Arkansas Headwaters-Rincon Campground, Colorado

I love camping now that we have the trailer. It’s really easy because just about everything is already packed up and ready to go. I also like not having to put up a tent or be cooped up in the tent, or have to take down the tent in a huff when it rains.

Much better than a tent.

Much better than a tent.

Much better than sleeping on the ground.

Much better than sleeping on the ground.

I finally gave in to the sleeping bags instead of regular bedding- after the one time we used regular bedding and practically froze to death. These sleeping bags are super warm and cozy.

I finally gave in to the sleeping bags instead of regular bedding- after the one time we used regular bedding and practically froze to death. These sleeping bags are super warm and cozy.

I can cook all sorts of things on our fancy camper stove.

I can cook all sorts of things on our fancy camper stove.

But I still have a few other requirements.

I like to be by the water. Like right by the water.  I want a campsite right on the water, ok?

So looking around online I found Rincon Campground, on the Arkansas River. Sure, it was by a road, but it’s probably a small campground type road, right?

Rincon Campground is RIGHT ON THE ROAD- a big, busy road!

Rincon Campground is RIGHT ON THE ROAD- a big, busy road!

Wrong, Highway 50 is a big, busy road! And this campground is like 30 feet from the actual road. Not good.

When we got there, I needed to make a phone call and there was no cell service. I was also cranky about the road sitch, so I drove up to Salida, just a few miles away to a cafe I like, Cafe Dawn and had a cafe mocha and made my phone call. No whipped cream, but whatever. Also, all the locals, who looked like the belonged in The Highwaymen, kept giving me weird looks. Still, it’s a cute little place and the service is very friendly.

Cafe Mocha from Cafe Dawn, Salida, Colorado

Cafe Mocha from Cafe Dawn, Salida, Colorado

When I got back, Mike had gotten us all situated and was doing some fishing.

Camping at Rincon Campground, Colorado

Camping at Rincon Campground, Colorado

Mike fishing in The Arkansas River at Rincon Campground, Colorado

Mike fishing in The Arkansas River at Rincon Campground, Colorado

It's very pretty up there and would be awesome if not for the stupid road. Couldn't they have put the campground on the other side of the river at least?

It's very pretty up there and would be awesome if not for the stupid road. Couldn't they have put the campground on the other side of the river at least?

The other side of the river would make a fine spot for a campground.

The other side of the river would make a fine spot for a campground.

Anyhow, since I was majorly vexed by the road, I decided to start Happy Hour early.

Anyhow, since I was majorly vexed by the road, I decided to start Happy Hour early.

And since Mike wasn't catching anything, he decided to join me.

And since Mike wasn't catching anything, he decided to join me.

There's not much better than a campfire, a bottle of wine, and some snacks.

There's not much better than a campfire, a bottle of wine, and some snacks.

Nighty Night!

Nighty Night!

Have I mentioned that a trailer is way better than a tent?

Have I mentioned that a trailer is way better than a tent?

In the morning Mike decided to try his luck at fishing again.

In the morning Mike decided to try his luck at fishing again.

While I had some coffee by the river.

While I had some coffee by the river.

Morning on The Arkansas River at Rincon Campground, Colorado

Morning on The Arkansas River at Rincon Campground, Colorado

Later we went into Salida and had breakfast.

Ahhhhh, pancakes.

Ahhhhh, pancakes.

On our way home we saw this funny truck.

Many LOLs.

Many LOLs.

I will leave you with this video that reminds me of Rincon Campground.

 

 

St. Charles Campground, Lake Isabel, CO

We’ve been wanting to go camping one last time this year but things keep coming up and we haven’t been able to go. So last week, instead of going camping, we took a drive to investigate some of the campgrounds we haven’t been to yet and to see some fall foliage.
Lots of pretty leaves in the San Isabel Forest, Colorado.

Lots of pretty leaves in the San Isabel Forest, Colorado.

We wanted to check out St. Charles at Lake Isabel and Alvarado, near Westcliffe. We were unable to actually FIND Alvarado, tho!

St. Charles was really nice. We’ll definitely go there next year.

The entrance to St. Charles Campground near Lake Isabel, CO

The entrance to St. Charles Campground near Lake Isabel, CO

St. Charles campground, Lake Isabel, CO

St. Charles campground, Lake Isabel, CO

There was no one there when we went, which was the last week it was open this season.

There are 15 sites, most situated on a little stream, The St. Charles Creek.

Some of the campsites at St. Charles Campground, Colorado

Some of the campsites at St. Charles Campground, Colorado

The campsites are more secluded from each other than some other campgrounds, but you would still be able to see your neighbor. The sites also seemed pretty large compared to some of the other places we’ve been.

The creek was pretty low last week, not sure if it’s higher in the summer. But there were plenty of fish. It’s a pretty small stream, and tight in spots so fishing might be a challenge. There’s also a big lake, Lake Isabel, within walking distance.

The St. Charles Creek, Colorado

The St. Charles Creek, Colorado

The St. Charles Creek, Colorado

The St. Charles Creek, Colorado

Lake Isabel near St. Charles Creek and Campground, CO

Lake Isabel near St. Charles Creek and Campground, CO

Lake Isabel near St. Charles Creek and Campground, CO

Lake Isabel near St. Charles Creek and Campground, CO

More fall foliage near Lake Isabel, CO

More fall foliage near Lake Isabel, CO

Lake Isabel is near Bishop's Castle, which is a whole 'nother experience.

Lake Isabel is near Bishop's Castle, which is a whole 'nother experience.

Bishop's Castle near Lake Isabel, Colorado

Bishop's Castle near Lake Isabel, Colorado

Bishop's Castle near Lake Isabel, Colorado

Bishop's Castle near Lake Isabel, Colorado

You can read more about Bishop’s Castle here.

STOP! THIEF!

My greatest caper came when I was 15 and brilliantly stole a car stereo from Wal-Mart in Branson, Mo. Back then, the greeter put a green sticker on anything you brought in, so I purchased a cheap Roadmaster stereo, brought it back and clandestinely put the green sticker on a fancy Sony stereo (with auto-reverse cassette!) and walked out the front door. They stopped me in the parking lot, but I showed them the green sticker, and they let me go. Ocean’s 11, anyone? That’s right, people, I am that slick.

Since then, though, I have not done a lot of stealing. While I do have some trouble periodically with “laws,” and authority (and sometimes I drive too fast), shoplifting just isn’t my thing.

So it was with great surprise to be confronted at Sportsman’s Warehouse a while back right in the middle of the store by an employee accusing me of stealing 99-cent flies.

Here’s what happened: My friend Andrew and I were looking over the flies, and he was putting some in the plastic cups the store provides. We were discussing the merits of the black ant vs. the Woolly Bugger, dries vs. nymphs, the color chartreuse.

At some point, a Santa-Claus-looking worker steps up and says: Hey, guys, when you’re getting flies, go ahead and put them in these plastic cups and not in your pocket.

I looked over at Andrew’s cup, which had a half-dozen or so flies in it, then it occurred to me: My pocket? Wait, are you accusing me of putting flies in my pocket? Of stealing? Really?

Santa said that, yes, “someone” said they saw me put flies in my pocket, and he motioned to the observation deck surrounding the store. “Someone.” Is that someone a manager? Because it’s a crowded Saturday afternoon and this guy’s just publicly shamed me and accused me of stealing 99-cent flies. I’m going to need to talk to someone about this. I might have suggested he put his hands in my pockets to see what might be in there. I might have also told him that if I were to steal anything from this store, it would be big and expensive and I would get away with it. I might have caused a small scene.

Couple things here. You have a pretty irate customer on your hands asking to talk to a manager who’s upstairs, don’t just hand him the phone. If you’re a manager and you just called someone out wrongly, you take the time to march your ass downstairs and apologize in person.

Eventually, of course, the manager finds the time to come downstairs. He explained to me that they were using what’s called “enhanced customer service,” a loss-prevention strategy wherein a worker approaches a shoplifter and offers exaggerated service. This lets the shoplifter know he’s caught, and what will likely happen in most cases is the thief will go to another part of the store and dump the goods. Enhanced customer service would have looked something like this: Hey, guys, I see you’re considering the Blue-Wing Olive. Nice choice. You might also consider the Elk-Hair Caddis or the Parachute Adams. Can I tell you about our San Juan Worms?

Instead, Santa offered “hey, don’t put shit in your pockets” as his “enhanced customer service.” The manager explained that, yes, they really blew it on implementing that tactic. He explained, too, that they’ve been having a lot of trouble with people stealing flies and that they might be overly suspicious. So I got caught up in a botched-up loss-prevention maneuver because they can’t protect their inventory properly.

I wrote a letter to district manager Mike Murray out in Utah, because I had some suggestions.

A couple of ideas for what seem to be some serious problems in the Colorado Springs store:

  • If the “enhanced customer service” strategy is a proven theft deterrent, workers should be trained to use it properly. Simply accusing someone (wrongly) just creates tension.
  • If I’m a manager of a store, and this mistake had been made, I’d be on the floor before the customer even asked for me. I’d be there in person to apologize personally and in earnest. I would not have my employee hand the customer a phone. I would certainly not blame the fiasco on an overreaction because we’re unable to prevent theft.
  • If enough of your inventory is being lost to theft, it’s probably time to look at alternative display methods. Or perhaps it would be worthwhile to redistribute staffing from an area of the store that sells harder-to-steal items (boats?) to the fishing area.

A few weeks later, Mr. Murray wrote back: A tepid, one-sentence “thanks, I’ll look into it” email. “Enhanced” customer service? I’d settle for regular customer service at this point.

Everybody be cool this is a robbery, Sportsman's Warehouse, Colorado Springs

Everybody be cool, this is a robbery! I'm going to walk around with this bag, and I want you to put all your fly fishing gear in there: flies, snips, strike indicators, floatant. Don't be a hero.

Sportsman's Warehouse Colorado Springs

Sportsman's Warehouse's new fly-fishing display (proposed).

Sportsman's Warehouse, Colorado Springs

The elusive and highly prized Black Woolly Bugger.

 

Camping at Spruce Grove, Colorado

Camping season is almost over! We’re hoping to go one more time this year. We recently went to Spruce Grove, near Tarryall, CO.

It was a Thursday and we were the only ones there except for one other woman and her dog.

Since we were going with our friends Shawn and Chenelle, we wanted to bring something festive to drink. I  made Oprah's favorite sangria. It was only ok.

Since we were going with our friends Shawn and Chenelle, we wanted to bring something festive to drink. I made Oprah's favorite sangria. It was only ok.

When we got there the guys went fishing.

We got a site on the stream.

When we got there the guys went fishing.

When we got there the guys went fishing.

Chenelle, Bert, and I watched.

Chenelle, Bert, and I watched.

Bert!

Bert!

Wildflowers at Spruce Grove, Colorado.

Wildflowers at Spruce Grove, Colorado.

I think this was a tent site but since our trailer is so small and no one else was there, we used it anyway.

I think this was a tent site but since our trailer is so small and no one else was there, we used it anyway.

Afternoon espresso.

Afternoon espresso.

Snacks!

Snacks!

Good morning!

Good morning!

Elevenmile Reservoir

You probably don’t know my friend Andrew Long.

We worked together in Phoenix some years ago at a newspaper, and he’s since moved on from newspapers. His latest project is the Hunter’s Database.

I’m happy that we’re still friends. He comes through town sometimes, and we try to catch fish.

This time, Adrienne and my daughter came along and endured our heavy drinking and bad jokes. We stayed at Elevenmile Reservoir — Andrew slept in the Jeep because he makes a lot of scary noises in the night. Adrienne and I stayed in the trailer. (The teenager went back to COS to catch an early flight.)

At the last minute on a Friday, it was fairly sketchy to find a camping spot at Elevenmile, but we managed to find a great spot by the water. It’s an OK place, but we prefer creeks and rivers. Still, the campsites were well apart from the others, and it didn’t feel crowded even though it was a weekend night. Overall, a decent experience. A solid B.

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Andrew, the daughter, Tori, and me at Elevenmile.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Of course it rained when we were there. It rains every time we go camping. That's why we got a trailer to begin with. Rain. Every. Time.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Of course after the storm comes a rainbow. Whatever. Knock it off with the raining already. It's a pain in the ass.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Of the three of us, the 19-year-old girl caught fish. The rest of us came up empty. Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Wildflowers at Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Wildflowers. Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Despite the rain and the not catching of any fish (except for that teen girl), we had delicious food. Hot dogs, some kind of corn medley. My kid needs longer shorts.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Thinking about going out and not catching any fish.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Instead of catching fish, I think I'll just sit here a little in the sun and consider all of life's mysteries.

 

Elevenmile Reservoir campground, Colorado

Campfire. We had one.