Prev: Day 17: Halfway across Nevada on 10/10/10
Next: Day 19: More Salt Lake City then on to Wyoming
10/11/2010: Day 18: Battle Mountain to Salt Lake City
This Monday I again woke before Karen, and glanced outside. The clouds looked good for a colorful sunrise. So I dressed warm and slipped out with both cameras. The little one I set up to watch the sun rise over the mountains in the east in time lapse mode. The bigger one I wandered around snapping shots.
I woke before sunrise, and slipped out of our room in the Big Chief Motel to try filming a time-lapse sunrise. The clouds were good.
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Sunrise clouds over the Big Chief Motel in Battle Mountain, Nevada.
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One thing that I learned this morning was that I should have faced the camera west to show the sunrise creeping down the mountain, rather then just lighting the skies against a mountain silhouette. Next time.
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The tracks that were so impressively busy the previous evening are lonelier in the morning.
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At one point I heard a couple of large black dogs barking, and turned to see them charge across the street from the motel parking lot. Right for me. Maybe they were surprised to see a dark figure in a green hoodie. Anyway, I quelled my inner fear and stood my ground. They ran past on either side with a quick sniff, and went about their business. Their owner, the archaeologist I'd mentioned before, came running after them, apologizing and swearing that they'd never run across the highway like that before. Yeah, most cases of dog attacks are from dogs that had never done it before, usually on people who don't understand dog etiquette.

Anyway, after the sun was up, I heard Karen whistle to me from the Motel. I joined her in the lobby of the Big Chief, and we packed and got on the road.
Battle Mountain, a sign on the way out.
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And back onto the interstate, with clouds promising interesting lighting for the drive between the Sierras and the Rockies.
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I just liked the contrasts between the various elements of the landscape
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As I've said before, a fascination with tunnels and bridges.
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Through the now streaked windshield, we see some serious rain over to the right. Is it moving our way, again?
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Cloud scrubbed mountains over scrublands
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And we brake for coffee instead of switching drivers at a rest area in Wells, Nevada. I looked up Bella's Espresso House (http://www.bellas.us/bellasstore/) just for this caption. Everything seems to be online, now.
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The weather was interesting, in the red-sky-by-morning sense. Scattered showers and cross winds.
We stopped for coffee in Wells, NV. We took the old highway through what's left of the town. This had been a boom town in the heyday of family auto trips. The strip was now a series of abandoned motels, restaurants, and gas stations. I remember road trips before the modern interstates, and this town is an epitaph to those times.

We planned to stop in the last town in Nevada for lunch and Karen's last chance to gamble. When we got to West Wendover, it was almost noon. But I wasn't hungry. We stopped for gas and filled our bellies at one of the new mega casinos.
I suppose that I am easily amused, by the bright clouds under the dark clouds over the ever changing terrain, and rain.
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Watching the clouds snuggle up to another peak.
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Approaching West Wendover, a last chance to gamble, and stop for lunch.
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Yes, another borderland casino strip on US-93, Bus I-80
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Karen thought that this place looked promising for a lunch break
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Doctor, my eyes! What actually ran through my head was, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
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A relatively quiet diner. After a meal I didn't really want, I sat and wrote while Karen fed slots. There was no WiFi, or I'd have posted from there.
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The state line was an actual line across the road. I made Karen turn back so I could get a picture of it.
Few places show so literal of a state line.
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Utah started out as alkalai flats. Back when the Pacific plate ducked under the west coast of our continent, it lifted the edge and trapped a big inland sea. Where it couldn't drain, it dried up and left a salt stratum. In this area, the salt layer is currently exposed. Rain and evaporation create square miles of surreal flat surface.
So we get into Utah, and I have to take the first exit to see these salt flats. Why? So many land speed records happened and will happen on the Bonneville Salt Flats (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonneville_Salt_Flats)
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One feature of a featureless, flat landscape is that a half inch of rain creates miles-wide lakes.
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Alkaline scrub brush is what grows out here. But so do pretty clouds.
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I had to exclaim WTF when I saw this. My first guess was "cell tower". But it turns out that this is the The Tree of Utah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphor:_The_Tree_of_Utah).
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I got a bit of exercise at the next rest area, climbing up a rocky ridge.
At the next rest area, I saw a rocky hill. The goat in me took over. Karen saw me, and took a picture. I did watch for the local wildlife, as the sign warns.
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Karen's picture of me at the peak of the steeper-than-it-looks hill.
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You saw Karen with the camera because I used effectively a 900mm lens. Here's the normal view of that rest area parking lot from up that hill.
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In case you'd like to climb the hill, it was at the Grassy Mountain East rest area on I-80 in Utah
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It was impressive to see proof that this is where table salt comes from. We zoomed past the Morton Salt works.
Ever wonder where the salt in the shakers comes from? Here's the Morton Salt factory, spewing salt from a conveyor into piles to be shoveled into bags and eventually into consumer containers and packets. Those piles are about 50 feet high, judging from the buildings.
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And eventually got to the highest elevation salt water reservoir in the world: The Great Salt Lake.
Just some nice reflections. The blurry foreground comes from the lateral 75mph.
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On the banks of the Great Salt Lake
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Karen tires of Dan taking pictures of the Salt Lake, and takes one of him.
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Silly Dan and his ever present camera at the Salt Lake. It smells like the sea.
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Karen likes the lake, too.
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I spent too much time snapping shots of gulls. Again.
Evening haze hides the mountains around the Salt Lake. But I am shooting the birds.
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FYI: The State Bird of Utah is the California Seagull (seen here over the Great Salt Lake).
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And we drove into Salt Lake City during rush hour, and tried to find the HoJo that was on the edge of some road construction, just across a missing bridge. Tough driving. But we got there.
After LOL, one wonders at this guy's mission here in Salt Lake City
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A Glimpse of the Capitol, that we plan to visit on the morrow
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We parked our bags, and walked toward the center of things. Tours go on till 9 in the evening. We entered the closer Visitors Center and were taken in tow by a pair of young LDS missionaries, from Brazil and Mexico.
They first took us to see their huge Jesus statue, and were puzzled that I felt no need to take his picture. We went through the other public buildings, hearing stories of the origin of the Mormon faith, and some scant details of the architecture. I wrung them out on this, being more interested in what they built than what they believe.
I suppose this is in case you did learn to read, but not to look both ways before crossing a street. yes, that's us blocking the light as we walk toward Temple Square in Salt Lake City
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Mandatory tourist shot inside the Mormon Tabernacle. This was a state-of-the-art span when it was built; the biggest open interior space in the country for years.
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The Assembly Hall is where they go to meet after the Temple. Outsiders cannot go into the Temple itself, but they may join in in the Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall, or other surrounding buildings.
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One Visitor's Center wall looks at the impenetrable Temple. This model shows what is inside the building across the way.
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The Mormons document things well, as in the building of the temple. But it doesn't say how many Mormons it takes to change those light bulbs.
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I like the moon at sunset
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In the last light of the day, the Mormon Temple and the flags of the land in which it stands.
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As the sun set, we wandered around some more, went up the Joseph Smith building for a nice dinner with a nice view, and walked the mile or two back to the HoJo So we mosey from the Temple to the Joseph Smith building for a top floor dinner.
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The golden boy atop the temple is the angel Moroni calling the faithful
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Methinks the angel Moroni smokes too much
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Karen had gone ahead up the Smith building while I talked to more guides. She snapped the sunset over Salt Lake while waiting
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Before the lights come up, the Temple is pretty forbidding
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As we waited for our meal, I set up a time-lapse exposure looking out over the Temple. Here's 4 frames that show the sequence of lights as the Temple rises from dark and forbidding to a fairy castle. You'll have to tune out the table reflected in the window.
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Walking back to our motel after dinner, I tried a couple of freehand photos
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Naturally, better pictures of LDS sites are available on LDS online sites.

Rumination: I had no problem fending off the earnest proselytizing of these young women, nor that of some more experienced Elders that I met as I wandered around. Karen, who is less experienced in interfaith dialog, found it bothersome. Missionaries are only annoying if you let them be. It helps to be well grounded in a variety of faiths, and to have a background in anthropology, sociology, and comparative history. I don't try to convert them, but do adroitly parry their every thrust. The more experienced ones understand why I cannot be converted, and respect it. But the younger ones are puzzled.
Next: Day 19: More Salt Lake City then on to Wyoming

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