Summer 2011 – Update #3 and last one for this summer :-(

We left off with us enjoying the beautiful cool weather in the Silverton, Colorado area (San Juan mountains), Jeeping, and lamenting about the drought in Texas (more on the drought later.)

Also, we would like to apologize for steering our readers to to read our posts and look at all of the pictures we posted on a trail-by-trail basis.  Unfortunately this forum will not let you even view this particular board without being a registered user (which you can certainly do if desired.)  When John gets industrious, he’ll copy all of that content over here in a series of blog posts and make a new blog category for off-road, Jeep or something like that.

Moving on…

We had quite a bit of fun running trails in the San Juan mountains with our new Western Slope 4 Wheeler club buddies but it was time to press on and head a little further east in preparation for the All-4-Fun off-road event held in the Salida, Colorado area.  We spent a couple of weeks in Gunnison, Colorado at the very nice Palisades Senior RV Park (it’s an over age 55 park, but we got over that stigma.)  Gunnison must have the very worst WalMart store we have even set foot inside.  It looks like the aftermath of a going-out-of-business sale at a Dollar Store.  For a while we wondered if anybody actually worked there judging by how disheveled almost every merchandise shelf looked, but no – there actually were employees hanging around (“hanging around” is a significantly more descriptive term than “working.”)  Perhaps most of them spend their time outside on smoke breaks.

We did have somebody tell us that the city of Gunnison did not approve the building of a super sized WallyWorld store, so maybe this is WalMart’s way of punishing the locals.  Whatever.  John hates to set foot inside of any WalMart.  We weren’t real thrilled with the Gunnison area but there was a shining jewel there – the Pioneer Museum.  Six acres of a trip back in time.

Our Horizon coach at the All-4-Fun

Boondocking at the All-4-Fun off-road event

After our stopover in Gunnison, it was time to proceed to the campground on a private ranch for the All-4-Fun where we will be boondocking (i.e., no electric, no water, no sewer hookups) for a full week in the coach.  We left Gunnison with a full tank of water (about 80 gallons) and topped off the diesel tank (we hold 100 gallons) so we would be in fine shape to be completely self-contained for the entire week.

Even though the trip from Gunnison to Salida wasn’t very long in miles, we had to cross the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass (a little over 11,000′) with a full water tank, a full diesel tank and towing the Jeep.  We probably weighed in at 37,000 pounds between the coach and Jeep but we made the climb with no difficulty thanks to our large Cummins engine (8.9 liters and 1200 ft. lbs. of torque), but oh how we suck the fuel down.  On a long climb like that we are only getting 2.5 to 3.5 MPG and the turbo is at full boost (32 PSI.)

While at the campground in Salida, we would run the generator about 8-10 hours each day (so we could have air conditioning), and we had plenty of water for each of us to take a quick shower every day (and we had satellite TV and satellite Internet) so we certainly didn’t suffer any!  Speaking of the generator, that Onan diesel generator is a wonderful little gem.  It’s very quiet and we only burn less than a half a gallon an hour under our typical load.  We ran the generator for about 75 hours that week and we figured that was only about 25 gallons or so of fuel used.


Rock crawling at Chinaman Gulch trail near Salida, Colorado

Rock crawling at Chinaman Gulch trail near Salida, Colorado

We spent several days running trails with anywhere from about eight vehicles to almost 20.  We did a couple of hard-rated trails and we (and the Rubicon) did just great.  John did some optional hard obstacles on one of the trails, and again we had no issues thanks to increasing driver skill and a nicely built up Rubicon.  By the end of the week we were tired since most trail runs were an all-day event and we were thinking about our next stop which was going to be Grand Lake, Colorado for more sightseeing and trail running.  That didn’t quite work out as we will soon discover.

Thanks to all of the webcams John installed at our little ranch, we can easily keep a close eye on things and one day John noticed the water level in the animal stock tanks a little low.  That wasn’t a great cause for alarm since our neighbors sometimes would clean out the tanks and then it would take them a while to refill.  After going back several days (you can see that particular webcam here) and reviewing the images, it was clear the water level was slowly going down.  Oops, not good!  John called our wonderful neighbors who were looking after the place to see if there was any water in the storage tank that gravity feeds the stock troughs, and no – the tank was dry.  OH NO!

The neighbor said the primary 2500 gallon storage tank was almost full, so something was going on that could not be explained.  John was worried there might be a well issue – maybe even our well was going dry.  It was time to be very concerned about water issues thanks to the extreme drought we were experiencing.  Our neighbor said his well had a reduced flow and there were reports of wells a few miles away actually drying up.

The decision was made to cancel the rest of our summer plans (we were slowly headed to Dalton, Wyoming for another Jeep event) and immediately return home to deal with the water situation.  At least we were able to finish the All-4-Fun event, so this was a good point to break things off and head south.  It took two long days on the road (we covered about 900 miles in those two days) to return home and guess what we found?  We don’t know either.

Our neighbor transferred about 800 gallons of water from the large storage tank to the smaller tank (it holds about 1,000 gallons) to fill the animal troughs and when John looked inside both tanks, they were both almost full.  What the…?  Here we were having visions of having to spend about $25,000 for a new deep well (800′ deep!) and everything looked okay.  We are keeping a close eye on the well’s performance and it seems normal (in the best of times we only get about 2-3 GPM from it) at least so far.

This is the first time since we have owned our place here that we have experienced these hot temperatures and I can tell you that WE DON’T LIKE IT!  However, we are very thankful that we are blessed with a still functioning well – things could always be worse.  Please join us in praying for abundant rain for all of Texas – we do this before every meal .  It is a very serious situation here for everybody, especially farmers and ranchers.  It is still costing us a small fortune to feed the blackbuck antelope and we’re having thoughts about selling the entire herd (lots of ranchers are selling off their livestock.)  We are so down in the hole money-wise with the herd, there is no hope of making a little return on them for a few years at this rate (and that’s assuming we get rain and have some grass growing at some point.)

Pray for rain!

As always, thanks for riding along with Jane and John and blessings to all of our friends and loved ones!