Boon-docking in Colorado’s San Juan National Forest
From Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas we set out for Silverton, Colorado. An east to west drive through the pan of Oklahoma led us to a quick overnight stop at Hampton Inn in Pampa, Texas. Our last stop for gas before arriving Pampa crossed our paths with a 1% Hell’s Angel member recently out of prison and more recently out on bail, but aside from describing murder and some choice language in front of the kids seemed like a nice guy. After a shower, sleep and breakfast in Pampa we added 5 pounds of air to one of Shana’s slowly depleting tire, then set out for Colorado. Small New Mexico towns are slow, especially on Sunday, so realizing the tire was depleting more quickly was a concern. It was at a rest area overlooking Sierra Grande that we overlooked an almost entirely flat tire, so on the road a passerby pointed out attention to it. The next stop had no air and no help, so we filled the tire with as much air from a portable Ryobi air compressor as possible without running the battery dead. Then, small town by small town we filled old gas station air compressors with quarters to refill the tire as we risked our way to the closest Wal-Mart, which was the only tire center open on a Sunday. Campers don’t fit in the bays at Wal-Mart so we had to remove the bad tire, roll it into the store to be replaced. After a picnic in store and replacing the tire we were on our way. It was only to Spanish Peaks before another passerby motioned to our entirely flat, new tire. The Ryobi air compressor ran out of juice. Roadside assistance said they could tow us somewhere, so we risked it to the next town 20 miles from the previous. There we filled the tire, could hear the air escape, but could not find the problem nor an open tire center. Fortunately, the gas station attendant had the number for an area mobile mechanic, who came to the rescue. Only after removing the tire did he find a hole in the original metal wheel from 1958. After two trips to his mother-in-law’s house he found 1 of 5 extra wheels that fit, placed our new Wal-Mart tire on his old wheel and we were off again. This multi-hour setback put us arriving to Silverton at 10:30pm, which meant we’d drive one of the most dangerous roads in the world at dark…pulling a 64 year-old camper…with fresh issues. We opted to stop between Pagosa Springs and Durango for our first time boon-docking (dispersed camping) in the San Juan National Forest at Turkey Springs, which was off a dirt road halfway between Pagosa Springs and Durango. We arrived at dark, but the strawberry moon that was almost upon us on a clear night at 8,000 feet lit up our spot for the night.