So... I set out from Cortez. The street scene -- camping in the city -- was getting a
little old anyway... and the harassment by the guy with the brown van just emphasized
this. Since I was not returning to the park, I had found a couple of good parking spots
with shade where I could spend the day...
but... it was beginning to get like a cat and mouse game... wondering if the police would
hassle you... wondering if you were hassling anyone yourself.
At least with a shady park... it's not stealth... it's just being outside during the day. Retired
people do this in New York City all the time... and in Miami... where they spend the day
at the park... play chess... feed the birds... ya know...?? So... why should I feel like I should
be somewhere in a cage...?? instead of out in the fresh air...?? I really have to break this
mindset... of being fearful of doing something "different" than the robotic lifestyle most
people live... and break it in other people, too...! Why can't we come out of our houses
once in a while... without other people being suspicious of what are we up to...
Anyway... I headed north to the "Beautiful Town of Dolores" to see what the National
Forests near there had to offer. The McPhee Reservoir is near Dolores... and the campground
guidebook said there were showers at the McPhee Campground. How nice it would be
to get a nice long hot shower..!!!
McPhee was further from town than I liked... about 10 miles. I need to replenish water and
dump trash every couple of days, and I'm liking getting to the library to use the electricity
and work during the day... charge my electronics... so... I don't want to be farther from a
town than a couple of miles, if I can help it. Besides being so far from town... the campground
was a disappointment.
The McPhee Reservoir and campgrounds may have been a touristy spot at one time... but
the roads had not been maintained probably since the 50's when they were first laid down.
There is an overlook with markers showing what you are looking at from all angles... and
you can see the reservoir looking very small and dry... not looking at all like the second
largest lake in Colorado.
Driving through the McPhee Campground, I found the campground host (who I think
I awakened from a nap). Commenting on the lake, he said, "It's down to about half its
normal capacity. The winter snows have been very low."
I asked him about showers. "They haven't had showers here for years. I don't know why
all the brochures still say that. It's even on the internet listing."
So I drove around the campsites... considering camping there if I could find shade. There
wasn't any. And there were only a few campers. It was high desert... rocky... sparce ground
cover... scrub oak bushes... and looked a whole lot like rattlesnake habitat to me... although
snakes are not common at this altitude. I left and drove down to Dolores hoping that I
could find camping more near town.
Dolores sits jutted up against cliffs to the north of town... and a large hill to the south across
the Dolores River. I found out that there are no city police in Dolores from my first visit with
Craig at the Visitor's Booth. Of the towns in this area... Cortez is the only one with a city
police force. The other towns are like "county" and are patrolled by a Sheriff... for all three
towns. I think Craig mentioned in passing that... people pretty much took care of things.
Dolores Tourism Office
By my Official National Forest Service maps... there are supposedly several access points
to the forests in Dolores... but these... go through the cliffs north of town. The roads look
steep and desolate... and a lot of trouble to get up there... just to get into rattlesnake country.
I decided not to even bother looking that close to town... maybe going somewhere up the
river a ways... if I could find a road to the river.
I pulled off for lunch at the town park... where there was shade and you can walk down
to the river. I hadn't even begun eating when I heard two men arguing at the top of their
lungs... walking down the street. They reached the drive to the park and began walking
towards where I was parked... towards the river.
I shut my side door, locked the car, and waited to see what was going on. They walked
right past my van... towards the river... arguing so heatedly that I thought for certain that
it would get physical. Now... who was I going to call if it got violent...??? What if one of
these guys pulled out a gun... while I sat watching from my car... !!! Geez... !! They went
behind a ledge where I couldn't see them any longer.
I ate quickly and just left. I went to the Dolores Library... another very nice library... to charge
my electronics. The librarian did not look busy and so I asked if she knew of any good
camping near town. She said I'd have to drive further north if I wanted to camp by the
river... maybe even north of Rico.
I hadn't wanted to do any more mountain driving, but several people had said that it was
not too bad of a drive. I went north on Hwy 145... really hoping that I'd find a decent place
to camp without driving too far into the hills. There were no side roads. It was all private