We headed south from Riverton, WY to the Yampa river in Colorado and camped at one of Colorado’s overpriced state parks. It did have some nice walking paths but the mosquitoes were so bad that we didn’t walk far. The next day took us into Steamboat Springs for gas and supplies before heading further south to Gunnison. Before getting there the ABS light in the truck came on and once in Steamboat Springs traffic the brakes started making a horrible grinding sound. Of course the nearest Toyota was in Denver so we went to a local place that listed the were authorized for Toyota repairs. Turned out not to be the brakes but the wheel bearing, which ground off the top of the ABS sensor so that caused the light to go on and the ABS to not work. Since it was going to take at least a day to get the parts in we headed an 1/8th of a mile down the road to a campground. While it was a typical RV camp where you get to park 25 ft from your neighbor it did have a challenging looking miniature golf course, a pool always filled with kids and backed up against the Yampa river. The next day some, but not all, of the parts came in so we had to stay another day. Seriously, if you have to get stranded somewhere, Steamboat isn’t a bad place to be. The free bus to town came into the camp every 20 minutes, which was good if you wanted a free ride to town, bad if you didn’t like hearing a bus pulling in and out every 20 minutes from 7:30AM-10:30PM. We spent one day perusing the downtown galleries in the rain. The next day we rode the bike path into town. This had to be one of the nicest bike paths I have ridden. It crisscrossed the Yampa river over small bridges, was well shaded and had side paths leading up to town or to other attractions like the ski jump hills.
Kayaking the river was a popular activity and one of the pull out areas was our campground, unfortunately our kayak was on top of the Tundra at the repair station and while the bus did have a bike rack it didn’t have a kayak rack.
The truck finally got “fixed” and we headed south to Gunnison to meet up with Colin Graham.
Colin had a commercial flight scheduled for the morning at a very civilized time of 7AM at a local park. It turned out to be Ernie’s best flight of the trip and certainly the most adventurous chase I had. Colin flew into the multi-use open space areas outside of town and Ernie followed. This area is full of interesting rock formations and small dirt roads of variable quality. By the time we got there the wind was picking up in speed. Colin’s crew chose to take an uphill turn to try to get the balloon in sight. This wasn’t the best of choices for a long truck pulling an even longer trailer. I took the first opportunity I could to pass them and radioed back to get directions when I got to road junctions. After passing Colin’s landed balloon and getting a general idea of where Ernie was I headed up another hill to see him on a road, getting pinned by the propane tank as he deflated into the scrub brush, it was a bit windy by this time. After packing up we went back to help Colin pack up and join in the toast. When Ernie saw the road I travelled to get to him I got an apology for the “What the hell took so long?” remark he made when I first arrived.
After saying our ‘thanks’ and ‘goodbyes’ we left the town of Gunnison for the Black Canyon of Gunnison.