With more than 15,000 Boss odometer miles on this March-to-now 2020 crisscross-the -country adventure, we’ve earned a Ph.D. in how to flex travel without planned routes and reservations, avoid extreme heat, wildfires and hurricanes, cross Smokey, Rocky and Cascady mountain ranges, recreate in breathtaking high altitudes, visit 15 National Parks and 16 states, write 50+ blogs and also break a leg, recover and not get covid. On this stretch-to-thefinish leg we’re taking a lesson on maintenance, repair and avoiding disaster.
Colorado Springs, Colorado is on the eastern side of the Rockies and home to the United States Air Force Academy, our stopping point for a week’s vacation from the road. That means no sightseeing, just maintenance and cleaning mixed with sports recreation like tennis and golf. The maintenance is real. Full-timing puts five times the use on Roxie compared to occasional weekends and vacations.
Coming out of Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Eric had been researching all the options for crossing the Rockies and the Monarch Pass was the highest, most direct and blogged about route. I-70 running through the Eisenhower Tunnel is the interstate choice. Three to four lanes in each direction and gentle turns. That sounded boring. Route 50 through Monarch was higher, narrower, and much more scenic, so no contest. Eric was curious how Boss would handle the long 6 and 7 percent grades through the switchbacks both up and down the mountain.
Boss is a medium duty truck matched to one of the smaller 5th wheels out there. Would it be enough truck, or would we be left backing up traffic for miles on the climb like an overloaded semi, and white-knuckling the descent thinking about taking the emergency runaway truck ramps with hot brakes? Time to find out.
Adjacent to Black Canyon National Park is the Gunnison National Forest and the Curecanti National Recreation Area. Taking Rt 50 east, we felt like we were back in the Scablands of Washington with dramatic mesas and crystal blue dammed reservoirs cutting through. If we had known about Curecanti we might have made camp in one of the dozen of BLM first come first served sites and joined the trout loving fisherpeople for an angling afternoon. We’ve decided to return to Colorado at some point, avoiding the cities and embracing its recreational diversity.
Where the Naval Academy in Annapolis is 150 acres nestled in Maryland’s quaint state capitol harbor, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is a sprawling 13,000 acre campus off of I-25, 70 miles south of state capitol, Denver. While we are partial to Annapolis, we do love the AFA’s Peregrine Pines 105 site, full hook-up FamCamp with every base amenity you could imagine, including pristine tennis courts, two championship golf courses and a thrift shop.
Typical Air Force; build the amenities and go back to Congress for more money to fund the mission. That used to be the saying anyway. Living in the spacious, well staffed, fully optioned RV park, we have no problems with the Air Force’s emphasis on quality of life.
When you live in 250 sq ft, it’s easy to keep up with chores, but we build in a longer stay in place to clean things out so we can keep Roxie looking her best. On this visit we’d wash windows, clean fans and filters, remove bugs and wax her gel coat. We’d empty cabinets, wipe down shelves, wash sheets and blankets, defrost the fridge. Eric fixed a broken shade, a broken drawer and when Sheri noticed the top shelf in the cabinets were sagging, reinforced them from 4 factory screws to 12, avoiding a shelf breaking, glass cabinet door shattering disaster. If you’re going to own an RV and live in it for long periods of time, it helps to be handy. It you take the road less traveled, expect to be dusty. The RV wash is closed, so we will have to live with a dull exterior. But, the inside will shine.
Between trips to Camping World, Ace Hardware and a half dozen other shopping needs, we’ve managed to squeeze in several rounds of tennis and 18 twilight holes on the Eisenhower Blue Course where they let us walk the 7 miles and share a bag of clubs. The golf course is perfectly manicured, of course. The Air Force Academy is definitely a show piece for the service in blue. We are thoroughly enjoying our resort-like stay.
And, how did Boss do on the Monarch Pass? 45 to 50 mph at 3800-4000 RPM on the climb. That turns out to be about as fast as you can navigate through the switchbacks which have no shoulders, no guard rails, and stunningly steep drops-offs and still keep Sheri in the truck. Same on the descent, just leave it in low gear and don’t touch the brakes. The views at the top of the pass at 11,300 feet were amazing.