We settled TrayTray up on Madden Peak Rd among the remnants of the last snowfall. Our site was 20 miles west of Durango. It had a fire pit, and some nice scrubby oak trees and was looked over by a tall rocky peak that had a cell tower on it! Reception is nice when you are in the middle of nowhere. The following day was scheduled by pilgrims to be thanksgiving and our oven was sadly non-functional. I had been promising the wife I’d look into it for a month at least. In typical Chad fashion, got to it just in time. Not to bore you with the details, I tore it to pieces, cleaned everything, made some adjustments to the thermal bulb (love that term), put it back together, and Viola! Functional oven!
Thanksgiving morning we drove down to Durango and hit up the Grocery store. Cate was looking forward to making an elaborate, but camper sized thanksgiving meal. Since it was relatively warm (30f) and I needed to do the dishes, she set up her prep station on the hood of the truck, cracked open a bottle of wine, and got to work. soon the bird was in the oven and it was mud bocce time.
Being that the oven was newly repaired and neither of us had experience with a tiny propane powered RV oven, we checked on it often.
It was just after one of these checks that Cate, Dog, and myself were standing within a few feet of the oven that there was a LOUD bang. The first thought through my mind was that I really screwed up the oven and it was a propane explosion…at the same time I smelled gunpowder, and saw a small gold thing bounce off the hood and land on the cutting board. Upon closer examination, this gold thing turned out to be the brass casing from a 22 caliber bullet. It dawned on us that the effing turkey shot at us! We checked ourselves and dog for any bullet wounds. Not finding any, our thanksgiving became particularly thankful. We did buy the stove used, and I was all inside the oven the night before…never saw a 22 shell there. But why would the previous owner leave bullets in or around a stove? (For the record, we found the lead in the oven a few days later)
ANYWAY, finally safe from bake-by-shootings, cate presented the food, we listened to a wonderful classic country station, enjoyed or meal in the great outdoors, and talked about how much we missed our friends and family. Almost directly afterward I was fast asleep. What a day.
Doing our part part part time job requires us to check on store sales especially on important shopping days like black friday. Considering the dearth of suitable stores in Durango, we had to travel down to Farmington, NM. A nice drive, although seeing our first real slew of confederate flags since home was a bit disappointing. We did our work and it always takes me a bit longer, so when I finally caught up to Cate, I got to meet her new friend Jeffery. Jeffery was the sweetest guy and possibly the biggest Hillary supporter in the world. As a matter of fact, his car was “wrapped” in Hillary graphics and was vandalized just a month earlier (some deplorable person no doubt). He was unapologetic, good natured, and wide open!
Saturday we got to do some exploration. We took highway 550, the Million Dollar Highway (as in, “you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to drive that road in the winter”) north of Durango to Silverton, Ouray, and on up to Ridgeway. We purposefully avoided this road while towing traytray on the way down from Grand Junction on the advice of a ranger. I’m glad we took her advice. This one terribly beautiful and terribly scary road.
We had Ridgeway on our list for resettlement, so we dropped by a realtor for a chat. Let’s just say, we didn’t feel very welcomed. On the way back, we stopped at Ouray, “America’s Switzerland” which was stunning. Steep cliffs all around and apparently they have the worlds first ice climbing park. I would give my left nipple to move here. But this place was very expensive, with limited property. Alas.
That night the snow set in. What looked like it was going to be a light snowfall turned into a foot. It was gorgeous, blanketing the camper and playing cool tricks with our camper’s Christmas lights.
We journeyed into town to meet with our friends Doug and Caroline (former Asheville residents) at the El Rancho bar.
The next day, as the snow kept piling on, we kept a low profile, I made tracks in the snow with the GMC to the main road in anticipation of our escape the following day. In her haste to take wonderful snow sunrise pics, cate’s white phone fell into the snow.
Miraculously, we found it after an hour of kicking snow and retracing her steps. We had to leave because the BLM was going to close and lock the gate for the season on the 1st. We were warned. The 30th reared it’s snowy head, we beat the snow off of all of our gear, disassembled the christmas lights, used the blowtorch to thaw our wheel chocks, and nervously pulled our traytray out onto the snow packed BLM road. On the way out of town, we stopped at a carwash to try and shed some weight off the trailer (ice and snow) before continuing west towards Pagosa Springs. We needed to shed even more weight in the form of our wastewater tanks, but they were frozen solid. More on that later.
In closing, I’d just like to say, Durango and the San Juan Mountains were wonderful. If we can’t live here, I am sure we will be back to visit.