Arriving Parachute Co
A View from Battlement Mesa
Battlement Mesa RV Park
Li’l Beast @ Battlement Mesa, Co.
We pulled into Parachute ahead of dusk. Using the AllStays app, Ellen chose Battlement Mesa Campground for the evening. Allstay guided us to “nowhere”. We were atop the mesa when we saw a sign “RV Campground” with an arrow. We figured, “Why Not?” and followed a few signs to Battlement Mesa. This is a large RV campground. It looked to have over 100 sites each with full hookups. There were few trees. This is a huge parking log with full hookups. There might have been a dozen RVs scattered about. I drove past the main entrance, there is no clear signage for the office. We finally found the office which was closed and the toilets closed and locked. The laundry was open!
We decided to stay and while Ellen looked around for “the perfect” site, I tried my hand at cracking the code for the toilets with no success. Walking back to Li’l Beast, I met Jennie headed to the woman’s toilets. “Hi, we’ll be staying here for the evening. The office is closed. What is the code for the toilet?” Jennie told me the woman’s code. “Thanks, my wife, Ellen, will be happy.” Ellen happened to walk up. Jennie said, “I think the men’s code is ssss”. While Ellen and Jennie were talking, I tried the men’s code and it worked!
Jennie looked to be about 30 years of age. She had followed the oil and natural gas boom to South Dakota and had done well until the price of oil dropped. She’s back in Colorado and looking for her next adventure.
Off season, I recommend Battlement Mesa Campground. Follow the signs. My GPS was useless in finding the park. During peak season the park could be full daily. In mid September it is nearly empty. The office is closed weekends. We found no management people Saturday evening or Sunday morning. We showered and did laundry.
Vail and Breckenridge
Leaving Parachute, Co.
The Colorado River
A narrow Canyon on the Colorado
Kayakers taking a break
A walkway along the Colorado
Aspens turning in the fall
Ski Slopes near Vail
Fall Foliage, Colorado
Our drive from Parachute to woodland Park took us through Vail and Breckenridge. Highway 70 runs right through Vail and highway 9 runs through the center of Frisco and Breckenridge .(Frisco is a small town popular with skiers due to the close proximity to Breckenridge, Copper Mt., Keystone and Arapahoe). We stopped at a Safeway in Breckenridge for sandwiches that we took with us. Later we had lunch at a vista point and rest stop.
Woodland Park, Colorado
Rest Stop Nearing Woodland Park
The drive from Parachute to Woodland Park was beautiful. There were a number of grades both up and down to be negotiated. Getting off I-70 headed on 9 and 24 toward Woodland Park was “different”. The roads are two lane, stretching over high plains with some significant turns. I remember two 10mph hairpin uphill turns that were “fun”. They were no problem for Li’l Beast, but could be challenging for a 40’er with a toad.
We drove consistently 10 mph below the speed limit with a few exceptions (10 mph hairpin turns for instance). In the high terrain, the aspens had turned presenting splashes of golden or orange against the green conifer background. Colorado is beautiful.
Again using AllStays, Ellen chose Diamond Campground and RV park for our first overnight in Woodland Park. It’s on the approach into Woodland from 24, on 67N. We called ahead and got mixed messages from the office. When we arrived we drove around the park looking at sites and found a few that might work. We were looking at one site, when a fellow happened by and said we should check at the office, there are only a few sites available. It turned out that there were many sites available that night, but only two were listed on the office door. The two “official sites” were way in the back or right up front. We took the one up front, hear the bathrooms and parked between a 40’er to our right (John and Rona) and a 31’er to our left (CRVGO.com).
Diamond Campground has it merits and issues. The roads are dirt and dust is everywhere when a rig pulls through. The Sewer hookups are not threaded, use rocks to hold the business end in place. The trees are pretty, but Sat Reception can be flaky or non-existent. On the plus side, the managers are friendly, the showers tiled with glass sliding doors. The restrooms are large, heated, and clean. If not for the dust issue, I’d very highly rate this campground. It is also part of the Passport America system. Members can stay for $12 per night!
We had the pleasure of meeting John and his wife Rona at Diamond Campground. We had a very warm chat with them in the morning. It was John who mentioned Passport America and $12. Their 40′ rig was spotless. I asked how John cleans his rig and he described washing a 4×4 section at a time and that it takes about four hours to do the job right. Then he remembered a mobile car wash fellow out of LA who does a great job on RVs. John went back into their rig and brought out a card, BONGOSS Professional Detailing 818-581-5424. They travel as far south as Temecula. John also highly recommends the Cripple Creek mine tour, which we plan to take. Today we were busy. Tomorrow we will visit Cripple Creek.
Li’l Beast at Diamond RV Park
Woodland RV Park
We departed Diamond Campground and drove the three miles to Woodland RV Campground. This is a small campground. It is paved, but it does not have showers or toilets. It does have the advantage of being less than a mile from Rich’s home. We left Diamond late, there were two sites available at Woodland. We drove the small loop checking out the two sites. We saw John and Rona’s rig in the lower campsite. One of the two free sites was below and next to them, but it was very close to the other neighbor. Ellen preferred the other, higher site which we took. It had large bunches of Lavender growing along one side of the site. This site has a five degree down slope but with a clear view of the south through some trees. We leveled Li’l Beast within tolerances and found satellite reception was perfect. The way we parked the sewer line was not downhill but it was still workable.
After relaxing some, we walked to Woodland Park’s old town about 2 miles away. Starving, we walked past two breweries and happened upon Joannie’s Gourmet Mountain Deli and a wonderfully quirky counter gal who recommended the Greek Quiche, which Ellen ordered. I had a Spicy Italian. They were both excellent. Be warned though, the spicy Italian is full of pepperoncini and Jalapeno. It was tasty and very spicy without being uncomfortably hot. Joannie’s does not serve alcohol.
For the next hour or two we walked the rest of old town and headed back to the RV. Rich picked us up in the late evening and we all headed to dinner. All? Rich, Ellen, and I and
Jean, Rich’s gal friend, and Alea, Rich’s daughter. We had a great time chatting. The waiter had to come by twice to get our order. We hardly noticed the food arrive, and we kept talking well after the bill was paid and our waiter had left! It was fun for me and fun / emotional for Ellen reconnecting with Rich and meeting his grownup daughter. We immediately took a liking to Jean, too.
Leaving the restaurant, a plan fell into place. Rich was meeting a buddy and his friend to go prospecting the next morning. Then he could meet Ellen and I and we could head out to Cripple Creek in the afternoon to meet with Scruffy’s Wife. Scruffy was another of Ellen’s brothers. Or we could all go prospecting in the morning and “do” Cripple Creek in the afternoon. Prospecting? Really? Ellen and I were IN.
Prospectors, The Weather Channel
Rich has led an exciting and varied life from horses, through surveying, and into prospecting. He’s been collecting rocks for decades and has built a solid reputation with county and state authorities and local prospectors. High Noon Entertainment went looking for prospector around Cripple Creek in 2011-2012. Rich Fretterd’s name came up enough that the producers approached Rich about “playing” a prospector on the show. With some reservation, Rich accepted and the show has been a success. The next season’s episode finished filming in August. We’ve recorded all the episodes DirecTV carried on “The Weather Channel” until a disuute between the two led DirecTV to drop the weather channel and its programming.
Prospecting near George Lake
The next morning we started out an hour later than planned. That night someone had shot a deer, but not killed it. The local police put the deer out of its misery and as they do,they called neighbors who might want the meat. Rich got a call from a neighbor asking if he’d want to help clean the carcass for some meat. He declined. Some of his neighbors cleaned the carcass and dragged the remains down near a creek. When Rich arrived home he spooked a big bear who shot up the tree at the back entrance to his home. Two baby bears tore up the tree after her. Rich went in the front entrance. The bears had dragged the dear remains back up the hill from the creek and had a feast near his back yard.
All seven of us headed out to one of Rich’s claims this morning. Rich, Jean, Alea, Ellen and I and two friends Rich had met at the Denver Gem Show. The drive started on a paved two land road much like any other, but this one threaded through stands of Aspen and Pine winding its way past private lands into park lands. Somewhere along the way the pavement gave way to dirt with fewer homes and more trees. Further along the road became rutted with steep down grades and passed through an old fire zone. There were groves of aspen, more numerous than I had seen. All were small new growth rising among the burned-out hulks of old pine trees. The past fire (2003) had decimated acres of land. It was heartening to see new growth within such devastation. We were all having a great time at the claim site and did not leave until almost 5 PM. And by this time the skies threatened rain at any moment.
On the way home we decided to stay another day to visit Shelly in Cripple Creek and visit the town of Victor and the local open-pit gold mine. We drove “home” exhausted, but with enough energy for a few more photos of the Aspen groves. Home, we had a quick dinner and slept well. A hard rain came that night.
Taking a Break
The seam is here somewhere
Ellen’s Smokey Quartz Pocket
I Know there’s Still More Here
Jean, Alea, and Rich
Ellen hard at work
Fire devastation and recoveryAlea working her find
Resting: Alea and Rich
Jean finds the seam
The Three Prospectors
Change of weather, Threatening Rain