our time in Pullman, Jeremy and Michelle joined us for a weekend at our campsite at Heyburn State Park in Idaho. It was lovely! We count our blessings!

We had many conversations over our miles of hikes during a week’s stay at Heyburn State Park, Idaho and another week near Lolo, Montana. The Coeur d’Alene, Lolo, and Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forests bathed us in peace and beauty. During this time, we agreed that our 2019-20 winter should focus on one main region. We have decided to stay in the Southwest, primarily Arizona. In retrospect, last winter and spring had us moving quickly across the Southern tier of states from California to Virginia. Our intention this year is to slow the pace! Thankfully we acquired most of the reservations in one planning session!

Magnificent views from a hike at Heyburn State Park, Idaho, June 1, 2019
Bicycling the Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes, Idaho, June 5, 2019

In early April, we recognized that we desperately needed to just park ourselves in home base territory near Denver for several weeks this summer. This approach gave us the time we desired with our daughter Stephanie, son-in-love, Shane, Steve’s mother, other family, and a few friends. Several months out we reserved campsites for three weeks. Staying at Chatfield State Park and Golden Gate Canyon State Park, we could schedule nine appointments: doctor, dental, eye, and truck in the Denver area plus enjoy full hookups! We also pined for recliners after having comfy ones in our home for years. Our birthday present to each other took care of our comfort!

Chillaxin’ in our new zero gravity recliners, June 28, 2019

Our bucket list for many years has included an extended stay in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) in Colorado. We were thinking, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to nab as many hikes as possible?” Yes! Watching the calendar, we scheduled six months in advance and scored two weeks in July. It’s VERY competitive to reserve campsites. Interestingly, we weren’t permitted to have both weeks in the same campsite or campground. What worked out nicely is having the first week in Moraine Campground and the second week in Glacier Basin Campground. We’ll share more details in another post about this truly memorable time in RMNP for it was one of our most enjoyed times together. The bonus was having Stephanie and Shane join us for two days over the Fourth of July. It was fantastic to cook over the campfire, hike, laugh, and express awe together over the stunning scenery! Again, we count our blessings!

Hiking with Stephanie & Shane, RMNP, July 4, 2019

From the Front Range, we launched into other parts of Colorado where in years’ past we have spent little to no time. Outside of Poncha Springs at Monarch Spur RV Park, we were situated for hikes on the Monarch Crest Trail and along the Arkansas River Headwaters Recreation Area. We hit Salida for coffee shops, ice cream, and pizza. The trailer had regular maintenance done in Poncha Springs.

Monarch Pass Trailhead, Colorado, July 22, 2019

Then off we went to the Durango area with a two-night stay at Junction Creek Campground located in the San Juan National Forest, specifically to be positioned to meet up with our New York nephew. Lo and behold, he concluded one day early an immense goal of having summited all 58 of Colorado’s 14ers (peaks at least 14,000’ in elevation) that took him 13 years of carefully-planned summer vacations. Thankfully we could celebrate him and his accomplishment over breakfast at the Durango Diner.

Celebrating in Durango with nephew J.R., July 25, 2019

From Durango we took the San Juan Scenic Highway from Durango to Ouray with a stop for coffee in Silverton. The views were spectacular! We arrived in Grand Junction, another area with which we weren’t familiar. We stayed at Junction West RV Park out towards Fruita. Something that we love to do is go scouting for future places to camp on public lands. One day took us on the gorgeous Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. While Diane was there as a child with her family to camp and fish, it felt like new territory to both of us. We filed away on a list numerous campgrounds as well as dispersed campsites in the National Forest as future possibilities.

Molas Lake, Molas Pass Summit, San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway, Colorado, July 26, 2019
Atop Grand Mesa with its many lakes and vistas, July 28, 2019

While in Grand Junction, we observed the end of our Year One and the beginning of Year Two of Life at the Speed of Sanity.

Dinner out on Day 365 of Year One, July 28, 2019
We begin Year Two with Palisade Peaches from Palisade, Colorado, July 29, 2019

From Grand Junction, we moved southeast to the Basalt area. Our stay was at Little Maud Campground in the White River National Forest near Ruedi Reservoir. Over the three days, we had several jaunts. One evening we took a scenic drive from Carbondale up to quaint Marble, known for its world-class marble that’s been used for such structures as the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. A neighbor at the campground raved about the local hot spot for dinner in Marble. This was Slow Groovin’ BBQ and boy, it didn’t disappoint! Sitting at the bar, we had conversations with several locals. There’s nothing quite like getting acquainted with an area through the eyes of other folks.

Slow Groovin’ BBQ, Marble, Colorado, July 30, 2019

Besides having lunch and visits with Steve’s cousin and her family, we took in scenic drives and hiked to an overlook of the Hunter-Frying Pan Wilderness. Steve’s cousins took us to lunch at one of their favorite places in Woody Creek, the iconic Woody Creek Tavern, which Hunter S. Thompson (American journalist, author, and founder of the gonzo journalism movement) frequented (understatement). Actually, the Woody Creek Tavern is legendary because of him.

Iconic Woody Creek Tavern with Hunter S. Thompson’s Corner, July 31, 2019

Lastly, spending a serene evening at the Maroon Bells, 12 miles from Aspen, hiking the Scenic Loop Trail, watching a mama bear and cub, and witnessing a dramatic color scheme as the sky moved to dusk seemed to tie the knot on having concluded our Interlude.

44 years after our backpacking trip to the Maroon Bells Area, we return for an evening hike, July 31, 2019

We are counting our blessings for the Interlude that provided us some breathing room and achieving more clarity. This precious period of time launched us gently into a path that has taken us through parts of Utah, Idaho, Montana and now our annual Midwest trip to visit family.