James M. Robb Colorado River State Park, Colorado – October 25th to 27th, 2020

VOX#2 in Moab over the weekend was supposed to be our Season Two finale. However, the weather forecast predicted a snow storm coming through starting Sunday. We had no desire to try to drive through the mountains in a snow storm in order to get home on Sunday. Earlier in the week when we learned of the storm coming, we booked two nights at James M. Robb Colorado River State Park in Fruita to wait out the storm and avoid the mountains in the snow.

Fruita is only a couple of hours away from Moab. Since we had plenty of time to get there on Sunday, we took the scenic route, Utah highway 128 that follows the Colorado River from just north of Moab up to I-70. The cottonwoods were wearing their beautiful fall yellow colors. The canyon walls were lit by the sun, dramatically offset from the dark skies behind them. It was a lovely drive.

As we reached I-70, the rain started, first lightly, then it got heavier. After stopping at the grocery store in Fruita for a few supplies, we checked in to our camp site. We had received an email a day or two before warning us that they were turning off the water at our camp site. However, there is still potable water available from the spigot at the dump station. We were concerned that the camper services building might also be shut down, but to our relief, they are kept open over the winter. They are heated with flush toilets, hot showers, and laundry facilities. Perfect!

For lunch, we heated up the leftover BBQ chicken and pulled pork that VanDOit had provided at VOX#2. Along with the leftover canary melon we had bought in Green River, it made a wonderful meal. Despite the cold rain outside, we got ready to head over to Enstrom Candies near the Fruita Visitor Center for ice cream. Just as we were about to leave the campground, we remembered it was Sunday and the store is closed on Sunday. From our previous visit to Fruita (Colorado National Monument – June 18th – 21st, 2020), we knew there was another location in Grand Junction, about twenty minutes away, which was open on Sundays. Do we drive over there just for ice cream on a cold, rainy day? You betcha! Right Buddy (RB) had a waffle cone with one scoop of dark chocolate and one scoop of apple pie ice cream. The dark chocolate tasted even better than she remembered. The apple pie ice cream, which she never had before, tasted just like apple pie a la mode with chunks of pie crust mixed in. Delicious! 

Back at our camp site, we spent the afternoon inside the van working as the heavy rain gradually turned to snow. Our Espar heater kept us nice and toasty. The only time we felt cold was when we needed to venture outside to walk over to the restroom. For dinner we made chili. It was a perfect meal for a wintery evening.

We woke up the next morning to a beautiful landscape. A white blanket of snow covered everything with the yellow leaves of the cottonwood trees peeping through for contrast. The park is conveniently located right off of I-70, but the traffic noise is not noticeable at the campground. You can see the back side of the Dinosaur Journey Museum from the campground, but most of the views are of cottonwood trees with the rocky cliffs of Colorado National Monument as a backdrop. We were surprised how it has a nice and peaceful feel in a natural setting given how close it is to the interstate and town of Fruita. 

After breakfast, we bundled up and went for a walk around the park. James M. Robb is on the Colorado River, but it also has two small lakes on which carry-on boats (either non-motorized or boats with electric motors) are allowed. It was a little too cold to pull out our kayak, but maybe next time. The pavement was still covered with snow and ice, so we walked slowly and carefully as to not fall. Our walk took us around the Bookcliff Lake and along a paved path that followed the Colorado River. We’re not sure how far the path along the river goes. It would make a great bike ride in warmer weather. A little Googling revealed that there are several trails as part of the Colorado Riverfront Trail, but unfortunately, not all of them are connected together. As we were walking along the Colorado River, we caught a glimpse of a bald eagle flying overhead.

For lunch, we reheated the leftover chili from the night before along with cutting up the Israeli melon, the other melon we bought in Green River. Normally we don’t cook for lunch, but the hot chili hit the spot after our cold walk. The melon was pretty tasty as well. After hanging out in our Red Tail Lodge most of the afternoon, we took another walk around the park. The sun was out most of the afternoon, so the pavement was dry during our second walk, although we still had to watch out for the occasional patch of ice. There were a lot more birds out this time. Ducks, geese, and coots were hanging out in the lakes. Small birds were berry picking in the bushes. 

We discovered that the laundry room was locked. We’re not sure if that was because they close it during the winter months or it’s closed due to COVID. We’ll be home the following day so we didn’t need to do laundry. 

We were getting low on food supplies since we were on the road two more days than we had planned meals for, so dinner was combining what we had left into a soup. Our last stick of butter, potatoes, carrots, celery, chicken broth, and a can of chicken along with salt and pepper made a wonderful chicken soup. RB added some goat cheese to hers. For dessert, RB cut up our last two apples and sautéed them in oil with brown sugar and cinnamon in our InstantPot. Butter would have been better than oil, but we didn’t have any more butter. The cooked apples still tasted pretty good. Next time RB thought she would try cooking them using the pressure cook instead of sauté. She is so used to using the sauté that she forgets to use the pressure unless it’s a pressure cooking recipe.

After watching a couple of YouTube videos, we hit the sack. We’re impressed with how toasty the Espar heater keeps us inside the van. There are no noticeable drafts. Thank you VanDOit for the wonderful insulation work you did for us. Sleeping in a t-shirt, pajama bottoms and socks under just a sheet and normal comforter was very comfortable. Since our bed sits up high, usually the socks need to come off during the night while our heater is set to 57 degrees because we border on being too warm. We wish we could set the thermostat a little lower, but 57 degrees is the lowest setting on our model.

Now that the storm was over and the sun was shining on Tuesday, it was time to drive home. We were not in any hurry, so we stayed at our camp site until almost noon. After eating our lunch, we packed up and headed over to the Colorado Welcome Center. Yup, you guessed it! It was time for ice cream again. Enstrom Candies is a short walk from the Welcome Center. We ate our ice cream back in the van. RB had dark chocolate and blueberry muffin ice cream while Left Buddy (LB) had his typical vanilla shake. The blueberry muffin ice cream tasted exactly like it sounded, but RB thinks she liked the apple pie ice cream she had on Sunday better. Of course, nothing beats the dark chocolate ice cream. After taking advantage of the restrooms at the Welcome Center, we hit the road and started our drive home.

I-70 through the mountains was pretty clear. It was mostly dry pavement, but there were still many icy and snowy patches that we had to slow down for. The first patch of ice in the shadows heading out of Palisade caught a couple of people pulling trailers off guard. Someone pulling a U-Haul trailer was off on the shoulder, headed the wrong direction, with a big dent in the side of their car. They were outside inspecting the damage. We saw a lot of vehicles off the road and in the ditch along the interstate that day, but most of them looked like they had been there from the day before. We hope everyone was OK. Other than having to slow down every now and then, we did not have any troubles driving, although we needed to remain alert to watch out for those tricky patches.

The scenery was gorgeous. The sun was shining brightly and the trees and mountain sides were still covered in a white blanket of snow. RB would roll down her window every now and then to snap a picture of the scenery. LB did not appreciate it since it was still cold outside. We tried to stop at our traditional rest area at Vail Pass, but it was closed for some reason. It would have been nice if there was a sign before we pulled off on the exit. Then we tried stopping at a gas station at the next exit at Copper Mountain to use their restroom. We pulled up to the Conoco station only to read a small sign on the door saying they were closed that day. The sign did not indicate why. OK, enough trying to find a rest room, we’ll just hold it until we get home. 

We got home just in time to order our favorite wings for dinner, Outlaw Wings. A perfect ending to our Season Two travels. Fruita may not have been as dramatic of an ending as VOX#2, but it was much more relaxing and beautiful than a stressful and dangerous drive through the mountains in the middle of a snow storm. A willingness to change our plans turned what might have been a horrible experience into a wonderful experience. We are excitedly looking forward to starting our Season Three travels!

Check out our related video: James M. Robb Colorado River State Park, Colorado 

(RB)