Re: Virginia to Colorado


Good to hear you made it. 

What an adventure! 


But at least the major damage was only to nerves, follow by wallet. 


I did like the read.  Can’t wait to see how you organize the Astronomy clubs out there!




From: <> On Behalf Of charles jagow
Sent: Sunday, May 30, 2021 5:37 PM
Subject: [BackBayAstro] Virginia to Colorado


Been thinking about the BBAA today, missing everything.  Seems this group out here does not have any regularly scheduled events like our Sky Watch or Sun Day on Saturday due to the Covidmania.  I hope to sit in on one of their privately scheduled star party's at the "Smokey Jack Observatory" here in town and get an understanding of what they are all about.

I got up at 3:20 MDT t catch the eclipse, by 3:42 AM the eclipse had started and was still high enough in the Western sky above the Sangre De Cristo mountains to be visible.  I threw on some warmer clothes (morning temps have consistently been just above freezing all week, and went into the garage to find my camera bag, tripod, and remote shutter release.  Using the EOS 5D MkIV and a 400mm lens I started honing in the focus and exposure when the moon and its little "bite" just disappeared, argggghhhh! darn clouds, I managed to get focus and exposure, however Luna and her growing "bite" were going in and out of obscurity with the clouds.  I would LOVE to share one or two images, however my camera cables and CF reader have yet to arrive from Virginia. As soon as I can read the damn images from my camera's CF card I will share them if they are any good.

I managed to assemble the 18" scope, first try at collimation was pitiful to say the least.  Seems that transporting the 18UC in that big white airline box is less than perfect.  The secondary ended up being way out of whack, and only the lower 1/3 of mirrors seem to be lined up.  I spent about three hours re-aligning EVERYTHING and then doing collimation.  Have not rolled it outside yet after lining everything up.

If anyone wants to read about our amazing trip to Colorado, feel free to continue reading, be warned it is quite lengthy - and somewhat entertaining now that it is over and I have had time to reflect.  As soon as I see if any of my eclipse images came out I will share.  If you don't want to waste a chunk of time that you will never get back, poke the delete control now!

OK, I warned you...

We picked up our rental truck and rental trailer on Saturday May 8th down in Norfolk somewhere and then we had to pick up our 9'x12' trailer from a gas station somewhere in Lake Wright.  After driving the 26' U-Haul truck in traffic from Lake Wright to our storage facility in Chesapeake, I considered the concept of driving that large truck with a 9'x12' in tow would be ludicrous and just asking for trouble.  Add to the fact that I would be unable to drive the combination into my neighborhood and turn around on any of our cul-de-sacs.  I made the decision to lighten the load even more and not have to drive the truck trailer combination all the way through to Colorado so we returned the trailer and concentrated on eliminating some more of our stuff.  


At the same time as we are trying to load our truck the installers are still working on our vinyl siding installation which completed on Wednesday the 12th.  I ended up still having about 500 cubic feet of stuff we could not part with, so I availed of the U-Haul "POD" service and rented two U-Haul U-Boxes to put our remaining stuff in and then U-Haul picks up the boxes and transports them for you.  The transport of the two U-Boxes cost more than the entire rental of the 26' truck, and all of our other moving expenses like gas, food and hotel.  Not cheap by any means and the two U-Boxes will not be delivered until next Wednesday the 2nd of June.  We left Chesapeake about 11:00 AM on Thursday the 13th with me driving the 26' truck and Karen driving the Subaru with our little 17' Casita camping trailer in tow.  Two dogs rode with me, Stewie who is on Prozac and Bella our other Terrier/Chihuahua mix.  Karen had Ruby our Pit Bull, Scarlet the Chihuahua and Penny the Min-Pin in  a small dog crate. The two cats, Jack and Lucy, were in luxury accommodations in the back of the 26' truck.  We took our largest dog crate and put a covered cat box in it, a small cat post and a couple of kitty beds and covered it up with a moving blanket, the crate was positioned at the far rear of the truck so we could open the door and give them food, water and clean the cat box.  Those cats ended up being less stressed out than all of us during the trip.  We made a pit-stop at a rest stop about a half hour away from Staunton and discovered the driver side tire on the camping trailer was extremely hot and nearly melting, the tire was rubbing on the wheel well of the trailer.  So, I swapped that tire out and replaced it with the spare and drove on into Staunton (new tire was not rubbing on the wheel well).  It seems that the last shop who gave me a replacement tire for the trailer (after a blow-out) matched two of the three tire measurements, and provided a tire that was a little more than an inch larger in diameter.  That is entirely another story.  Anyway, I acquired a new correctly sized tire in Staunton and had it mounted to the rim and discarded the oversized tire.  By the time the shop finished with the tire swap out it was nearly 6:30 PM so we chose to spend the first night in Staunton.  


The next morning, we managed to get on the road by 09:00 AM and managed through all of Virginia, West Virginia and about halfway through Kentucky when Karen called me and said she heard loud thumping noises from the camping trailer.  We pulled off the side of the Interstate and I looked at tires, they all had air and were not overheating.  We were about a half mile from an exit so I told her to put on her flashers and follow me to the exit and gas station where I could investigate the noise further.  She followed behind me as we drove to the exit at about 20 mph.  She was still on the phone with me and reported that the thumping noise had gone away as we rolled to the stop sign at the end of the exit.  At that same time another motorist pulled up along my wife and asked her if she wanted the wheel she had just lost from the trailer!  I guess the thumping sound disappeared when the wheel came off.  We limped another 1/8 mile into a parking lot and began inspecting the damage.  It seems that all of the lugs on the wheel hub decided to shear off, only one lug remained.  The guy who first told Karen that she lost the wheel, actually went back onto the Interstate and recovered the wheel.  The wheel was devoid of lug nut holes, the rim was completely torn up.  Another fellow stopped and offered that he would come help us with tools and a hydraulic lift after he finished some job he was headed to.  He gave us directions on where an auto parts store was and said they might have lugs to go in the wheel hub and he would be back to help in an hour or so.  I managed to get the hub off and it did look like the hub was OK except the scratches from substituting as a tire while we drove off of the Interstate.  Unhooked the Subaru and off to find the auto parts store and found that they did NOT have any lugs that would fit the hub, they did say they could order them and have them by the middle of the following week.  Arghhhhh!  While waiting for the other fellow to return, I consulted my iPad and found out there was a trailer sales/service place about two miles from where we were stranded at but they were closed until the next morning.  I found a hotel that would let us herd the dogs into for the night.  Karen was a bit shaken and downright upset, this was her first ever long haul drive (where she did a lot of the driving and her first time pulling the trailer further than just a few miles).  


Saturday morning found me at the trailer place as soon as they opened.  It was basically a Good-Old-Boy Shop who dealt mostly with horse trailers.  He did however loan me a hub that was of the mostly correct size so that I could put it on the trailer with the spare and tow the trailer over to the shop for evaluation.  It only took me about an hour to get the loaner hub on and the trailer hauled over to the trailer place.  While I was doing that, the trailer dude was researching the replacement hub and found out that he did not have a replacement and that a new hub could be had if his distributer had one in stock by Wednesday, if the distributer did not have one, it could take a month or more to get one.  After much examination he showed me that the flats on the hub were not flat, and that is what had caused the wheel to fail.  He was very knowledgeable and very helpful, he even loaned me a set of die tools to dress the threads on the axle in case they were damaged when the wheel came off from the trailer.  After much consideration it was decided to leave the trailer with the trailer shop, have the trailer shop acquire a new hub, rim (tire was still fine and could be reused) and lug nuts and inspect and insure the brakes were all working and then I would arrange for a transport of the trailer to Colorado.  Trailer dude suggested selling the trailer through him on commission after the repairs.  He said he would charge 10% commission on a sale, plus the cost of repairs (expected to be about $300).  He said people were always bugging him to find them a camping trailer.  We agreed on a prospective price for the used trailer after consulting the iPad.  I transferred all of the items we needed from the trailer into the Subaru and left the trailer in Kentucky.


Karen and I got back on the road Sunday morning by 06:15 AM and drove all the way into Kansas where we spent the night just outside of Topeka fighting some of the worst rain I have ever driven through.  It was still raining Monday morning and rained nearly all day until we entered Colorado and branched off of the Interstate on US 24 which we eventually made our way to Westcliffe just after dusk Monday evening.  About forty minutes away from our new home the skies unleashed even more rain, and a severe weather report for the counties we were travelling through warning of immediate flash floods with severity to be life threatening.  Just great, only a little way from our new home and our last leg of the trip could be washed out!  Luckily for us the horrible rain diminished as we started climbing in altitude, but we kept a watchful eye out of the creek the road was following.


The 26' truck was a beast, it did have cruise control as a saving grace, the dogs and I had a nice nest in the cab.  It had a 10-cylinder gasoline engine that roughly got about 6-7 miles per gallon on the flat straight Interstate.  Each fill up was about $130.  As we were getting closer to our destination, I was watching the level of gas in the tank quite closely as I knew the last leg of the trip up a section of highway 96 referred to as Hard Scrabble would take its toll on the truck.  We turned onto Hard Scrabble with 26 miles remaining to Westcliffe and the truck's instruments indicated that it had 186 miles to empty or approximately 31 gallons left.  Now Hard Scrabble is just a typical two lane bi-directional Colorado mountain road, with the exception of a section about four miles long that does not have a straight enough section to make a decent driveway and is on a very severe grade greater than 7% and we were travelling uphill to Westcliffe.  That poor old (actually a 2019 Ford F350) truck used all 10 cylinders and was in its lowest gear for those four miles with the speedometer never broke 10 mph.  When we rolled into town about fifteen miles later the truck's instruments indicated that distance to empty was now just 36 miles or just about 6 gallons of gas left.  When I turned the truck back in to U-Haul it took 54 gallons before the pump "clicked" at $172.  By calculation, the truck used 23 gallons of gas to go the last 26 miles.  More ciphering, if for 22 of those 26 miles the truck only did 3 mpg, that would consume 7.3 gallons leaving 23.67 gallons that were consumed over those four miles yielding .17 mpg or 5.92 gallons per mile.  That is why you almost NEVER see a big truck going up Hard Scrabble.


Once in Westcliffe we quickly found 5th street and our new house, I backed the truck down the driveway and we let all of the animals loose in the new house.  Our Realtor had taped the door key to the underside of a small table on the porch for us.  The dogs were running about like crazed fools in their new big back yard.  The cats were rather stand-offish as they seemed to be bothered that they were plucked out of their "den" in the truck.  Then we find out that the previous owner left about half of her crap in the garage, and lots and lots of other things throughout the house.  So now we had to move her abandoned stuff out of the way to make room for our things.  After grabbing an evening meal at a local bar/grill (the only thing open on a weeknight other than a gas station) I began unloading the truck.  We were supposed to turn the U-Haul truck in on Saturday but ended up keeping it for an additional four days until it was unloaded.


We have now been here just a little more than a week and I have removed the former owner's crap and have it out in the alley for trash pickup and we have unpacked about 1/3 of our boxes.  We also found out that the washer and dryer that conveyed with the house would soon be joining the rest of their materials in the alley, the dryer does not dry, the heating elements are not replaceable and rusted (?) in place.  The washer is even older than the dryer and is definitely on its last legs.  This made the wife a bit sad as we can't just pop into the local appliance store and have new set delivered the next day like we used to be able to.  The closest Lowes store is 65 miles away.  So we made a trek to Pueblo CO and to Lowes, Home Depot and Sams Club in search of appliances.  We came home after buying a new laundry set and kitchen suite to be delivered on Memorial Day.  We had left our living room furniture behind as the dogs had made a mess of the micro-fiber sectional we had.  So a new set of living room furniture was also acquired and should be delivered tomorrow.


The bright spot in this adventure is that our home in Chesapeake went on the market Monday evening as we arrived in Westcliffe.  In less than forty-eight hours we had multiple offers on the table, all for more than our asking price.  The winning offer is higher than we had asked for and the prospective buyers are doing conventional financing and were fully approved ahead of time.  They have also waived all home inspections and will pay all allowable closing costs.  We are scheduled to close on the 18th of June.


Since our retirement at the end of 2020 Karen and I have been actively busting our butts working to get our house ready to sell, close on the new house in Colorado and basically get the heck out of Virginia.  Not a day went by after the new year that we were not either scrapping ceilings, painting, fixing and/or packing things up.  While we have significant things to do here in our new house getting unpacked and settled, but we are NOT under any time constraint or "schedule".  Meaning we can do what we want and take as much time as we want in doing it.  The only thing we are in a hurry to do is settle our Virginia personal property tax before the Virginia deadline...



Chuck Jagow

Member – Dark Skies of The Wet Mountain Valley

Member – Colorado Springs Astronomy Association

Member - Back Bay Amateur Astronomers

Future         Verde Mont Observatory

Gone...        Rott'n Paws Observatory

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