May 6, 2013—After we got the Journey all official in Colorado, we started a slow meander to visit family in the Midwest. We had at least one mountain pass to get over and decided to forego I-70 and Vail Pass in favor of a slower drive on 50 through Gunnison and over Monarch Pass. Success! For the most part the road was dry all the way to Monarch except for some snow melt near the top. We made it up the pass with no overheating—the first big test of the Journey towing the Xterra up a high mountain pass—and it passed with flying colors. The sun was shining as we pulled into the Monarch Pass parking lot to get a quick pic at 11,312 feet.
And then we got back in and started up the engine to see ‘Check Engine’ and ‘Water in Fuel’ lights on the dash. Huh? So we drain off a little diesel from the fuel filter and no sign of water in it. What the? We check our phones and zippo, no cell signal. We can’t check RV forums or even get a call out. By this time the sun has disappeared and snow flurries are starting…so we drain off a little more fuel and still no water. Argh! We ponder whether it makes sense at all to drive 10 miles down a twisting 6% grade in this condition.
And then, the lightbulb goes off…we get back to the Xterra and throw a phone in the cell phone signal booster (duh)…. Yes! A hint of 1X and we very slowly Google our way through forum results to find: “faulty sensor when driving wet roads.” Jim wipes off the sensor, starts up the engine, and our ‘Check Engine’ and ‘Water in Fuel’ lights have disappeared. Whew!
We make it down the pass through a couple icy looking patches from the recent snow—white knuckling it through. Yeah, we’ve driven in snow pretty much most of our lives; just not in a 20,000+ pound tank being pushed downhill by a 5,000 pound brick. We get to Salida and I take the wheel giving Jim a much deserved break. It should be easy going the rest of the way to our final destination for the night, Loveland. Ha! Just before Jefferson, the flakes start falling and the wind whips up. We’re in a slow moving caravan behind a big tanker truck; at least the roads are only wet right now and not icy.
We make it to Loveland a bit later than we expected but in good shape. Overall, the Journey handled great up over the three mountain passes (Monarch, Trout Creek, and Kenosha) even with snow. What a day!
In early March, we bought the Journey in Phoenix, AZ. It had a New York title that listed a lien holder so we needed a notarized letter releasing the lien—which the owners had, yea! In New York the previous owner keeps the license plates so we needed Arizona to issue temporary license plates to drive back to Colorado and we had to get to Colorado in 60 days. No sweat, right?
To work this all out, it took
- A call to the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) in Arizona to see if we could get temporary tags.
- Another call to AZ MVD because two different people verifying the same question always seems to be a good idea.
- A call to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Colorado to make sure we’d have all the paperwork needed to issue a title.
- Another call to CO DMV to verify we really had 60 days to get back home—who wants to drive a rig over Red Mountain Pass, the #2 most dangerous pass in CO in early March? Not us.
- A call to our insurance company, Foremost*, to obtain insurance which is required by Colorado to register a vehicle.
- A bit of paperwork: bill of sale and NY title signed over to us plus the addition of the notorized lien release.
- A trip and 30 minute wait at the MVD in Scottsdale AZ to get temporary tags—where we were told we couldn’t get temporary tags…
What? We verified with two people!
- A consult with an MVD manager and in fact, for $15, 90-day temporary tags are issued to non-residents in AZ! (c:
- A month-and-a-half waiting in Las Cruces, New Mexico for it to stop snowing on Red Mountain Pass in CO (the most direct route to our home base is over this pass).
- A long detour around Red Mountain Pass because the weather forecast was wrong the day we left for home—it snowed on the pass and conditions were icy!
- A call to DMV in Montrose to figure out who did our VIN inpsection: the City or the County.
- A trip to the Montrose City Police Department to prepay for a VIN inspection ($15).
- A visit from a Montrose Police officer to do the VIN inspection. Note: This is a surefire way to peel everyone in the RV park away from their TVs and out walking their dog. (c;
- Lastly, a trip to the DMV in CO to pay taxes and license fee, get a title, and our very lovely CO plates!
Glad to have that done. Was it worth it? You bet. Now it’s back to figuring out where and what we’ll be doing this summer.
* We’ve since dropped Foremost in favor of Geico. We have a couple rock chips in our windshield that we thought we might get repaired and while the Foremost website says that this might be covered by policy—no one we spoke to at Foremost could tell us if our policy actually covered this without submitting a claim and sending out an adjuster to look at rock chips!
April 23, 2013—After a month and a half at the ‘Drake RV Park’ outside Las Cruces, we’re finally back home. We overnighted in Farmington with hopes that the weather would hold and we could take the direct route home on Hwy 550 but Mother Nature dumped the white stuff on Red Mountain Pass, Silverton, and Ridgeway so we detoured west through Moab. We thought about detouring east over Monarch Pass but that too was covered with snow. Being new to driving a COW (condo on wheels), we’re not quite ready to test it out on icy snowy roads and hope we never have to do so.
We took turns driving on the way home. The drive from Albuquerque to Farmington on 550 is really beautiful. We haven’t done that in years. We had fierce winds but that’s spring in the southwest–especially New Mexico.
Towing the Casita was always easy peasy; la Casita tracked really nicely behind the Xterra. The Journey demands a bit more concentration to stay between the white and yellow lines. It’ll get easier. (c;
- To find out conditions for our route, we checked the still cameras provided by cotrip.org. The condition reports while helpful, aren’t always accurate.
March 31, 2013—We delivered our Casita to its new owner yesterday in West Texas. She was the first person to contact us and had been looking for a fiberglass egg in which to full-time for a while. She got the whole shebang—the solar system, AGM batteries, and barely-used generator. Here’s the last pic of our Casita at its new home; a blank slate ready for the new owner to make it her own.
We bought a Casita not knowing how long we’d use it but knowing that it should be easy to sell if things didn’t work out. Well it worked out much better than expected and two-and-a-half years later, we have great memories, have made many new friends, explored a lot of nooks and crannies in the States, and have been able to spend much more time with our friends and family than when we lived in sticks and bricks.
One of our friends asked “How many Casitas would fit in our new rig?” Well, M., it looks like about three. (c;
March 30, 2013—Indeed, the first person to contact us is now the new owner of our Casita.
March 15, 2013—Looks like the first person who contacted us about the Casita will be the new owner. We accepted an offer today and will be working out the purchase details. If all goes well, we should be delivering Casita Bonita to the new owner at the end of March. We sure will miss our little Casita; it’ll be a great home for the new fulltiming owner though. Loved to see the smile on her face!
March 12, 2013—After much debate, we’ve decided to sell our 17′ Casita Spirit Deluxe. We’ve had an awesome time traveling the country the past two and a half years with the Casita in tow, have made new friends along the way, and created great memories.
It was time for a change though. Soooo….what are we up to now?