- Plan A Travels: Spain→Andorra→France
- Duration: 3 weeks
- Status: ruined
- Cause: coronavirus
- Plan B Travels: Colorado→Utah→Colorado
- Duration: 3 weeks
- Status: completed
Dragging myself out of bed the morning after summiting Mt. Sneffels, I groaned with each new movement. I was suffering from the kind of soreness that inspires hyperbolic utterances (delivered with protracted moans) like, “Even my eyelids hurt.” I wondered how the heck I was supposed to climb more mountains in just a few days’ time, as our itinerary dictated. But, deciding that that was a problem for future-me, I shoved the worry aside as we said goodbye (and “we’ll be back”) to Ouray.
We spent the next five hours driving through more spectacular landscapes toward the Mosquito Range in the central part of the state. Towns on the western side of the Mosquitoes —Salida, Buena Vista, and especially Leadville—are very familiar to us. We consider Leadville our home-away-from-home, but on this occasion, visiting our old friend wasn’t in the cards. Given our hiking plans, it made much more sense for us to stay in the town of Fairplay—only 20 miles away from Leadville as the crow flies, but 75 miles away by car and, alas, a world away in terms of charm, as I had feared.
Now, as I was travel architecting this trip, it was pretty obvious that our accommodation—one of only two RV parks in Fairplay, neither of which looked all that appealing—wasn’t going to win any beauty awards, but when we pulled in, its awfulness became starkly apparent.
First, the scenery from our site was atrocious.
Second, though we had indicated Bobbie’s size (12 adorable feet long) on the online reservation form, they put us in site #2, which is designed for 40-foot behemoths. As such, though we paid for full hookups (that is, water, sewer, and electricity), because of the yawning gap between the electrical box (seen in the photo above) and the other two hookups, we could only reach two utilities at once.
It was the weekend, the owner wasn’t around, and the place was being staffed by a young couple who were friendly enough but seemed at a loss for how to solve the problem. First they suggested that we go buy a longer electrical cord.
Um . . . no.
We suggested it was their problem to solve and—after an age—they managed to scrounge up a longer cord for us to use. While waiting for the resolution to our hookup problem, however, I had hopped on the Internet and begun searching for somewhere nicer we could escape to in this sparsely-populated region (or wasteland, as I was beginning to call it) known as South Park. In short order, I discovered a B&B just five miles away. It was a beautiful log home with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Mosquito Range, but unfortunately, its price matched its grandeur. Undeterred, I tried to convince the husband—after all, we had spontaneously splashed out for luxury in Death Valley just two years earlier—but in a rare and inexplicable show of
fiscal responsibility tightwadness, he demurred, not wanting to spend the money.
Then we discovered—by sense of smell—the third and worst problem with our situation: Site #2, as you would rightly expect, is right next to site #1. This isn’t normally a problem . . .
. . . unless site #1 is a dump station.
So here’s a little primer for those unfamiliar with RVing. If you get a site without full hookups (this usually means you get water and electricity, but not sewer), what happens to all the water you use in your RV, from brushing your teeth to cooking and doing dishes, to, ya know, doing your business? Well, it goes into your RV’s holding tanks. There’s a “grey water” tank for everything that goes down your kitchen sink and a “black water” tank for everything that goes down the, uh . . . toilet. Eventually, those get full. Gross, I know. You get rid of all that disgusting, sloshy weight by emptying the tanks at a dump station.
So yes, we were housed right next to a mini sewage facility. Car after car pulled up, unleashing their foul effluence just feet from our home on wheels. Worse, the drivers usually left their vehicles running, so the stench of noxious exhaust fumes intermingled with the sickening miasma.
The husband tells people we tried to like Fairplay, but honestly, I didn’t try that hard. If you stand facing east, the view is surprisingly flat and unscenic. I love a good intermountain valley, but South Park is so unexpectedly vast that it felt cold and unwelcoming. A brief foray into town for dinner hadn’t gone well either. Though it wasn’t that busy, we were told two bowls of chili would take 40 minutes, nearby patrons were drunk, loud, and obnoxious, and the town had a vibe I couldn’t put my finger on but didn’t like. Cancelling our order, we headed to the grocery store, only to find it closed, before being forced to settle for dinner at a characterless strip mall restaurant with bad food. Maybe it was just us, or maybe it was travel in the time of COVID, but between all that and the RV site issues, the ill-will toward Fairplay was building fast. Finally, when the faucet of the campground bathroom’s sink popped off in the husband’s hand, it was the last straw. He stormed back to the Bobbie not only willing to flee to the B&B, but insisting upon it. Score! Reservations weren’t available that night, but the next day we fled up the road to the tiny town of Alma and never looked back.
Yes, we were breaking our self-imposed COVID-travel rule of “no shared accommodations,” but desperate times called for . . . well, you know the saying. Besides, the lure of their “Wilderness Bedroom” with two-person hot tub was overpowering.
During our time here we visited both Buena Vista and Breckenridge. The husband cycled Alma to Breck via Hoosier Pass, and happily, didn’t suffer physically as he had when cycling Ouray to Telluride.
This can likely be attributed to the shorter distance—a mere 17 miles, though still on steep grades and at altitude, he rightly points out—but I think our stay at the B&B breathed new life into both of us.
And while a fun diversion, visiting some of Colorado’s fantastic (masked-up, impressively COVID-compliant) mountain towns wasn’t the reason we were in the Mosquitoes. We were there for the DeCaLiBroN . . .
- Plan B Travels: Cycling the Colorado National Monument
- Plan B Travels: Hiking & Cycling in Southern Utah
- Plan B Travels: An Unexpected Adventure in Ouray, Colorado
- Scree & Talus & Boulders, Oh My! Climbing Colorado’s Mount Sneffels
- Plan B Travels: In the Dumps in Fairplay, Colorado
- Three Summits for the Price of Four: Hiking Colorado’s DeCaLiBroN
- Plan B Travels: Wrapping It Up in Estes Park, Colorado