Time Frame: August 2 – 28, 2010
Miles Driven: 2825
After a way too brief of a stop in St. Louis, it was time to continue west towards Burning Man. It seems every year we find ourselves in this predicament – way too little time to traverse some of the most beautiful scenery our country has to offer. Some might say that 3 weeks is plenty of time to traverse the western half of the country, for us, it’s barely scratching the surface.
We tend to find ourselves a bit remorseful of the deadline that Burning Man gives us, and always feeling like we’re skimming this area of the country.
So, we decided to try to find a route we hadn’t took before, to at least give us some variety of seeing different parts of the area. We put out a call for recommendations, and made a general plan of traversing highway 40 this time through northern Colorado and Utah.
Missouri, Nebraska and Eastern Colorado
We pulled a couple long driving days to make it through Missouri and Nebraska, with a goal making it to Colorado by my birthday. Back country driving through Nebraska and Missouri makes the trip much prettier than following interstates, but it is the same pretty over and over again.
We arrived to Brush!, Colorado (yes, they actually have a ! in their city name) and found a cute little city park that offered free overnight parking. We opted to rest up for a couple nights here, explore the little town and celebrate my birthday.
After a break in Brush!, we started looking ahead to what in Colorado we wanted to explore this time. Having never been to Rocky Mountain National Park or the Loveland area, we put aims to there. We also put a silent wish to the universe for an RV Park with a hot tub with mountain views. Within moments, we received an invitation from a friend in the area to camp on her mountain land above Loveland, and partake in her hot tub. How’s that for serendipity?
We were having a lovely time.. until a bit of chaos erupted.
One morning I awoke with a horrible toothache. We found a dentist that very morning who could take me, and I ended up having an emergency wisdom tooth extraction that involved quite a bit of chiseling and prying (ouch). Then, just as soon as we got back home – Kiki got bit by a rattlesnake! So another speedy trip down the mountain to find care for her.
Thankfully, cats do well with rattlesnake bites, and Colorado rattlers tend to have low venom. Both Kiki and I recovered quickly – but quite a spendy and traumatic day for us. It also kept us in Loveland a few more days than anticipated.
After follow-up appointments confirmed we were both safe to move on – we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park, only to discover that despite the entrance signs saying otherwise, all campgrounds were full. We found a small county run park right on the border of that national park which turned out to be better for exploring Estes Park as well. We enjoyed a day of driving and hiking through Rocky Mountain NP.
After way too long of being in good cell phone reception area, we were feeling quite behind on several things. So when we found a beautiful meadow of wildflowers outside Steamboat Springs, CO on the continental divide – with decent signal, we decided to stop for a couple days. It seemed like a technomad dream come true… until…
We started receiving roaming overage messages from both Sprint and AT&T. With none of our devices showing us in a data roaming area, we were quite frustrated. Which lead Sean Welsh of Our Odyssey to start planting the seed of satellite internet. He even tracked down a used tripod setup for sale in Gunnison, CO – not too far away. We decided, what the heck? Worst case, we get it and end up selling it. Best case, we have a great option for getting online in remote locations (such as, Burning Man!).
So, our Highway 40 intentions were scratched and we diverted south towards Gunnison. Which ironically put us on a path of rendezvousing with two blog readers who had just sent in invitations to stop for a visit.
The first was Jim & Julie of ImperfectDestiny, who were just about to leave their home in Leadville, CO in a geeked out 17′ Casita (very similar to our Oliver) with their two dogs. We had a great time hanging out with them, swapping stories and sharing tech tips. We also happened to be in town for the Leadville 100 mountain bike race – which was quite a site to see!
Next stop was Gunnison to rendezvous with the sellers of our new satellite dish. Turns out the couple selling the dish had previously spent many years full timing on a sailboat – so we were able to pick their brains on that too. It’s always awesome to encounter other cool nomads by complete serendipity! They trained us on setting up the system, which was much easier than anyone had lead us to believe. (Yes – we will have a post up soon with more details on our satellite system & plan we selected, as well other cellular connectivity research and options we selected during this time period. Patience please!)
After Gunnison, we accepted an invitation to stop in Grand Junction, CO to visit another blog reader, Pam. She’s about to set off full timing as a solo female traveler – and we were excited to share with her tips for living on the road. As a former chiropractor and body worker, she gifted us with massage before we hit the road. Life is sweet indeed.
We made intentions to make Great Basin National Park, a stop we had made on our first cross country trip back in 2007. We camped at the upper campground where we knew no cellular signal lived. We wanted to fully test out our new satellite connectivity and see how well it would work for us.
Chris was able to get us set up in under an hour – and it was sweet to be online at elevation 10,000 ft.
Aside from surfing the interwebs, we took an afternoon and did a 6 mile glacier rock hike.
After a respite up the mountain, we crossed Highway 50 – which is a beautiful if monotonous drive through the crumple zone of Nevada. We made it into South Lake Tahoe for a night of rest.
Our goal was to make the iOSDevCamp in San Jose – an iPhone developer’s conference being held at PayPal’s headquarters. We had no idea what to expect, except that building an application at the conference was one of the goals.
It was a fantastic conference, very well run (especially given it’s all volunteer).. and we were able to get an operational version of an idea we had due to our connectivity frustrations. Our idea for an app, Coverage?, won the ‘Most Useful’ award of the conference. We were also thrilled that PayPal/eBay let us camp in their parking lot, which helped facilitate late night coding!
Still high on the unexpected award, it was time to shift focus to preparing for Burning Man. So we were off to Sacramento to switch things out in our storage unit (which is mostly Burning Man gear), then off to Black Rock City to settle Camp Nomadia.
Our time at Burning Man was blogged daily.. and there may be more posts about our experience there upcoming.
For now, we’re eyeing getting a monthly spot in San Francisco to focus deeply on a few projects and catching up with our community there. We’ve been in constant motion since mid-May, and it’s time for some still.