We extended our stay at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont, Colorado by two days – giving us a full week there. It wasn’t that we had any great plans, it was more a case of we needed time to plan. We had a look at route options, things to see and do and also find some opportunities to boondock along the way.
That’s one of the nice aspects of life on the road – you can adjust your variable expenses along the way. Our spring trek from Arizona across the country to Maine and back again to San Diego by the end of September means we’ve had higher than average fuel expenses. One way to offset that is to find free or nearly free campsites. Conversely, when we’re in San Diego we pay high campsite fees to be in the location we want to be in, but we’re stationary for a few months and don’t have fuel costs.
I mentioned Donna following the Bright Line Eating plan, so we didn’t go out to eat at all. The plan is working for her and I encourage her to stick with it. But, that doesn’t mean I’ll forgo some snacks or happy hour! Last week we stopped at a nearby taproom that was unique. I went there again Wednesday afternoon. It’s called Brewmented and it’s not your usual small craft brewery. Their core business is homebrew supply. They have everything you need to brew your own. They also serve beer they’ve made in small batches – they use a one-barrel system so they can only brew about 30 gallons per batch. They constantly rotate their beers so you never know what you might find on tap. Typically they have six to eight brews available on tap.
Donna’s eating plan doesn’t mean she can’t put tasty meals on the table. Tuesday she had the slow cooker going all day and made a pot of beef and bean chili. It was delicious.
I made a second trip to the laundromat on Wednesday. We’ve been without a sewer hook-up since we left Sioux Falls, so we don’t use the clothes washer on board – it would use too much water and fill the gray tank. I know I’ve said it before – Donna says there’s nothing sexier than a man doing dishes. I wonder how she feels about a man doing the laundry. (Donna here: It’s even sexier!)
We had a plan when we pulled out on Thursday. First I stopped at the fairgrounds dump station and dumped and flushed out holding tanks. I had already filled our fresh water at our site. We drove to the Elks Lodge in Northglenn – a Denver suburb. We planned to drop the trailer there, then proceed to Speedco in Commerce City about 10 miles away. The Northglenn Elks Lodge has eight sites with water and electricity. I looked at it online and the satellite view looked good.
When we pulled in, it turned out to be not so good. The parking lot was packed – every space had a car in it. As we drove through, I noticed the windshields of all of the cars had writing on them. It appeared that the Elks Lodge lot was being used as an impound yard.When I got to the end of the lot, I had a problem. There was a tall, large-diameter metal pole on my right and I needed to make a sharp right turn to exit. The exit lane was narrow and had a cement barrier. There was no way I could make the turn without either hitting the pole with the trailer or hitting the barrier with the coach.
I had to reverse across the entire length of the lot between the rows of impounded cars, then I backed the trailer around a corner and had a straight shot back onto the street. Then I had another issue – the driveway sloped to the gutter and the trailer jack dragged as we crossed into the street. Grrr!
We continued down the road to Speedco. I dropped the trailer in their lot and we had the coach in the lube bay by 12:15pm. I needed to have it serviced. I was concerned about the condition of our motor oil. On long climbs where the oil temperature rises, we’ve been experiencing lower than usual oil pressure. I was thinking that the overheating problem we had in New York might have oxidized the oil and resulted in breakdown of the oil.
I’ve used Speedco since we bought our Alpine Coach. A few years ago, I could get the oil and filter changed, plus fuel filter and chassis lube for under $200. Then last year they raised their prices and it cost me about $250. Then Love’s Travel Center bought Speedco. This may have been a good acquisition for Love’s, but it’s not so good for customers. There were only three or four guys working in the lube area. All three bays had vehicles in them and there were at least four heavy duty trucks waiting to get in. No one touched our coach for the first twenty minutes. Then a guy in the pit below removed the oil drain plug and also took an oil sample – I’d ordered a used oil analysis. The the guy disappeared and no one touched the coach for next 20 or 30 minutes.
I couldn’t understand it. I talked to a trucker who told me he’s been getting his truck serviced here for years. He said it used to be great – good service and in and out quick. He said they had experienced crews manning each bay. When Love’s took over, they reduced employee benefits, took away accrued vacation time and reduced pay. Everyone quit. Now they have an inexperienced crew, low morale and no one is motivated. It took over two hours for them to change my oil and lube the chassis – usually about a 30- to 45-minute job. The cashier was a rude and surly woman. And the cost was $340! I think I’ll need to find an alternative in the future.
My used oil analysis confirmed my fears. Oxidation was high but a few of the other findings have me perplexed as they seem contradictory. I’ll have to study it a bit more before I can draw any conclusions.
It was close to 3pm by the time we got out of there. The trucker gave me a tip on the best route south out of the Denver area. We went east to I-225 and followed it south past Cherry Creek Reservoir where we picked up I-25. This cut out a lot of the city traffic, but we still had periods of stop-and-go. I-25 was no picnic at that time of day with unexplained slow downs.
We crossed Monument Hill at an elevation of 7,300 feet above sea level and dropped into Colorado Springs. We pulled into the Elks Lodge here around 4:30pm. We’re dry camped in their lot along with three or four other rigs. Their water and electric sites are all taken.
We met up with our friends Dave and Stilla Hobden. They’ve been here for the summer in their Alpine Coach. We got together for happy hour in the lodge. It turned into dinner, then after dinner drinks with cigars for Dave and me. It great to catch up with them. They’ll be here for a another month or so. We plan to stay over the weekend, then head out.
The forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies, warm today with the temperature reaching the low 80s – mid 70s for the rest of the weekend. We’re at an elevation of a little over 6,100 feet on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. Weather here can change quickly and there’s always the chance of afternoon thunderstorms.