We left Elko on Sunday, June 11 for Salt Lake City, Utah and drove through territory we had never traveled before. The terrain did not change much from Elko with snow capped mountains, green hills, valleys rich with sagebrush and green grass, and full rivers flowing occasionally alongside the freeway. Up and down the mountain passes we went with much the same scenery until we crested the mountain outside of Wendover, Utah.
Bonneville Salt Flats
Our jaws dropped when the Bonneville Salt Flats spread out before us as far as we could see. I really got a feel for the size of Bonneville Lake before it broke through causing a mother of all floods that created the Snake River on its path toward the Pacific Ocean. What a geological wonder.
We stopped at the Salt Flats Rest Area where a raised platform allowed visitors to take in the expanse of the salt flats.
The salt was glaring white as snow and bare of any plants or trees. Here is the view from the platform looking west.
As I walked up the steps to the overlook four or five teenagers discussed what they should graffiti on the roof support walls. A modern day ‘register rock’ or wall where travelers document their presence.
A few people ventured out onto the salt flats. A woman stood at the foot wash rinsing her feet.
We continued on to Pony Express RV Resort where we had reservations for four nights. I had overlooked this park when researching available locations until my first pick claimed they were booked solid. Pony Express turned out to be the perfect place for us, except for the constant wind blowing, and the freeway noise.
Utah Capitol Building
Windy, cold, and rainy weather greeted us on Monday. Undeterred, we headed downtown with the intent to hang out at the planetarium until the rain subsided. We arrived too early, so we drove up the hill to the Utah State Capitol Building and wandered around gawking at all the marble columns, walls, and intricate details.
In the Hall of Governors, portraits of the governors are displayed and statues of historical Utahans are given prominent floor space on the fourth-floor gallery, and murals depicting Utah life and industry are abundant.
Symbolism seemed to be everywhere, from the beehive, which is the state’s emblem and represents industry and unity, to laurel wreaths which represent victory, vitality, and success. We forgot all about the planetarium.
Then there were the creatures standing guard high up in the four corners of the fourth-floor gallery. A lion with wings? Does anyone know what they symbolize? Perhaps protection?
The chandelier hanging in the rotunda was especially impressive.
In the Governor’s office used for public activities, sits a desk that was built with wood recovered from one of the trees felled during a tornado.
The magnificent building seemed overkill for a legislature that is in session for only 45 days out of the year. However, besides the governor, lieutenant governor, senate, house, and the state supreme court, the building also houses the highway patrol and the state treasurer’s office. So it seems they make good use of the property. And who can fault the state for wanting to showcase the many riches the state has to offer?
Mormon Temple and Square
A trip to Salt Lake City would not be complete without a visit to the Mormon Temple Square.
We joined a tour where two ‘sisters’ volleyed their presentation, which consisted of a bit of history, the faith’s origin story, and detail of the temple’s building, and a bit of proselytizing thrown in. They also cleared up a few rumors about some of the Mormon practices, such as baptizing dead people. They don’t, people who have died can be baptized through a proxy. In other words, a family member is baptized in the name of the deceased. The sisters did not push or insist that their religion was the only religion, but encouraged those of us on the tour to ask questions, research, and take one of the free Book of Mormons for more information. The best part of the tour was the organ, which contains 11,623 pipes. The organ pipes and Tabernacle Choir tiers dwarfed the person who played the organ.
One of the most interesting bits of history that I never thought of was how many of the Mormons traveled across the country to Utah with only a hand cart to haul their belongings. I thought the emigrants in covered wagons were hearty folk. I can’t imagine the hardships endured by the people who pulled handcarts.
We may have never made it to the planetarium, but we enjoyed seeing the capitol building and taking the tour of the Mormon Temple Square. Next week’s post will include Antelope Island and Park City, Utah.
Until then, safe travels.