After Sand Dunes we were scheduled to head for Durango and a stay with Greg’s in-laws, Willie and Susan. Their hospitality was great and very fortuitous.
On the trip west we had a misfortune in a gas station when another car backed into our trailer. It wasn’t much of an impact and it looked like the only damage was to the other car, so we just let it all go. Shortly after that, we started to hear a rumble and for a few days we were afraid that something had happened to the trailer’s wheel alignment. We inspected it, tested it, walked beside it while driving, and did everything we could to be sure that there wasn’t a problem. Then as we entered Durango, the car got a flat tire.
The boys tried to change it but the bolts were on too tight, so I had to call AAA. When they showed up the driver was also stymied trying to remove the tire, actually destroying several tools in order to loosen the bolts. He finally managed to get the tire off after an hour of struggling with it, and when the tire came off we discovered the source of the rumble we had heard. We had inspected the car tires as well on the chance that it was the car, not the trailer, making the noise, but had not seen anything. However the inside tread of the tire, invisible to scrutiny, was worn bear in one small patch. The rest of the tire looked fine, but that small part was worn right down to nothing. The AAA driver was amazed saying he’d never seen anything like it. He figured it had to be a fault in the belt of the tire.
However, we were very lucky with the blowout happening in a Denny’s parking lot rather than a mountain road. Willie just happened to have a buddy who owned a tire shop, so we had great help solving our problem. The tire mechanic agreed with the AAA driver and also said that I should have a serious talk with my dealership who had inspected the tires just before the trip, both because of the state of the tire and because they’d put the bolts on so tightly.
It’s kind of spooky lucky. The mishap with the trailer caused us to pay attention to the tires and it waited until a safe location to blow. Could have been much worse.
We used our extra day in Durango to visit Mesa Verde. There are a few pictures earlier in the blog that were posted on the road. We ended up being forced to take a guided tour rather than the usual unguided one because one of the sites was closed due to falling rocks. The guided tour, which I’d never taken before, was pretty informative and I think that the boys got a lot more out of it. I have a pretty good knowledge of the history of the area, but it’s always good to have a third party presenting.
So after leaving Durango with our tire problems solved, we headed north along the ‘Million Dollar Highway’ to Silverton, Ouray and then west towards Moab. Silverton is an old west town with a lot of ambiance, including a great saloon/restaurant where we had lunch. The main street was a strange mixture of old style buildings and off road vehicles that were used to go up into the mountain trails. I’ve driven some of them before, but our schedule didn’t allow for that this time around. There was also a display of street musical instruments.
After, we made our way west through the mountains and stopped briefly for some impromptu gold panning. Didn’t have much time for it. Real gold panning requires an big investment of time, but can yield valuable results. The place we stopped was by a small lake with a view of Red Mountain which is one of my favorite spots to photograph.
We ended up at a free campsite on National Forest land, but had the problem of being in the middle of nowhere at night without having though of food. Trying to beat the clock, we dropped the trailer and hurried to a small town down the road which we just hoped had a grocery store. We were lucky and got there just a few minutes before it closed. It was basic food, but at least we didn’t go to bed that night thirsty or with empty stomachs. you’d think that we would have learned our lesson, but that story ended up being repeated several more times as the trip continued. Sometimes you just find yourself in the middle of nowhere after dark. Then breakfast becomes something to look forward to.
The next morning we set out for Moab, -one of the highlights of our trip.