Once we left Colorado, we felt like we were finally heading home even though we still had over 2000 miles to go. Fortunately for us, we had family and friends to see along the way with lots of unexpected places to see as well. Our first stop took us to Ashland, Nebraska for a stop at Claudia’s aunt’s home. They provided us with a nice shady site and 30 amp service put in just for us and a nice house with a beach in the back yard to use. The weather was beautiful while we were there and we totally enjoyed our time playing on the beach and in the lake while visiting Claudia’s aunt and cousins. Once we left Ashland we had a pleasant trip over to Ackworth, Iowa where we were hosted by our friends Dave & Debbie from Sandpipers, and once again we were provided with enough electricity to keep the A/C running. The temps were in the 90's so that was a real nice perk. As an added treat, our friends Randy and Sue were camping there as well. The six of us started the afternoon off by catching up on the past several months and enjoying an extended “happy hour” together. During our visit Randy and Sue took us for a tour of Des Moines, Iowa’s capital and their old hometown before they hit the road full time like we did 2 years ago. They also took us to Pella, a beautiful small Midwestern town known for its Dutch heritage and its annual tulip festival. It was quite unique and it gave us a great look at a small town in rural Iowa. On our final night in Ackworth, the 6 of us had a great time together as we enjoyed a wonderful bbq dinner. It was such a treat to spend time with these awesome friends. After a couple of days we parted ways until we meet again in Texas. Following a one night stay at a campground in Utica, Illinois we arrived to visit our friends Bob & Catherine, also from Sandpipers at their home in Peru, Indiana. Peru is known as the Circus Capital of the World. It has been home to seven of the world's major circuses for their winter headquarters. They host an amateur circus performance that was currently going on and that we were able to see. Our friends and hosts Bob & Catherine kept us entertained and busy during our visit. We enjoyed their company so much as well as their beautiful home, including their lovely pool. Stella enjoyed the freedom of their large yard as well as the company of their dog and 2 horses. After a nice dip in their pool, we spent our first night downtown enjoying the fair that was going on. The fair corresponded with Peru’s annual Circus week that was happening while we were there. On July 17th, Claudia and I celebrated our 11th anniversary. We spent a good part of the day relaxing by the pool, followed by a great dinner out at a nice Mexican restaurant with Bob & Catherine. It was within walking distance and the weather was lovely so it was a very nice night to be out and about. On that Saturday we headed off early to the home of some friends of Bob & Catherine in order to enjoy the Circus parade from their front porch. We had great seats while in the shade and the parade was quite unique from those we’re used to back east. There were lots of beautiful, antique circus wagons and more horses of all kinds than we could count. All in all it had a very nice small town feel and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Following the parade we headed to a local gathering spot for a pitcher of beer and to enjoy the bag pipe band that had been in the parade. Following another afternoon at the pool and a great homemade dinner, it was time to head to see the circus for ourselves. We had great seats and the circus was very professionally done but performed entirely by kids of all ages up through high school. The finale included a trapeze act that was as good as any we’ve seen. All I could think of as a dad was how tough it would be to watch my daughter doing what those girls were doing. Our final day in Peru started off with a nice brunch out followed by more relaxing by the pool. Once we parted company with Bob & Catherine we made 2 overnight stops, one in Huron, Ohio and one in Akron, New York. Our final stop before returning home was in Moravia, New York to visit more friends of ours from Texas at their summer campground. We met up with them shortly after our arrival and enjoyed their company that night as we were treated to a wonderful homemade dinner at their home. The following day we all took a ride and then a hike over at Watkins Glen State Park. Within two miles, the glen's stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. It was a beautiful hike. For the next couple of days we enjoyed our visit with Lou & Alma, spending time at the pool and meeting new friends. Finally it was time to return to our “summer home” at Camp Sawash in Uxbridge, Mass. For those that don’t know, Camp Sawash is the home of my sister and her husband who allow us to “camp” in their driveway each summer, this time for about 8 weeks. We were so excited and were both awake early so we got a start first thing and arrived by midafternoon. As we pulled into the driveway, Stella actually cried with delight when she saw my niece’s dog Tank sitting there waiting for her. It was a so great seeing so many of our family members throughout the day and we still have a many more to see as the days go by. We have lots of appointments, errands and chores to do while we’re here but we plan to spend most of our time relaxing and enjoying our time with family and friends. We love our life on the road but there’s no place like home.
Our first stop in Colorado was in Durango and that stop turned out to be a lot of fun. On our first full day there we explored the historic downtown area which still has that old western look to it. We spent the following day taking a planned train ride aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to Silverton and back. Silverton was (and still looks like) an old mining town while Durango was the place that all the ore was brought to by train. The train ride took 3 ½ hours each way but we rode in a car that had live narration during the entire trip by people who portrayed real life characters from the era when the train was in its heyday and entertained us with some great stories. We were able to spend a couple of hours in Silverton where we did a bit of shopping and had a great home cooked meal at the Shady Lady, an authentic real life bar and restaurant that used to also entertain men in the rooms upstairs. The train ride itself had some great views and at times some scary ones as we rode along the edge of cliff faces. It was definitely worth the price of the tickets. It was a long day so Stella enjoyed a bit of pampering from one of the work campers at our campground although we understand that she didn’t want to stray very far from the RV. I guess she worried that if we came back and she wasn’t there we’d leave her behind. The following day we started off with an all you can eat country breakfast served at the campground. That afternoon we headed back into Durango for dinner and a show. For dinner we chose the Diamond Belle, an authentic saloon located in the Strater Hotel built in 1887 and preserved to look as it did back then. We both enjoyed a couple of homemade chicken pies while listening to some live ragtime piano music. After dinner we strolled around a bit before arriving at our table in the Strater Theatre where we ordered drinks before our show. The show was titled “Guitar Strings, a Cowboy & a Lost Peacock”. This was a somewhat hokey skit that involved time travel between a 1915 cowboy and a 2015 guitar player who bump into each other right here at the Strater Hotel. It included a bit of music, poetry and comedy intermingled with a bit of local history. Like I said, hokey but still a great night out and we did enjoy the show. On our final day in Durango we took a ride out to Mesa Verde National Park where we saw just enough of it to know that we’ll be coming back. We did get to visit one of the many pueblo ruins that exist there but the park just had too much to see in one day. Before heading out of Durango and after reviewing our mountain guide we discovered that our planned route to Glenwood Springs would take us north up route 550 which we learned had switchbacks, cliffs with no guard rails and steep grades exceeding 8%. Everyone who has driven that route told us the same thing… Don’t’ do it!! We listened of course so we headed all the way back through Moab to get back on the interstate. It was a longer drive but a lot less stressful and from what we’ve heard since then, route 550 may not have even been possible considering the length of our motor home. We weren’t crazy about the campground we stayed at in Glenwood Springs but made the most of our time there by getting some chores taken care of and some errands done. We did end our visit there on a high note by taking an excellent raft trip down the Colorado River. The river was running high and fast and gave us quite the ride. The rapids we rode were rated as class 2 and 3. We were both apprehensive but enjoyed the ride even more than we hoped and are now ready to try some class 4’s. We hit the road for our next stop in Colorado Springs and although we took the interstate most of the way, it was quite the ride. We crossed the Rocky Mountains, over the continental divide and through the Eisenhower Tunnel. The highest elevation we reached was 11,088 feet. The grades were tough and at times we were traveling at 20 miles per hour as we climbed. It was nice to arrive at our campsite knowing that the toughest part of our trip was over . We enjoyed our final Colorado stop in Colorado Springs as much as possible even though we experienced a lot of rain and thunderstorms while we were there. We did get to explore Garden of the Gods a couple of times and found it to be beautiful. Unfortunately, due to the rainy weather, we never made it to Pikes Peak. That visit will have to wait until another trip. We knew we weren’t going to be able to see a whole lot of Colorado this year but we saw enough of it to know that we’ll definitely be back. It really is a beautiful part of our country.
Ed and Claudia always dreamed of retiring and travelling the country in their motorhome. They retired in 2013 and this is the continuing story of their adventures on the road.