on to Colorado
Denver and beyond (and back again)
We could have stayed in UT and ridden for the rest of the season at Snowbasin and PowderMtn, but we had a narrow window to see family in Denver, and weren't about to miss them.
We stopped over for a night in Evanston WY where we met a fantastic group of folks that run an exceptional bar/saloon/restaurant/watering hole called the Painted Lady, which fed and watered us really well until we crashed in the parking lot and went back for breakfast (seriously, if you are anywhere close by, you have to stop at this place...you'll love it). Then another night in Riverside, WY to visit with Mags (who we haven't seen since our trip south in 2012)... and then onward and southward.
We stopped for a burrito in Ft Collins for old times sake and then continued on to Denver. We knew there wasn't snow in the forecast, but what we didn't expect was 64degrees. Yikes! We dug through and pulled out the flip flops and pretended it was summer for a few days...because it certainly felt like it compared to the temps we've been getting used to.
John helped us wash the van in the driveway. Pretty sure it was embarrassing to have something that dirty parked out front but apparently saturday was always neighborhood car wash day back in the day, so it was nice to get in on the tradition...including the post-wash beer in the front lawn. ;)
We got in a few games of crib with John and Vicky, had a late night ping pong grudge match on the kitchen island...and even got to see the K's, who we haven't see since our list trip to Nawlins. What a blast!!
On our last night we took an adventurous (and crazy fun) walk through the woods to sushi and sadly ripped ourselves away in the morning to head onwards to the mountains. John and Vicki are always more fun than we could imagine and feel so very lucky they've (mostly) adopted us!! If they weren't flying to portland the next day I'm not sure we would have ever left!
We got a quick note a few days earlier from BodesWell that they were in WinterPark and we should stop by. It was only an hour out of our way and we have always wondered how its possible we haven't met face to face, so we made a right hand turn and stopped in to say hi and share a beer. Also the awesome hosts, we somehow found ourselves eating dinner sharing a few cocktails and enjoying a night of travel stories. This family is awesome, they totally "get it" and I'm not sure anybody could understand our lifestyle and decisions better (the fact that they travel in a bus with 3 should be an end to any excuse anyone ever had for why they don't run away and travel (if that's their dream)).
We eventually called it a night and hit the van. Sadly...we awoke at about 2am because it was cold in the van. Our heater had stopped working again. Luckily it was just around freezing and we could easily tough it out for the night...but we realized that the heater had (likely) shut down due to high altitude. Argh!
We knew that Espar makes and recommends a high altitude compensator but we had talked with and read about several people who had "used theirs at high altitude and never experienced a problem" so we didn't bother with buying it. A few emails later we realized that high altitude means different things to different people, and that was likely our issue. After a bit more research, the official recommended use from Espar is 3-4000' elevation, meaning we were 3x recommended use. Oops.
Take it from us. If you use the heater for extended period over 9000' it will shut down. If it doesn't shut down automatically, apparently it will run so lean that the filter will be gummed up in a matter of a few days and will shut down anyway. Better to go with the high altitude compensator if you plan on spending time up high. Our next few weeks' plans have us at or above the 9200' we slept at in WinterPark, so this isn't the best of news.
Luckily, there's no snow in the forecast and (as usual) we aren't in a hurry, so we ordered the part, backtracked to Denver and slept out front of the shop awaiting delivery in the morning. Only a day delay...and the heater has worked like a champ ever since!
After that we moved on to Vail, where our bud Carey was meeting some friends for the weekend. Were there fresh snow we would have ridden with them for a day, but instead we opted for a bit of snowshoeing (which, given the packed snow was really more snow hiking) into the ice climbing area that is "the amphitheater".
Nice to get out and get some exercise and so fun to watch these guys and gals climbing up the frozen waterfalls... talk about a great way to climb all year, and an amazing combination of exercise and beautiful scenery in nature!!
We love Vail, but parking overnight is almost impossible, so we overnighted in a shopping center just outside the village and then continued west for aspen.