Web Log

Our Camper Van




Amy's Cakes

Outboard Hydroplane Racing

Radio Controlled Toys

Glacier National Park

Aug 10, 2006 (E)

And now we are back at the Yoga center... Complete with beets.

Sportsmobile Rally:

The rally took about a week for us. We had a great time, arriving on Sunday, July 23, and heading out the next Saturday morning.

After arriving we watched the majority of the participants roll in over the next day, and checked in on Monday. Our little isolated meadow became a 5 van camping spot as the campground was stretched to fit about 100+ vans, most with at least two people. At the check-in we signed up for a couple of trail rides through the week. As we walked through the campground after checking in we began to encounter people who recognized us from our pictures on this site. Apparently I am not just typing to myself. (Hi!)

We also saw a van that seemed to out-nerd us from the very outset. Jen & Pat have a robotic satellite net dish (instead of my manually setup one), have not limited themselves to just one large LCD monitor, and even carry large printers (we have one but it is buried and hasn't been used in a year). (www.ambientdsr.com)

Tuesday morning started with the first of the catered meals in a large tent setup for the event. The food was quite good and continued to be so throughout the event. Much better than most any catered buffet I have encountered before. The vans were lined up in groups of up to about 10 for the rides and we departed just after breakfast.
Vans Lining Up

Tuesday: Alpine Loop

The first trail ride we had chosen was the "Alpine Loop" from Silverton over Cinnamon Pass and then back via Engineer Pass. The scenery as we headed up from Silverton was magnificent, and the road was not terribly challenging. There were views of old mines and the ghost town of Animas Forks. There was not even much traffic on the road till we reached Cinnamon Pass itself.
Cinamon Pass Road

At the pass we took a break, took some photos, and huffed-and-puffed as we walked around in the rarified air.
Cinamon Pass

Heading down Cinnamon pass resulted in encounters with a lot more traffic, mostly consisting of ATVs. The road was also a bit wider and appeared to be used more.
Ambient on "Bridge"

At the end of the Cinnamon pass road we hit pavement and traveled about 20 miles on a highway to the second half of the trail, Engineer Pass. At this point we encountered the group of Sportsmobiles which was traveling the loop in the opposite direction. After a few waves we continued up the road to an abandoned mine for lunch.
Broken Dam

After lunch a bunch of the ladies took over the van driving tasks to climb Engineer pass, including Amy.
Amy Driving

This gave me an opportunity to take some of the photos of the scenery while on the move. The traffic on this road was much reduced from the prior road for a less stressful time.
Mine building

At the top we had quite a view that far surpassed the view from Cinnamon pass. A view of thunder clouds in the direction of travel did prompt us to get moving again fairly quickly to try to beat the daily thunder-showers back to camp.
Near Engineer Pass

Dinner was again a catered event, with very good food and opportunities to meet more interesting people.

Wednesday: Spacing out

On Wednesday we stayed in camp just riding our bikes around (which, at 12000' was much more tiring than we were use to) and getting some hours in at work.

We spent some time talking to a couple (Chad & Isabelle) we had met earlier who have some grand plans (www.bgwrld.com) and a beautiful new red van.

At lunch time we inflated the raft and paddled out to the small island in the lake to have a picnic lunch and feed the ducks. Unfortunately the sky opened up a couple minutes after we arrived so we paddled back and had our picnic in the van.
Lake Molas & Island

In the evening we ended up with an impromptu little party in our van as we showed various people the changes we had made to our van, how we dealt with daily tasks, and such. A few people brought over beer and pretty soon we had about 10 people in the van.

Thursday: Imogene & Ophir Pass

Thursday was the day to do our second group ride, Imogene Pass to Telluride followed by Ophir pass back to Silverton. The drive started with a rather dull 45 minute drive on the highway to the beginning of the Imogene Pass road, but became interesting soon after that.

About 3/4 of the way up to the pass we encountered a guy on a fairly old Goldwing fully decked out with fairing and hard-bags. His apparel consisted of cowboy boots, shorts, and a huge smile. There were snow banks around, and the air was not actually very warm. He looked quite out of place, but at least he was happy. Perhaps he was enjoying all the flowers in bloom.
Climbing Imogene

A bit further up the road there was an opportunity to go up a fairly lumpy rock face, or go around. Since the two vans in front of us went up the lumpy challenging part I, of-course, chose the lumpy part and made it over with no trouble, though a touch of scraping on the driver's side hoop-step. Some of the other vans had a more interesting time, hopping around, bending and breaking steps, and generally proving amusement to the rest of us standing around watching each rig pass the obstacle.
Rock climb

The summit was again a spectacle worthy of many photos, and a good time to break for lunch.
Nearing Imogene pass

After lunch we headed down through the ghost mining town of Tom Boy. The biggest challenge in this part of the drive was the volume of opposing traffic we hit. Most were accommodating, and we also yielded where possible, but at one point a true traffic jam ensued when our ten rigs, plus a few other vehicles going our way, met a couple tour trucks and a whole pile of jeeps and ATVs going the other way. About 15 minutes of negotiations and shuffling were organized by our trail leaders (Chris from ARB and Heber from SMB) and the tour drivers leading to a way everyone could get past each other.
Traffic Jam

Once down the trail dumps into downtown Telluride where we drove down the main street and stopped outside town at a gas station to await the last van who was having technical difficulties. Once resolved we headed towards the nearby town of Ophir for the beginning of Ophir pass.

As we left the town of Ophir the sky let loose on us with a torrent of rain and thunder. Almost simultaneously the van in front of us began to surge and belch white/blue smoke. After some consultation I suggested that it may be water in the fuel system, as our van had behaved much the same a few months prior with bad fuel. The water separator was drained, and contained quite a bit of water, so we continued. The van in question still had some surging issues and decided to turn back and return to camp via paved road incase more was at issue (I suspect that there was still some water in the fuel line after the separator, it took us a good 10 minutes of idling to flush the fuel line of water after we cleared our separator)
Rainy discussion

Chris accompanied the other van in the lead van incase there was a need of a tow or other issues. Heber took the lead in Alan's beautiful red van and the ride continued. The rain soon broke and the pass turned out to be quite quick and a very easy road with only one switchback of any significant tightness. We were back at camp within an hour.

After dinner we found a welcoming campfire where a number of the folks we had met were winding down.

Friday: Bill Burke

Friday was the end of the rally, and many people were heading out by the time we had even woken up. We were signed up for an abbreviated class that Bill Burke (www.bb4wa.com) offered to the rally participants.

The class started with a set of lists of equipment and skills to take with you on the trail. He then dismantled the contents of his fully stuffed Land Rover, explaining the purpose and reasoning behind each major item. This, of course, lead to a huge list of new toys we just NEED to buy.

After a couple hours of this we were led on one last trail ride up to Clear Lake where we had lunch and Bill demonstrated the various uses of a Hi Lift jack. I had always known that it was theoretically possible to winch with such a jack, but had never seen how it was actually done. He also gave a basic introduction to orienteering using map and compass which Amy found quite fascinating.
Bill Bourke with HiLift

After the class we chose to stay the night at the campground so we could head out the next morning refreshed. We found a few other couples we had met had a similar idea in spending another night at the campground, so we spent the evening hanging out at their fire roasting marshmallows and relaxing.


Overall we had a great time. We met a tremendous number of very interesting people. We even had a few people come up and thank us for the web-site as they used it for inspiration in working on their vans, in having changes made during production, and solving problems we had also encountered and documented. This was very affirming as we really have had no idea how large an audience this material has. We wrote it as a resource we wish we had available when we were planning our trip and van order.

Hello to everyone at the rally we had a chance to meet. Hope to see you all on the road in the future. We certainly intend to make use of the phone #s and email addresses we collected as we travel through the states.

Thanks to everyone who was involved in setting up and running the rally. The organization was excellent and the location and food second to none.

Here are some links to other web logs of people we met:

Jen & Pat : www.ambientdsr.com
Chad & Isabelle : www.bgwrld.com
Geoff &Laura : www.oz.net/~geoffsi/sportsmobile.htm
Brian & Kelly : www.pbase.com/railbat/root

(there are a few others, but I don't know if they are willing to have their URL's made public)

Back to Salt Spring Island:

Following the rally we headed north west again. We stopped for a night at Jessica's place in Salt Lake City. A bit of time at Nat & Tammy's place in Idaho, and then on to my parents' in Oregon to drop off some stuff and pick up other stuff (mainly for van modifications as time permits). We also picked up my SR500 to take in to Seattle so that I would have a motorcycle for transportation when I fly back to Seattle for work. The XR fit on a rack up front, and we got many many double-takes as we drove by with a motorcycle for a hood-ornament. We hit Seattle on the following Friday afternoon and did a bit of shopping for supplies for our trip to the great white north....
Van with 2 Motorcycles

Monday and Tuesday I went into the office and got to have my last hamburgers for a while at lunch. Wedsnesday morning we woke at 4, packed up and headed for the border in Blaine. The border crossing into Canada was uneventful and we caught our intended ferry with plenty of time. This time we just slept in the van for the entire ferry ride and then did a little tour of Ganges (the main town on the island) after we arrived.

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