Inland Ocean Coalition - Wyoming Chapter
Crystal Reservoir Cleanup
I arrived just in time to call my daughter whose middle name is Cheyenne from Cheyenne, Wyoming on her birthday! I actually named her after the Chevy Cheyenne Blazer, a late 70’s model my parents had – but that’s my secret! I arrived a few days earlier than planned and just had to “park it”. On my way down from South Dakota my trailer brakes started acting up and continued to get worse. I pulled into Glendo State Park with the intent to stay and explore for a few days but when I hit the gravel road and the trailer brakes locked up…. well, that ended that idea! I was using a CURT Echo brake controller. It is a really cool gadget that connected to my 7-pin plug and then the app on my iPhone controlled the trailer brakes via Bluetooth. Nothing to install inside the vehicle – pretty slick, at least when it worked right! I stopped at a rest area and tried to uninstall and reinstall the brake controller app – but no data available! Good grief, the data plan I was sharing with my family was all used up and throttled back too far for anything. Luckily, I have OnStar and was able to add and activate a data plan quickly and inexpensively. I think I will be keeping it active while on this adventure, all things considered. I drove around that rest stop about 10 times and I am sure the truckers thought I was just some crazy lady! My brakes were still locking up right before coming to a complete stop otherwise they were fine. So, I decided to go the rest of the way to Cheyenne even though it was already dark. There was almost no traffic and I thought that would be my best bet and allow me a few extra days to find someone to look at it.
Everything went fine on my way down to Cheyenne (other than I was tired of driving and my butt hurt from sitting all day!) but as I got into town, the traffic lights became… let’s say… entertaining to stop at, errrk!! I made it to a Walmart parking lot but saw signs saying NO OVERNIGHT PARKING. I heard not all Walmart locations will allow you to stay so I got online (good thing I had my own data) and found that I could stay in one particular area away from the store. Sure enough a couple other RVs were there so I parked, errrk!! and called it a night. I soon discovered this was the employee parking area as well! I could hear them coming in early, parking, doors slamming, car horns confirming their vehicles were locked… yep, not much sleep. I got up early did some more troubleshooting, got coffee and did even more troubleshooting. Finally, I started looking for a place to stay for 3-nights and place to service the trailer brakes. Luck should have it I was able to find a spot and a place to checkout my brakes, only they could not squeeze me in until Saturday and that was the day of the cleanup event I came here for! I was determined to make this work!! I contacted the Wyoming IOC Chapter Lead, Kelly, to let her know I had made it to town. She called me later and invited me to dinner Friday night – FUN!! I had a lovely evening of good food, tasty wine, and even better conversation among new friends!
Images of cleanup event courtesy of Kelly Wright
Next morning, I headed out to Curt Gowdy State Park and Crystal Reservoir where Kelly arrange an extra boat for me and I teamed up with one of their friends, Mike. Everyone loaded up and headed to different areas of the reservoir and then combed the shoreline. Mike and I collected a rather large bag of debris and I caught a trout with my bare hands!! LOL It floated up and flopped on its side – a dead floater and rather easy catch. My guess is someone was doing the catch and release thing but this one did not survive the process. I gave it to a couple of kids, and I think that freaked them out more! After a couple hours of cleanup, it was back into town to get the trailer.
The brakes on the trailer checked out fine so again it pointed to the controller being the issue. I did a couple of test loops and I still had a slight lag, then hard stop. While I was not skidding, I knew it was just a matter of time and being 4 states away, I knew the time would come. We talked at length regarding my options and in the end I elected to haul it straight back to resolve this and a few other challenges I had discovered. I was going to have to change my plans a bit, but I can do that – I realized early on I had to be flexible!! I also elected to go without the controller since it was almost more dangerous with it than without and being that I was just right at the point of still being legal without auxiliary brakes…it just made most sense. I thanked Tim at Adventure RV for making time on his Saturday to try and help me out. Next it was back to Curt Gowdy State Park to meet up with the group and then stay the night at the park.
When I arrived, I got checked in and backed into my AWESOME spot with a nice little beach area all to myself. I wish all campsites were that gorgeous! As I was unhitching to go meet the group the trailer-tongue cone I was trying out for the first time, to see if it stopped the roll I was experiencing as I unhitched, decided to flip out because it rolled and BAM it dropped onto the ground hard. And yes, I had chalked the crap out of both trailer wheel to try and prevent it from rolling. I‘d say that cone thingy certainly didn’t work as planned! I found my jack in the Colorado – although it took nearly 30-minutes to find it and get to it! I stabilized the tongue to take the weight off the jack and get it off the ground. Then I said a few choice words and left to meet with the group. I was not going to let the hitch in my unhitching ruin the rest of my plans so off I went.
After a nice gathering at a local joint, a few of us went back and had the most amazing catered dinner I have ever had “camping”! Aside from some crazy wind it was so much fun. Jim and Pascal (I know I am not spelling this right…sorry!) were so kind to include me along with Kelly, Joe, and Mike. After a fabulous time, I headed back to camp, which was just around the corner and enjoyed some more crazy winds. Thank you Kelly for being such a gracious host and thanks for sharing your cleanup event and photos with me!
I woke to the most beautiful sunrise! It was so peaceful and with fresh eyes I immediately figured out what I needed to do to get the trailer hitched back up…. It was a slow and steady process, which I probably over-engineered but it worked like a charm! That Colorado jack came in handy….I think I need to get me a more convenient one though! I ate some fresh fruit and enjoyed the quiet morning before heading out.
I towed slow, allowed for lots of room and geared down so I did not overuse the brakes on the Colorado. It worked out fine! The wind in Wyoming killed my gas mileage! OMG!! Once I hit Montana it let up and started to rain a bit. I spend the night at Cabela’s in Billings and then drove the rest of the way to Spokane Valley the next day. I was able to get the trailer in right away and I now have a new brake controller installed – not the little Echo, I decided it failed me once and I needed something reliable!! So, I have one of the controllers installed in the truck by my right knee. Ugly but reliable … we shall see! They found the blown fuse that was killing my battery daily, fixed the broken latch and I am upgrading the solar and battery before I head back out so I can be off grid without issue.
I might have to swing through Redondo, and checkout the 6-gill shark action and then I definitely need my Hood Canal fix before I head down to Oregon! So far, there is no place quite like home!
I did go on a little side trip prior to the cleanup event - an amazing place called Vedauwoo. One of those places that make you wonder "how on earth did that get there?" I was planning to stay a day and do some bouldering but plans had to change. I'll be back another day.
Pamela Treischel is a SCUBA diving enthusiast, underwater photography hobbyist and Ambassador for the Inland Ocean Coalition.