November 4, 2021
The problems happening in the shipping industry decided to dump some more bad news on us as the last part we needed was not getting shipped to the dealership. No biggie, we just went to get it and had to strap a 7 foot piece of aluminum to the bed of the truck. We tipped our friendly service workers and went on our merry way.
On October 30th we arrived at the UFO Watchtower in Hooper, Colorado. What a place! This watchtower/campground is owned by Judy Messoline who started as a rancher and noticed that many people were coming to this area in search of UFO sightings. It was a UFO hotbed! This fantastic place is at an elevation of 7,600 and is a dark sky spot. It offers a wonderful 360 degree view of the San Luis Valley. Oh my goodness, the stars here were amazing! If you visit, be sure to ask about the story of Snippy-the mysterious horse skeleton on display here.
This area offered lots to see and most of the time we spent dry camping here, we were the only ones aside from Judy and the camp hosts. We went to visit the Sand Dunes National Park which was other worldly and cool. The juxtaposition of 700+ foot sandy dunes against majestic mountains was an incredible view. People went sliding on the dunes with sleds, but it was cold so I passed on this activity for this visit.
We also went to the nearby Colorado Gators reptile park and rescue. This place was also very interesting. It’s 30 degrees at night and they have gators here….weird. Turns out, not so weird as this whole area has geothermal hot springs running under the surface. This place started as a Tilapia farm and then realized they could use some gators to help them clean up fish parts. Once word got out, they were asked to take gators and other reptiles (mostly illegal pets that had been confiscated or relinquished). They had lots of animals. One of the favorites was the albino gator, Mr. Bo Mangles. I held a baby gator and received a certificate of bravery.
We quickly realized that the campground hosts here were delightful people and we made friends with them. My new friend Annie invited me to the nearby hot Springs. This was a bucket list item for me so I was very excited. The hot springs felt great. It was a place with indoor and outdoor pools. We stuck to the indoor pools mostly because it was cold out and I’m a wuss in the cold. Also, the indoor area was 21+ and served local beers and wines. I wrote in my journal that day that some of the nicest people I have met in one place were at the hot springs. Many of them were campers or lived off the grid as well.
This next part is a little tough for me to talk about and also the thing that helped me get over my fear of driving the truck. You see, I got sick. I got the poops late at night. Sleeping was tough, but I knew if I could just get through the night, I would likely feel better in the morning. Then it happened…I must have started in my sleep because I woke to the unthinkable in my bed. A bit of a wet spot. It was small and just on my side so rather than wake Luke, I cleaned myself up and spent the rest of the night on our vinyl, completely cleanable couch. The next day when I knew it was safe for my to venture out, I went to the laundry mat on my own and drove that truck. I also met some really nice people at the laundry mat. They were also campers and just like almost everyone out here, they grow their own weed.
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents her journey through her photography and blog to share with others.