Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 21- Mountain Goats! & A Midnight Propane Adventure

October 5th 2010 Day 21 Tuesday

This morning Aaron had a test but he had time to get bagels with us beforehand so we could chat a bit more and then say goodbye. After that we hit the road once again, not quite sure where we would be stopping for the night but we figured since we got an early start we could cover a good amount of ground and stop whenever we got tired or whenever the daylight started to run out.

We were driving along a narrow two land highway when we realized the car in front of us had stopped short. There was another car in front of it that had stopped because a herd of some kind of animal had decided to cross the road. At first I thought they were deer because they were so big but then I realized, well, those sure look a lot like goats but… Oh my gosh they’re mountain goats!! I had no idea mountain goats were so huge! They were almost as big as adult whitetail deer! We were stopped for about a minute as about 8 of them took their time crossing, not seeming too startled by the cars. I was able to get a picture of them out the window as we passed by.

Mountain Goats just outside of Fort Collins, CO

Mountain Goats!
We unexpectedly passed through Central City on our round-about, off the interstate path. Butte, MT, known for its prolific copper mines, was known as the "richest hill on earth" while the Central City, CO area, home to several gold veins, was known as the "richest square mile on earth." I think they were a little off there though because the deposits weren't enormous and at its peak the population numbered only a little above 3,000 people, whereas Butte at it's peak had over a million people living and working. 

Central City was one of the many cities created around gold veins during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush of 1858. This rush followed the California gold rush by ten years and brought over 100,000 prospectors to the area. Central City is one of the cities that has remained intact since its heyday. 

Central City- a small city in the middle of nowhere filled with huge buildings and ornate sculptures.
We decided to spend the night in Pike National Forest even though Colorado is kind of annoying in that they charge you an entrance fee to hike in their forests and they charge you $12 to park your car! In the woods! Almost everywhere else in the country national forest camp spots are super cheap, entry to them is free, and you definitely don’t need a parking permit for your car! People who live in Colorado or who hike there frequently can buy a pass to save money but that didn’t make sense for us. Even knowing how crazy Colorado could sometimes be we figured that since we needed a place to stay and we wanted to be in the woods we would check out a spot in Pike and see how much it would be to spend the night. We did not realize how long of a drive, on a dirt road (with a travel trailer, ouch), it would be to get to the camp site. When we finally got there we were so relieved but then we saw that it was totally ridiculously expensive and didn’t provide any kind of hookups (and definitely no Wi-Fi!). Luckily since we were in the middle of nowhere we found a place where we could pull off on the side of the dirt road, just outside the national forest boundary, and set up our trailer so we could spend the night. It sounds a lot sketchier than it was. The trailer was positioned perfectly, far enough off the road that if a car came by we wouldn’t be in the way but also right next to a trickling creek that Hanz immediately splashed around in. 

At this point we were starting to stress a little because this far north it was starting to get really cold at night. The last thing that we wanted was for our pipes to freeze and burst because that would cost somewhere around $2,000 to fix! We’d initially planned on going down the coast from Montana and then cutting up through the Southwest and Colorado on our way back. When taking winter weather into consideration it definitely made sense for us to take the coast back up north in November and December because even if it got cold it wouldn’t freeze.

After cooking dinner, using the built in fan to keep it aired and having the lights on, for some reason our battery was fried. We had so little left that Tyler repositioned his truck so he could hook it up to the trailer and use it as a generator. This didn’t work as well as it normally should have because, as we later discovered, the brake in the front of the trailer was being used for support since we were parked on a bit of an angle and that somehow drained the battery (understanding that kind of thing is Tyler’s department so for details ask him). We didn’t realize this at the time though so we just figured since we were tired we’d go to bed and figure it out in the morning.

Let me preface this story by letting you know that the propane detector in the trailer needs a least a small amount of battery life to remain on. As you know, we had very little and evidently, at some point in the night, we had none.

We woke up at some god-forsaken hour to an alarm going off. Bleary-eyed I looked around and saw that the noise was coming from our propane gas detector which was mounted about 6 inches off the ground on a pantry. I couldn’t tell if it was beeping because it had actually detected propane gas or if something was wrong, like maybe it was telling me it was turning off because the battery in the trailer was dead. Not wanting to think about it for too long in a possibly gas-filled trailer Tyler and I quickly grabbed Hanz and went outside. We were both very tired and it was uncomfortably cold out in the Colorado mountainside so we wanted to figure out what was going on and solve it as soon as humanly possible.

Tyler, in a moment of sheer half-asleep genius, decided we could tell if propane was filling the trailer by throwing a lit match onto the floor from outside. Somehow, when it’s freezing cold outside and it’s the middle of the night and you’re exhausted an idea like this sounds good because it means that if the trailer doesn’t blow up you can go back to sleep. We step about 5 feet from the trailer (great buffer zone, I know) and Tyler lights a match and chucks it inside. We both kind of cringed and then realized we weren’t dead so there probably wasn’t a propane leak but just in case Tyler tried one more time, lighting the match and throwing it on the floor. Once again, we were still standing there without any third degree burns so we figured it was a malfunction or at least nothing that posed imminent danger. And as for our problem solving technique, you all can hold on to your judgment because we figured that if there was a propane gas leak we would die from that in our sleep and the only way to tell for sure whether or not there was gas was with fire. However I will note we were very glad that there wasn’t any gas in the trailer, especially in recounting the event the next day while shaking our heads and looking a bit embarrassed.


  1. OMG you 2! I think I speak for the rest of your friends and family when I say ... NO throwing lit matches in potentally gaseous environments again PLEASE! Though I was cringing and laughing at the same time ... and it makes for a great story ... I can live without that type of excitement, don't ya' know, you betcha', fer sure!

  2. Good grief, what were you thinking?
    Definitely listen to Matt!
    Turn off the source, open windows and get out, but NO MATCHES!
    Glad it wasn't leaking but it always is a bit of a worry. (see my Facebook status for today)
    Hope the rest of your trip goes more smoothly!