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.
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.
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.
The state line was an actual line across the road. I made Karen turn back so I could get a picture of it.
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.
I got a bit of exercise at the next rest area, climbing up a rocky ridge.
It was impressive to see proof that this is where table salt comes from. We zoomed past the Morton Salt works.
And eventually got to the highest elevation salt water reservoir in the world: The Great Salt Lake.
I spent too much time snapping shots of gulls. Again.
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.
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.
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
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.