I think people are a little intimidated by the CCR (and repeaters in general) and the coverage. Don't be, no reason for it. Remember we key the mic to test our gear and practice our skills for the rare time we might have to count on it. If you're in an accident you want to know that you have the right frequencies and tones in your radio, that the gear is sound and the coax is unbroken and you want to know how to use it without thinking about it. That comes from regular practice and testing.
Repeaters on FM VHF are way better than bothering with simplex, which is why first responders use them. It's fun to optimize for point-to-point distance, but in an emergency you will want to know how to work within a net on a repeater so jump into the round robin when a subject strikes your fancy. So never worry about using a repeater, if you don't hear anyone on the CCR, perfect time to put our you call and check it. You are doing the repeater owner a favor, really you are. Call out for a ham in GJ or Salida or the Springs, you are testing the links, too.
Plus there are blessedly very, very few conceited hams and they almost always sit waiting on 14.272 or 14.313 to pounce on a new call sign or someone not perfect in their eyes. Heck with them. There are dozens of others listening who are happy to encourage and Elmer you.
There are around 2 million amateurs worldwide and 1,999,995 of them just want to shoot the breeze about your Cruiser, what you do for a living, the weather and most of all radios and operating! Never forget that everyone in the hobby went out of their way to get a license and set up radios, so it really is about the enoyment.
"Silent enim leges inter arma." -- Cicero