Onward from day 57, Ron Bywaters and the Aussie crew split up into a group of tractors and a group of RVs with plans to reconvene after visiting the Grand Canyon. Below are their separate travels up to day 60. — Ed.
Day 57 — RVs
After an early morning walk through the pristine forest, it was time to head off through the beautiful mountains again.
The route through the Monarch Pass (11,312 feet) to Gunnison, Colo., was again picturesque with a new vista around each bend. A very pretty spot at the Red Creek Campground was a perfect place for an overnight stop. A walk from the camp led us to a beaver pond which, while the beavers were a bit shy of the camera, was a perfect example of their clever dam building habits.
The three tractor drivers who left Loveland have now caught up with Cumber and Jeff in Salt Lake City after a good run across the Rockies, as described in their notes.
Day 58 — RVs
Word from the five tractors drivers is that they have decided to drive straight to Las Vegas and tour to the Grand Canyon from there.
So the plan to meet up with them in a couple of days will not eventuate and we will continue at a leisurely pace, and catch up after we have visited the Grand Canyon. They were heading south from Salt Lake City this afternoon, en route to Cedar City and then Las Vegas.
Continuing the trip through the mountains saw the RVs travel to Montrose, Colo., then through flatter country to the hills of Ridgeway. As we headed west there was a magnificent range ahead of us — the Uncompahgre Plateau.
The scenery undertook a subtle change when we encountered the red hills of Placerville and headed toward Telluride. This village was another recommendation from the lads Andrew and Scott, and our visit there turned out to be a real bonus. Not only was the town very pretty, but there was also a gondola service up and over the mountain to Mountain Village on the other side and return, and this service was, unbelievably, free!
The scenery was magnificent — Telluride is surrounded by mountains on almost every side and has ski slopes down many of these. The shops are touristy but quite delightful and the whole area has a wonderful European feel about it. To finish a really fantastic day, a decision to try out one of the local restaurants was a great success, the choice being Italian.
Day 59 — RVs
The day started out showery but quite pleasant for the drive through the Lizard Head Pass which at 10,222 feet was dwarfed by the surrounding mountains that peaked at up to 14,000 feet.
A visit to the Anasazi Heritage Center was a very wise choice. This center focuses on the ruins found in the area of the Escalante Pueblo people and has a wonderful collection of artifacts as well as screening very interesting informative documentaries about the history of the original inhabitants and their way of life. A short walk leads visitors to some of the ruins which have been stabilized in an endeavour to prevent further deterioration.
Any further plans for sight-seeing were changed when an electrical storm hit the area whilst we were at the top of a 8,500-foot mountain in the Mesa Verde National Park — it was quite spectacular but also dangerous as lightning was striking areas close by, necessitating a hasty retreat. An early stopover was decided at Cortez, Colo., where a complete rainbow gave hope of better weather tomorrow!
Day 60 — RVs
This was the day we traveled through three states in the RVs on our leisurely trip to the Grand Canyon.
After attending to a few calls around Cortez, Colo., we headed south to a winery run by Guy Drew. Guy grows grapes in what looks like most inhospitable territory, but with plentiful water available by irrigation from the nearby river, he has remarkable success. His wines are all very palatable and his gardens are really very pretty. The house has been built from straw and has a wonderful Mexican feel to it and is beautifully appointed.
Many other properties in the area grow grape vines on the ridges of rocky outcrops. The only other crops seen were irrigated Lucerne which is baled for stock feed. The border into Utah was crossed at lunch time and the countryside became quite desert like with only a few oil rigs and rocky outcrops to break the skyline. Then as we approached Bluff, the rocks changed color to salmon pink and looked very fragile, with many breakaways obvious.
The trip through the Monument Valley was absolutely breathtaking — so many rock formations in this Navajo country. No wonder so many movies have been made in this area — you expect to see an American Indian jump out from almost every rock!
We crossed the San Juan River and proceeded to where the Mexican Hat formation was clearly seen. A stop at a Navajo stall gave us an opportunity to see some genuine Indian craftsmanship and a very nice young lady named Marlena was happy to sell us some jewellery.
We crossed the border into Arizona late afternoon and continued to the overnight stop at Kayenta, Ariz.
See photos and read more on Ron’s website, TransworldTractorTreks.com.
Day 57 — Tractors
Already in Utah, Aug. 22, 2009, saw us continue on Highway 40 toward Salt Lake City.
The countryside yet again offered great sights across the lush farming lands. The Strawberry River lead us to Starvation Reservoir — a name that seems to contradict this land that has so much to offer. After enjoying the view and taking a few photos our travels continued.
The view then returned to pines and mountains. At 7,000 feet we came across another large reservoir providing all sorts of boating and water activities for the many folk there. We continued our climb up the mountain to 8,020 feet then enjoyed a very long down grade at 6 percent. Lunch was taken at Heber City, Utah, then it was on to Highway 189 into Provo Canyon, part of Deer Creek State Park.
During this section there was yet another sight to behold — Strawberry Reservoir where there were resorts and accommodation of all types, beaches and boating beyond belief with a backdrop of snow tipped mountains. There were so many folk enjoying the facilities that vehicles towing boats were lined up to access the various launching ramps.
From here the three 9Gs with trailers in tow began the ascent up Alpine Pass to the summit at 8,060 feet. We can only repeat ourselves at this point and say the sights were incredible and our 9Gs did us proud.
A break was taken at the 16-mile level on the descent where we chatted with some campers before continuing on to the bottom of the mountain. We then rolled on into Salt Lake City where we were reunited with the other two 9Gs, so now we are a group of five tractors once again.
Day 58 — Tractors
The day was under way for everyone around 7 a.m.
A number of our ladies took the opportunity to go to Temple Square to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform. In the words of the ladies, “what a beautiful experience to have been able to see this performance.” They also had the opportunity to visit the rooftop gardens above the conservatorium and view where the church services are held in the winter months in the temple area.
After taking in the sights around the city and doing a bit of last minute provisioning, we departed the area in our “tractor train” to begin the next leg of our journey toward the canyons and Las Vegas.
The route taken was Highway 89 through fairly built up areas for approximately 60 miles. Fairview was our chosen destination where we were fortunate enough to be given the permission of the bishop to set up our tractors and campers in the car park adjoining the church. The car park was large enough to be able to form a circle enabling us to set up our tables and chairs and all contribute to our evening meal.
Quite a few local residents came to see us and topped up our shared meal with corn, rock melon and watermelon. As the evening went on the group enjoyed a visit from Geoff, Hannah and their two children with lots of chatter about their work — concrete flooring and foundations — and the trials and tribulations of carrying out this sort of work during the winter months.
Day 59 — Tractors
We were ready to leave our “car park” abode at 8 a.m.
Before our departure we were pleased to once again see Geoff arrive, this time laden with his company T-shirts for the group.
Geoff, Caldwell Concrete Co., we wish you and your family well in the future, and thank you for your generosity and interesting information.
Once back on Highway 89, we continued through Mt. Pleasant, Ephraim and Manti on to Highway 24 then off road for approximately 12 miles, leading us to Highway 62. This took us through Otter Creek on to the very scenic Highway 22.
Highway 22 then led us through a winding path between mountains, then desert terrain punctuated by irrigated lucerne paddocks and green grazing land full of very contented-looking cows.
We arrived at Bryce Canyon, Utah, at around 5 p.m. to a huge RV park nestled in the pines where we all settled in and began preparing for the sightseeing that awaits us here.
Day 60 — Tractors
This day saw the whole group take advantage of the shuttle service provided in Bryce Canyon by going to many beautiful lookouts.
Neville and Peter were our hikers doing a hike of the rim — approximately 1.5 hours. We regrouped at 3 p.m. ready to head out of the canyon and on toward Cedar City. Much to our amazement, whilst we had all enjoyed our time in Bryce Canyon, our departure took us through Red Canyon and it would have to be said that this too was spectacular.
Our chosen route was Highway 12 — followed by Highways 89 and 14 — with a summit of 7,777 feet above sea level and a touch of unsealed road just to keep us happy. On this route we entered Dixie National Forest.
As we traveled along this scenic path, climbing steadily to 9,800 feet, we watched yet another large thunderstorm form in the distance. Around 40 miles from Cedar City, Utah, at Scout Canyon, some 9,960 feet above sea level, we set up a bush camp and enjoyed an evening around a camp fire.
See photos and read more on Ron’s website, TransworldTractorTreks.com.