VW Bus Camp out – Pike National Forest, Colorado

Pike National Forest > Jefferson Lake Recreation Area (South Park RD / Jefferson, Colorado) > Lodgepole Campground.
Date: 2009.09.05 – 2009.09.07
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Day 1
Finally got a chance to get out of town again. This time, Pike National Forest. A new territory for us! It was a good time too. We had a few unexpected delays on Friday, so I wasn’t able to sleep after getting home from work. We decided to leave the following day so we could be rested up and not so rushed heading out the door.

The drive down went well. I had managed to get an oil change in the day before and also was able to reset the dwell and timing. The dwell was around 58 and I got it back in line around 52 and reset the timing. The engine was running much smoother after that. Heading out of Denver on highway 285 South, we ran into a few steep climbs, but nothing that second gear wasn’t able to answer. The 3 speed automatic is definitely not the best transmission to be using around these parts, but it did well considering. The direction to the campground say that you should head west on CR35/37.  Let me make this a little more clear. Right when you run into Jefferson, there will be CR35.  Turn West onto that and you will run into CR37 in a couple miles, where you will then turn North, roughly.  Anyhow, we got there without too much fuss, and ran into Dan and some other friends who were already there.

I started setting up the sleeping quarters and ran into problems with the new cot we had purchased from Bus Depot.  The poles that came with it were of a fixed width, not adjustable, and they were both the same length.  I was able to get the front pole mounted (near the dash,) but the rear one was about a quarter inch too short.  This was nerve wracking.  I had the guy at Bus Depot measure the pole before I ordered it, but I only measured the distance between the front hooks (for the rod that goes across the dash,) and not the hooks near the head rests of the front seat.  Of course, the body of the bus gets  a little wider as you move back.  Moving the hooks up about an inch would fix the problem as the bus starts leaning in, but I had nothing to drill new holes with.  We ended up borrowing Dans cot again (adjustable length rods) for the time being and all was well.

Day 2
The next morning started with all the kids needing to instantly pee.  I wanted to sleep longer since I didn’t rest well that night, but it wasn’t going to happen.  Leah didn’t sleep well either as it was a bit chilly.  Everyone was sleeping in sleeping bags except Leah and Isaac, who were under a down comforter.  With everyone dressed and out of the bus, we cooked up some food and decided that we would all go for a drive to check out a lake and hiking trail that was near by.  We had not setup the circus tent at this point, but Leah had a good idea to take it off the bus, lay it down, and just toss our stuff under it.  This way it would stay dry but we wouldn’t have to take the time to setup the whole thing.  Dans friends (I’m struggling to remember names at this hour of the morning,) went ahead and installed their seat belts on the rear bench of their bus and Katie rode with them on the way out.  We headed up a short road that took us to a lake, where Dan gave all the kids a quick try at the fishing rod.  There were no bites, but they all enjoyed it still.  Afterward, we all headed back down the road and stopped at another campground that also had a trail off of it.  Initially, I was all for the hiking.  I thought it would be fun and I was in the right mind frame, knowing that I would have to carry Alissa or Isaac, or both maybe.  But, after we started down the trail, it started raining, and Alissa fell asleep.  So I was stuck carrying a sleeping 30 pound girl, and Leah was stuck carrying Isaac (I came 2 inches from packing the child carrier backpack but didn’t.)  With the rain getting worse, Leah and I told Dan and the rest of the crew that they could go ahead for as long as they like, and that we would head back to the bus.  In the end, we all just ended up going back to the bus and heading back to our camp.

When we got back to camp, I noticed that someone had taken the top off our 5 gallon water container and placed it on the table.  Lifting it up, I noticed a note from the campground “czar” that said we were in violation for leaving the camp with a fire still going.  What?!?  Dan and I had put the fire out pretty well, but the man watching over the campground said the fire was “rip roaring” and he had to put it out.  We were close to getting a $300 fine for the whole incident, but were let off with a warning.

The rest of the day brought less rain, and everyone hung out, throwing frisbees, footballs, bocce balls, or horse shoes.  The road around the camp loop was dirt, but that didn’t stop the kids from riding the scooters around.  The camp ground was fairly quiet the whole time, even though it was pretty much full.  That night brought more dinner, and smores.  It was our last night, so we burned a lot of the wood we had brought.  Even so, we still had a bundle to bring home.  We feared that some of the sleeping bags may have still got wet underneath the circus tent, but out of all it, only the very foot of one of the bags was wet.  Since Alissa was sleeping in that one, she wouldn’t even know it was an issue.  Leah and I were both pretty sore from the hiking etc, and I was really not wanting to do any of the dishes that were still to be done.  But, Leah said she had already scrapped them clean and that we should just toss them in a garbage bag and clean them when we get home the next morning.  Of course I agreed, and was happy to not have to do any dishes :)  With most of the kids asleep, it was time to hit the sack. Needless to say, we made chared-wood-soup at the end of the night, pouring probably 3 gallons of water on the fire that was already dwindling away.

Day 3
Well, last night was even colder.  I slept better, but Leah didn’t because of the chill :(  Dan’s friends had already left as they had prior arrangements.  They were good people and it was nice to meet some new bus owners.  Dan was also leaving soon, and after the kids and everyone said their goodbyes, he and Sammy headed out.  Leah and I decided to throw everything in the bus in quick fashion to get on our way too.  After all, we were headed back home and everything would be coming back off the bus in just a couple hours.  On our way out of the park, we stopped and took pics of a beaver damn that Leah spotted on the way in.  The rest of the drive home was uneventful (thats what you want when you own a vw bus :)

It was nice to check out a new place, and the bus ran well the whole time which provided some sense of relief.  Sure beat cleaning the house all weekend!

4 thoughts on “VW Bus Camp out – Pike National Forest, Colorado

  1. John,
    Awesome story and adventure. I can wait to leave Afghanistan(contractor this time)(26 year retired Seabee). I have my pennies saved for a Jake Raby Camper Special. I lived in Fallon, Nevada where camping is every where. I was forced to retire in Florida, so next year it’s time to sell the house and move back west. My wife and I are looking for anything from Colorada to California. I have a 78 Westy, 75 Kombi and a 68 Bug. Great website…

    Kevin Inmon
    Camp Leatherneck/CampBastion Afghanistan
    Member of South East VW Club JAX Chapter…

  2. Yeah, nice to have the bus just run and me not be paranoid about something breaking.

    I’d love a camper special for Vandejo. Not sure if it would work with an auto tranny or not though. I have a practically brand new engine in Buster (78 transporter) but its a manual. A question I have had for some time now is if I can just drop the engine in Buster (manual) and the engine in Vandejo (auto), remove the flywheel from Busters engine, and put the drive plate on it from Vandejo, and then just put that engine back in Vandejo. They are both fuel injected type4 engines.

    We’ve been in Colorado for about 6 years now and have been pretty happy with it, though we’d like to be further away from the big city.

    Be safe over there Kevin.

  3. Let’s see if I understand your question. You want to put Buster’s new engine in Vandejo, right?

    I’ve done that before. Just attach the drive plate. It’s been 3 years now, so I don’t remember any details that might have needed taking care of, but it was quite straightforward and there was nothing to delay me or cause any kind of problem at all.

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