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Mountains to Grasslands: Traversing through Colorado and Windy Days in Nebraska

We have been living in our skoolie for ten days now! We are currently at Oliver Reservoir between Bushnell and Kimbell, Nebraska. Oliver reservoir is in the southwest corner of the Nebraska panhandle, only 10 miles from the Wyoming/Nebraska border. This reservoir and campground has been an excellent place to work and explore the past few days. The campground is free to stay in. There is a beach, boat launch, and about 30 campsites between the two camping areas. The limit to stay here is 14 days. We are on our fourth day here.

We left Fruita on Friday and spent the day driving across Colorado, traversing high elevations on the I-70. Before getting too far out of Fruita, we stopped in Grand Junction at the Lunch Loop Trailhead. Bryon wanted to ride in the bike park there. April played on her Burley MyKick and I got a quick ride in on some single track. It was a great stop for all. Bryon and April rode, then we enjoyed some cheerios and coffee for breakfast. I took my ride before we headed into the mountains, with a goal getting through Denver to eastern Colorado, by the end of the day.

Our day of travel was long and challenging. Lucky 13, our bus performed extremely well despite having to climb slowly through the Rocky Mountains. We had to stop on a couple occasions as the engine light indicated we were getting hot. Bryon manuevered the bus slowly as I followed behind. Shortly, before we reached 10,000 feet of elevation, we we passed another skoolie. They appeared to be struggling, as did numerous other vehicles on the climb to the Eisenhower Tunnel. I felt relieved, and I can only imagine Bryon did too, as we travelled through the tunnel and began to descend. The 44-mile descent was nowhere near as steep as the roads we traversed going into Vernal from Flaming Gorge. As I followed behind Lucky 13 in my car, I was glad that the brakes did not smell or smoke as they had through Flaming Gorge.

We made it to Fort Morgan, CO around dinner time. We opted to stay at Emerald RV Park for the night. I use the website to find most of our camping and had not found anything that seemed promising near Fort Morgan. We had left Fruita at 6 am and by the time we pulled into Fort Morgan just before 6 pm, we were ready to be done for the day. After we checked into the RV park, got the bus situated, and put in a load of laundry the girls and I went to Safeway to get a few groceries for the week. Bryon stayed back at the bus to work on bags.

After we returned from the store, I bathed the girls and cooked egg sandwiches and potatoes for dinner. Once the kids were in bed, Bryon and I got ready for bed. After 6 days of travel it felt nice to wash my hair.

We decided to head 88 miles to Oliver Reservoir the next day. The RV Park was not really our scene. It smelled a little of septic and we prefer to be in more natural areas. One thing April really liked about Emerald RV Park was it was next to a farm and there were a lot of geese near the fence across from our site. We walked over to check out the geese closeup on Saturday before, hitting the road.

We got to Oliver Reservoir around lunch, after a stop at Walmart. We needed to pick up a small dog crate for the newest addition to our family. In the week prior to our departure, our Great Dane, Daisy who had been sick with cancer and failing in health for several months now, had to be put to sleep. She was no longer comfortable traveling and had been moving less and less from her bed each day. Bryon had rescued Daisy, 9 years ago. She was 12 years old, tolerant of the kids, and loved following Bryon around. Daisy was a great dog. She is greatly missed.

When we headed on the road, we discussed getting a smaller dog for our bus travels. It would be hard to have a large dog, on the bus. We found a chihuahua mix on and stopped at the shelter where he was, to meet him. He warmed to our family quickly. Our new addition’s name was Pee Wee. It did not seem to be fitting for him though and we quickly changed his name to Chico. Chico seems to like his new name and already comes when called.

Bryon finished another bag order and shipped it off to Wilson yesterday. We are now working on a couple custom orders and microstashes. We are thankful that the orders are continuing to come in. Yesterday we got a framebag order, and just this morning another stem stash order.

We have been going for walks several times a day. April has enjoyed looking at the trees and plants and dipping her hands in the water, near the boat launch. She loves striding along the gravel and through the overgrown double track on her Burley MyKick. Daphney has been

enjoying strolls in the Burley D’Lite as we walk around. She usually falls asleep. We take time to read together each day. April’s favorite book is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, currently. This morning she has been keeping busy with Legos, while Daph hangs out in her walker.

The birds in this area are fantastic. From our bus, we have observed several mating pairs of geese with their goslings. Great Blue Herons fly into the shallow waters near our campsite daily. There are also red-winged blackbirds, blue jays, and robins around. April and I have found nests in the trees, on our walks.

Sunday, the local conservation officer stopped by to chat and give April a sticker. He told Bryon that this park once was one where fees were enforced. This made sense as there are several large old streetlights that no longer are lit, installed throughout the property. The reservoir was down to a mud pit about 5 years ago. After a large and fast snowmelt, it was able to be replenished. The reservoir is also fed by a small creek. In recent years, it has grown to be a popular place to recreate again. Many of the water faucets are still wired shut. There are pit toilets, but they are aged. Some locals leave a trailer or two at some of the sites, to always have a spot when they come to swim, boat, and jet ski on the water. There are some power

company workers that appear to be staying here long term in a skoolie and RV, a couple sites down. This weekend there were numerous groups here, but during the week Oliver Reservoir is pretty quiet.

We took a bike ride to the beach on the other side of the campground, Sunday afternoon. April got right in and Daph enjoyed kicking her feet in the water. I got in with the girls and found the reservoir to be colder than I expected. April did not want to get out of the water. Even after her teeth were chattering from the cold. April loves to swim. We cannot wait to take the girls to the ocean, later this summer.

I have been attempting to work on some of my writing work and reading for enjoyment, between replying to emails and messages for FBJ Creations, helping Bryon with bag stuff, and hanging with the kids. I read a remarkably interesting article from a 1977 edition of the Washington Post, earlier this week. In the article, they feature families living in Skoolies in the Santa Cruz area. I found it fascinating, as we are now living in Lucky 13 fulltime with our kids. The article talked about the skoolie families traveling to the Russian River to sell their work. They made belts and had a sewing machine in their bus. They found that skoolie life was greatly beneficial to their children. Reading about their experiences makes me even more optimistic about our new lifestyle. Here is a link to the article if you are interested: On the Road Gypsies

One thing to note about our stay in Nebraska is that it has been windy here. There was a wind advisory when we first arrived. Yesterday it was windy all day long. It was so windy last night we moved the bus out from under the large dead cottonwood limbs, that were towering above Lucky 13. We had planned on leaving for South Dakota today, but changed our plans with the powerful winds that are supposed to gust until the afternoon. It is around 45 degrees out now and we have the wood burning stove going to heat the bus. We are spending the day working on bags and other work. This has been a great place to call home these last few days. We highly recommend camping at Oliver Reservoir, if you are ever traveling through Nebraska.

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