Our extensive camper search ended when we contacted Harrison RV in Jefferson, Iowa. A very helpful and pleasant salesman assisted us over the phone with all the usual paperwork and we were set to drive from Colorado to Iowa to pick up our camper. Iowa is only a day away, and it would be an exciting drive across the state of Nebraska for two novice camper owners. I had driven across Nebraska every other summer of my life from California to visit relatives in Iowa, so I was used to the drive and knew that it was straight, hot, and green in July. It was going to be our first real adventure. Our plans quickly changed when our salesman offered to drive our camper half way to Colorado, meeting us in Lexington, Nebraska and saving us a full day of driving each direction just to extract our camper from its current location. We immediately said yes to this offer.
We met the salesman in a Walmart parking lot in Lexington. After a quick drive from Colorado (okay, maybe it was six hours), we arrived a half hour early and saw that our camper was already there, windows open and the awning out, waiting to meet its new family. Even better, our helpful salesman was there to explain how to operate every feature of our camper. I took notes, though he provided us with the manual and told us how to contact him if we needed anything. His anecdotal stories of camper mishaps helped us remember what to do (and not do). He had everything we needed to start our camper life from toilet paper to two full propane tanks. He helped us hook up the camper and waived goodbye as we pulled out of Walmart and headed back to I-80 West toward Colorado. Things could not have been easier or smoother for this transaction.
We drove toward Colorado, but only had to drive to a campsite we had reserved at North Sterling State Park. The city of Sterling is directly off the highway and fairly easy to maneuver. We got gas and then headed to the campground, which is located at a reservoir in the middle of the plains of northeastern Colorado. We drove down a two-lane road and followed signs to the park. Expansive fields surrounded us and I am fairly sure we would have gotten lost without the signs. We arrived to find a good sized reservoir and a campground full of campers and pull-through sites.
When we decided to get a new camper, I decided we should also purchase some camper-specific household items. Searching for indestructible, yet homey furnishings that were coordinated had been a fun pass-time in the weeks leading to the camper pick-up. I was so excited to see everything organized in the camper that I had packed all items (necessary or just decorative) in the back of the Explorer. There were dishes, pots and pans, silverware, bedding, camp chairs, towels, organizers for drawers and clothes. Everything one needs for a small apartment. And food. We had food for our fridge and pantry. Not missing a detail, Harrison RV had cooled our fridge starting that morning on their drive to meet us in Lexington, so everything could go directly in the fridge. We probably looked ridiculous frantically emptying boxes of household goods in the camper with the air conditioner blasting (it was about 90 degrees at North Sterling in July). I could see other campers looking warily at us as I threw open the door to toss yet another large box outside to be recycled later at home. But we had that camper set up and ready for our first dinner by 6 p.m.
Luckily, we had a quick dinner inside the air conditioned space because an amazing storm moved in by 8 p.m. The lightening, thunder, sideways rain and wind were causing complete mayhem across the campground. We watched as a tent was upended and blew across several campsites. Another camper arrived in the tumultuous storm and attempted to park, but the storm was so bad that the people ran back inside their truck within minutes, already soaked and in need of new clothes. It was the first time in our four years of camping that we ever experienced a storm of this magnitude. And luckily we were cozy in our Micro Minnie.
The next morning the sun was out, birds were chirping, and we were ready to explore. We took a walk to the small visitors center. Since we don’t have a boat, we looked around the lake and then headed into the town of Sterling. We saw that there was an annual car show that weekend and decided to attend. It was incredibly full of cars from across Colorado and other nearby states. We have an updated 1965 Mustang, so we were thrilled to see so many beautiful vintage cars and couldn’t resist the hamburger fundraiser for lunch. The large cottonwood trees around the park provided plenty of shade. We took frozen ice cream sandwiches back to our camper for dessert that night, something we never could do in a tent.
We relaxed at the campsite and enjoyed our first outdoor dinner and a walk to the lake to watch the sunset.