July 18 was my last first day of being retired and traveling in the van.

(note: I started traveling full time in July 2016, and started this blog in December. I’ll be catching up on these trip reports for a while, so the post dates and dates of when I was actually there will me many months off)

 

I bought and started making my van into an Adventure Mobile in April 2015. Since finishing the van around March 2016, I’ve had a number of what felt like “First Days”. The first was moving into the van. I did that on March 25. Then I sold my house and drove the van out of St Louis for good – that felt like a big first day. Then I finished up some work in Iowa and could drive the van west to Colorado. Then I had my first camping trips (of this year) in Colorado. Then I had the van in and around Denver for 3-4 weeks – what felt like a transitional period.

I had my last day of work July 15. Within a couple days, I made my preparations to embark – to leave Denver and head northwest. This time, there would be no more going back to work. There would be no more ‘launch days’. This was it – this was the Last First Day.

 

 DRIVING NORTHWEST

I drove north from a Family member’s house near Denver and then west on Poudre Canyon rd. I went up to camp near Old Roach, in what I believe is part of Roosevelt National Forest. The drive up 103 (from 14/Poudre Canyon rd, to Hohnholz lakes) was wonderful. I loved it. It had a lot of open spaces and ranch land. I prefer that over dense trees you can’t see beyond.
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Holmholz Lakes, CO, in Roosevelt National Forest

 

Holmholz Lakes, CO, in Roosevelt National Forest

 

HOHNHOLZ LAKES

I wanted to jump in for a swim, but when I stopped at one (lake #2) it was cloudy and felt too cold, and the next (#3) had an extremely muddy and silty bottom and I just didn’t feel like swimming then. So I carried on into the National Forest  and found a camping spot.

Holmholz Lakes, CO, in Roosevelt National Forest

 

Holmholz Lakes, CO, in Roosevelt National Forest

 

Holmholz Lakes, CO, in Roosevelt National Forest

There was a mostly smoldering fire west of this part of Roosevelt NF. You can see the smoke in the picture above – straight ahead of the van at the horizon. The next day I drove through the smoke and saw some area that burned very recently.

The Last First Day Holmholz Lakes, CO, in Roosevelt National Forest

This place and this day felt like a dream come true. I guess that’s because it was!

 

 

Holmholz Lakes, CO, in Roosevelt National Forest

 

Heres a video showing parts of the drive:

 

 Campsite for the night

Holmholz Lakes, CO, in Roosevelt National Forest

When I laid down to go to sleep and turned the lights off, I noticed some lightening off in the distance. This group of clouds was lighting up at least once per second. It didn’t photograph well because the lightning was just within the clouds; you couldn’t see any bolts, and because there was a full moon.

Holmholz Lakes, CO, in Roosevelt National Forest

 

 SAND DUNES! In Colorado!

I never knew there were sand dunes in Colorado until my brother told me so. Actually, when I told him where I was going, he asked “oh, will you go to the dunes?”. I probably said “huh? What dunes? SAND dunes?”.

I camped just one night in Roosevelt NF and the next morning I drove west out of the NF land and south to the sand dunes. I was surprised by how sandy they actually are. The sand is fine, soft, and deep. I almost got the van stuck a couple times.

Driving to the Sand Dunes in Northern Colorado

 

San Dunes in Colorado

 

San Dunes in Colorado
Up next, Wyoming….