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Down to the Flats and Back


Barber Lake
Snowy Range

Unimportant things have been happening, and I'm sure you guys are dying to catch up. I spent 2 days roaming around Rocky Mountain Park. This is a great place to get lost in, if you don't mind walking about 10 miles or so. Otherwise it qualifies as the World's Most Spectacular Bumper-to-Bumper Commute. No kidding. I drove the road over the passes twice, in good weather and bad, and there seems to be a continuous traffic jam up there.

It took 2 hours to get from the top down to the Falls Creek Road cutoff. From the top I could see the long train of hundreds of cars inching down the mountain, and I was right in the middle of it. Traffic stopped for maybe 10 minutes at a time, went forward 50 yards, then stopped again. I asked a guy in the lane coming up what was the hold up. "Beats me. There's nothing back there but some elk." I could see the elk in the distance. The jam went way past them.

Some people just gave up on progress, got out of their cars, ignored the elk, and took pictures of the traffic jam at 12000 feet. The elk did a pretty good job of ignoring them, too. Most of them were sitting faced away, gazing at the mountains and showing us their butts. Our novelty must have worn off on them long ago. I remember now it was just like this 30 years ago, last time I was here. That's why I never came back. Saturation is saturation. But the mountains are spectacular, viewed between lurches down the road. Maybe in September this would be a great road bike trip.

I met Barbara Allen for lunch in Longmont. I met her at the King-Sooper, and as I was getting out I heard this "beep-beep-beep" faintly, like someone aways off was backing up a truck. Then I realized it was coming from the trailer. It was the LP alarm, and the inside of the trailer smelled like insecticide. I had a can of Off and a can of bug spray below the sink, but they looked okay. I took them out of the trailer and aired out the place, and checked all the connections I could get to. It hasn't happened again, but I'm listening for it. I had just come down from 12000 feet, and my theory is that the seal on the bug spray was affected by the change in pressure.

Barbara's a lurker on RORT, and emailed me offering help with doctors when I thought I was going to have to stop traveling for a while. She also told me where to find a large RV dealer to fix my undersheathing that got torn up when the tire blew. When I went by the place, though, I met with the usual nemesis of full-timers: "Yah, there's a kit. If you order it now, it'll be here in a coupla weeks. But we can't get to it anyhow before September 2nd." Right.

Instead I went to the Home Depot in Loveland and bought some light flashing and some self tapping screws, and headed up 287 to Wyoming. In Fort Collins I saw an Indian motorcycle dealer. They're coming back, I guess. When I was in school a friend of mine owned an ancient one. It was the only motorcycle I ever saw that had a stick shift on the right side. You had to take your hand off the handlebars to shift.

Hwy 287 runs from Ft. Collins to Laramie, for much of the way running down the trough between two pressure ridges hundreds of feet high. If you ever want to see convincing proof that the solid earth can act like a liquid, drive this road. The ridges look exactly like suspended ripples in a pond.

I passed through Centennial, Wyoming, population 100, and drove on up to Barber Lake to camp. Next morning I went to get my drill and fix the trailer, and found I had left it at home. Arrrrgh. I carry that thing around in the truck all year, and when I need it, it ain't there. So, I drove back down to Centennial and asked at the biggest motel there if I could rent a drill from somebody. The girls at the desk said, "O sure, Sheldon'll be right out."

Sure enough, in 5 minutes or less there he was, toting a drill and a smile. He had the hole patched and caulked in another 10. When I offered to pay him, he said: "Nah, that's all right. Just help somebody else some time." Then he shook my hand and walked away.

Now there's one of Nature's Noblemen. His name was Sheldon Huffner.

Breakfast in that place wasn't bad, either.


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