The road cuts through cropland and fields of baled hay.
Bridget and Spike are asleep on the bench seat behind me. We’ve been on the road all morning. They’ll be getting restless soon. If I pull off the road, it will wake them. Well, I have to look at the map and make a decision.
Interstate 15 is up ahead.
The town of Dillon is a few miles north of here. We are almost out of propane, and it wouldn’t hurt to pick up some groceries. Now that we’re out of the mountains, it’s warmer. I want to camp near water. The obvious choice is Clark Canyon Reservoir, about 18 miles south.
I find the Safeway in Dillon and stock up.
Back at the PTV, the crew is howling. I open up a deli box of chicken which we share. Then I let them out for a brief walk in the grass. I’m proud of the way the crew accepts getting back into the PTV, even after riding all morning. All they need is a walk now and then. They can tell this isn’t our home. I drive us to a nearby gas station and fill up the tank. A man walks by.
“Excuse me, sir. Are you local? Do you know this town?”
I inquire about where to buy propane and he directs me to the Centex gas station up the street. That task completed, we take the interstate southward to Clark Canyon Reservoir. The exit is right at the dam. The lake is quite large with a rocky, barren island in it that reminds me of Elephant Butte Lake in New Mexico.
Crossing over the dam, I turn into the first campground. The typical pay station is at the entrance. “Thirty dollars?” My heart sinks. I look at the place more closely and realize it’s a private, commercial campground. Whew! There has to be something more affordable on this lake.
I look across the lake from where we came.
Apparently I drove past a lakeside campground on the other side of the dam. Then I remember. Armistead Campground. Bureau of Reclamation. This will be good. Driving in, I notice the lakefront sites have very large shelters over picnic tables. I drive the loops looking for an empty site. Darn, it’s full. I see a guy sitting under a shelter reading. I stop the PTV and get out. “Hi! Excuse me! How much is it to stay here?”
He stands up. “It’s FREE! Fourteen days and it doesn’t cost a thing,” he announces with a smile.
“Trouble is, it’s full,” I respond downheartedly.
“There are more free campgrounds on the other side of the lake,” he suggests. “They aren’t as nice, no grass like this, but they’re okay.”
I thank him and drive over the dam again.
The first free campground has a stunning view of the lake. I slide the BLT into a spot on a promontory. The crew and I follow a rocky path down to the water. Spike takes a little soak and Bridget romps around on the sand.
“Okay, let’s go back and look at our new home.”
Each campsite has a three-sided, wooden shelter and a picnic table with a fantastic view. I take a close look at the shelter. It’s cobwebby and kind of depressing with its brown, peeling paint. I bet it can get really windy up here. I walk around. Then I see them. A huge mass of mosquito-like insects all over one side of the shelter. Some fly around my face, but they don’t bite.
“This is not good, guys. Let’s go.”
I open the side door and they jump back in the PTV. I check another, similar campground and see more of those insects. Yuk. And it’s hot over here. The campground on the other side is breezy.
I go back across the dam again to the first campground, the one with the nice shelters.
I drive around until I find a place we can park. Hmm . . . No picnic table. No shelter. Some road noise. Oh well, this will do just fine.
Before going inside for the night, I put my camp chair and the crew’s pen back in the PTV.
Spike wakes up early wanting to go out pronto.
I quickly snap the crew into their black suits and head out the door. As we walk past a clump of trees, I notice a class C pulling away from a lakeside site.
“C’mon, guys! We gotta’ get going! Hurry!” Spike, who has difficulty accepting a change in direction, resists, but I pull on his leash so hard that he gets the message. I toss the crew into the PTV and in a flash we’re in that campsite!
It’s a great site!
The guy I spoke with earlier is in a neighboring site. “Hey! You got it!” he calls as he walks over.
We stand next to my picnic table and enjoy a great conversation. I learn his name is Michael and he’s a geologist, semi-retired, doing research in the area. I ask some questions. He points to the surrounding hills, explaining the processes that formed them. “Did you know Sacajawea reunited with her Shoshoni tribe here?” He admires the BLT, showing great interest.
Then he announces he has to go.
“What? You’re leaving? Oh no. You’re so interesting. I’d love to talk more.”
“I can’t stay. I have to work,” he explains. “But I’ll be back Saturday. Will you still be here?”
“Probably . . . at these prices!” I jokingly reply. Soon he’s packed up and waving goodbye, as he drives off towing his A-frame trailer.
Due to popular demand, I’m experimenting with a new feature for rvsue and her canine crew. It may be a while before we get it right.
The Canine Corner: “Doing Our Duty” by Spike
I leave my mark in several places. The Bridge does, too. Flat on the ground, the girl way. Pffft, pathetic. And, of course, she does poopers right on cue. I can’t do that. A man needs his space. You know what I mean? I’ll sneak off later and do my business in private, when and where I choose.
And that’s all I have to say about that.”