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Chasing your next adventure? Make sure your RV can handle Colorado’s harsh climate

This sponsored content was brought to you by Humphrey RV

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When you can camp in 80-degree weather at 4,000 feet one day, but move to a site in the snow at 10,000 feet the next day, you’re going to need an RV that can keep up with your wild Colorado adventures.

“These changes in elevation can have dramatic effects on an RV — the amount of oxygen is significantly different, which affects the LP system (furnace, water heater, stove and more), not to mention the temperature swings,” said Paul Roach, general manager of Humphrey RV with locations in Grand Junction and Montrose. “You can jump from 80 degrees to 30 degrees in the same day, relying on your A/C and then your furnace in a few hours. How well your RV is insulated becomes very important.”

All RVs are not created equally, which is why Roach said anyone looking for an RV to use in places like Colorado has to be a savvy buyer.

“Be sure you know exactly what you are buying, because that great deal your Uncle Ned gets you in Texas might be your worst nightmare when you try to take it to 10,000 feet skiing or to Elk Camp and literally nothing works,” Roach said.

Here’s some of his best advice before you buy an RV for adventure trips in Colorado.

Ask yourself these three questions

  1. Where do you plan on going? (Determine the size of RV you need — they range from 10 to 45 feet — in order to get in and out of your destinations.)
  2. How many people will be joining you? (Determine the number of sleeping areas you will need.)
  3. How big is your tow vehicle? (Do you need a new Duramax, or will your Rubicon pull just fine?)

Cold weather considerations

There are some terms in the RV industry that Roach said can mislead people. Many RVs have one of the following stickers plastered on the side: “4 seasons,” “All Season,” “Extreme Weather Package,” or “Polar Package.”

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“There is no industry standard that defines these terms, and every manufacturer has a different definition for their phrase,” Roach said. “So, one ‘Extreme Climate Package’ could mean it has an extra layer of insulation in the roof. Well, that’s not really going to keep your tanks from freezing when you’re skiing under the lights at Keystone, is it?”

He’s seen other examples of these variations in cold-weather packages include things like 2-inch-thick foam walls, but the RV still has single-pane windows.

“There are a few manufacturers that have their rigs taken into a massive freezer and have the temperature brought to freezing for a day or two — this type of test is legitimate,” Roach said. “If the rig survives the night in the freezer, you can trust that it will perform for you in the real world. In general, you get what you pay for. Unless the RV you are looking at has gone through the freeze test and passed, those climate packages are nothing more than lip-service.”

Humphrey RV orders its rigs as specifically tailored to the Colorado style of camping as possible — that means the biggest furnace, the maximum amount of A/C available and as many Enclosed Tank Valves — which prevent yucky situations from frozen tank valves —  as possible.

A full underbelly covering will protect the bottom of the RV from things like mice, snow, cold, magnesium chloride, etc.

“if your RV does have a cold weather package, it will have a few heat ducts dedicated to heating the underbelly, keeping your water lines and tanks from freezing, but some RVs will only use a thin sheet of plastic for the underbelly, nothing more,” Roach said. “The best cold weather rigs will have thick plastic underbelly, then insulation, then tanks and heat. Word of caution: if your furnace is off, there is no heat being pumped into the underbelly and your tanks will freeze.”

Roach said the very best cold weather RV is the Arctic Fox line of campers — “there’s a reason they are named after an animal that thrives in the snow,” he said.

Colorado’s powerful sunshine

Colorado’s elevation means there’s less protection from harmful UV rays. Roach said the sun in Colorado is so brutal that it will do damage to most RV exteriors in a matter of years.

Most RVs have a gelcoat, like a boat, that doesn’t hold up like automotive paint. It needs to be waxed every year or so, and you can have a local paint shop put a clear coat over the gel coat, which Roach said helps tremendously.

The sun can also eat the plastic covers on RV roofs, so Roach recommends storing the RV under cover — preferably in a 14-foot-high garage built specifically for the RV. (For real — this really is a worthwhile investment.)

On the plus side, the harsh and brutal sun can produce tons of solar power.

“Solar panels have improved by leaps and bounds in the last decade and the efficiency is incredible these days. Pair that with a new lithium iron phosphate battery (not lithium ion), and you will be the happiest camper in all the land.”

That’s because the lithium phosphate batteries are the future of RVing, Roach said. They store more power, charge faster, are lighter and can cycle up to 5,000 times. And they can be drawn down to 5 percent, vs. 50 percent for a traditional battery.

“It’s the last battery you will ever need for your RV,” he said.

Films that shine a light on the human spirit

This Sponsored content is brought to you by 5Point Adventure Film Festival.

Blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer takes on the Grand Canyon in a kayak in “The Weight of Water.”

In the 5Point film “The Weight of Water,” blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer takes on the Grand Canyon in a kayak, but this impressive physical and mental achievement is really just the backdrop for a much more remarkable human story.

“The film transcends the outdoor genre with strong characters and a very compelling story about life that includes all of us, not just Erik,” said filmmaker Michael Brown. “Kayaking and the Grand Canyon, while beautiful, are merely a backdrop for a deeply human drama mixed with a wonderful story of friendship.”

Transcending the outdoor genre is exactly what makes 5Point films — all of which capture and display the 5 points of purpose, respect, commitment, humility and balance — unique in the outdoor adventure film world. Other festivals may tug at viewers’ adrenaline strings, but 5Point wants its films to do that and more.

“We’re looking for the stories behind these adventures,” said Regna Jones, 5Point’s Executive Director. “We want to go deep into the human story to find out what drives and motivates people.”

Evolving from the adrenaline-pumping vibe of the festival’s early days, today’s festival connects with its audiences by showing moving stories about the human spirit and how adventure is for everyone — with a bit of action-adventure mixed in.

“Whether someone is showing true grit, pure joy or overcoming an obstacle in life, it’s the people — the human story — that drives a 5Point film,” Meredith McKee, 5Point’s Program Director.

Adventure belongs to all

Weihenmayer, who has been blind since the age of 14 due to a genetic condition, trained for six or seven years to kayak the Grand Canyon. He also was the subject of a film, “Farther Than the Eye Can See,” about his 2001 journey climbing Mt. Everest.

Mike Chambers and Jason Antin in “In Due Time.” In the film, these two men openly explore their thoughts on fatherhood, family and adventure — and how the proper balance between these three is necessary for their happiness.

“Some people are on the fast track in life and they want to conquer a mountain really fast. I’m not really into that — I like to build up and see if you can flourish in an environment rather than just survive it,” Weihenmayer said.

When asked what drives him to accomplish these harrowing feats, Weihenmayer doesn’t have a clear answer.

“I can tell you why I don’t do things — I don’t do things to prove blind people can do things. That’s sort of shallow and unsustainable. The world says I can’t do something so I’m going to go do it — I don’t think that’s enough,” he said.

Weihenmayer said it’s Brown’s work as the filmmaker that impressively captures the real story behind the journey. He said filmmakers often don’t get enough attention for these storytelling achievements.

“When I left the Grand Canyon, you have this story but it hasn’t really emerged yet,” Weihenmayer said. “Filmmakers try to figure out what’s the story and where’s the truth in this experience. I think Michael really tried to tap into some universal things a lot of people experience in life and the outdoors. People can connect themselves — their own fears, limitations and dreams — to the characters in the film. Michael nailed it. He did such a masterful job connecting it with people.”

That’s the root of a 5Point film, Jones said — knowing that it’s going to be full of heart. From 5Point’s perspective, “adventure” is a very broad term.

“It does not matter if you are a kayaker or not, or if you have been to the Grand Canyon or not. If you have lived life and suffered from setbacks, you will appreciate the very human and very universal aspects of this story,” Brown said. “What especially resonates is that in life, our choices define us and our perception of success and failure.”

The Carbondale experience

Brown sees Carbondale as the heart of a true mountain community that encompasses the entirety of the Roaring Fork Valley.

“There is a lot of authenticity in the audience at 5Point,” he said. “They will see through anything contrived.”

The platform of the festival challenges its filmmakers and audiences to take on a new view of life, and to be more open to new ideas, cultures and current events, according to Rob Prechti, the subject of the film “(People) Of Water.”

“My favorite part of this festival is interacting with the community, sharing ideas and thoughts with the directors, creatives and influencers, the hosts and general audience,” he said. “Everyone has a story to tell no matter how mundane or exciting, and it is that connection that really brings the community together.”  

(People) of Water is the story of Rob Prechtl, a member of the U.S. Men’s Raft team, on a journey to learn the craft of outrigger paddling.

There will be more than 100 special guests coming to town for this year’s festival. And in the spirit of this special mountain community, there will also be many surprises.

“After many films, we will bring up the filmmakers and athletes in the films on stage to share their behind-the-scenes stories with the audience. We also look forward to moments of music played out in our films and love to surprise the audience with a live-score or song after a few films every year. 

” McKee said. “It really surprises the audiences — and very much amplifies the message of the film and leaves the audience feeling inspired and changed.”

5Point has worked hard to build this reputation authentically. Jones said the nature of the festival and the ethos it represents has the capacity to make the world a better place.“Caring about the planet, being healthy, active, having the 5 points to focus on — it’s a spiritual invitation to be a good human and take care of our environment and earth, and learn about each other and connect and walk with a bit more grace and humility,” she said. “That’s what excites me about this organization.”

5Point’s Dream Project sparks creativity, confidence for local students

Sponsored

By awarding scholarship money to local students each year, 5Point aims to help students ignite their passions and follow their dreams

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by 5Point Film Festival

When Julie Kennedy founded the 5Point Film Festival, she knew she wanted to use the festival as a means to help inspire, educate and motivate young adults in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Dream Project evolved a few years later, in 2010, but it was very much a part of Kennedy’s original vision. She wanted to create a program for youth that embodied those 5 guiding principles, or “points,” for which the festival was founded: purpose, respect, commitment, humility and balance.

“I wanted to give back to high school kids in the valley, from Aspen to New Castle. I want to give them hope and trust that they can manifest whatever they want to manifest to make their dreams happen,” Kennedy said. “There’s nothing more empowering than the belief in the fact that you can make something out of nothing and go with it. That’s the juice — that’s what takes you all through your life.”

The Dream Project offers seven scholarships to students in the Roaring Fork Valley every year “who want to explore their personal boundaries while living their own best adventure.” The ambiguity in the project description language is part of the magic — it pushes students to think confidently and creatively.

“Society gets so caught up in what you’re supposed to be doing and what you’re told to be doing instead of, ‘no, this is what I want it to look like,’” Kennedy said. “So often, we adults and parents can often crush those dreams. I wanted to break that cookie-cutter mold and help kids find their souls in what they truly love. … The process alone is going to get them jump-started into really having the confidence to do just about anything they want.”

What’s in a dream?

Chloe Gonzales applied for the Dream Project in 2018 because she saw that 5Point was actively trying to help students pursue their dreams and better themselves. She applied with the idea to make a film about Abasolo, Mexico, the town where her family is from.

“I want future applicants to know that this changed my life for the better and that students shouldn’t be fearful of living out their passions. I feel like we grow up in a world where people my age are constantly being shut down because of their dreams,” Gonzales said. “These dreams should be supported and that’s something the Dream Project wants to elevate.”

Winning the scholarship changed her understanding not only of filmmaking, but also of her family’s culture and history.

“I made a short documentary for people to truly witness what life is like there. More importantly, I made it for myself to explore my ability in filmmaking and to understand my roots as a Mexican-American,” Gonzales said. “The project as a whole was incredible for me. Words cannot describe how much it’s allowed me to understand myself as a Chicana.”

Tracy Wilson has been director of the Dream Project for 5Point since 2014. In that time, she said the types of Dream Project scholarship applications received has expanded beyond projects centered around film or outdoor adventures.

“We’ll consider any project — whatever the adventure is for that person,” Wilson said.

Past Dream Project recipients have used their scholarship funds to do many diverse projects, from learning American Sign Language to creating a LBGTQ+ high school dance to restoring an antique car that one recipient inherited from his grandfather.

Projects that include some element of giving back to supporting a community are encouraged, but not necessarily required, Wilson said.

“The judges just want to see that there’s thought behind the project,” Wilson said. “Reach for things that maybe have been out of your capacity or you haven’t had the time to do. Even students whose projects don’t get selected, there’s a lot to be gained by going through the process.”

Mentoring

Students interested in applying should reach out to mentors to talk about their project ideas. Wilson, who is also a teacher at Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, said she’s available to any student who needs support during the application process. If a student has a passion but isn’t sure how to turn that passion into a project, mentors can help.

“Supporting youth is important to us, because that’s where you can really light a fire in terms of caring about those passions,” Wilson said.

5Point keeps the application process simple by asking students who they are, what their dream is and what they need from 5Point to get there.

While students have total ownership of their projects, sometimes mentors can really help refine their visions.

Will Sardinsky, a Dream Project recipient in 2013, said he completed his application in just a couple of days thanks to help and advice he received after calling a few mentors. He was really into photography at the time but had never put together a cohesive project. After becoming more aware of Thompson Divide oil and gas lease issues and feeling passionate about protecting the area, he felt he could do a project that combined these two passions.

He said the application itself was relatively easy. He encourages students to apply, even if they think they don’t have enough time.

“Think about what kind of change you want to make and just formulate a project around that,” Sardinsky said. “You don’t need to have these big aspirations, but if there’s a change you want to make, reach out to some mentors and refine your idea.”