Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Paradise, Utah to Blair Cabin in Silverton, Colorado...

Paradise, Utah to Blair Cabin in Silverton, Colorado...  We left at about 4:30 am, hoping to make it to Blair Cabin before dark – even after grocery shopping in Montrose at our favorite area grocery store (City Market). This worked, as we made it into the cabin at around 6 pm, with plenty of light left.

The route we took was a brand-new one to us, at least partly because we left from Paradise, Utah instead of southern California. But we also deliberately selected a route that avoided Interstate highways as much as we could. Our route took us to Ogden via I-15, then east on I-84/I-80 until we reached US 40. After that, we took US 40 east through the Ute mountains until just over the Colorado border, then south on Colorado 139 to I-70, briefly on I-70 to US 50, then south on US 50/US 550 to Silverton. Overall, this route was vastly more interesting and less ugly than the desert crossing further south on I-70. Google Maps claims that the southerly route is only about an hour faster; that's an hour we'd gladly invest to avoid that long, long desert passage.

Along the way we saw lots and lots of ranches and horses; the entire length of the trip was through “cowboy country”. Often these ranches were quite beautiful, with broad green pastures in various stages of mowing, baling, and growing. Several times we saw postcard scenes of horses in green pastures with tall grass, alongside brooks and ponds. Of course there were also lots and lots of cows, too, but they're just not as much fun to look at.

We also saw a lot of deer, but unfortunately most of the deer we saw were dead – victims of collisions with cars. We didn't count, but I suspect we saw at least two dozen of their broken bodies along the road. There were also, for some reason, a lot of dead racoons, especially on the western segment of the trip.

What we looked like on the way
from Jamul to Paradise
One stop on the trip really stands out in our mind. We were driving through Naples, Utah (just east of Vernal) when Debbie spotted an espresso stand – after I'd passed it, of course :) We turned around and pulled into the drive-through window. Debbie ordered an espresso drink (of course!) and I ordered a “triple raspberry” smoothie. Both were outstanding. But the best part wasn't even the drinks – it was the two baggies of dog treats that the lady in the coffee stand handed out for our two pooches. She is now their favorite coffee stand lady, and you can bet we'll be stopping there on the way home :)

Before buying the trailer, I was a bit worried about towing it behind our FJ – the FJ is a relatively small vehicle, and the trailer is 8' long, 5' wide, and 6' high (it's a Wells Cargo Road Force trailer). I needn't have worried, as the trailer was barely noticeable when driving. Even on rough paved roads it handled flawlessly, and in particular it never bounced around like so many trailers I've been behind. The real test, though, was the final 2 mile drive up a very rugged 4WD road to the cabin we rented. The road is steep, filled with large rocks and deep holes, and parts are made of loose rock. I drove up that road very slowly, and for the most part we never even knew the trailer was behind us. There were a couple of steep spots with loose rock where the FJ lost traction on one or two wheels, but the “A-Track” automatic traction system took care of that with zero effort on my part. In the end we pulled the trailer down the steep driveway to the cabin and parked it without incident. When I opened up the trailer to unload the groceries we'd purchased on the way through Montrose, I discovered that none of them had even jostled out of the position I'd loaded them with. With that discovery, I declared the great trailer experiment a resounding success – with it we can carry far more in the way of supplies and creature comforts than we can with the overhead rack, and with far less effort. If it can handle the road to this cabin, it can handle anything we're ever likely to throw at it...

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