Saturday, October 21, 2017- Trip Day 78
Friday, October 20, 2017: Weather is coming in- snow producing weather. Fort Bridger is located at 6600 feet so our intent is to get to lower elevation. Doing so we will put some miles between us and the old fort. We planned on traveling as far as Wells, maybe Elko Nevada, but ol’ Mom Nature has other plans for us. She says, I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow yer trailer over! So erring on the side of caution we moved west, but only to Salt Lake City, Utah, a distance of 110 miles.
As we traveled the wind came up and it was pretty stiff. We passed the turnoff to Jordanelle State Park and Park City which is where we’d be right now if the weather was good.
Jordanelle Reservoir/ Park City Utah
As luck would have it we also encountered a lot of traffic. Now traffic isn’t bad in itself but when everybody and their brother is in a huge hurry and feel that they are more important than anyone else on the road, then traffic gets bad. A big rig driver cut into our lane on a curve and nearly hit us. A bazillion other drivers were tailgating us and each other at 70 mph down a curvy Interstate 80 with high gusty winds. A lot of them couldn’t keep their vehicles in their own lane. Cripes, I didn’t sign on for this, did I?
Red Cliffs/ Crazy Quilt Hillside
Before the mayhem, we did pass a beautiful pastoral valley where Coalville (1200 souls) and Hoytville (600 souls) are located. This is farm and dairy country. The trees had turned golden and the pastures were still green. This is just gorgeous country and the reason we like to travel. As we climb out of the Weber River Valley the rocks and cliffs turn a little more red in color- a sure sign that one is now in Utah. After a very long downhill grade that followed a canyon we flush out onto the Salt Lake Valley. Traffic on the interstate through Salt Lake wasn’t too bad and we arrive at the Salt Lake KOA in one piece.
Mormon Temple/Utah State Capitol/Council Hall circa 1866
Salt Lake City (190,000 souls) has grown a ton since I first visited as a kid. At that time, ya I know, that was a long time ago, over 50 years, the skyline was dominated by the Utah State Capitol Building and the Mormon Temple. No more- they are lost in a sea of high rise buildings. In fact, if you don’t know your way around town you could pass by both. It’s kind of a shame really, as both buildings are really beautiful especially compared to the modern slab sided high rise. We also drove by the Cathedral of Madeleine, the mother Catholic Church of Utah. Council Hall was dedicated in 1866 and replaced the original city hall building which was immediately deemed too small.
Eclectic Paint Job- Hate to Tell Him- Burning Man Is OVER
The population of Salt Lake is somewhat deceiving. This area is much like the coastal area of Southern California in that Salt Lake, Ogden and Provo have grown together creating a metropolis of over 2 million souls, and the highways reflect it. Lots of cars and truck commute on Interstate 15 traveling north and south and Interstate 80 which runs east and west. So the city of Salt Lake feels a lot bigger than it really is. An interesting fact is that the Salt Lake metropolis and Reno Nevada are the only two major urban areas within the Great Basin.
The Church of the Latter Day Saints is headquartered here in Mormon Square. Many other buildings are associated with the church. After all, the Mormons founded this city back in the 1840’s. They were driven out of Illinois and settled here where they felt they could practice their religion in an isolated location yet still under the sphere of influence of the U.S. government. They didn’t count on the emigrants heading to the gold fields of California which in short order, brought an end to their autonomy as the U.S. Government sent in the Army to ensure the emigrants protection.
Saturday, October 21, 2017: The weatherman lived up to his promise yesterday with wild winds and rain. We’re glad we decided to stop in Salt Lake. This morning is a cool 32 degrees when we leave- burrr! Stark country awaits us west of town. Not much grows in this salty environment.
Early Morning Photo of Great Salt Lake
Heading west on I-80 we skirt the Great Salt Lake, then about 100 miles farther west is the Bonneville Salt Flats. The Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway hosts timed speed trials for different classifications of vehicles. They are timed over a running mile in one direction, then, to keep them honest, they are timed going the opposite direction. The land speed record was set in 1970 by Gary Gabelich in the rocket engined “Blue Flame” at a mere 622.407 mph but the current record was set by the twin turbofan “Thrust SSC” in 1997 at a sound barrier breaking 763 mph!
Bonneville Salt Flats
Shortly after leaving the salt flats we reach the state of Nevada and there directly across the street from the Welcome to Nevada sign is a big casino. Honestly, ya couldn’t put the building any closer to the state line.
Nevada State Line/Surprise, Surprise- A Casino!
I-80 climbs over a mountain range, then drops down into a valley. Oasis is located there; its a ’50’s style one stop shop that is abandoned. Wells (pop. 1200) is the next town and lies at the intersection of US 93 and I-80. The very prominent Hole-In-The-Wall Peak lies southwest of town. At an elevation of more that 11,000 feet she got more than a dusting of snow from yesterday’s storm. As a matter of fact, many peaks near and far are now snow covered.
Hole-In-The-Wall Peak Near Wells, NV
We stop in Elko for fuel and to stretch. The storm has passed but has left a biting cold wind in it’s wake. Elko has a population of over 18,000 souls making it the largest city for 250 miles in all directions. I fact checked that statement and found Twin Falls Idaho is 164 miles away- it’s populations is 44,000 so maybe Elko’s claim was true at one time but would have to shrink the 250 miles down to about 160 miles.
The eastern portion of northern Nevada is not just flat desert. It is all high desert meaning not one cacti grows here. It’s grass and sagebrush country. It’s mountains and valleys. The Humboldt River runs through it. It’s quite amazing actually and the scenery changes often enough so as not to get boring. Several brand new game bridges are being completed. The bridges allow large animals such as deer, antelope, or elk to pass safely over the interstate. We’ve seen the bridges in many states and Canada, now Nevada.
Game Bridges, a.k.a. Deer Overpass- Interstate 80
We’ve decided to end the day in Battle Mountain at Clark Park Campground. Not much irrigation goes toward growing lawns here in the high desert. The RV park is all gravel, which could be very warm in the summer months but today at 40 something degrees gravel is not a problem. The RV park is nicely laid out. While we had a few moments we toured the town of Battle Mountain (3600 souls) and found it not a thriving place but in the survival mode. It’s primary economic base is gold mining which doesn’t appear to make any of the townspeople wealthy. Who knows how long it has been in this state- I’d guess a long time.