Day 222 of the Nowhere To Be Project happened in one of the world’s most majestic settings: Moab, Utah. I have visited Moab previously in the heat of June and simply could not wait to return in the RV during the crisp air of autumn. The day began in line at the entrance of the awesome and extremely popular Arches National Park. The things you’ll see here are probably unlike anything you’ve seen before (in the best way possible). The beauty of this place is nothing short of inspiring! It is $30 per vehicle and there are ample stops for photographs, hikes, restrooms and picnicking. We spent about four hours touring the full length of the park. The pooch had to stay in the RV for most of our time at Arches due to their limited pet access, but thankfully the day was cold and windy so he was fine in the RV. I would not have felt comfortable visiting with him in the heat of summer even with air conditioning.
From Arches we headed toward stunning Canyonlands National Park. This park is also $30 per car for entry, but is not nearly as large as Arches. We spent about an hour and half touring the length of Canyonlands. Whatever you do, be sure to stay the course until the very end because that is where the magic happens! Just outside of the gates of Canyondlands is Dead Horse Point Park, another must-see Moab destination. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the ending scene of Thelma and Louise (where they take their permanent plunge) was filmed at Dead Horse Point. It is surely a breathtaking corner of our little world. Both Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point offer campsites, shaded picnic areas, restrooms and hiking/biking options. My only regret from today is that I’m in an area with limited service which means my lovely photographs can’t be fully shared…just one of the challenges of off-road blogging, I guess:-)!
Day 207 of the Nowhere To Be Project was the best Sunday of late. It began as most of my days do with coffee by the fire followed by a thigh-busting Peloton ride. Then it was on to a lovely creekside lunch with my daughter and a walk through the second to last farmer’s market of the season. Finally, a long windy walk with the pup through layers of crunchy fallen leaves closed out the day in quiet solitude with nary a person in sight.
The perfection that was today represents most Vail days at this time of year. This leads me to Vail’s best kept secret: October is the optimal time to visit. There’s a saying around town that people come for the winter, but stay for the summer. That may be true, but is very short-sighted because it doesn’t mention the glorious month of October. October is a time when the leaf-peepers are mostly gone, and when the town looks to the locals instead of the tourists to fill the coffers. I can confidently say that there are more dogs than people in Vail in October! This means that everything is ON SALE. From restaurant week (more on that later in the week) to the end-of-the-season sales in most shops and hotels, bargains abound. In short, prices in Vail fall with the quaking Aspen leaves. That first snowflake will usher in the harsh reality of living in one of the priciest communities around (recently ranked #1 most expensive in Colorado), so get here now if you’re like me and live for the bargain!
On day 205 of the Nowhere To Be Project I visited an adorable new shop in the Vail Valley called Maker+Stitch. The Edwards, Colorado boutique’s website describes it as a yarn shop. It certainly does have a bounty of beautiful yarn from all over the world. It also has a few ready-made pieces for sale. I loved literally everything they had available for purchase, but as a knitter with very primitive skills I don’t yet feel worthy of a $20 or $30 skein. Thankfully, they offer classes, workshops and other events focused on teaching and learning needle crafts. I hope to try a class in hopes of improving my skills to a level that would warrant fine yarn. Perhaps even better than the classes are their planned retreats which strive to combine the inspiration that only nature can provide with needle work. These outings take advantage of the beauty of the Vail valley to inspire creativity and may include a hike, snowshoeing, or even skiing.
My visit to Maker+Stitch reminded me how fun it is to incorporate hobbies into travel. I would love to plan an entire trip around knitting, or genealogy, or hiking, but have yet to do so. I always try to include my hobbies in some way on my travels (e.g. knitting while on the road in the RV, hunting down cemeteries for genealogy, etc.) but have never planned a trip entirely around a hobby. Have you? If so, I’d love to hear all about it. Feel free to reach out via twitter, instagram or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your hobby travel experiences and ideas.
As a Vail resident, I’ll be the first to admit that aren’t a lot of bargains in town. However, day 204 of the Nowhere To Be Project opened up a whole new world for me and my family in terms of transportation. You see, Vail is 100 miles from Denver. It can take between two and three hours, depending on weather and traffic, to reach Denver International Airport from our home. Despite the fact that we are constant travelers, we rarely drive ourselves to and from the airport (for various reasons) and have been relying on Colorado Mountain Express (now Epic Mountain Express) for transportation to and from DIA for years. The prices we’ve paid for the popular shuttle service per passenger for a one way fare range from $55 to $120 plus tip. The service is owned and operated by Vail Resorts, so the high prices are to be expected. Nevertheless, it really adds up with frequent trips and multiple riders. Thankfully, we’ve discovered a brand new option!
Bustang is a bus service that runs several Eastbound and Westbound routes each day between Denver and the mountains. My husband was brave enough to give it a try for the first time today. His ticket was less than $20 and the travel time was just over two hours. After departing Vail at 7:05am, the bus stopped briefly along the way in Frisco, Idaho Falls and Lakewood before arriving at Denver’s Union Station. He then hopped on a direct train to the airport (35 minutes) for another $9.
My husband described the bathroom-equipped Bustang as clean and relatively comfortable. The WIFI was reliable and there was ample space to store bags, equipment and even bicycles. He felt that he had a lot more legroom (he’s over six feet tall) and privacy on this big bus as compared to the jam-packed eight to ten passenger vans that are most often used by Colorado Mountain Express.
I simply can’t wait to give Bustang a try! It is vastly more affordable than other transportation options in Vail and seems to provide a more comfortable experience. I also love the fact that tickets are quickly and easily purchased via the Bustang app and are not date-specific which means no expensive change fees! One drawback might be the fact that riders must haul their bags from a bus to a train before reaching the airport, but that seems very minor when the savings is factored in to the equation.
Day 198 of the Nowhere To Be Project is dedicated to a full review of my recent stay at the KOA in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. First, a little background info…We reserved a deluxe full hook up RV spot online a few days before our arrival. The rate for each night was $61.89 plus tax and we stayed three nights. We visited in mid-September, but the park is open year round.
The park is located on a busy highway just three miles from downtown Steamboat Springs. Our first night was spent in spot 69, but the trees on the spot blocked our satellite dish so we moved to spot 30 for the next two nights. The first spot was beside the busy highway. This created a 24 hour soundtrack of semis blowing by. The second spot backed up to a trailer park which created a 24 hour soundtrack of a very different type (use your imagination:). Unfortunately, spot 30 also had a serious problem with flies. I think this is the result of a dumpster on the trailer park side of the fence. This made outdoor dining impossible. Another issue was a complete lack of internet despite the fact that the website touts wifi access throughout the park.
The park offers a pool, hot tub, laundry room and shower rooms, all of which were clean. There is also a playground and putt putt golf (we didn’t partake in these activities). Perhaps the best feature of the KOA Steamboat Springs is the onsite bus stop. This makes it so easy to take advantage of the free bus to and from town.
Honestly, we usually shy away from KOA campgrounds because we’ve never really found one worth the price. We chose this one due to its proximity to town. My husband and I decided that we would not stay here again as it was crowded, noisy and very overpriced. Furthermore, we learned of several very scenic options for dry camping in the area which we think would offer a much more authentic mountain experience. And just like that, we seem to have transitioned from convenience campers to boondockers! I guess it is a process…
Day 196 of the Nowhere To Be Project marked the end of our brief stay in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This wasn’t my first visit to this mountain town, but it was the first time I’ve visited without skiing as the main goal. I would describe Steamboat as a town that became a ski destination rather than the reverse. What I mean by this is that the whole town is not based solely on ski revenue as so many other ski towns seem to be. The downtown (old town) area has very relaxed blue collar feel to it despite the fact that the historic homes sell for millions. A local told me that the old run down homes are lovingly nicknamed “the downtown dumps”. The highlights of my time downtown were several cool examples of street art and a beautiful stone Catholic church that just screams “mountain town”!
There is a main drag in the old town area with a few rustic lodging options and countless boutiques and restaurants. Steamboat is dotted with umpteen bus stops for the free town bus which makes getting around a snap. A few miles from the busy downtown is the ski area. Right now is shoulder season as they transition from summer to winter mountain sports, so almost nothing was open and a lot of construction was taking place. While I wouldn’t describe the ski area with the same label of “blue collar”, it certainly isn’t glamorous or uppity like so many other Colorado ski towns. If you’re looking for a relaxed and comfortable mountain town to pass some time, Steamboat Springs could be your spot!
Day 195 of the Nowhere To Be Project was spent at the lovely Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This wonderful year-round treat is nestled within the mountains and costs just $15 per person to enjoy for a full day’s access (cash or check only). The ornate property has a rustic spa feel with a natural stone tri-level spring fed pool. The pool is surrounded by ample lounging space and there are massages available on site as well. The Strawberry Park Hot Springs complex offers changing rooms, rest rooms and even tiny houses for rent!
It was breathtaking to feel the hot spring (very, very hot directly at the source) water on my skin as I gazed up at the ever-changing color of the rustling aspen leaves. This experience left me feeling refreshed and renewed and I can only imagine how that would be amplified after a long day of skiing. Be sure to treat yourself to a natural hot spring sometime if you haven’t already. You will not be sorry!
Day 194 of the Nowhere To Be Project led me to the beautiful Yampa River Botanic Park. This public alpine garden is situated at 6800 feet in the Colorado town of Steamboat Springs. The stunning natural resource is run entirely by volunteers on a mountainside parcel of donated land. The rambling garden is divided into “neighborhoods”, each named after the factors that make it unique (e.g. rainbow, wind, reflecting, sundial, etc.). The remarkable reflection pond reminded me of Claude Monet’s in Giverny, France and the Fairy Garden was an absolute delight! However, my favorite part of the garden was the medicinal section where trees, plants and herbs useful in natural healing are featured.
Entry to the Yampa River Botanic Garden is free, but donations are encouraged as it operates solely on the generosity of the community and visitors. I easily spent over an hour at the garden before a strong thunderstorm came through and sent me on my way. Do not miss this quiet and unassuming treasure in the northern Colorado mountains! yampariverbotanicpark.org
On day 193 of the Nowhere To Be Project we checked out of Lazy Acres RV Park in Riverside, Wyoming after spending one sleepy night here. Riverside is a tiny town adjacent to Encampment. The RV park is actually situated on the Encampment River. The owner of the park, Leroy, could be one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met and he clearly takes pride in his tiny enclave of rustic campsites. The pet friendly park offers reasonably priced full hook up RV spots (about $40 per night) and cabins for rent. Clean shower houses are there for the taking and just across the road is the Bear Trap Café.
The Bear Trap carries on the rustic cowboy theme that we experienced at Lazy Acres. As the only dining option for miles, it is filled with local ranchers. I imagine that the popular bar is the seat of the social scene in this part of Wyoming. The food and service at the café are what one would expect in an out of the way corner of the west…lots of meat and fried potatoes! My husband sure enjoyed his huge rib eye with tater tots! Thankfully, they offered a good salad to satisfy me (probably the only vegan for one hundred miles, haha).
Both Lazy Acres RV Park and Bear Trap Café warrant a visit if you’re seeking an authentic Wyoming vibe!
Day 191 of the Nowhere To be Project placed us back in our beloved RV, the Tiny Dancer, Too. If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know that I’m totally obsessed with autumn. In the mountains of Colorado, we’ve been getting an early taste of the awesome beauty of fall with cooler air, bursting colors and festivals galore. Everything good comes to an end (including fall), but we are going to do our best to enjoy every minute of it.
With that goal in mind, we’re going to roam up to Wyoming and see what’s happening up there before making our way home very slowly through Colorful Colorado. I literally have the words of my beloved Dolly Parton in my mind (Here you come again…and there I go!) as we roll along in search of anything and everything autumn. Much, much more to come…