Blog Post

Utah's Desert Highlands to Colorado's Rocky Mountains

colorado, desert, mountains, travel

I spent about a week in Moab. Eastern Utah is such a special place with plenty of outdoor activities to keep a person busy for a lifetime. I was bummed to leave but excited to get to the Colorado Rockies. My first stop after Moab was Durango in southwest Colorado. I’ve driven through Durango a couple times but haven’t had time to stop and take a look around. After spending a few days in Durango I have to say it’s one of my new favorite spots and will gladly visit again. The downtown was lively and there is a small liberal arts college in town.

Leaving Durango is when my traveling got interesting. I headed north on U.S. Route 550 towards Silverton with a destination of Ouray (pronounced ‘you-ray’). This stretch of highway is both magnificent and terrifying. The RV performed like a champ and was able to handle the ups and downs of the mountain passes; until I got to Ouray. As I pulled into the main town street in Ouray I noticed my brakes getting ‘spongy’. I quickly pulled over to assess the situation. I wasn’t sure what was going on and so I tried moving again to check the brakes and they were completely gone! No brakes. Immediately I put the RV in park and it came to a lightly jouncing halt. At this point I wasn’t sure what to do because I had no brakes, but I was able to get the RV into a parking spot and go to sleep so I could make a plan in the morning. After doing some quick research I discovered that I fell victim to brake Deer boil. Basically what happened is when I pulled into town I didn’t have enough wind blowing across the brakes to cool them down. The increased heat caused my brake fluid to boil and create gases in the brake lines. When there are gases in brake lines the hydraulic system doesn’t work anymore; brake fluid can’t be compressed but gases can. So when I would push the brake pedal the gas would compress but not the brake pads. No bueno. After the cold evening I woke up to the brakes working again. I learned a valuable lesson and will be more cautious when going over mountain passes now, and will also get the brake fluid changed and brakes checked when I get to Denver in a couple days. You should get brake fluid changed after it boils as more water might have entered the lines and it will boil more easily.

After that bit of excitment I was able to spend the day in Ouray. If you’ve never been to Ouray you should start planning a trip now because it’s an amazing place. Nestled within a canyon it’s surrounded by beautiful mountains. There are multiple waterfalls and plenty of hiking. I spent about five hours hiking around and was happy to be soaking up the wilderness.

Dan Fogelberg album cover From Ouray I started taking the long way to Creede. By the crow flies it’s not too far, but because the 14’er Uncompahgre Mountain is in the way so you have to drive up to Montrose and along Black Caynon National Park then down an infamous route through the San Juan mountains.

The drive down Colorado State Highway 149 was absolutely amazing! Within about two hours I saw approximately 100 deer, a few elk a ram and plenty of amazing birds. I wish I had more time to explore the area but I was ready to get to Creede and relax. If you want to get a more clear picture of this drive listen to “High Country Snow” by Dan Fogelberg to help you get a better picture of this place. I passed through the town of Lake City where nearby is the infamous location of Alfred Packers desperate act of cannibalism when his expedition took a wrong turn. This area, like much of the San Juans, was crawling with miners back in the gold rush days. It seems to be a very popular fly fishing area so I might try to make it back and see if I can catch some fish. There are also some amazing hikes in the area so I’m sure could spend a week or two here and not get bored.

Creede, Colorado Finally I made it to Creede to visit with my friends John and Caitlyn. I’ve spent a few days here and am glad to have some time not on the road and in a real home. John and I have been spending some time doing some writing and hiking and so I’ve been having a great time. Last night I played my first game of Dungeons and Dragons which was a fun new thing to do. From here I’m not sure where I’ll go but most likely heading north to Wyoming. I’m going to be spending a few days in Los Angeles and when I come back I’ll decide. I would like to go back to Ouray but it would also be fun to see Yellowstone National Park as I’ve never been there.

Much Love!

Matt Sommer