The German touring chicks: Craig to Steamboat Springs
Saturday July 27, 2013, 47 miles (76 km) – Total so far: 3,256 miles (5,240 km)
Thirteen years ago, Nigel and I camped outside of Steamboat Springs on Forest Service land. It was our first night out on a 6-month road trip around the U.S. and Canada. We’d purchased a 1987 Jeep Cherokee Laredo for $3600 which we sold 20,000 miles later at the end of the trip for the same price. I’m not a car person, but that was one terrific vehicle.
However, my memories from that trip may be faulty. I remember the road west from Steamboat as having many hills. As I head east today, I don’t really encounter many at all. In fact, the elevation gain is only 500 feet over 45 miles. Maybe those hills are west of Craig? Never mind, it’s an easy ride east along the Yampa River.
US 40 has a wide shoulder and a fair bit of traffic. Just after the coal mine and power plant, the road starts into a scenic canyon. The most scenic part of the route has no shoulder as the road hugs the edge of a cliff. Once I make it through this section, I look for a place to stop so I can admire the beauty without being on the road itself.
As I’m scanning ahead, I see bike tourists! They are stopped in a pull-out taking photos. The tourists are two women in their mid-20s. As I pull up to them, I’m surprised by their gear. They’ve got Kmart-type bikes, flimsy-looking rear racks, and everything bungee-corded on in trash bags. The one woman also has two cloth bags hung from the left handlebar. They are wearing street clothes of jeans and t-shirts. I guess it just goes to show that you don’t need fancy gear to get places.
The women are German. They live in California and work as interpreters, but they’re taking six months off and using part of that time to cycle from Denver back to California. They’re heading to Salt Lake City now on Hwy 40; they’re not sure of their route after that. They love the scenery so far. It’s a nice chat with them. I wish them well and then head off.
Yes, my memory from the last time I was in Steamboat must be faulty. It’s not at all like I remember it. I remember a laid-back little town that was part ski bum and part cowboy. The little cafes on the main street were pretty down home with a bit of hippie, and prices were reasonable. There weren’t too many people around.
Today, it could not be more different. The shops and cafes are all incredibly expensive. The feel is not laid-back. There are throngs of people and the feel is more classy/ritzy than cowboy. There are so many people tubing the river that it looks like bank-to-bank inflatables in places. It is absolutely nuts.
I head to the RV park, since there are no real close public land options and I’m wanting to hang around tomorrow to wait out the rain (forecast of 90% chance). The RV park is absolutely nuts, too. It’s an ex-KOA, it’s expensive and even the tent sites are almost all booked out. I do get a site for two nights, but there are so many people here it is incredibly noisy and the toilets in the tent area and the main area are just gross. I can only pick up wifi near the office. Blecch!
As predicted, it storms in the afternoon, and then rain sets in by late evening. This is good, though, because it sends everyone into their tents pretty early.
Gosh, Steamboat, I know I’ve changed a bit in the last 13 years, but you’ve changed A LOT!