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STOP #285

What a boring 180+ mile drive it was today. We saw 100 times more cows than people and cars today, which is not all that unusual in rural Kansas. The last hour of driving was even on a route that is touted as the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway.

The byway is supossed to be wonderful to travel on in the springtime, due to the abundance of roadside wild flowers. Today they must all still be underground waiting for spring to start, because we didn't see any of them.

Cedar Bluff State Park is rated as one of the top state parks in Kansas and I can see why. Not only is the campground well maintained, it is huge and the park completely surrounds the Cedar Bluff Reservoir that was created when they dammed the Smoky Hill River in 1951.

There are two separate campgrounds areas located on the lake with multiple loops and several locations with cabin rentals. It's obvious they also offer seasonal campsites to those residents who wish to have a "summer home" to enjoy on the weekends.

Sadly, like all water locations in the region, the levels are extremely low and have been for quite a few years, as evident in the photos.

When I booked this site it was listed as a 180-foot back in site. I thought, "that can't be right"!
And it wasn't, it's 186 feet because I "very accurately" paced it off myself upon arrival.

You can see on the right where the water "used to be",
along with the boat ramp that leads into the grasses.

But our site is very wide and nearly level, so it'll do nicely.

TUESDAY - When Tricia got up early this morning to do her daily walk I also was up so I could drive the 37.5 miles to the Ford Dealership to get an oil change and make ROVER as travel ready as he can be for the trip to Alaska.

Also while I was gone Tricia began cleaning the dust and dirt from the inside of THE POD that has accumulated while we've been traveling the gravel backroads for the last few weeks. It's been coming in through the floor where there are holes cut to accommadate water lines, solar panel wiring, and propane piping. As well as entereing in the refrigerator vent. The factory caulking has dried, cracked and fallen away from most of these locations.

We've been discussing solutions to help remedy the situation, like spraying in expanding foam insulation. Anyone else have any suggestions?

WEDNESDAY - The winds have finally died down around here so we're going out to see the rest of this huge state park. There are cabins and more campsites on the southern shoreline of the reservoir that we haven't seen yet.

Right away I realized you have to travel 3.5 miles down a gravel road to access these campsites so we weren't terribly interested is booking over here next time we visit. The sites are more rustic and spread out, but that gravel road, no thanks!

There is an overlook site we saw on the campground map that mentions a wonderful view of the reservoir, something that doesn't exist on the lower northern shore where we are camped.

We found it at the end of the road.

That is a wonderful view.

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STOP #284

When the physcian asked me where I would like to have my prescriptions sent I replied without thinking, "the closest Walmart Pharmacy please." I forgot we were in rural southwest Kansas and little did I know the closest Walmart is 75 miles away in Liberal, KS.

Oh well, at least it's in the same "general direction" of where we are headed anyway. Rather than drive the 75 miles there and another 75 miles back, we decided to leave a day early and take THE POD to Walmart with us.

We have State Park reservations beginning on Monday that we don't want to change, cause there's a $10 fee for that. So we'll forfeit the $3.50 we already paid to stay here in the National Grasslands for Sunday night and once again spend a FREE night in a Walmart parking lot.

Our early morning departure from Walmart.

Thanks for the free overnight accommodations.

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STOP #283

Nothing but gravel road this overcast morning, all the way to the horizon.

Today we got an early start. First thing we had to do is retrace our route down 23 miles of gravel roadway, then travel another 31.5 miles of gravel road before we got to the Kansas border where the roadway miraculously turned to pavement. It was a short lived reprieve though (for only 10.5 miles), before we found ourselves back on a gravel road for the final 4 miles to the next campsite.

There was dust and dirt everywhere, inside and out on both ROVER and THE POD. The only place spared the intrusion was on the inside of the cab on ROVER. We should be just about done with gravel roads from here on out, that is until we get to the backroads in Alaska!

We chose Campsite #3 (of 12) to set up on. Only two other sites were in use when we arrived.

Nothing fancy here, just wide open spaces and a pair of fishing lakes.

FRIDAY - This morning I have an appointment to see a physician at the County Health Clinic in Elkhart, KS. I have to do this every three months in order to get new prescriptions written for the medications I'm taking.

For the last four years that's one chore that hasn't changed, until today. I've finally encountered a physcian who understands my situation of traveling fulltime and never seeing the same physcian twice. Before today everyone was more than willing to give me the 90-day extension I asked for, but nobody really offered to "treat" me. I'm sure that I share some of the blame for that by not asking if lab work could be done.

For the first time in 4-years I had lab work done, at the County Hospital next door to the clinic, and found out exactly what kind of physical shape I was in. The good news is that in addition to the fact that I've been feeling fine, now my lab results confirm I'm doing GREAT. The physcian was able to write prescriptions for one year, instead of 90-days on two of my meds and six months on the other two.

If I find somewhere on the road to get blood drawn and lab work taken, then have the results sent back here to Kansas, they are willing to extend the 6-month prescriptions out to one year also.

That will make things so much easier. This is the difference between 'big city' medicine and 'small town' medicine. Where else can you go where you make an appointment with only 4 days notice, finish your doctor's appointment, drive 2 minutes and have a blood test, and have the doctor call you in 2 to 3 hours with the results and prescriptions send to the pharamcy of your choice. No hurry up and wait - it's crazy awesome!! - T

With the doctor and hospital stuff (this is where they send you for the blood test. -T) all taken care of we headed back to THE POD and found that according to my weather station we had a gust of 43MPH wind while we were gone. We also knew that the forecast was that things could get worst in the next few hours.

Right on time at 6:00PM it started to drizzle rain, something that is desperately needed in this region of the country, but also we started hearing, and then seeing, "pea-sized" hail hitting the roof and windows of THE POD. This sized hail didn't concern us too much but just a few minutes later the winds slacked off to 20MPH, but the hail became "marble-sized". All this is going on while it's still 78°F outside? I didn't know that could happen. Let's be frank, the forecast had high wind advisories for possible 65mph gusts; storm warnings for severe lightning, heavy rain, and possible baseball size hail; and watches for tornadoes, as the conditions were right for them. I knew from earlier experiences that it wasn't likely we would get any of the extremes, but they sure do know how to make you worry enough to make it tough to sleep! I was actually surprised to see the hail as we we never experienced it when warned before. As crazy as everything was, none of the conditions reached the extreme high predictions. However, Airsteams and hail doen't go well together, so I was sure relieved when I walked around the trailer during an intermission and found no dents! I sure am looking forward to a nap!!!! -T

With the high temperatures the hail didn't last long on the ground and was gone in less than an hour, but we still hope to never go through that again. From what we could see from the ground there was no damage done to THE POD or ROVER and tomorrow, when the winds die down, I'll get the ladder out and check the roof and solar panels for possible damage.

As if that wasn't enough, whenever you mix severe drought conditions, high winds and thunderstorms, you have the potential for wildfires. Only the wildfires in the far west seem to make the news because they become huge and out of control, burning hundreds of thousands of acres. Wildfires happen here in Kansas too, only they are usually smaller and brought under control swiftly. It seems only tornados make the national weather news here in Kansas.

I mention all of this because while we were outside assessing the hail storm damage "we smelled smoke". So did the other three campers here in the park. We all did the same thing, hooked up our trailers to our trucks and made ready to make a quick getaway if needed.

After we were all set we checked with local wildfire websites, called the local fire marshall and sheriff station. Turns out there is a small fire being brought under control on the far side of the small town about 10 miles southwest of here. The winds are blowing northeast and that's why we're smelling smoke in the campground. We were told by the sheriff department that if it became necessary to evacutate a patrol car would be sent to give us all the news.

No one left last night, but I'm sure we all slept with one eye (and one nose) open the entire night. I know I did!

Looking out the window at all that hail on the ground.

Tricia showing off some of the two different sizes of hail.

I picked up one of the larger pieces I could find nearby.

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STOP #282

"The Centennial State"
is our 38th visited state


The 13th step leading to the entrance of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver
is exactly 1-mile above sea level.

As you can see we've made into our 38th state of this journey. We're only going to be here for a short 3-day visit this time around. I promise next year we'll explore the state from top to bottom.

Three consecutive nights of camping does allow us to count it as a visited state, according to our own self-imposed requirements. Much like Iowa, where we also only spent three nights, we have plans to return for a longer visit in the near future.

If we thought we were in the middle of nowhere last stop, this time we are definitely "out of bounds". In order to reach this campsite we had to travel the last 23 miles on a gravel road through nothing but cow pasture. The town is another 4 miles to the south and calling it a "town" is a stretch. Campo, CO (pop. 103) is only 4 blocks wide and 11 blocks tall on the map and I don't remember seeing a single traffic light when we drove through.

At least the cows were secured behind a fence on this long gravel road, unlike what we experienced when leaving Black Mesa State Park earlier today on the paved roadways.

Some of these guys were pretty subborn and didn't want to clear the road for us to pass.

We also saw a "gang" of female Rocky Mountain Elk on our way out of the park.

Once we arrived and selected our site from the three available here, we leveled THE POD and didn't even bother to unhitch because there is nothing near here we need the truck to go see.

There is however a 1-mile loop trail that goes down into the shallow Carizzo Canyon to a petroglyph site on the canyon wall. The trailhead is right here in the small campground. We decided to wait until our last day here (Wednesday) to go check it out, because the weather will be better suited for outdoor exploring that day.

Believe it or not there is an AT&T tower just outside the frame of this picture.
So each night we were able to stream an Amazon Prime Video for our entertainment.

Each site comes with a very nice shelter with a table, grill and fire pit.

Here's the view from ours.

WEDNESDAY - Just after lunch today with the temperatures in the mid-70°s and the winds less than 10MPH it was time to hit the trail.

It's only 1-mile long and starts right from our campsite, goes down into the shallow Carizzo Canyon, crosses a creek to the other side and then recrosses the creek and returns up the other side for a nice loop trail.


Our cozy campsite here at Carizzo Canyon Picnic Area.
Right behind our site is the beginning of the trail.
There is a register book they ask everyone to sign who hikes the trail.
At the bottom of the shallow canyon is a spring fed creek we had to cross over twice.
There were several pools large enough to be home for some good sized fish.
Here are the pictographs we were looking for.
Some were very hard to make out what they were.
Three elk like creatures.
This one looks like a ram sheep.
Another elk with huge antlers.
Could these possibly be rabbits?
Just think, all these pictographs were only on the other side of the canyon from THE POD.
One of our water crossings.
Back up on top it's a flat walk back to THE POD.
There's even a separate trail that leads to a handicap accessible overlook.

This concludes our short 3-day visit to Colorado,
but just wait until you see what we explore next year in this state.

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