trinidad state park

On the road again: Denver 2016 – Week 1

Heather SkompCrazy Sexy Rving - Stories from the Road

Well, I have finally gotten back on the road camping again, the first time since September of last year. It feels great! After several weeks of lethargy at home, whizzing down the freeway in Boyfriend – now hauling the Beast with incredible ease – is an exhilarating feeling. After almost a year tugging along, constantly breaking down, endlessly worrying when the next disaster would occur, I am unable to adequately describe the inestimable bliss of being able to blow past all manner of moving vehicles in my path, as well as having the capacity to drive 360 miles without having to stop for gas, all while pulling my home behind me. Not to mention, integrated trailer brakes are a dream come true. As is working air conditioning. I’m tellin’ ya, the process of buying the Boyfriend proved well worth the agony.

But of course, no crazy sexy Rving trip would be complete without a whole host of irritating problems. That just wouldn’t be my way now, would it?

I left Arizona on a Thursday morning, at the excruciating hour of 7am. Now for some people, this is normal, but for me, it is not. I don’t like getting up using an alarm these days, so I avoid it at every possible opportunity. However, the greater goal of reaching my first destination before dark posed a higher priority. So I wrenched myself out of bed at 6am to gather the troops, collect the last of the most necessary of items, and crank my way out of the back yard in which the RV has been resting for the last twelve months. We were off!

The trip rolled smoothly. I anticipated my first overnight at Trinidad State Park in Trinidad, Colorado, would pass uneventfully. And compared to other experiences, it did. I faced a moment of panic in the middle of nowhere New Mexico when Boyfriend notified me rather unexpectedly that I had thirty miles left before I would run out of gas, which, while feeling gratitude for the announcement, set me on edge. Tension reigned for the next potential ever, since all I could think about was being stranded out there in the 100 degree heat because of my unwillingness to pay attention to the fuel gauge instead of belting out Shania Twain.

But alas, the Universe always provides. Within ten minutes, a miracle occurred, as I rounded a bend and there appeared a giant GAS sign, alerting me that no, I wouldn’t be begging for mercy on every vehicle that passed hereon. I stopped, paid the $5 per gallon with gushing relief, and motored on. There wasn’t a single gas station to be seen for 50 more miles, so… yeah.

When I arrived at Trinidad, there awaited as always the dance of which entrance is the correct entrance to the park, which should lead you to the campsite. More often than I’d like to admit, I ended up going down the wrong entrance, which inevitably led me to a power station or marine biology unit or nuclear testing site nestled in amongst the picnic tables. This park was no exception.

Trinidad state park

Not my campsite. Nor, it turned out, my campground.

I circled for at least 45 minutes before concluding that I was, indeed, on a wild goose chase. I always feel incredibly gratified to be the only wandering RV juddering along dirt roads that aren’t meant for motorized vehicles, only to find at the end of the road that you aren’t supposed to be there.

Eventually I did locate the correct entrance two miles on, aptly labeled with precisely the same name as the entrance I had just exited. Oh la la! It was lovely. I parked the Beast with little problem and settled in.

It was while lying on my bed for the first time in a year, that I noticed a gaping void above me. Was I seeing things? Was the sky actually visible through the roof?

Indeed it was.

Apparently my roof vent cover had, at some point, shattered. Hm. When I slowly cranked open what was left of the cover, all that was left was a jagged skeleton of what once had been a 14”x14” plastic – and waterproof – cover. What? When did that happen? Oh God, it had better not rain…

Well… it didn’t rain that night.

I arrived in Denver the next day without incident. My first thought was, how am I going to fix this roof vent? Because naturally, obstacles abounded.

Ironically, acquiring a new cover wasn’t one of them. I was able to locate a Camping World not too far away, and $20 later walked away with a shiny, new, unbreakable roof vent cover. Snap!

But how to get it on the roof? How to get myself on the roof? Of course, my RV didn’t come with a ladder. How on earth was I going to get up there?

Please God, don’t let it rain…

After I had parked and set up, I came up with the brilliant idea that if I could just pull Boyfriend right up next to the side of the Beast, I could climb up on the roof of Boyfriend, and then leap on to the roof of the Beast. Huzzah! That would work.

Except for the fact that I couldn’t get Boyfriend up next to the Beast, without moving the Beast. This campsite was a pull-through, and allowed only just enough width for an RV. There were picnic tables and firepits and electrical boxes and all sorts of whatnot in the way. I couldn’t pull up beside it. I’d have to hook up and move it out. And I really really really didn’t feel like doing that, since we were all nicely ensconced in our parking spot, chairs were out, awnings were down, the Beast was already perfectly balanced on its stabilizers. I was simply going to have to wait a week until dumping day. Yay.

Please God, don’t let it rain….

It was going to rain. All the weather channels were predicting it. Of course!

So I had to scramble for some kind of alternative. Out came the trash bags.

I managed to tape up a trash bag under the vent. And then it rained. And it rained really, really hard.

This setup worked for one night, until the weight of all the collected water eventually pulled the tape off, and I was treated to an impromptu shower in the middle of my first night in Denver. All over the bed.

trash bag solution

It was only a little unwieldy.

However, ingenuity was ultimately victorious, as after three different attempts, I was at last able to come up with a solution that kept the water out, while the trash bag remained intact. After which it didn’t rain again, even after a week and I was able to get on the roof and install the new vent cover. Thanks Universe. But at least that problem was finally solved.

On to the next one.

Now when I’m on the road, the only means of communication that I have is my phone. It HAS to work. I use it obviously to call people, but also it is my internet connection, which I must have in order to work. This is non-negotiable. So when on my second night in Denver, my new phone of nine months inexplicably died, I found myself in a bit of a stir. This was not convenient.

How was I going to get a new phone? I couldn’t even look up where a Verizon Wireless store was. How was I going to get my warranty replacement? I wouldn’t be at home for six weeks. And I only had five weeks and six days to go. Awesome!

Okay, things weren’t that bad. Well, they were, but only for the first hour or so while I panicked. For some nonsensical reason, I opened up my laptop, but since I didn’t imagine having internet connection, I can’t fathom why I did this. There was nothing of use on it to help me get a new phone. But amazingly, my wifi blinked to life. The campsite had wifi! I didn’t even know this. Things were already looking up! Right through my trash-bagged roof.

I located the nearest Verizon store and made plans to visit the very next day. I figured I could buy a new phone exactly like my old one and all would wash out in the end. Yay!

The next day, I was so anxious to get to the store that I arrived an hour early. Argh. What to do? Well, it just so happened that the shopping center in which the Verizon store was located was having a little arts fair. So George and I decided to have a look. It was a beautiful day, there was fun art and antique-y stuff to look at, and everyone wanted to pet George. A pleasant way to pass an hour, certainly.

Finally the Verizon store opened. I relayed my pitiful story, begging them to dig through their wares and provide me with a replica of my old phone. Even though it died, I still loved it and did not want to replace it with some phone/laptop monstrosity that cost $600. Really? I already have three laptops, I don’t need one that rings as well. Plus, I was still paying on the old one!

Of course, they didn’t have any of my old phone. And no store in a 250 mile radius did either. Sigh. They showed me my options, which weren’t stellar in the $150 range. The next rung up jumped to $600. Like I said, noooooo thank you. I had two choices, the first of which was ruled out early because it wouldn’t take an SD card. SERIOUSLY? Who would buy that?? Not me.

So I ended up with an LG K4. Not the most brilliant phone, but it does the job. I can get my internet, I can call people, and yes, it takes an SD card. These are the important things. I’m back in business.

But while I was delighted to be reconnected with the world, the problem of the replacement phone still loomed. Nine months is not an acceptable timeframe in which a phone should be expected to expire.

Now since I was anxious to get this whole mess put behind me, I decided to call Verizon two days later, on Monday morning, and get it all sorted. I did, and Verizon was wonderful. Yes, they would send me a replacement phone, no, it wouldn’t cost me anything, and all I had to do when I received my replacement phone was return the broken one in the same box within 14 days and all would go swimmingly.

Wait…. what? 14 days? I wasn’t going to be home in 14 days! Ack!

I told them I was Rving and couldn’t pick up the phone. Well, could someone pick it up for me? No, not really. Because in my brilliant town, they’ve changed all the mailboxes and now we have these tiny little lock boxes that can hold the equivalent of a dung beetle before it’s rendered full, and any packages that come have to go in a temporary parcel locker which have some kind of three-day expiration date on them before whatever’s in there goes back to the sender. ARGH!!

Too late, it’s already been sent, they said. Once the order is processed… wellllll… sigh. NOW WHAT.

Okay. I figured it will take at least 7-10 business days, right? Right??? They always take 7-10 business days! At which point my mail will be held and I can pick up the phone from the post office when I get home and in the meantime I’ll just send the broken phone back on my own recognizance and expense and then everything will be just dandy. Right? Right???

Wrong. My new phone got there in two days. TWO DAYS. Which under normal circs I would be thrilled by, but in this case it presented another problem. Since my post office wouldn’t hold mail for longer than 30 days, I had arranged for my mail to start being held about ten days into my trip. I knew I hardly got any mail, so the likelihood of my mailbox getting too full in ten days was practically nil.

And my phone got there in TWO DAYS. Precisely six days before my mail hold would commence. ARGH!!!

Oh, the perils of long-term travel.

Now I really was in a panic. I knew the phone was in that damned parcel locker. How was I going to get it before it was sent back to Verizon, and I probably would never see another one?? Why can’t we just go back to normal mailboxes? God. I was barely seven days into my first Rving trip in a year. Really?

However, it turns out I have the best best friend in the world. My angel Mel. After relaying the whole sordid story on my oh-I’m-so-grateful-to-have new phone, we realized she had a key to my house. Which meant she could get the key to my mailbox! Which meant she could go rescue my phone from the ruthless grips of the parcel locker and put it on my dining table, to wait for me until I got home. Ohhh, it’s good to have good friends. THANK YOU MEL. I love you forever!!!

Me and Mel

Best best best!!

So that was the first seven days of my trip.

And I haven’t even mentioned the ZZ Top guy yet. Or the harrowing Vietnamese massage. Or the 80s Hair Band.

That’s next.