All Aboard Harvest | A Working Vacation
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A Working Vacation

Matheson, Colorado – 
We finally made a decision and there’s no turning back now.

Weather began playing against the “plan” we had. The plan was immediately after we finished the wheat in Colorado, we were going to make our way to the San Luis Valley for the barley harvest. Then the monsoons moved in. The plan started taking a different course of action. The swathing dates for the barley kept getting pushed later, which meant picking it up got later. The question going through Jim’s mind has been “Do we gamble with the weather and head over the pass and count on a short run? Or, do we play it safe and stay where we’re at?” The reason he was starting to second guess what we should do is we’re planning on helping with the proso millet again this year. Right now (and we all know plans can change), a date has been set to “possibly” begin picking up proso September 1. That doesn’t leave much time for us to make the trip to the valley (three times) and back (three times).

When I was finally given the chance to give him my opinion, I told him I thought we should just gamble and head over the pass. We’re here…we have a combine…we’re supposed to be using that combine…and we’re usually in one place for ten days to two weeks before moving. So, we made our first trip yesterday afternoon with Frank and Pete (our trucks). I had no idea what to expect.


The countryside from the farm to LaVeta is desert. It was HOT and the air was dry. My eyes and nose literally had every bit of moisture sucked right out.


And then I started seeing them on the horizon…the mountains. I get as much pleasure seeing mountains as I do a field of wheat! And tend to take about as many pictures to verify this!


Yes, we did get rained on but with the heat, it didn’t stay wet very long.


The perfectly shaped mountain. I couldn’t help but think about the many pictures that have been drawn by my kids which included mountains that looked exactly like this one. I now know the mountain they used to draw does exist.


The LaVeta pass is an eight-mile climb. When you finally get up and over the pass, the next town to stop in is Ft. Garland. And…yes…the route we took to our destination is marked on the map as a “Scenic Route”.




This mountain range is one of several that can be seen from the place we parked Frank and dropped the grain trailer. We will be helping Ryan and Casey while in the valley and this is what they get to look at every. single. day. (jealous) Yes, this is going to be like a working vacation!

As I mentioned, we dropped the grain trailer and parked Frank and left again in the Pete. By now, it was 8:30 pm and we needed something to eat. We walked into a restaurant at 8:50 – they close at 9:00. “Can we still get something to eat?” “Absolutely” was their reply. Once we had a quick bite, we made our way a bit further down the road. We pulled into an empty lot, parked and slept in the “Hotel Pete.” This is what we woke up to in Blanca, Colorado:



And the next several pictures are of the view on the way down the other side of the pass (forgive the dirty windows). 









We returned to the Cottage about 2:00 p.m. Wednesday. We waited for the heat of the day to disappear and then washed the Beast for the first time this summer. It was so dirty. She’s loaded and ready to make the trip over the pass Thursday morning. Plans are to leave shortly after sunrise…THAT’S 6:00 AM! I’ll be the first one to tell you I am NOT a morning person! They’re predicting another hot day for eastern Colorado and Jim wants to make it up and over the pass before that heat kicks in. 

Once we get this trip made, we’ll have to make another trip to Goodland, Kansas to get our MacDon pick-up head. So, that means all that will remain to make the trip will be the header and the trailer house.  I look forward to this new adventure. I just can’t imagine waking up every day and getting to work in such beautiful surroundings! What a job we have!

All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ is sponsored by High Plains Journal and New Holland Agriculture. The Z Crew can be reached at

  • Neil Hadley
    Posted at 13:15h, 11 August

    This sounds like such an adventure I envy you and your adventure hope all goes well.

    • Tracy
      Posted at 01:21h, 16 August

      Thanks, Neil! I hope things turn out good too. If nothing else…we got to be in the mountains for a little while. 🙂

  • Rob
    Posted at 19:04h, 11 August

    That is one rough pass Tracy our 42 ft coach burnt to the ground on 8-12-15. Takes Jims advice and leave early!! Alamosa has a nice Walmart if you need anything!!! And nice people to!!

    • Tracy
      Posted at 01:22h, 16 August

      Oh my! That doesn’t sound very good! We’re actually going to leave the “cottage” at the farm and stay in a motel while we’re over there. But, with as many tires that are on the road (for us), let’s hope we don’t have an outcome like you! I spotted the Walmart…

  • Leann
    Posted at 08:30h, 12 August

    Know that area and that pass quite well. My husband’s dad was raised in that valley. We have relatives in Ft Garland.

    • Tracy
      Posted at 01:23h, 16 August

      It’s so beautiful! I think we’re rather lucky to get to be in such a gorgeous area to work!

  • Hugh
    Posted at 18:58h, 15 August

    Wow that brings back memories, I am from Australia and worked the harvest with Mcdougale Harvesting in 2007, we went into the valley as well, I remember breaking down on the climb and having to pull into the parking bay you photographed, then blowing a front tyre in the truck on the way back down. Such an adventure. We were based around Monte Vista and Center, an incredible place to work.

    • Tracy
      Posted at 20:54h, 17 August

      It is incredible here! I hope some of the places that I share and our adventures brings back more memories for you. Harvest gets in your blood, that’s for sure! We’re staying in a motel in Monte Vista. We haven’t been able to get started yet but we’re hoping maybe tomorrow (8/18). Rain showers had us stopped today.

  • Don wilken
    Posted at 13:03h, 23 August

    Thanks for the San Luis valley pictures and comments. I’m a former valley harvester, a New Holland combine guy, and a South Fork Co home owner.
    I love it there and miss it. please keep the pictures coming.

    • Z Crew
      Posted at 11:03h, 03 September

      Thank you, Don! This area is absolutely beautiful! I know when we head back over the mountain for the plains, I’m going to feel that tug on my heart!!