Thursday, September 16, 2010
I've been at Haviland Lake for 8 days. It has been lovely, but it was time to move on. Not a proper attitude for fulltimers, this antsiness, but then I'm not really a fulltimer. I am on a trip. There is an appointment awaiting me back in Texas on the 27th.
O my. Places to go, people to see, busy, busy, busy. In an uncharacteristic dither, I determined to move one valley west to the Dolores area, and explore it in a Beastly manner.
I blew right by Mesa Verde. BTDT, several times. Much has changed in Dolores since I was last here. It seems less prosperous. Good restaurants have closed. The less good are still in evidence. But nonetheless a river runs through it, as MacLean would say, so it is hard to be dispirited.
I stopped off at the McPhee Reservoir camp, but it was hot up there in the middle of the day. The prime shady spots, all three of them, were taken. As I passed by, a large man in an undershirt lifted up from his bed to stare at me dull-eyed through the mosquito netting of his pop-up, before falling listlessly back into bed. Somewhere a dog barked. I slid into one place with scant shade, but when I got out I was greeted by a swarm of bees rising from a hole in a stump. There may be honey in the rock, but this was not a good omen. After an hour trying to reconcile my mind to the place, I gave up and moved on.
It got steadily cooler as I traveled north from Dolores on 145. After about 20 miles I turned off and followed a good paved road to the West Dolores Campground. This was more like it.
My well-shaded campsite:
And here's the back porch:
I have every reasonable hope that the river will lull me to sleep tonight.
Lo and behold, electricity has come to the farther Forest Service campgrounds. About a third of the sites now have power, and I haven't seen any of the old hand pump cisterns I grew up with. They even have threaded faucets so you can fill up your RV tanks. The new toilets look substantial and clean, but they have some kind of forced air drying system in the vaults below that will give you a thrill when you sit down for the first time. Feels like spiders are reaching out springy-legged to feel your privates.
But it's just wind. I think.
Problem is, according to our host, the composting toilets don't work at this altitude. Not hot enough. So these $65,000 toilets have to be mucked out periodically the old fashioned way, by college kids working for minimum wage, with shovel and rake. They say it builds character.
Maybe it'll settle them down and prepare them for grad school. Somewhere I saw a T shirt that said "Grad School - the Snooze Button for Life". After a summer spent shoveling out the vaults, I'd be looking for a snooze button too.
Not much in the way of wildlife. The black powder elk hunters may bear some blame in that. They are not having much luck closing on their prey, however. Some blame the forest service, which is having a controlled burn between them and where they think the elk are. But from the dark laughter and firelight coming over from there every night, they are having fun anyway.
The elk are escaping above the treeline while they can. They have not yet completely adapted to the fact that they can be killed from a quarter mile away. The high powered rifle guys will have a chance at them later.
Meanwhile the campground is idyllically empty during the day, and at night there are stories to tell. One pickup came back smeared from one end to the other where it was thoroughly licked by a herd of cattle. Well, why shouldn't they have a taste? It won't be long before the herds are culled, and then all the tasting will go the other way.
Posted by Bob Giddings at 6:00 PM