Mineral Creek – San Juan National Forest – September 22, 2015
After 14 days camping at Ridgway State Park, it was time to move on. The fact that our original reservation there was for only 5 days will tell you how much we enjoyed the area, and the diversity of the things to do and see. Everything from Jeeping the Cimarron Range of the San Juan’s, Governor Basin up above Ouray, and Last Dollar road over to Telluride, to hiking the “killer” Bear Creek Trail, to fishing the waters in the area. Wow!
Because Highway 550 south of Ouray has heavy road work going on, we had to pass through the area before 8:30 in the morning. Since we were starting out about 20 miles away, we had to rise early and get on the road. Up until today, we thought that we were a bit early for the fall colors of the Aspens. Not! It was just spectacular between Ouray and Red Mountain Pass.
Initially, we thought we would spend a day or two in Silverton. But just prior to Silverton, coming from the north, is Mineral Creek and associated National Forest campgrounds. These are primitive non-fee sites, on a first-come-first-serve basis.
We used the jeep to scout out the area and settled on the Kendall designated camping area. As soon as we pulled in to this little boondocking “community”, someone else pulled out, leaving us a beautiful spot right on the river. Technically, it may be a creek, but it is flowing like a river. Very beautiful, and quite soothing to the ears… and it’s free. The solar is cranked up, and the inverter was just used to power up the microwave. 🙂
It wasn’t but a few moments and we had been introduced to our new neighbors who, not much later would become friends. They are Larry and Robin from Sheridan, Texas, located between San Antonio and Houston. Like us, they have been coming to southwest Colorado for over 30 years. Larry is a welder by profession, having worked on oil pipelines. Robin was a nurse before retiring. These days, Larry fancies himself as a “metal artist”. Using his welding and cutting equipment, he designs and creates metal western oriented hangings. He had some of his artwork with him (sorry, forgot to take photos). And he is pretty good. He even colorizes his art by using a torch, achieving different colors based on the distance and time that he “torches” a particular area of a piece of artwork.
Larry is quite the character and pure Texan. And quite resourceful. He and Robin had a nice camp on the river and while we were back in our own rig, Larry disappeared in his jeep. About an hour later, back he came with a rack load of freshly chain sawed Aspen logs which he later intended to split into firewood using an ax.
We wanted to stay longer at Mineral Creek, but we appeared to be on the verge of running out of propane. Although we hoped to fill up in Silverton, the supplier did not respond to our phone messages. Since he is the only game in town, we presumed he was out and about filling tanks throughout the area. Unfortunately, this caused us to make plans to leave and drive south to Durango. We said our goodbyes to Larry and Robin.
Since we had to pass through Silverton anyway, we thought we might drive by the propane dealers yard. No sooner had we arrived in town, when we saw the familiar propane truck at the other end, turning a corner. We chased him down while he was topping off the tank of a residential customer. We told him of our predicament and said we would bring our motorhome to him. About 15 minutes later, we had a full tank and were on our way, having paid $2.00 per gallon, the cheapest we have ever paid for propane. And he wouldn’t even accept a tip. His name is Dale in case anyone in the Silverton area ever needs propane.
Before leaving Silverton, we gave thought to returning to the Kendall campground at Mineral Creek. Our “goodbyes” to Larry and Robin had been abbreviated and we were uncomfortable having left in such a rush. Then we remembered that they too, were heading down to Durango to do some shopping and, as a result, they wouldn’t be back at Mineral Creek anyway. So, ultimately, we decided to proceed to Durango. Little did we know then, that we would be returning within a couple of days.
Stay tuned for “Return to Mineral Creek”…