This is our last morning at the USAF Academy. We've spent sixteen
enjoyable days in one of our very favorite campgrounds in one of our
very favorite areas of the Rockies.
Although not all is well with the world (far from it!) just being
here has calmed our spirits.
Bluebird of happiness?? Saw
this fella out my window this morning . . .
This entry covers a hodgepodge of activities and observations during
our time in Colorado Springs. I took all these photos either in the
campground or nearby on the Academy grounds in recent days.
Each time we've camped at Peregrine Pines there have been several
other Cameo or Carri-Lite 5th-wheel coaches here. For some reason we see them
more routinely at military installations than in public campgrounds or
when we're boondocking. We rarely stay at private campgrounds;
most owners of Carriage RVs probably stay there since they are marketed
as "resort vehicles."
We obviously didn't get ours to stay at resorts! You know that if
you've read much about our travel adventures.
We got the Cameo because it is supposed to be built and warranted for
full-time use. We're very pleased with our rolling residence, especially
with how comfortable and handsome it is.
Our comfy little home in the pines since July 18
When we got to Peregrine Pines I noted on my first walk around the campground that
there were four other Carriage 5ers in the campground.
That's typical behavior for RV owners looking for something in common
with their neighbors, plus it helps when we can find out what problems
other Carriage owners have had with their units and how they resolved them. One
thing you can be certain of with any RV, be it a pop-up trailer or
$500,000 motor home -- there will be some problems with it and
the more you know about preventing and fixing them, the better off your
wallet (and sanity) will be.
Forewarned is fore-armed and all that . . .
Anyway, with the campground about 90% full when we arrived I was
happy to count
three other Cameos and one Carri-Lite in our loop the first evening.
I talked with one of the owners while I was riding my bike. He and his
wife are teachers from Florida, almost our age but not retiring for
another two years. They have a 2008 35SB3 (our model but two years
older) and have had similar problems with it as we have.
I said hi to another couple from Oklahoma in a different 2010 model.
It's easy to spot Cameo models built in 2010 and 2011 because they have the
Big Foot leveling system. There’s also a 2011 coach like it with South
Dakota tags and an older Carri-Lite with Texas tags.
We've talked several times with the couple several sites away from us
that has a 38-foot Cameo. Their names are Paul and Paula, like in the
popular '60s song ("Hey, Paul . . . Hey, Paula"). They
are full-timers registered in South Dakota.
We have other things in common with them, too. For example, they have a
black Lab that looks a lot like Cody. They have a house in Massachusetts
they rent out because they'd lose too much money if they tried to sell
it (we don't rent ours but we'd also like to sell).
Paul and Paula had lots of questions since they are fairly new
full-timers. We also learned some new things from them. That's how it
When we talked with the Carri-Lite couple we learned they have a house
in Texas but, like us, are on the road about 10 months of the year. David
was in the Air Force and stationed at the facility on Apple Orchard
Mountain in Virginia in the 1960s. The couple lived in Bedford while he was
there. Both the mountain and the town of Bedford are near our house.
A couple other folks with
Cameos and Carri-Lites that came in later left before we had a chance to talk with them.
Carriage owners kept rotating in and out while we were here. There have
been four or five of us
at any one time.
One Saturday we
had a bit of a surprise when we got back to our site – there was an
identical Cameo next to us!
That spot was empty the first week. As full as the campground has been
we figured someone would come in over the weekend.
The site is fairly
short and close to our back end. The camper faced the other
direction but it still looked like a mirror image to our rig. It's also a
35SB3 but a year newer than ours. That made having close neighbors more palatable for the
days they were there.
Seeing double; we're on the left (note the
I was walking Cody back when I saw an older couple get out of the truck
in front of the Twin Cameo. I went over and said, “Nice rig!” and let
them know we were in the other Cameo next
to theirs. They were as surprised to see our camper when they were assigned
to that spot as we were to come home to find them.
The couple’s names are Dick and Kay. They are in their late 70s. Dick
was having trouble with his rear Big Foot levelers so I encouraged Jim
to go over and see if he could help him figure out the problem. Dick’s
had the rig for several months but has used it only three times. He and
Kay live just 65 miles away. Most of their kids and grandkids live in
the COS area.
The couple used to have a house in Fairfax County, VA, and they
miss it; they are familiar with the Roanoke area, about 15 miles
from the location of our house. Dick was an air traffic controller in ‘Nam when Jim was there
. . .
Needless to say, we
found lots of things to talk about while they were parked next to us,
not just about RVs and traveling.
View of the Twin Cameos from the other side; now
we're on the right.
Jim printed off some information for Dick from the Big Foot website and
Dick gave us some duplicate booklets he got from his dealer. We
talked about the trips they've taken to Alaska and discussed camping at other
military campgrounds, Texas state parks, and various boon-docking sites (National Forest Service, Bureau
of Land Management, etc.).
They also loaned us a copy of a 2010 issue of Trailer Life to read
about Slab City, a free boondocking area in southern
California at an abandoned Army post. "Slab" refers to the old concrete
foundations the RVs sit on. We've heard about the place but this article gave
us more detailed information.
Sounds like it's right out of the Flower Power era, ranging the gamut from
jobless free spirits in dilapidated VW vans to wealthy retirees in
classy motorhomes. It's a curiosity we'd like to see but we're not sure
want to camp there.
Last Friday we came back to the camper after a morning of exercise at
Red Rock Canyon
and saw Paul and Paula’s Cameo in a spot about 200 feet across the road from us.
They extended their reservation but someone else was booked in the site
they've been occupying for three weeks so they had to move to another
Instead of just the “Twins,” we had “Cameo Corner" for a few hours:
That's us (L) and our twin on
one side of the road . . .
. . . and that's Paul's/Paula's
Cameo (R) on the other side of the road
(we're to the left and out of this
That didn't last long; Dick and Kay in the "twin" left the same afternoon.
We'll miss them; they were good neighbors.
Cameo and ours, there
are still two Carri-Lites at Peregrine Pines carrying on the Carriage
tradition. (OK, one Cameo after we pull out today.)
By the way, we
don't just mingle with folks who have the same brand of RV that we do!
There are all kinds of interesting folks at military campgrounds and we
talk with a lot of them when they're outside their campers. It's
how many things we can find in common with them.
Since we usually have a pretty strong, free WiFi signal here, we’ve been
online a lot at the Academy. Good thing, with all the travel research
we've been doing to modify our summer/fall schedule.
I’ve also used it as an opportunity to read the
Wandering Wishnies’ Alaska trip journal from 2008. Fred and Jo Wishnie are Cameo owners
who sometimes post to the Carriage
Their blog entries are entertaining and detailed; I’m taking hand-written
notes from their Alaska journal about routes, camping sites, and things to see
and do that I think would be useful on our trip next summer. We have a
lot to learn since we've never been up there before.
When I’m done with their journal I’ll read some more recent Alaska blogs I've
found that were written by Cameo owners and folks with other RVs. I'm
more interested in where they've camped than what they've seen, which is
why I'm focusing right now on people who have visited Alaska with
5th-wheels or motorhomes.
I’m ‘way behind on our journal, but I’ll get cracking on it soon
. . . one of many reasons why I get so far behind. Life just
won't stand still!
When we first got
here Jim ordered two books from Amazon for the Alaska trip. They arrived
in a few days and we've started reading them, too. (We also have the detailed DeLorme Alaskan atlas to help us locate things.)
One is the book that
everyone recommends for folks traveling to Alaska by RV or other
vehicle, The Milepost Alaska Travel Planner. Updated annually, it
includes mile-by-mile highway information through Alberta, British
Columbia, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territory, and Alaska. We got the
2011 edition, which should suffice for our 2012 trip.
We also got The
Traveler's Guide to Alaskan (and Yukon) Camping by Mike and Terri
Church, which is also regularly updated. It includes information about
boondocking as well as public and private campgrounds.
Both books also
have a wealth of information about things to do and see in Alaska and on
the way there.
We've got a lot to
digest about Alaska and the parts of Canada we'll be passing through. In
addition to all of our reading and internet research, we also pick
everyone's brain when we discover they have been there. We've already
forgotten more than we remember, but it'll all come together in time.
We're more excited
about next summer's plans than we are about this winter's plans! Our
summer trips in the mountains are always more enjoyable than our winter
trips to the Southwest.
Mountains have their disadvantages sometimes, however.
Colorado is known for its sometimes-violent summer thunderstorms
during "monsoon" season in July and August. We have heard the very loud
warnings issued by the Academy to everyone on campus several times in
the last two weeks.
We've had some gully-washers, too -- heavy, very localized
rain, lightning, and wind gusts. We haven't gotten any hail but that's
always a possibility, too. We've heard about flash flooding in the
Pike's Peak region twice, including yesterday after three to four inches
of rain fell in the afternoon and evening.
Several downtown Colorado Springs streets were flooded last night but
I don't think we'll run into any problems with them when we leave town today.
Too many clouds to see Pike's
Peak from the Academy on this afternoon
Our weather has been considerably hotter than it was in Silverton but
not as bad as it was when we went to Ohio for the funeral. Colorado is
also affected by the heat wave that's blanketed most of the country in
At least it's a dry heat here. People joke about that, but when you
compare it with the humidity east of the Mississippi, you definitely
notice the difference.
Jim and I make sure we get out early in the morning to hike and ride
to beat both the heat and the storms, which are most likely to occur in the
afternoon and early evening.
We often ride by the Air Force
Stadium on our bikes but we do it when the weather's nice.
Daytime temperatures have been in the 80s and 90s F. just about every
day. Many evenings we're able to walk or ride around the campground when
the temperature cools off. It's typically in the low 60s F. in the
morning when we get up. Since we have full hook-ups we've used the AC several times.
We haven't had to use the furnace or space
heater while we've been here.
Now we're headed for Leadville, elevation 10,200 feet (3,500 feet
higher than this campground). We'll be more likely to need heat than AC
NEW APPALACHIAN TRAIL RECORD
I just read on the ultra list July 30 that Jennifer Pharr Davis would
set a new AT speed record the next day. She improved on her own previous
women’s record by 10 days and beat the men’s record time by about 7
hours. Good job, Jennifer!!
I wish I’d known about this when she began 46 days earlier so I could have
read her husband’s journal more in “real time.” I am reading it now.
In addition to lots of hiking and bike riding,
getting Jim's new bike and fixing mine, visiting with folks in the
campground, figuring out our summer/fall itinerary, and doing lots of
stuff at our computers -- topics I've already written about -- we've done
lots of other things to stay busy while we've been here.
Housekeeping chores, camper and truck maintenance, errands, shopping,
TV, reading, and stressing about our latest mail package have also kept
We finally got the mail, which took much longer
to get to us than usual via the USPS -- this, during the week
when the Postal Service announced it wants to close a tenth of its
offices around the country, which will further delay the mail
but is supposed to help make the business more profitable.
Call me paranoid but I'm
wondering if some disgruntled postal worker somewhere between our
mailing service in Rapid City and the post office at the USAF Academy -- not such a great distance --
deliberately held up our mail so it took an unreasonable length of time to
reach us. More likely it was just plain carelessness or lack of pride in
a job well done. The tracking information was pretty useless, too. The package just
disappeared for several days. Blip, gone.
It should not take seven days for a flats priority package
to travel only three states!! (It usually takes only two or three
his bike on the New Santa Fe Trail through the Academy; it's a great
place to de-stress.
That's just one of the stressors we've had
There has also been the truck engine trouble,
a warning that two of our rather new truck tires aren't wearing properly, agonizingly slow and
complicated TriCare claims (our secondary health insurance) that require
constant monitoring and phone calls, and Congressional gridlock** that
is further depressing the stock and housing markets.
**Unless you never listen to or read the news you probably know that
the House and Senate waited until the last possible day
recently to vote on the
national debt ceiling. Now they’ll be in recess for about a month, leaving plenty
of other important business un-done. The stock exchanges took a
big dive, in addition to all their other recent losses.
I was hoping the
financial markets would do better after the current debt limit crisis was over.
Now I don’t think the debt crisis will ever be over in my lifetime.
Pity all you younger folks who may be affected by it even more than Jim
and I will be.
There's always something big or little to
stress us out.
Most things have gone well here, however.
had lunch at Thai Basil twice in two weeks. Both times we each ordered an
extra meal to take home, a thrifty trick we learned last year at this
restaurant. Even their lunch-sized portions are large. Four entrees at
$6.50 and $6.75 each = $26.50 + tax make a total of eight yummy servings
(four meals each) for us. Times two = eight yummy meals each from Thai Basil
in sixteen days.
Yeah, we like Thai
We've patronized the
nearby Walmart, Sam's Club, REI, Whole Foods, Home Depot, Petsmart, the
BX, and bike and auto shops several times. Yesterday we really loaded up
on groceries and supplies because we won't be close to any big box
stores for several weeks while we're at Kenosha Pass and Leadville.
I got my hair permed
again at the Stylique Salon near the BX on the Academy grounds;
the woman who did it last summer is still there so I made my appointment
with her. I'm pleased with the results. Getting my hair permed by a
different hairdresser every three months is a little scary!
Jim changed the oil in the truck at the Academy’s auto "hobby" shop and
got the tires rotated free at Sam’s Club. He saves us a lot of money by doing almost all of the maintenance
and repairs on our vehicles, camper, and house himself.
The day he got the tires rotated he also drove down to Fort Carson. He
simply reported that it's huge. He prefers camping at the Academy, which
also has spacious grounds but seems less hectic.
I've finished reading two books while we've been here. Both are dog
books that Jim ordered but hasn't read yet.
One Good Dog by Susan Wilson is a pretty good book about second
chances. The information about the main character, Adam March, is in the
third person. The dog, Chance, speaks for himself, kind of like Enzo in
The Art of Racing in the Rain. I liked Racing better,
though; the man and dog were more likable!
novel, A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, chronicles the
multiple lives of one dog that keeps reincarnating into different dogs
to serve the needs of different people each time he comes back to life. It's another interesting
dog's-eye perspective on relationships. I enjoyed it the most of these
three novels. I found myself laughing out loud at times, and crying at
others. You can read more about Purpose
Like many novels, all three of these have heart-wrenching moments but
each ends well.
Next entry: a
super-scenic drive through the Rockies.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil