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Free Camping on Lake Como Road in Southern Colorado

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This is the area where I camped on Lake Como Road. You can see there’s no shade and lots of dust. The view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is really nice, though.

I discovered this free camping area on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land while looking for a free place to stay near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado. Whenever I’m looking for a free place to camp, the first place I look is the Free Campsites website. Once again, the site helped me out, this time by directing me to Lake Como Road.

This BLM land is easy to get to. From Alamosa, CO, take Highway 160 to Highway 150 and turn left. From Fort Garland and Blanca, CO, take Highway 160 to Highway 150 and turn right. If you’re heading south on Highway 17, take a left when you see the signs directing you to Great Sand Dunes National Park . When you hit highway 150, make a right As you may have guess, this camping area is off of Highway 150. Great Sand Dunes National Park is at the the end of Highway 150, so it’s very easy to get there from this camping area.

I did a lot of looking for a free place to camp before my visit to the Great Sand Dunes. This is the closest spot I found that was truly free in that was not a State Wildlife Area (where folks are required to have a valid Colorado hunting or fishing license in order to camp) and was reported to have a road that did not require a 4 wheel drive and/or high clearance vehicle. Since I’m in a minivan now, I have to be more conscious of poor road conditions. I didn’t want to try to drive on a road I maybe couldn’t handle.

The dirt road into this boondocking area was not terrible. It had washboard ridges in places, and there were some small exposed rocks, but overall it was fine, at least as far as I went. I stayed within a mile or two of the turn off to from Highway 150, and I think any vehicle could make it as far as I did. Just take it nice and slow, which you should be doing anyway on this very dusty road. You don’t want to be the one to choke out all your neighbors.

The camping spots are just wide, dusty areas with little vegetation on the side of the dirt road. The first camping area seemed to be the biggest with room for four or five rigs. I was a little nervous about the road, but I wanted a bit more space to myself, so I drove father in. I could see rigs parked miles up the road as it climbed up the mountain, but I was not that adventurous. I just needed a place to put the van where I could cook and sleep before I went off to the park, so I didn’t feel the need to find a great spot.

It’s a good thing I didn’t need a great spot because I didn’t have one. There was zero shade where I was. Most of the spots had the same problem. There are no trees until well up the mountain road. Even in mid September, it was pretty warm there during the afternoon, especially with the sun beating down. If you’re going to camp there for a few days, plan to use your awning or bring a popup canopy or a tarp you can use to fashion a sun block.

Or maybe you shouldn’t use an awning or popup canopy or any kind of sun block after all. It was quite breezy the afternoon I was there. If you’re using a tarp, tent, or canopy out there, but sure to stake it down well. If you’re using an awning attached to your rig, keep a close eye on it so the wind doesn’t have the chance to twist it out of shape.

This is the view right across the road from where I camped. I don’t know what the vegetation is, but i sure enjoyed that big sky full of clouds.

Cell phone service was great where I stayed. Texting worked normally, and I was able to access the internet with no problem. However, I didn’t try to stream or watch videos, so I don’t know if that would have worked out.

The view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was beautiful, and I enjoyed the big blue sky filled with puffy white clouds.

This area is available for true dry camping. There are no amenities here: no running water (for drinking or otherwise), no electrical hookups, no shade structures, no picnic tables, no restrooms (flush toilet, pit toilet, portable toilet, or otherwise), no dump station, no trashcans. Bring with you everything you need to survive for however long you plan to stay on Lake Como Road.

There are fire rings make from rocks in some of the camping spots. Check on fire bans before you build a campfire. The area is is really dry, so please don’t build a fire if the BLM has deemed doing so dangerous.

As always when boondocking, be prepared to take all your trash with you when you leave. As I said before, there are no trashcans or dumpsters here; you really do have to pack out what you pack in.

I had a quiet night on this BLM land. I didn’t hear any music or other sounds of people partying, In the morning, I had a quick breakfast just as the sky was beginning to turn light, then took off to the Great Sand Dunes.

Some camping spots are about beauty and getting close to nature. Some camping spots are about location. For me, camping on Lake Como Road was all about location. I appreciate public land like this where I can hang out and sleep for free before going off to enjoy natural splendor.

I took the photos in this post.

My New Job

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I got a job. I applied in October, but didn’t hear anything back until November. I thought they had hired someone else and wondered why they hadn’t hired me.

One morning I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. I answer those calls because not all of my contacts transferred when I had to get a new phone, and The Man could be calling me from anywhere since he doesn’t have a phone and has to borrow one if he needs to contact me. This time, the call was from the manager of the place where I applied to work. She asked if I could come in the next morning at 10 for an interview. I told her yes!

I arrived a little early. I walked in by 9:57, and she was waiting for me. She whisked me into her office. By 10:04, I was back in my minivan, and I had the job.

The manager didn’t really interview me. She held my application in her hand and asked, So, you worked as a personal assistant?

I said yes, then talked for 40 seconds about what sort of tasks I carried out as a personal assistant.

Then the manager looked back at my application and asked, So, you worked for a home health care company?

I said yes, then talked for 30 seconds about how I helped disabled people in their homes.

Finally, the manager looked at my application for the last time and asked, So you worked at a gas station?

I said yes, then talked for 25 seconds about the work I did at the gas station.

When I finished speaking, the manager said she thought I would be a good fit for the position. She said I should come back on Friday afternoon before 3 o’clock to complete some paperwork. Then I walked back out to my van. I sat in the driver’s seat and felt so grateful to have a job. I was glad I wouldn’t have to fill out more applications or participate in additional interviews. I was so relieved that I’d gotten a job, I forgot to ask how much it paid.

By now you’re probably wondering what kind of job I got. Ok. I’ll tell you.

Photo by Jill Sauve on Unsplash

I’m the breakfast attendant at a mid-range hotel not far from a major roadway. I arrive at 5am, get food out of the cooler, cook sausage and eggs in the microwave, make coffee, and put out all the food. Some days I have to mix waffle batter. Some days I have to boil eggs. Throughout breakfast hours, I keep all the food stocked and, most importantly, keep the coffee flowing. I wipe tables when customers leave and pick up any trash they didn’t throw away. I wipe up spills on the counters, most often waffle batter from a self-serve waffle experience that has gone awry.

At 9am, I shut down the breakfast room. I turn off the TV and the waffle iron, unplug the toaster and the steam tray. I put away muffins and Danishes and hide all the cereal and condiments in the cupboards under the counter. I throw out any eggs and sausage that weren’t eaten. I wash the pans I cook the eggs and sausage in, as well as all the serving utensils the guests have used. I sweep and mop the floor and vacuum the carpet. I take out the trash, then head home for the day. I’ve always gotten out of there before 11am.

I only work three days a week. I work three days in a row, then have four days in a row off. That’s truly the best part of the job.

Another thing I like about the job is that no one is breathing down my neck. When I work, I am the queen of the breakfast room. The guy who trained me showed me how he does things, but told me that when I’m working, I’m in charge and can do things the way that most makes sense to me. The manager has corrected me a couple of times and given me some tips, but she’s not on any kind of high horse. I appreciate the corrections and advice she has given to me.

Of course, no job can be perfect…

On my first day of training, the manager and the guy who trained me warned me about Karen, the night auditor. I’ve worked in hotels before, and the night auditor has always been a weirdo. I think those disrupted sleep patterns really take a toll on most people. Hotel managers never want to fire night auditors though, no matter how difficult to get along with they may be because it’s so hard to find anyone willing to work the overnight shift. Hotel staff just have to put up with night auditor weirdness.

Karen has worked at this hotel longer than anyone else, including the manager (who just turned 25 two weeks ago). While Karen does know a lot, she thinks she knows everything, which, of course, she doesn’t. Karen is also bossy and smug.

The first day I worked alone after training, Karen tried to get bossy with me. I nipped it right in the bud, letting her know the way I did things was just fine. She got huffy and walked away. Good riddance, Karen.

Later that morning a third coworker (one of the front desk workers) warned me about Karen and said I should let any of the desk workers know if Karen hassled me. I told her how I had already taken care of things with Karen. I also let her know I’m open to correction and suggestion, but I don’t need Karen or anyone else bossing me for the sake of being bossy.

Every morning when I hurry in at 4:49, I give Karen a hearty, cheerful Good morning! She grumbles good morning back to me, but I can tell saying it pains her. On the rare occasion I ask her a question, she delights in giving me an answer. I think Karen enjoys knowing more than other people and showing off her knowledge.

All in all, the job is fine. It’s certainly not rocket science. I’m not working too hard. I can even sit down and watch the TV or flip through a tourist magazine when there’s no particular thing to do at the moment. It’s an easy job, and I’m grateful for it.

Also? Now I can add “Breakfast Attendant” to the long list of interesting job titles I’ve held.

Amazon Associates

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Since October 2016, the Rubber Tramp Artist has participated in the Amazon associates program.

[amazon template=image&asin=0156035219]Here’s how it works. Say I’m writing a blog post about The Princess Bride. I get information from Amazon that allows me to put an image of the book’s cover in my post. Nifty! I now have a nice image related to my topic to go along with my text. However, the image isn’t just a nice picture; it’s also a link to the book on Amazon’s page. If a reader clicks on the image, the link will take him/her directly to Amazon’s website. At that point, any qualifying items placed in the reader’s shopping cart within 24 hours of their arrival at Amazon via my Associates link will earn me advertising fees.

Of course, Amazon is not just about books. I could also write about the movie The Princess Bride and get information from Amazon to put an image of the DVD cover in my post. That image is also a link to the DVD’s Amazon page. Clicking on the image of the DVD on my page will take my reader to The Princess Bride DVD Amazon page. From there, if my reader puts a DVD of The Princess Bride or any other item in his or her cart within 24 hours and purchases those items before the shopping cart expires (usually after 90 days), I will get an advertising fee. [amazon template=image&asin=B00945XDMO]

Here’s another scenario: Say a reader wants to buy something from Amazon I’ve never even mentioned on the blog. The reader can go to my blog first and click through my site to get to Amazon. A reder can do this in a couple of ways.

The first way is to find the Amazon.com link in the column to the right of the main body of the post. The words “Just click here!” are in orange; that’s my link to Amazon. That link will take readers to Amazon and get me credit for items placed in their carts within 24 hours and purchased (usually) within 90 days.

If that link is too hard to find or too small on a cell phone, there’s another way to do it. On the top of every page of this blog, there’s a link for the page about my book Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. Go to that page. The image of the cover of my book is a link to Amazon. Click on the image of the cover of my book, and you’ll go to Amazon.com. Once a reader has gone to Amazon via either of these methods, s/he can shop for any item. Any item s/he puts in her/his cart in the next 24 hours and purchases within 90 days (usually) will earn me an advertising fee.

Going through the Rubber Tramp Artist blog to shop on Amazon costs the reader/shopper nothing extra. Amazon pays the advertising fee, not the reader/shopper.

Every month, I receive a list of items folks who clicked through my blog purchased from Amazon, but there’s absolutely no names linked to these purchases. I’ll never know who bought what items.

[amazon template=image&asin=1539332233] Of course, I’m not encouraging folks to buy things they don’t want or need. However, by going through my blog to make Amazon purchases, readers can help me earn a little money to keep me on the road.

I appreciate everything folks have done to help me since I’ve started this blog. Thanks for every donation, every necklace and collage and hat that’s been bought from me, and every Amazon purchase that’s originated from this blog. Also, a big THANKS to my computer guy who set things up so I could participate in the Amazon Associates program.

 

New Year, New Look

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Dear Readers,

Welcome to the new Rubber Tramp Artist site. It’s still me, Blaize Sun, sharing my stories, rants, and observations.

Rubber Tramp Artist used to be Throwing Stories Into the Ether. Although almost a year ago when I started writing, I really did feel as if I was sending my words out into the clouds, I now know I have readers (followers, even). The new name, Rubber Tramp Artist, says more about me and my life (and is shorter and–hopefully–easier to remember).

If you are a subscriber, thank you. I’ve transferred my subscribers to this new site. However, if you don’t get a notification of a post from me tomorrow, you can scroll down this page and subscribe again

I’ve transferred all the previous posts here, so you should be able to find your old favorites (or click around and see what I’ve been up to, if you are a new reader).

I wouldn’t be on this beautiful new page right now if it hadn’t been for the help of a dear computer-savvy friend. (Thank you.)

Thanks also to all of my readers, especially the folks who took time to write comments.

I hope 2016 is great for us all.

 

In appreciation,

Blaize Sun