I love to boondock; and by boondocking I mean to get out in nature, away from people, to locations not normally viewed by the human eye. State Parks are nice, in the off- season, when the rugrats are back in school, the weather is a bit too cold for the average ‘camper’, and there are at least ten vacant spaces between occupied campsites, but even in the best of conditions the State Park is only a temporary fix, designed to momentarily ease the incessant cravings of the addiction known as the Great Outdoors. This desire to get away from everybody else is one of the reasons DW and I chose a 19 foot camper van as our choice of recreational vehicle. It does not have four wheel drive, unfortunately, but so far it has managed to get us everywhere we have asked it go, then get us back out again… … even to O’Haver Lake. It was the first time we had taken the GyrFalcon out west, and we were cruising the Colorado, Utah and New Mexico area. One of the towns high up on our retirement short list is Salida, Colorado, and we decided to spend a few days in the area. It was June, and we wanted to avoid the campgrounds in the area, but weren’t familiar enough with the area to know where we could legally boondock, but the map showed a camping symbol next to a splash of blue labelled O’Haver Lake. It was getting late, we weren’t looking for an adventure – just a parking spot – and the camping area was just off a county road, so we figured it wouldn’t be too inaccessible. Ha! As we turned off the main road, we found ourselves driving through a ranch in the valley, passing through open gates in the fence which were guarded by metal grates which cars could pass over, but cattle could not. It was easy driving and nice scenery – at first. We eventually came to a spot, however, where the concept of ‘road’ took on a much more primitive color. Yes, it could still be called a road, if one’s concept of a road is grapefruit sized rocks tossed up the side of a hefty slope with hairpin turns that even Herbie the Love Bug would have difficulty negotiating. Seriously – we climbed that slope at 5 mph, having to back up to make one particularly sharp curve, hoping the suspension held up and we didn’t meet anyone coming down the other way. Doors, cabinets and drawers flew open, and food, clothing and everything else went flying askance. I am not one generally given to profanity, but I will say every hard bump that jolted the suspension elicited words I thought I had left behind in the Marine Corps, each one roaring to a louder crescendo than the last. The bumps got so bad at one point, I thought my teeth might rattle out. And they’re my own. The drive wasn’t excessively long, it merely seemed that way; but once we got to the top we decided the ends justified the screams. It was beautiful. The lake appeared popular among fisherman, who were serenely floating in inner tubes, and who would propel themselves gently backwards by paddling with their feet, their fishing lines trawling in the wake. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone catch anything, but I supposed catching something was, in actuality, secondary to the lazy drifting about, and the slow, smooth flick and swish of the line. Un-amazingly enough, most of the campers along the lake were in bed mounted units atop four wheel drive pickup trucks. There were a couple of smaller Class Cs, and one small Class A, which I doubt had ever moved from its current location – at least in my generation. Thinking back, most of the campers were probably up there on a seasonal basis, or better. Secondary vehicles indicated the locals probably came up on the weekends or during their vacations. DW and I spent a couple of days walking around the lake, relaxing, reading, but eventually had to leave because the GyrFalcon’s batteries were running a bit low. Time to find a place to hook up to shore power for an overnight charge. The ride down the county road was less stressful than the drive up – we knew what to expect, and gravity helped out; and the only thing that even tempted to pull me out of my relaxed and peaceful mood was the sight and sound of a wheel cover merrily bouncing down the road ahead of us, which eventually made one last, and successful, leap for freedom into the surrounding woods. But who could blame it? Freedom, after all, is what it’s all about.
November 12, 2011 jglennhart
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