Fear kept us from re-visiting the Switzerland of Colorado, Ouray. The Million Dollar Highway must have been something back in the day when a cool mill was a lot of dinero. Back in my day we developed land with entrance roads costing more than that. Cars were much smaller in the 1930’s, and nobody drove 40’ RV’s or pulled 30’ Airstreams. From what we heard, the road from Silverton to Ouray is little changed aside from resurfacing. Guard rails are rare, long and steep drop-offs down the mountainside are common, and the road is so curvy and up-and-down, nobody gets to enjoy the spectacular views. Instead we pulled a supposedly much safer route from Dolores to Montrose and almost to Gunnison with our goal being safe arrival at Elk Creek Campground west of Gunnison.
There is a 200 mile rule for trailering: exceed that and the stress of watching out for road bozos will wear you out. There should be a corollary to that rule: “Never trailer 190 miles when 150 of them are Scenic Highways”. A dope pulling a Jay Flite at the auto speed limit nearly killed us while passing on a double yellow line that disappeared behind a curve in the road. Once the passer is parallel to you, he can’t go back. I got off the power to help him, then we both spotted a car emerging from the curve. I eased our rig as far to the right as possible and tap-tap-tapped the brakes, just as ol’ Buddy Bozo whipped his SOB where the driver’s side front fender would be were I adjusting the radio. He barely missed us. A mile or two down the road we saw his trailer swaying briefly out of control, but he never slowed down. That will wake you up, and it shook me up. Kat took us to the house from Ridgway, CO.
To make matters worse, Samantha, our two year old GPS, appears to be developing symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s. She tells us to turn left when she means right, and too often has us look for our destination on one side of the road while in reality it lies on the other. But she’s right sometimes, and yesterday I chose to disregard her advice to take the 4th exit from a roundabout outside Telluride. That struck me as suspect because I could see but four exits, and #4 was the one we came in on. It turned out there were five, and my error put us in downtown Telluride without a place to turn around. Oh, and there was a clunking noise coming from the back of El Trucko Rojo, who wasn’t having a good day himself due to the altitude (up and down between 7,000 and 10,000 feet).
We found a parking lot to enter and leave with a 180 degree change in course. Our tongue jack’s anchor has a circular base, and was rolling around in the ‘Stream’s battery box, clanging against its metal walls, making that odd, scary noise.
In time, five hours perhaps, we arrived at Blue Mesa Reservoir’s Elk Creek Campground. It’s got some electric sites, flush toilets, water spigots and a dump station all included in your daily fee. There are no trees, no Verizon cell or data service, and apparently a lot of mice (I trapped five in the first 36 hours, then no more). It is pretty. It’s only 16 miles west of Gunnison, where you can find everything you need or want for Life on the Blue Highways.