The last time we wrote we were parked at the Aspen-Basalt Campground, just outside of Basalt, Colorado. That seems like ages ago. Days seem like weeks when we’re on the road. Apparently days seem like weeks when you’re not on the road as well. We emailed Suzanne’s dad tonight to ask a clarifying question for the blog and he responded, “Oh, I didn’t know you were writing a blog. What’s it called?” Oh Ken Mooney, such a jokester. Point taken. We’ll try to blog more often.
The Aspen-Basalt Campground wasn’t much to write home about but we seem to be writing home about it anyway. The original plan for last week was to stay in Aspen, Colorado for a few days but apparently there are no RV parks in Aspen and no campgrounds nearby that could handle our Pace Arrow Vision. The reviews of the Aspen-Basalt Campground weren’t great, but as one of the reviewers said: “they are the only game in town.” It wasn’t a bad campground, but it wasn’t a good campground either. There were a lot of full-time residents there, which made for good people-watching. One of our nightly rituals was discussing the guy who walked to and from the shower area wearing nothing but a brown towel. The weird thing is, he walked by several times in the course of the evening, always wearing nothing but that brown towel. We’re not quite sure what statement he was trying to make, but hopefully he felt like he was making it.
In hindsight, this location was perfect for us, other than the presence of naked brown towel guy. It was outside the hustle and bustle (and high prices) of Aspen, but still close enough to enjoy all of the activities the area has to offer. Our favorite experience was getting up at 5:30am on a Wednesday to hike Maroon Bells. There are multiple hiking options near Maroon Bells but we chose a moderate 4-mile roundtrip hike to Crater Lake and can’t think of a better way to start the day. The scenery was absolutely incredible. We followed it up with a delicious breakfast at the Main Street Bakery and Cafe in Aspen, which was recommended to us by our friend Amy.
Another favorite experience was our afternoon trip to Ruedi Reservoir with the dogs. We stopped in Basalt for sandwiches on the way and had a picnic by the lake while the dogs enjoyed the water. We already knew Wylie was a water dog and would enjoy a quick dip in the lake, but Molly had never shown much interest in water. With a little coaxing, however, she got right in there with her brother and her constant tail-wagging told us everything we needed to know about how she felt about the water experience.
We eventually said good-bye to Basalt and headed east into the Denver area. There were a few moments when we didn’t think the RV was going to make it up one hill or another, but with a little “I think I can, I think I can” we eventually conquered the Rockies and cruised downhill into Lakewood, Colorado, where Suzanne’s cousin Lorry and her husband Dave had offered up their driveway. It was really thoughtful of them when they bought the house several years ago to have the foresight to buy a house with a driveway long enough to fit a 36-foot RV that we hadn’t even imagined buying yet. Their driveway truly was the perfect length for us.
Oddly enough, Suzanne’s other cousin, Carolyn, was wrapping up a two-week RV trip with her fiance, Matt, and was already planning on staying with Lorry at the same time. Fortunately Matt and Carolyn had already dropped off their rented RV and were staying in Lorry and Dave’s guest room. Otherwise we may have had to have some sort of Mooney Family RV Olympics to see who would earn the right to park their RV in the driveway. It’s truly amazing that without even trying we managed to have two RV-ing Mooney cousins at another Mooney cousin’s house at the same time. What wasn’t truly amazing was the pain that Carolyn, Matt and Suzanne felt after attending Lorry’s endurance weight-lifting class with Dave on Thursday night. Lorry is a fitness instructor and invited us to join her for a “quick workout” before going out for pizza and beer. The fact that Suzanne’s arms were so sore that she could barely put her hair up in a ponytail two days later says it all. Kevin was the smart one who stayed home with the dogs, skipped the class and just met up with us for the pizza and beer part of the evening. (No, really, it was a great class and the instructor was outstanding, but being a runner doesn’t prepare someone for lifting weights. Apparently Suzanne needs to buy some dumbbells and do more weight-lifting on a regular basis so she can keep up with her cousin.)
No trip to Denver would be complete without a visit to see the Minson Family. David and Rosanne Minson have been part of the extended Mooney family since before Suzanne was born. Suzanne’s dad, Ken, met Dave (aka Colonel Minson) in 1966 at the U.S. Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama. The two flew helicopters together and have been friends ever since. However, there seems to be some confusion about who is the better pilot. When Suzanne talked to her dad before the visit he said, “You tell the second best helicopter pilot in the world that I said hello.” But when Suzanne arrived at the the Minson house, Dave said, “Have you talked to your dad lately? How is the second best helicopter pilot in the world doing?” Strange. We’ll call it a tie and say that they are the co-best helicopter pilots in the world (unless they are willing to take part in the Mooney Family RV Olympics and settle it once and for all).
The Minsons treated us to a delicious homemade brunch and we enjoyed a relaxing morning with the two of them and their beautiful family. Their son Ryan, daughter-in-law Julia, and beautiful granddaughters, Joya and Izabella, happened to be in town from Pennsylvania. Joya and Izabella took a ‘silly picture’ with Wylie, but Wylie didn’t get the memo that he was supposed to make a silly face. Needless to say, there was a lot of cuteness happening during this visit. We eventually said goodbye to the Minsons and continued on our way. We’ll admit that it was tempting to see if our RV would fit in their driveway for a night or two. Between the homemade pancakes, the adorable Golden Retrievers and all of the love we could have stayed much longer.
That night we made it to Fort Robinson State Park in western Nebraska.The phrase “middle of nowhere” has taken on a whole new meaning to us. We headed north out of Denver on I-25 and upon reaching Cheyenne, Wyoming, we branched off from the main interstate and were strictly on two lane roads for the rest of the day as we made our way to Fort Robinson. In some moments it seemed like we were the only people left on earth. We went for miles and miles and miles without seeing another car or person or even a cow. We had a quiet night at Fort Robinson and continued on our way the next morning. We’re no longer in Nebraska but we’ll catch you up on our whereabouts the next time we write. It’s getting late now and the dogs are claiming a lack of opposable thumbs as their reason for not being able to help us finish writing this blog. Excuses, excuses. Here’s the updated route map as of Saturday, June 30. More soon…