Snow-less Colorado and Heater Woes
but worth a try! We eventually pull into boulder, thinking its a pretty good place to layover. We usually stop in Ft. Collins just because we know the town and enjoy its college vibes, but Jen had actually never been to boulder so we figured it was a nice change of pace.
Had a lovely evening, marveled (as always) at how much boulder has changed from my first visits here, and moved on in the morning headed for Denver and a chance to visit with family/friends. Not only was there no snow, but the temps were once again in the 60s, so we spent our time here hanging out in the back yard, washing the van and catching up (with the occasional grudge match of cribbage). ;)
Its always hard to pull ourselves away from these visits and go back to the rather solitary life in the van, but we saw a storm approaching and wanted to get as far down I-70 as we could in case things got sloppy.
We arrive in Breckenridge and immediately saw why people so love this town (though I imagine it normally looks quite different this time of year as it had barely a thin blanket of snow in most of town). We explored the town, found the best eats and drinks and waited on the pending storm. It did indeed deliver a good overnight dump and we rode the gondola up for a fantastic day of powder, though it was still clear how much uncovered terrain still existed. Just a sad year so far for these parts.
We planned to wait out another round of storms, and headed walked to a few of the local bars to watch the NFL playoff games. Somehow stumbled into the right bars at the right time and found a quite strong local following for the teams playing in each game, which made it a great experience despite our not truly having a team to cheer for.
Two games in, we decided to call it a night and made our way to the van. Sadly, we realized quickly after the standard greeting from karma that it was COLD. We craned the heat and soon realized things were getting worse not better. Our heater was blowing nothing but cold air, apparently just pulling the 8degree air outside into the van and blowing it around for good measure. We were a little tipsy, very tired and VERY much not looking to deal with a technical difficulty at this point in our day but we spent an hour or so troubleshooting before finally turning our attention to trying to find a warm room to sleep in for the night.
We don't take much for granted in our day to day life... but it turns out you forget exactly how important the ability to somewhat condition a space is when its so cold just on the other side of very thin metal panels. We have become so accustomed to our systems working in perfect order, that when doing our hurried pack and departure for this trip we apparently left out our backup kit of sleeping bags and propane heater for emergencies just such as this (note: turns out we actually did have our propane heater stuffed away in the back but discovered this a day late to be useful).
In the morning despite another good layer of snow on the mountain we had to pull ourselves away to deal with our heater. Goes without saying for two people who haven't had enough snow on this trip that this was hugely disappointing... but we knew we couldn't sleep another night in the van, and its far too cold out to leave karma inside while we hit the slopes, so we begrudgingly place some calls and have to flip a coin between heading back to Denver or onward to SLC to get the heater serviced.We drove straight to SLC, having to admit to ourselves that the small storm that just hit was the closest (and only) thing to snow on the radar and hanging around wasn't likely to deliver more fresh tracks anytime soon.
Once in SLC we pull into ThermoKings and they agree to squeeze us in despite the fact they are likely to be here late working on our van (always helps to have the cute travel companion explain how we have nowhere to sleep tonight and get the guys behind the counter to offer overtime at short notice).
We grab karma and sit in the waiting room before the guys come back and show us the inside of our heater. This thing clearly hasn't been cleaned/decarboned in a year at the very least they tell us. Frustrating at the least since we just paid for a full cleaning/maintenance just before leaving Portland right before the holidays... we snap a few photos for proof and ask them to proceed with the work.
A few hours later were back in the van, happy to have heat pumping out from under the seat and only mildly bitter that the shop in Portland cost us another day of fresh powder and leaving Colorado earlier than we had hoped.
We tried to make the best of our new path, checked all the UT resorts only to find they also had no snow in the forecast and decided on a hike to clear the brain instead. In our year spent living/working/remodeling in UT we drove back and forth past the Antelope Island sign countless times and never considered stopping but this quick turn off the highway seemed perfect and we turned off elated to get some exercise.
Its a lovely gem, Antelope Island. I truly beautiful way to experience the massive oddity that is the great salt lake, which up until this trip was just the big body of water that delivered not-so-great smells to the highway and beyond when we lived here.
We took the quick hike up to the peak and took in the views, frolicked among the rocks and boulders and generally reset our minds and bodies for the trip ahead. It was, by all accounts exactly what the doctor ordered. Returning to the van, we drove around the rest of the island searching for bison and other wildlife and then finally continued onward and northward.
It was sad to drive past SLC, sad to drive past snowbasin and powder mountain where we had such epic snow last year (and really on every visit), and really just sad to think through what this lack of snow will likely mean for the rest of the year both for UT and CO but also all the states to the south for whom they supply water from the year's snowpack.