When we left Grand Lake to drive to Fort Collins we had to cross through the RMNP again. But since we didn’t have the Jeep set up to tow, we technically had 2 vehicles… and only 1 annual pass. I tried to talk the ranger into letting Raj in behind me but his supervisor shot us down and we had to pay an extra $20 just to cross through. I was pissed; we had already paid for an annual pass instead of a week because of only 1 extra day and this time we were just passing through. I was seriously glad that I had the drive to cool off because the whole experience rubbed me the wrong way. In retrospect, we could have just driven the long way around and skipped going through, but at the time, I was too frustrated to think that way.
After an uneventful and less windy drive than our original crossing, we drove through Roosevelt National Forest, Big Thompson River and Poudre Canyon , which apparently flooded a few years ago. It was gorgeous! Nearly the entire way, we had a river on one side and a brilliant canyon on the other; it looked as if gold or silver could be mined straight from the canyon – the colors were phenomenal.
When we arrived in Fort Collins, our lovely friends, Megan, Dustin, Ella, and Reed, greeted us in their neighborhood and guided us to a safe place to park Gypsy during our visit. They thoughtfully asked if we’d like to stay at their house or go out and explore, and we instantly chose some down time at their home. It was wonderful to watch the kids play, the dogs run, and to catch up with old friends in a relaxed family home! Nina and London had instant friends with sweet Ella and Reed; they jumped on the trampoline, through the sprinkler, made water balloons, and drove around on a kid-size Jeep! We ordered lunch for take away and Megan drove me through a mini tour of Fort Collins. Later, I went on a solo Costco run to stock up again and to bring back pizza, salad and chicken for a quick dinner before we had to say goodbye to our friends all too soon.
We left around sunset to drive the final hour to Cheyenne. It was a nice, easy drive, and in truth, I enjoyed the alone time in the Jeep as I followed Raj through wide-open spaces. Before checking in to the KOA, we dropped the Jeep at the night drop of the Jolley Rogers RV Service so that they could get started first thing the next day with installing the tow bar and brake system.
We were prepared to be stuck in Cheyenne without the Jeep and had a game plan that included renting a car for the 1-2 days we expected to be Jeep-less, but things didn’t go our way at all. For starters, Enterprise was out of cars (again? Really?? In Cheyenne, WY???), and Hertz had cars but very expensive and far away. Then, Chai kept us up all night long with diarrhea. She was so sick that first thing in the morning I called our Atlanta vet, and he recommended we seek treatment for her, especially since we had a short window of a couple days before traveling to a more remote location. Thankfully, I found a local vet with good reviews and who were able to squeeze us in right away, so we loaded up and unplugged the motorhome to rush there.
Raj waited with the kids parked on the side of the street as I took our sick girl inside. The doctor was incredibly kind, and not too worried about Chai’s condition except for the fact that we only planned to be Cheyenne for 2 days, so he admittedly loaded her up with a cocktail of meds that was likely overkill, but would certainly stop the ick.
After the vet, we drove the RV through downtown Cheyenne to get a feel for it, but didn’t bother parking. We decided to head back to the KOA fora lunch of burgers/lettuce wraps with salad, hummus and veggies, and then we hit up the KOA pool and playground and gave everyone a chance for a quiet afternoon of R&R. Overall, it was a nice day; we even got the kids in bed early, and then ate chicken vindaloo and drank wine to celebrate!
The following day Megan, Ella and Reed decided to meet up with us at the Terry Bison Ranch – YAY! Unfortunately they missed the train ride we went on, but Nina and London enjoyed the train and had a chance to feed a small herd Buffalo/Bison (of the ranch’s 3 thousand). The ranch also had an adorable 1-day-old donkey, ostriches, horses, llamas, and camels. Though slightly touristy, our kids enjoyed it and it was a good place to waste a morning waiting on the Jeep because they had convenient RV parking.
After lunch with our friends, we expected to get on the road, so we said goodbye again and headed to dealership/service place only to find they were struggling and needed more time. They were kind enough to lend us a minivan, so we went for coffee and frozen yogurt to occupy the kids, but we were stressed because we needed to put a couple hours between us and Cheyenne to prevent a really long drive the following day. But that was not to be – the service place just could not sort out the problem with the brake buddy system in time and said they needed the following morning. At this point we were losing faith in them, but what else could we do but wait? They hooked us up in the rv park/trailer park on site: there were bunnies everywhere and really strong storms moved through that evening. There was absolutely nothing to do there.
We took gypsy in by 8:30am so they could finish up, but I had a bad feeling. After a few more hours of us driving around in their spare minivan, finding a Walmart and then a park for the dogs to run and play, it turned out the manufacturer thought they had a defective product and wanted to overnight a new one. No way! We decided we couldn’t be stuck any longer and opted to wait on the new product until we got to Bozeman – it was only 2 drives before then and the Brake Buddy system is not a requirement, just a recommendation. Furthermore, staying in Cheyenne would mean we’d miss out on our Longhorn Ranch reservation and be stuck in a do-nothing town for at least 2 more nights. NO THANKS! So even though it was already afternoon, and we about 6 hours in RV travel time (especially with a new toad and no braking system, and descending about 4k feet) we hit the road.
In my opinion, the drive was beautiful, but I seem to be in the minority about such see-nothing types of drives. I simply adore the vastness of the open range. Since I was about 7 years old and in love with horses, I would imagine galloping along the fields during car rides – almost 30 years later and I haven’t kicked that habit. We crossed badlands/canyons that looked to right out of a western movie at times, and at least one formation made me think Close Encounters of the Third Kind was filmed, or at least inspired there. The kids slept for half of the ride and watched a Dora DVD the other half, so they were easy, and we also successfully dodged several strong storms. The only issue we had was a mosquito incident when we stopped to let the dogs out; we were swarmed by more than 30 blood-suckers within 90 seconds – I’ve never seen anything like it. We spent at least 20 minutes on a mosquito massacre before we could get back on the road (and the dogs never did get the chance to “go”). What a disaster!
KOA Cheyenne: This was our first KOA experience as we have chosen state parks and independent facilities until now. This place was incredibly clean and had nice amenities including a pool, mini-golf, playground, tiny off-leash dog area, and convenience store. The staff was friendly and accommodating. However, the location left a lot to be desired as it was very industrial with a highway on one side and a train track on the other; also there is nothing within walking or casual biking distance. As many reviewers have said, it’s a nice place for a stopover, but not a place to visit.