East to Craig, Colorado, and another cool, mountain camp

Sunday, June 17 . . .

Bridget’s frantic scratching at the side door tells me I’d better pull over and pull over NOW.  We drift  around the weedy edge of the parking lot in front of a utilitarian, metal building in the industrial section of Vernal, Utah.  To heck with Flaming Gorge.  I’m not in the mood.

Back on the road, the crew and I settle in for a long haul.

Highway 40 slices across a dry landscape of rolling hills.  Occasional green valleys and dramatic rock outcrops break the sameness.  We pass through tiny towns that aren’t much more than the intersection of two roads.  While Bridget and Spike sleep, I maintain that mental state suitable for covering long distance.  Now what is that up ahead?

A herd of sheep trots down the highway toward us.

A sheepherder on horseback, a Great Pyrenees and an Australian Shepherd are working the herd, keeping the sheep together and moving.  I stop well ahead of them so the PTV doesn’t undo the work of the sheepherder and these hard-working canines.   “See, Spike.  Some dogs have to work for a living.”

I break my habit of long stays with short distances between camps.

We travel eastward and cover about 200 miles.   I want a free camp, but a sign on the way up the mountain in the Routt National Forest declares, “No camping outside of Freeman Campground.”  Well, that’s one way to squeeze some dollars out of boondockers.

Freeman Campground is about thirteen miles north of Craig, Colorado, off state road 13.  It’s a high campground with aspen and evergreens skirting a small reservoir.  The sites have picnic tables and metal fire rings.  There are vault toilets, potable water, and corrals for horses.  The cost is $6 a night with the Senior Pass.  I sign up for two nights.

Our site is far from level.

I use a block of wood and my new BAL leveler.  The campsite is at the edge of a green meadow.  I like open campsites so I can keep an eye on Spike.  We walk down to the reservoir and he goes right in, of course.  There are only three other occupied campsites out of the seventeen in all.

I’m surprised that the crew sleeps well through the night, after sleeping all day in the PTV.

I sleep well, too, except during the rattling of the trash can around 2 a.m. outside the BLT.  I look out to determine the perpetrator, but there’s scant moonlight.  I see nothing moving.  Oh well, eat hearty whoever you are.

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Monday, June 18

After a walk along the reservoir in which Spike takes another dip, the crew naps the rest of the morning.  I think the altitude is affecting them both.  I tackle the pile of receipts I’ve avoided all this month.  Our expenses for June have soared!

I also calculate the PTV’s gas mileage.

First I go online and research the mpg for a 2005 Chevy Express 1500, 8-cylinder, 5.3 liter engine.  I discover it’s rated at 13 mpg city and 17 mpg highway.

Then I gather up the recent gas receipts.  This is for a time period in which the PTV did a lot of towing, including pulling the BLT through Zion and up two mountains.  It also includes, to a much lesser extent, the PTV on the road without the BLT.  Most of that driving was up and down long grades between our Zion Riverside Camp and Hurricane, Utah.

Here are the results of the calculations from three intervals between gas fill-ups.

12.62 mpg,  14.43 mpg, and 15.34 mpg, the latter being mostly highway.   That averages to 14.13 mpg.

Out-of-pocket expenses . . .

I hope the list of daily expenditures posted below is helpful for those of you planning to fulltime in a manner similar to mine.  I include details so you can eliminate costs that wouldn’t apply to you.   Now you can see why I didn’t travel much last winter and kept a firm hand on the clasp of my purse.  I knew a month like June would come along!


6/1/12 . . . $0
6/2/12 . . . $0
6/3/12 . . . $24.77 groceries
6/4/12 . . . $3.59 groceries
6/5/12 . . . $389.71 PTV repair (air conditioner, )$17.43 sundries, $8.34 groceries, $ 2.75 clothing
6/6/12 . . . $93.96 equipment (BAL leveler),which  includes $13.99 shipping, $18.67 equipment (monocular and water bandit), $93.66 equipment (six Benchmark atlases @ $15.61 each))
6/7/12 . . . $0
6/8/12 . . . $105.16 equipment (Nikon digital camera), $52.50 for 14.08 gal. of gas @ $3.729 a gal., $14.37 groceries, $6.96 sundries
6/9/12 . . . $0
6/10/12 . . . $13.69 equipment (SD memory card), $8.34 groceries, $6.00 clothing, $1.97 sundries
6/11/12 . . . $24.95 for 7.2 gal. propane @ $3.329 a gal., $5.00 dump fee
6/12/12 . . .$0
6/13/12 . . .$0
6/14/12 . . $40.04 for 10.403 gal of gas @ $3.849 a gal., $10.46 groceries, $20.00 campground fee (Green River SP)
6/15/12 . . . $48.38 for 13.08 gal. of gas. @ $3.699 a gal.
6/16/12 . . . $19.99 dog food, $10.73 groceries, $5.03 equipment (batteries)
6/17/12 . . . $70.31 for 18.22 gal.of  gas @ $3.859 a gal., $39.07 for groceries, $6.00 campground fee (Freeman NF), $2.42 sundries
6/18/12 . . . $6.00 campground fee
Let me know if I’ve left anything off the list.  I plan to post a report for the first six months of 2012 which will summarize each type of expense, thanks to the work of friend Reine.

About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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59 Responses to East to Craig, Colorado, and another cool, mountain camp

  1. cathieok says:

    I love your pictures of the highway ahead of you. Such pretty scenery. All in all, I think your expenses for the month are pretty reasonable, and I think most of your brick and mortar friends will agree. :))))))

  2. ct says:

    Boy, I’d like to be dipping my toes in a reservoir with Spike right about now – it’s 100 degrees in Denver! Glad you found a cool spot here in Colorado!

  3. Casitagirl says:

    Hi Sue,

    Thanks so much for all your posts. You are so inspiring–We also now have a Casita and are a ways off to full-timing–but we will get there. I was looking at your expenses and wonder also about your base costs–insurance, any payments for the Casita (if you didn’t pay cash), memberships or golden passes, internet/phone, etc. Can you also provide a summary of those expenses that might be ongoing monthly or annual expenses? It will help my husband and I plan better. Again, thanks so very much.

    P.S. Any time you’re in Michigan, you are welcome to boondocks on our 7 acres of wooded bliss–we have raccoons, fox, coyotes, bullfrogs, deer…it’s beautiful here.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you for offering me a place to camp in Michigan. It does sound like bliss.

      I will put all those expenses together in a report this month. I promise! For now, let me say I don’t have any payments on the BLT or the PTV. When planning to fulltime, I came to the conclusion that I had to own both outright in order for my retirement income to be adequate, as I feel it’s also prudent to be able to put some money away each month.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Ah, how nice to be in the trees and beside water huh?? Green is a good color!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      All this green is refreshing after many months in the desert.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I want to thank you, Elizabeth, for telling us about your grandfather on Father’s Day.

      • Elizabeth says:

        I LOVE to talk about him!! I inherited my red hair (formerly…heh, not much left of it now), too. Thanks for letting us give voice this way!! He was a very unusual man in ways. He could make just about anyone his friend, even those who wanted to NOT be in the beginning. I realized in my youth that I was indeed privileged to belong to HIS clan!! They were/are all wonderful people. Heh, now don’t ask about my dad and his side!! Though there are a few good ones there too.

  5. I love reading your blog! Just found out how to leave a comment My husband and I are planning to retire at the end of next year and want to travel in our 5th wheel. Your writings are of great help and just fun to read. Be careful, and give a hug to Spike and Bridget.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Karen! Glad you’re with us. Oh, you’re going to love retirement because you’re not going to sit around in one spot looking for something to occupy yourself. The road will bring adventures to you.

      I’m happy my blog is helpful. Thanks for writing! (Could WordPress make the word, comments, any harder for people to find? Sheesh.)

  6. Chinle says:

    Hi Sue, have been wondering which route you took. Looks like you’re up on Black Mountain. I spent many many good times camping there with my family growing up. Enjoy the high country, because once you get back on the road you’ll be in some pretty wide open country again. And yes, that’s sheep country. When I was a kid, Moffat County exported more wool than most of Australia. Did you note the two little points in one of your highway photos, on the skyline? That’s called Bears Ears and actually isn’t far from where you’re at asd the crow flies. You also came by Skull Creek, not far from the sandstone knobs in your photos, and there are cliff dwellings up in there. It’s really not that far out of the way to head back to Rock Springs and on up to the Tetons, which you’ll love. Not to be missed. Have fun and welcome to my home state of Colorado!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks for the welcome to Colorado and for the points of interest. You’d make a great tour guide!

      I also want to thank you for writing a tribute to your dad on Father’s Day. I’m glad you included the video.

  7. Kim says:

    I wonder if Spike dreams about the next watering hole? He looks like he’s in doggie heaven.

    I’d say your towing mileage is impressive! Thanks for the candid sharing of your expenses – that’s got to be the first question in any fulltimer-wannabe’s mind.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Kim.

      I’m pleased with the PTV’s mpg. It’s not only towing. . . It’s carrying all my stuff!

      • Chuck says:

        Hey Sue, Those are VERY good fuel mileage numbers. Keep a check on your oil also as a heavy use could indicate a problem. Might want to think about a 50/50 blend of synthetic oil at next oil change! Chuck

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I’m amazed at how little oil the PTV uses. I check it frequently. I haven’t seen any drop on the dipstick since the oil change in Hurricane.

          I’m happy to hear that you consider the PTV’s mpg “very good.” I expected it to be worse. It’s tough not to have a lead foot when going up mountains at 20 mph!

  8. mary strasser says:

    Now this is more like it, tall aspen and green grass. The aspen which are dead in the picture are probably a result of “Tent bag worms” which make bags full of icky black worms, eat the green leaves and will cause the tree to die over time. They come in cycles of time, not motor, and will destroy whole groves of aspen. But not to fear, new ones grow all the time.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I guess the bag worms are doing their part in thinning the forest. I wondered why there were sections of dead trees.

      • earthdancerimages says:

        When Aspen is the dominate tree species, you can easily see when many of the trees are dying. Apen grow in a “clone”, like a pod. When they die, all the trees part of that particular clone will also die about the same time. Aspen share a common root system, imagine when you are looking out over a large stand of Aspen, you are seeing many trees, but they all share the same root system, much like the spider plant in your planter at home.This assures future stands of healthy Aspen of various age classes. A new healthy stand of Aspen is beneficial to all wildlife! Sad to see one clone dying, but if you look around, you will see healthy young Aspen clones thriving! I don’t think bag worms visit the Aspen!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Wow! You know aspens! Very interesting. I never would’ve guessed they share a root system.

          • Lacy says:

            I love learning something new and out of the ordinary! Thanks earthdancerimages!! Hey Sue, next time you’re loving up on Spike, do me a favor and check him for gills……I’m starting to wonder if he’s not actually more of a fish out of water than just a ‘water dog’???

          • ct says:

            There are thousands of dead trees all over Colorado due to the bark beetle infestation. They don’t affect aspen trees, it’s the pines that are dying. 😦
            By the way, there’s a statewide fire ban in Colorado,due to the extreme fire danger. It’s a good idea to check with Rangers in your particular area to see what (if any) types of fires are permitted & what is not.

  9. Rick says:

    Beautiful scenery and tranquil setting. I am glad you are having a grand time and enjoying your life on the road. Thanks for taking the time to take us along on your travels.

  10. We are so happy you are having a good time and another great campground with water for Spikey!
    Hooray! Tell Bridget she is looking great, I think the diet is working for her too! Great photos!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re sweet to compliment the pics. I think these photos are kind of poor. I’m still not comfortable with my new camera. It’s annoying.

      Bridget still has a way to go with the diet. Me, too, for that matter!

  11. Hi Sue, first of all i thought your expenses were low! I did a overniter in my trailer in at home and was wondering if your ever concerned bout your safety..sleeping in your trailer with the windows open. I have window screens and my windows kinda prop up but just curious. These are things im pondering as i prep for future solo jaunts.
    LilNomad & Sasha

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I don’t even give open windows a second thought re: safety. I think someone would have to be pretty crazy to enter an occupied trailer through the window. And I’d beat their head in if they tried!

      Don’t let worry about stuff like that mess up your enjoyment of camping.

  12. klbexplores says:

    Thanks for sharing you mileage info….. A woman of her word! I look forward to your expense accounting… it really does help me to visualize the costs versus speed of travel. Ouch to the gas prices…. average here in Washington State where I am is still near $4.00!

    So nice to provide Spikey with his own watering holes. You’d need a kiddee pool to keep him happy when it’s really hot or the ole wet towel trick! Safe travels!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I wonder about Spike. He loves water even when it’s not a hot day and when the water is too cold for comfort. I don’t often give him baths as he has the kind of fur that sheds dirt easily. Whenever I put him in the tub at my former home in Georgia, he would get a dreamy expression on his face and want to loll in it for a long time. What a character!

  13. massachusettsmark says:

    There is something I miss with the wordpress slide show it`s your comments on each photo.:))
    OH WAIT ! ……your already doing that …cool.
    Lov your story telling and Rod Stewart said
    every picture tells a…(story)….
    Hope to someday travel your foot steps
    but I`m only ~~~dreaming~~~ of Rv travel , today…..

  14. Bob (aka stude53) says:

    Hi, Sue

    I got behind your frequent posts, but finally caught up. You and the crew have had some excellent adventures as you travel around, and you tell them well.

    See you up another hill or around a bend ….

  15. Ron says:

    Your doing well on mpg for the country you have been driving.
    The expense for the bal and camera and other equipment should be averaged in over a period of time ,there not like food or fuel expenses ,expendables, so your month want look so bad that way.
    Just a hint ,you are heading for aspen country , be very cautious about camping in big aspens,
    I hunt in Colo and have seen a pickup with an aspen laying across the camper shell, another time two guys in a tent and the aspen fell between them. These were big growing green aspens.
    So be careful and my advice is to camp in the smaller ones if that is the only choice you have , evergreens are the best bet.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Good to know, Ron, about falling aspens. I notice in NF campgrounds there are a lot of tree stumps, probably to prevent what you described. Now boondocking, that’s something else. When we camped next to the reservoir near Beaver, UT, I turned down a great campsite because the very tall aspen had damage at the base from what looked like insects. I didn’t like the way it leaned!

      I never knew aspens could grow so tall, like giant matchsticks. Thanks for the warning.

      One of these days I’ll do up my expenses correctly as you mentioned. I wouldn’t have accomplished what I’ve done so far if I didn’t have Reine urging me to get ‘er done.

  16. earthdancerimages says:

    I meant to ask, how are you liking the BALeveler?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Of course I’m disappointed that I can’t just shove it under the tire and rachet it up. However, I can see it will be handy on very unlevel campsites like the one we’re in right now. I wouldn’t want to be teetering on top of a pile of wood or rocks as high as this one side is to match the other side. It makes a very stable chock. As far as setting it up, that’s easy.

  17. Joy A. says:

    I’m confused as to why your BAL leveler does work correctly. There are a number of Casitan’s the use one without problems.

    Your mileage seems great considering towing and the terrain. Don’t be surprised when you get crumby mileage on what appears to be flat terrain. It would be that altitude. I hadn’t been on I-80 in Wyoming for years and had forgotten the altitude it sits at. I got the worst mileage on my entire trip while crossing Wyoming. on I-80.

    You are doing fine with expenses once you take out the auto repair, BAL leveler etc. Those are one time expenses that aught to be in a different budget category. As well as the camera which should be a one time purchase unless you do like me while on my Alaska trip. I had mine on my lap just in case some wonder animal appeared out of the blue. I broke 2 camera’s as I forget they were on my lap and promptly dropped them on the ground as I existed my Jeep. I still have the 3rd one. Been 6 years now. I guess I learne my lesson.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Re: the BAL leveler . . . I have 15 inch D tires . . . heavy duty or something. It makes it hard to fit the leveler plates in. The leveler is advertised as working on 13, 14, and some 15 inch tires.

  18. Cari says:

    I just found your blog a few days ago – don’t remember exactly how I got here, ‘surfing the web’ for me means following leads from all kinds of places LOL. I hope to follow in your ‘tire tracks’ in a few years, either part time or full time, so I’ve spent the last few days catching up and reading your archives. I go by the Casita factory while working and have always been curious about their trailers. Based on your experience, I will definitely stop in and visit them.

    My plans are to continue with my part-time job for another year or so, then see how the finances work out. I start drawing my military pension in October (retired from the Navy Reserve so I had to wait to start getting pay and benefits) then in 2 years I can get early Social Security. I want to rent an RV and/or trailer for several trips to try out the lifestyle and see if it’s a good fit for me – I love to travel but I suffer from claustrophobia so I don’t know how living in a small space will be.

    I appreciate your honesty in all your posts, sharing the good and bad parts of your experiences. I look forward to continuing the journey with you! I’m really enjoying your posts and the photos!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cari! Welcome to my blog!

      You have a good plan with good timing. I didn’t want to bother renting an RV first, but in your case, since you have claustrophobia, it sounds smart. Casitas may be too small for you. Be sure to stop at the factory. When I was there last August, they had two of the Casita models in the showroom. Walk in and take a seat inside the showroom models. The people are very friendly in a helpful way, not in a pushy salesperson way.

      Thanks for the compliments on my blog. I try to keep it real.

  19. Tina says:

    How cool to see all those sheep!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I wanted to park and watch the guy on the horse and the dogs do their work,, but it wasn’t a good place, sheep were on the shoulder, and traffic came up behind me.

      I didn’t mention the Great Pyrenees puppy that was watching the action. He wasn’t full grown, a white pompom sitting on the sidelines. Apparently he was allowed to come along to learn the ropes. I wanted a photo of him. You know how it is, there’s always somebody in a big hurry behind you . . .

  20. earthdancerimages says:

    Hooray! Chinle just told us! You are now available on Kindle! Hoooray!!!
    Hey, check out RVSue on Azon – gpo leave a review and spread the word, now available on Kindle!
    Why didn’t you tell us ???


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Geri! . . . Immediately after I received the email from Chinle suggesting I put the blog on Amazon, I went ahead and did so. By the time I finished it was pretty late. I didn’t think to tell anyone this morning. So I gave you a surprise!

      My kindle isn’t working right now. Does it look good? I’ve never seen a blog advertised on kindle so I wasn’t sure how I should make it look.

      • cathieok says:

        That is amazing! On Amazon! I am hoping you receive the monthly dues for this.
        Just curious why your kindle is not working?
        You can go to Amazon and see what it looks like.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Oh yeah, I can go to Amazon.com. Duh.

          It’s a replacement kindle sent to me free when my first one malfunctioned. I couldn’t get it to load the archives of books I had on my first kindle. By the time I realized that, I was out of range of WiFi … I haven’t taken care of it. Just need to get in a hotspot and call the kindle number for instructions.

  21. earthdancerimages says:

    Sue, it looks great on Amazon!!!! I was surprised to see part of the ad with your picture come up here with the link!!!!
    You will be so proud of it! I haven’t seen it on the Kindle yet, I can’t download it until I go to town, no whispernet coverage here. But Amazon did a super job with the cover page online!!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Wow! I AM proud! And what glowing reviews! Thanks, Geri! I love the way you described the blog. You really talked it up! This is such fun even if no one subscribes!

      Tell Chuck thanks, too.

  22. earthdancerimages says:

    Suggestion with your Kindle…… slide the ON button to the on postion and hold it there for a few minutes…then release….. that usually clears out most problems!

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