Aug. 18 to 21: Colorado and Utah
by Ron Bywaters
Our stay in Loveland was timed to coincide with the 27th Annual Convention of the Oregon-California Trails Association to which Transworld Tractor Trekkers had been invited as special guests.
After a quiet morning at the RV park, the team moved three tractors and personnel across to The Ranch at 4 p.m. to prepare for the welcome reception. Our group was warmly welcomed by Camille Bradford, president of the Colorado-Cherokee Trail Chapter, hosts of this year’s event. Ron had been requested to give a short address and we had hoped to be able to show photos during his talk, but the technology would not work and it took many tries by many helpful people to eventually enable us to show the video of “Tractors Across Australia” which continued on during subsequent speakers and was enjoyed by those present.
After the welcoming speeches we were entertained with a wonderful selection of country songs by Jane Leche and a group of gifted musicians. As a special surprise, Jane had worked up a rendition of “Waltzing Matilda” and, with words on the overhead projector, those present were invited to join in, which the Australians did with pride.
Once again the tractors were driven to The Ranch for the opening ceremony of the 27th Annual Convention of the Oregon-California Trails Association.
The proceedings started with a flag ceremony and “Pledge of Allegiance” by the Loveland High School Junior ROTC Color Guard. This was followed by a very touching American Indian blessing and ceremony with Kiowa/Arapaho Elder John Emhoolah giving his blessing in both English and his own native language, which he followed up with a song in his own tongue.
During the morning there were talks on various subjects which were all found to be interesting and informative. After lunch the team members returned to the RV park before heading into the city of Loveland at 4 p.m. for activities outside the restored Rialto Theatre prior to the premiere of a locally produced movie “Pursuit of a Dream.” In this film a group of American children from several states along with three teachers were given the opportunity to relive the experiences of the pioneer families who traveled the original wagon trails to settle this country. The story was told through the eyes of the children who had to come to terms with the difficulties experienced in another time while learning to bond together as a team.
The convention runs until Saturday, Aug. 22, and association members will take various tours to places of historical interest throughout Colorado. This was the first time that this state has hosted the convention, and much work has obviously been done by a lot of people over many months to bring OCTA2009: Cherokee Trail to the West 1819–1858, as the convention was called, to what is shaping up to be a very successful event. The president of the local chapter, Camille Bradford, has to be congratulated on the smooth running of the two days when our group was involved, and our thanks are extended to her, the local committee and the team of volunteers for making us so welcome.
On the 20th the three 9Gs that had been taking part in the activities at Loveland departed for the crossing of the Rockies.
At this point in time we would like to acknowledge and thank those at the Oregon Trails Conference who took the time to give considered advice and information on the best route for the tractors to take across the Rockies. The chosen route was 14/40 that being the Cameron Pass. Be assured you were right, we crossed without any issues and enjoyed some of the most magnificent scenery.
During the first part of the day we traveled almost parallel to the Poudre River watching many folk fishing and enjoying the surrounds. At the highest peak during the day we were at 10,276 feet above sea level. The roads were very well maintained and offered pull overs for passing so regularly that there was never a problem with us being a little slower than normal road users.
Throughout the day we enjoyed breaks at the Colorado towns of Hebron and Waldon — the latter allowing for a little shopping time and a special purchase by Anne. We made other stops along the way to enjoy some very special waterways and sights — this country continues to offer spectacular scenery each day.
Our final decent of the day was a 7-mile, 7 percent grade down the western side of the Rockies to the ski resort of Steamboat Springs on the Yampa River. What a truly wonderful sight that was and we have all agreed that it would be great to be able to come back and see it in the snow season.
As it was Dick’s 70th birthday we planned to help him celebrate and decided what better place to do that than Steamboat Springs. We took a stroll in the main area of the town and stopped at the Steamboat Yacht Club situated on the banks of the Yampa River to toast Dick’s special day. Having been asked our reason for being in the town and explaining our “trek” across the USA we were invited to park our tractors and trailers on the lawn adjoining the Yacht Club. Once parked we all cleaned up and returned inside the club for a beautiful dinner together. We thank the owners and staff for their contribution to a very special night.
The two RVs did not leave Loveland with the tractors as Allan was recuperating from a virus infection and had medical advice to rest. Also Ron’s RV was in need of some mechanical maintenance which needed to be carried out before heading over the Rockies.
Ron and Kerry headed into Denver for repairs while Allan and Carolyn remained at Loveland.
At 7 a.m. we departed Steamboat Springs, Colo., to continue our journey west toward Salt Lake City.
Most of the day we have enjoyed rolling prairie lands with a wonderful backdrop of ever-intriguing mountains. We have passed through coal mining areas, sage bush covered fields and various crops — even a little bit more corn. An observation by the group was the amount of equipment related to the production and recovery of oil and gas in the area. Today was also a day for seeing wildlife. Prior to crossing the border of Colorado and Utah we visited an information center at Dinosaur. Here we enjoyed a film on the finding of dinosaur fossils in the area which we all found very interesting. Each day we seem to learn something new in this great land.
Once we crossed the border we drove on to the city of Vernal, which was a site to behold — baskets of cerise and white petunias on both sides of the street (some two miles or so long) as well as adorning many, many buildings along the way. This theme continued through the following town of Roosevelt. Whilst we have seen similar baskets at many points during our travels we have never seen anything quite like this.
It was decided that we would continue on to Myton where we planned to spend the night at an RV park but before we reached the park we were approached by a local couple, Kelly and BJ Braithwaite. They very kindly offered us accommodation on their property. We acknowledge your generous hospitality, Kelly and BJ.
We have 150 miles to do to take us in to Salt Lake City where we anticipate arriving around mid-afternoon tomorrow.
Allan was feeling well enough to travel again, so joined up with Ron in Denver and the two RVs headed into the Rocky Mountains. A chance meeting with a couple of local lads, Andrew and Scott, led to a suggestion to stay at the forest camp at Buffalo Peaks Wilderness. No sooner had camp been set up and a fire underway than the lads arrived in their all-terrain vehicle and took the Ron and Allan for spins which they thoroughly enjoyed. This was a wonderful place for a true getaway camp.
See photos and read more on Ron’s website, TransworldTractorTreks.com.