Another of those “let’s get some miles behind us” kind of days.
The forecast was for hot weather after our spell of really lovely mild days and the weatherman had it right this time.
Take off from Rapid City, S.D., was at 8 a.m. and the route was south down Route 79. A short detour into Hot Springs was an opportunity to visit an incredible attraction — the Mammoth Site. This is the site of a paleontology research activity where skeletons of the extinct mammoth, as well as many other animals which co-existed with these giants, are gradually being uncovered under what was once a cornfield.
An excavator unearthed the first bones when clearing a site for a housing development. Once the significance of the find was accepted, the land was purchased for what has become America’s greatest Ice Age treasure. The site is now home to the skeletons of some 58 mammoths, plus 40 other species of Ice Age animals that apparently died in this ancient spring-fed sinkhole 26,000 years ago. A tour of the center gives one a glimpse back into time and tells how these massive animals came to be locked into what has become a time capsule. Students give their time to continue the “dig” and more and more pieces of the puzzle are being unearthed.
Then it was on across the border into Nebraska on Route 71 and to Scottsbluff where the three tractors and two RVs parked for the night at the local Wal-Mart store — an opportunity to restock the larders.
Away at 7 a.m. for another long day’s travel.
The weather promised to be hot again but after so many lovely mild days we cannot complain.
We headed down Route 71 out of Scottsbluff, passing some magnificent rock formations, some of which are known as their Monument. A quick call into the look-out at the Wildcats Visitors’ Center just out of town gave panoramic views across the hills and valleys. This is a truly beautiful part of the country and the rock formations are really unusual.
Where crops are planted on the prairies, many are grown with irrigation and giant boom sprays can be seen on some farms. Once again the wind turbines were seen just out of Kimball, Neb., but not in the large quantities seen previously. A stopover for morning tea at Kimball gave the local press the opportunity for an interview with some of the team.
The prairies are flat to undulating and at times quite steep. The GPS registered us as being over 5,000 feet above sea level on two occasions. By the time we crossed the border into Colorado at 10:30, the elevation was becoming quite high and some of the hills fairly steep.
A highlight of the day was a stop at Stoneham, Colo., where a local makes whirlies — wind operated wooden toys of every description from a coyote to tweety birds to a stockman on his horse — all very well made and presented. Inside this display area we also saw lots of garden ornaments and gaily painted tulips. This was a welcome distraction from the heat of the day.
The Route 71 continued on to our overnight stopover at Limon and another press interview — it is amazing how quickly word spreads about the tractors coming to town. After the very hot conditions, all the team were glad to relax under shady trees before heading to the local Chinese restaurant for dinner.
See photos and read more on Ron’s website, TransworldTractorTreks.com.