The Morels of Campgrounds

Against my better judgment I’m fixing to tell you a camping story. With details I’d prefer not to share. Go ahead and read, but I may need you to sign a waiver first promising you won’t share info. Reality check, Simply B, that can’t happen. They’re going to read it anyway. Well, okay, here goes.

Every single year the hubby and I take at least one camping trip to Colorado. Every year we are joined by at least one of our daughters and her family, often there are three families involved. This year our trip included seven (7!!) families from my branch of the family tree. For a full week in the mountains.

** Spoiler alert** we all love each other. No dysfunctional family drama involved. That’s not the forbidden info.

DeWayne and I decided to leave home one night earlier than planned. We were just too excited to hit the road. After staying at a really great new RV park in Hays, Kansas (Creekside RV park) we got up the next morning to move on to Goodland and meet up with my nephew and his wife at the KOA there. Except, very early before rolling out of bed my phone rang. “This is so and so from the Goodland KOA. We regret to inform you that we’ve had to cancel your reservation tonight because of a scheduling error.” On a Friday night. In the middle of peak vacation/camping season. Oh Happy Day.

I wasn’t totally unprepared for this info because the gal I spoke with on the phone to make the reservation several days prior stated it was her first day on the job. I just had a feeling…… yup. I was right. So I asked Mr KOA “Do you have any suggestions for an alternate place to stay?” He was truly sorry and wanted to help us out. In the back of my mind I was thinking “Hubby and I can pay to stay in a hotel, AC, comfy bed, free breakfast”. But he said “My best advice is to travel on down the road to Stratton, Colorado. There’s a gas station there with camper hookups behind it.” He was just pretty dog-gone insistent that this would be our best/only option. And seriously, who could resist parking their 5th wheel behind a gas station in a teeny tiny town on the eastern plains of Colorado? Yes, yes, I could have resisted. DeWayne was also leery, but he called the Conoco station for info. You couldn’t reserve. You just showed up and hoped for the best.

What did we do? We showed up. We didn’t even try to get a hotel room, and that was not a source of unpleasant conversation between us, remarkably. Adventure. We’re all about the adventure. As it turned out, the gas station parking lot set up was amazingly okay. There was shade. There were full hook-ups, the cost was only $26.00 per night. Of the twenty or so sites, about half filled up before the evening was over. Three or four of the sites were permanent dwellers. There was a lovely breeze, the sites overlooked a green field with a historic hotel and winery in clear view. We had a picnic table and a little area to sit out and enjoy the pleasant evening. We met several fascinating folks and shared life stories. I gotta be honest, part of me wanted to just stay there, meet people, and hear their stories. Then write a book.

Gas Station sites in Eastern Colorado. Is this the forbidden info? Keep this great spot a secret? Uh, no. Keep reading.

But about 11pm that night while waiting for our youngest daughter to call and tell us they’d arrived at the Wakeeney KOA (another great overnight spot), the phone did indeed ring. Daughter said “We don’t have a camper anymore.” She gave us the grim story of the accident they had just been involved in. Two deer struck their camping trailer, causing it to partially disconnect from the hitch. Their pickup ended up in the ditch but remained upright. The Jayco was demolished. The floor disconnected, kitchen was completely thrown out on the ground. Totaled completely. No fire, no rollover, no real injuries to their Chevy pick-up or the precious cargo inside. The three year old grandboy even slept through the entire accident.

Do I need to tell you that was a short night full of deep concern for this Mama/Gma? We were 2 plus hours away and couldn’t help them. The Highway Patrol came, the tow truck hauled away the remains of their camper and they found the last hotel room in Hays to sleep. Just for a few hours. By that time the night was turning to morning quickly.

Our resilient daughter and her resilient determined hubby drove back to Wichita after collecting what possessions they could find from their trashed trailer. They did laundry, they packed up again, slept in their own beds that night and then headed out early the very next morning with tents to sleep in. Drove the entire way to Divide Colorado where our group would be camping.

Now this is the part of the story I’d prefer not to share. The exact location of our camping trip. It’s where we go every year. Exactly 6 months to the second before our intended first night of camping, which happens to be 1:01am CST, DeWayne and I sit in front of our computer screen to select a spot online and then click the “Complete Reservation” icon and seal the reservation. This year we scored the group camping area with 7 sites away from the rest of the park, our own little paradise overlooking the Pike’s Peak area. Well spaced sites, plenty of open area to gather in and play cornhole, etc., and plenty of tables for group meals and game playing. Mind you, if these sites were in Kansas we’d probably have no interest at all in this park. The only utility at each site is 30 amp electric. There are only two water spigots in the group camp for filling the individual fresh tanks in the campers. There is only one dump station and it’s way way down the hill and around the bend. The shower house and laundry was very nearby, though. But for those of us who seek out Full Hook Ups exclusively it is an adjustment.

But then, this:

View from group camp first evening
Hiking trail by our campsites
Beautiful pond with rock and tree reflections on a hiking trail in campground
Pike’s Peak.
The hiking. Oh, the hiking.
And, then, the family time around a fire on a chilly evening

We took the Cog Railway to the top of Pike’s Peak, we drove to Eleven Mile Canyon, my favorite place on earth. Some of our group did ATV trail riding almost every day. Fish were caught, food was prepared with one chef in particular the group favorite. Home made ice cream more than once. Games and more games, laughs and more laughs. Love and more love. It was wonderful. We gathered from far away places like California, Nevada, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Kansas. And it was just over-the-top great fun.

Trout caught for the evening meal. I think 7 of our group fished, one for the first time ever! And everyone caught at least one fish
Eleven Mile Canyon, near Lake George, Colorado
More trout fishing
Four wheeling out in the remote regions near Divide. The Dad snapped the pic. The 3 of them had a blast.
Sunset hike was rewarded with gorgeous beauty

Okay, the moment you’ve been waiting for. I want to tell you, I really do. But it’s so hard to get reservations, do you really need that headache? I want to protect your health. 🙂 Maybe you can figure it out with a few clues. You can see Pike’s Peak from the campground. Duh, I already told you that. It’s near Divide. Not far from Eleven Mile Canyon. One could surmise it’s west of Colorado Springs. There’s gambling nearby.

My husband comes from a family who hunts morels every spring in Kansas. Do you eat morels? Do you know what they are? Well, they’re gold. In fact 5 years ago at the Pike Market in Seattle they were selling fresh morels for $40/lb. Back to my husband and his morel loving family. You couldn’t have bribed the location info of their morel patch out of them with all the money in the world. It was a secret, I tell you. They wouldn’t even let me hunt morels with them until I’d been in the family for thirty years. Even then, they took me blindfolded! (that’s an exaggeration but the visual is fun, huh?)

Therefore, in order to comply with the edict my husband passed down when he read this post, you’re just gonna have to Google it. You can do it, I know you can. And when you do, reservations can be made on reserveamerica.com. Correction, reservations can be attempted on that website. Good luck.

11 thoughts on “The Morels of Campgrounds

  1. This sounds like a wonderful, wonderful family time. It reminds me of our family tradition of visiting Michigan every year. My mother would always tell us not to tell people where we went. Keep it a secret; it’ll get too busy, she’d say. Our family stays in the only motel in town. Reservations are made for the next year before leaving. We’ve been going since 1972. Dan and I now camp at the nearby state park – where reservations are made by clicking the second available – if you’re lucky. Like where you stay in Colorado. However, we have a secret which helps us immensely to get our spot. But I can’t share it. I want to protect your health and the health of others! LOL Your secret spot looks wonderful, but even better, are the times shared with family. Thanks for a fun post, and enjoy your day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s too funny that y’all keep secrets about the best places, too. What a blessing, though, to have precious time with our families. Blessings to you on this Tuesday.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Valerie! it was a wonderful time. Hope the wheat harvest has been good for you and yours. I thought about you when driving back through the farmlands of Kansas.

      Like

  2. I see you already know about Betty, of Chambers on the Road. She is my favorite RV travel blogger. I like your style too!

    Back in Illinois, it’s the mushroom hunting sites, every spring, that are a big secret.

    I enjoyed your story! Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

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