It was pushing 4pm before we saw the first signs of our destination.
There is no where I love more than this place.
Vedauwoo is a State park just off the highway, centered around a group of rocks that have some great climbing routes, both roped and not roped. We have climbed to the top, but that was before T was born. There is a part of the route that scares the hell out of me and I'm not sure I can climb it now. We always camp in the Medicine Bow National Forest.
The route back to our favorite camping spot.
Lone tree in the middle of the road. I once was involved in tearing the spoiler off a Dodge Ram truck in the mud puddle to the right of the tree. That's what happens when you hit the puddle at 60 miles an hour. I was young.
Our camping spot.
T's end of the camper. We installed collapsible clothing shelves on the right side so our clothes are assessible.
And we hang wire baskets above the stove to hold snacks, bread and snacks. Makes it really easy to find food and all of the containers we pack the stuff in can live in the back of the truck.
The three burner stove and sink. There is also a propane driven heater under the stove and a refrigerator under the sink.
The small dining table.
The other fold out bed for J and I with wire baskets set up with the toiletries.
We have a space to hang jackets and sweatshirts close to the door.
We got camp set up and everything arranged by dinner time. I cooked dinner. We had potatoes and Kelbassa sausage. T loved it and it's easy to fix over a propane stove. I must admit that we used paper plates and plastic cups. One of the challenges in camping without hook ups is taking enough water to get through the weekend with dishes, dog water, putting out the camp fire and all of the other odds and ends you need water for. Our pop up holds about 20 gallons, plus we haul in another 18 gallons. By using disposable food holders we eliminate the need to clean plates and glasses. For the first time, we had enough water to carry us through four days of camping.
After dinner, we settled in around the table. T and I colored a picture in the new Adult coloring book I got just for the trip. (I love it.) J relaxed on one of the beds, reading her magazine. About nine or so, it was getting cold, so I turned on the propane heater. It kicked on and got warm, then shut off like it was supposed to. And then it didn't turn on again. It had been two years since the last time we camped and I figured that we had finished one propane tank and I needed to switch to the other tank. I went out and unscrewed one tank, moved the other tank over, then went to hook up. When I turned the gas on I could hear the leak. I closed the valve and unhooked the connector, then rehooked it up, making sure it was threaded on correctly. When I turned on the gas it hissed and I could feel the propane leaking around the connection. Cussing, I turned off the gas and went to tell J.
It was supposed to be as low as 40 that night and while we had enough bedding (and T has a -15 Grizzly bag) J and I were worried about the dogs getting cold. There wasn't anything we could do at that point, so we hunkered down and tried to sleep.
I might have slept an hour.
When Ashke fell with me a couple of weeks ago, I landed on my left arm. It bruised my left breast and pec very badly. It has been bothering me off and on. Friday when we got to camp I jacked up the pop up top and then moved a very large log to sit next to the fire ring that was there. During that activity, I must have really strained the muscle. I know it's not a rib or a collapsed lung, because the pain does diminish with advil, but Friday night I thought that maybe I was dying. I could not get comfortable enough to fall asleep.
I got up about 5:30 as the sun was just coming up. J and I managed to find a crescent wrench and I got the broken piece off the trailer.
Broken piece. Unknown to me, it is a propane tank connector with a left-hand 1/4 inch male pipe thread. This would play a significant part in trying to replace it.
With the part in my hand, I jumped in the truck and headed for Laramie, sixteen miles to the west. It was 5:50 am. If I didn't get this part replaced we would be heading home when I got back to camp. We needed the propane in order to cook.
I tried Walmart first, picking up a level kit for the pop-up and replacement food for all of the refrigerated stuff I left at home. Then the Pilot truck stop. Then the local KOA, hoping they might carry replacement RV parts. I asked about an RV dealership, but Laramie doesn't have one. Next on the list was O'Reilly auto parts. They suggested Ace Hardware. I called J and she told me that if I couldn't find the part to come back and we would head home. I really didn't want that to happen.
Sean at Ace Hardware was awesome. It took us almost a full hour to figure out a fix, mostly because propane fittings are not standard. We needed a fitting that was at least 24" long and the longest they had was 20". We needed male pipe thread and what we had was inverted flare. They didn't have an inverted flare to male pipe converter. We started over. There was a tube that had 9/16ths fittings on both ends. We added a propane tank fitting on one end, and then added a 9/16ths to 1/4" left-handed male pipe thread. Sean and Scott kicked ass helping me out. We added gas tape (like plumbers tape but for gas fittings), they put it together for me and I headed back to camp.
It took three hours, all told. It took maybe fifteen minutes to put the fitting back on the popup and get all the connections tight enough to stop any leaking. Then I was able to cook everyone breakfast.
The girls were in seventh heaven.
There was a small lake created from rainfall close by that they found five minutes after we got there. They loved to play in the water.
Even Old Dog went with us and wandered the edges of the water briefly.
Our hammock spot.
It was warm in the sun and cold in the shade. Guess which one the hammocks are in.
The sky chair.
T in his hammock with his iPad and a blanket so he can see.
First world problems.
View from the hammock.
Skittle sat in the hammock and flexed her muscles so it would rock gently.
Best thing ever.
T and the very serious problems of watching his iPad.
Saturday was spent just hanging out. The rain came off and on, but never heavy. The clouds moved away around us. We colored. Read. And then listened to the Belmont Stakes on the portable emergency radio. And cried in amazement and disbelief. Ate some good food. Manwiches for the win!!
The rocks and the clouds outside as the storm skirts our camp.
Waiting on the fire so we could roast marshmallows (all of us) and sausages (for the growing, never full boy).
J roasting marshmallows.
Our new fire ring worked really well.
Early morning campfire on Sunday morning.
Skittle in a moment of quiet contemplation.
This is our Jack toilet. It was down at the bottom of the hill from our camp and is usually surrounded by a 5' x 8' tarp, but the tarp needed to be replaced. You can't see the toilet from camp, so we didn't worry about tarping it.
So, for those of you who are interested. The Jack toilet is a 5 gallon bucket from Lowe's or Home Depot with the bottom cut out. The base is a piece of wood with a hole cut in it (1" x 10" x 2' or there abouts). The hole should tightly fit the bottom of the bucket. There are two flanges on the underside of the piece of wood to keep the bucket from sliding through the wood holder. You dig a three foot or so deep hole about the diameter of the bottom of the bucket and pile the dirt nearby. Then the wooden piece is set over the hole, the bucket placed into the wooden piece, and a toilet seat top (which has two metal brackets on either side to hold it onto the bucket) is placed on top. When you use it, afterwards, a small scoop of dirt is tossed in to cover the contents. It is so much more comfortable than squatting in the woods.
Saturday night was the only real storm we got over the weekend. J said there was lightning and strong winds in the middle of the night, but I managed to sleep through it. Sunday dawned beautiful, so we took the dogs and the boy for a hike.
This is a camp site where I camped for fifteen years. All the trees are beetle kill and coming down.
This was the first place J and I camped and where the rumor of her being a Nazi was finally put to rest.
So much beetle kill.
Where the old pine trees have died, new Aspen are beginning to grow. We also saw a lot of ground cover growing in and lots of wild flowers because of the rain.
Twenty years ago this was a vibrant Cedar tree. It had dropped a ton of branches this last winter.
The grass to the left in this photo is actually a bog. The dogs got very muddy there. The bog is what is left of a beaver dam from nearly twenty years ago (yes, I have been camping here since 1993). The stream that cuts through skirts the bank of willow that grew up over the top of the dam (to the right).
The dogs thought they had died and gone to heaven.
I tried to jump off the bank onto a dry spot to cross the creek and darn near landed on my butt. The mud was deep enough that it almost capped my shoes.
T calmly picked his way across the driest parts, while making fun of my attempt.
He gets that from me.
They ran up the creek. They ran through the bog. They jumped the creek. They were big, dripping, muddy balls of fun.
And downstream, a new Beaver pond. Hence the cycle of the forest.
T and the dogs being. They were playing with an empty Gatorade bottle.
When we got back to camp the first thing they did was find the lake and washed the mud off. Then they laid in the sun. They were pretty foot sore at this point.
And then they crashed when the storm rolled in.
Playing with a big Stick
These two make my heart warm.
They tried to take out all of us.
By Monday morning we were tired of sleeping in the cold. Skittle had spent the night curled inside my sleeping bag. Lily tried to sleep inside J's mummy bag, which left them both less than satisfied. We were ready to be home, so we packed up the trailer and set off for home.
Large square rock balanced on the top of a flat tower of rock.
Heart of the Turtle
They used to run an Endurance Race here. Not any more.