October 1

October 1, 2021 – From Monte Vista, CO to Rio Grande National Forest, CO

To start the day, I took Cooper (my dog) for a long walk around the area we stayed overnight. It’s just such a cool area with some nice scenery, wide-open space, cool rock formations, and mountains surrounding the area. I had to spend some time taking it in. Here’s a better picture of where we parked.

And here are some random pictures I took while we were on our walk.

This was going to be an easy day. My plan was to try and find a place to camp in the Rio Grande National Forest again, just in a different area about an hour away. If that didn’t work, I’d continue to the Vallecito Reservoir near Durango, Colorado which was only another 45 minutes or so further, and I was certain I could get cell phone signal there.

My plan was to drive 1-2 hours max. There’s a lot of stuff I need to get caught up on, the van needs to be cleaned, and I was ready to just relax for a bit.

The universe had other plans in mind, however.

I only drove a very short distance before a low tire pressure alarm went off on my dashboard. My rear driver’s side tire lost quite a bit of air overnight, which I assumed meant that tire had a leak.

Well crap.

I headed for the nearest tire shop which was only 7 miles away. They didn’t want to touch the van. They said they didn’t have a bay large enough for it, but gave me a suggestion for another location 14 miles away.

As I drove to that location, I called several other shops within a 20 or 30-mile radius of me. None of them wanted to work on the van either, except for one shop that was about 40 miles in the opposite direction I was going.

That ended up being the place I went to.

It sucked to have to drive so far out of my way, but I’m also fully aware these things will happen, especially with the gravel and dirt roads I tend to drive on. I’m just grateful my van is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, otherwise, the issue probably would have presented itself when I had a real problem.

And the good news is the tire shop I went to was one of the friendliest shops I’ve ever been to. They got me in right away, discovered a nail in my tire, patched it up, and had me on my way in about an hour.

While I waited, the owner talked to me about his 30 years of business and his entrepreneurship journey. Of course, he was interested in my story as well, so the time flew by.

There was also a self car wash in the same parking lot, which I was able to use to spray off all the mud that had collected on my van the past couple of days.

So, other than losing some time, it all worked out in the end, and only cost me $18.

Also, while I was waiting, I was able to do some more research on a place to stay that had cell phone signal.

I ended up finding an amazing spot in the Rio Grande National Forest where the trees were all changing colors. The drive to get there was amazing, and so was the secluded and private camping area that I found.

The Rio Grande National Forest is nearly 2 million acres, so it is massive. But I found a place right in the middle of South Fork, CO and Pagosa Springs, CO. Just check out some of the fall colors.

Here’s a time-lapse of my drive, which is pretty quick. I cut out the detour to the tire shop as the scenery wasn’t all that great, so this timelapse is only from Monte Vista, CO to my camping spot in the Rio Grande National Forest. Really nice fall colors.

Here are some other moments during the day.

The route we took (minus the tire repair detour).