One of the first instructions we got from Sally Sat Nav was, “Stay on the i80 for the next 429 miles”. From that instruction we hoped we were in for a reasonably fast run on a decent road, and, true to form, we completed the journey in slightly over 6 hours, including two petrol stops and a bathroom break. We left Cheyenne in hot sunshine and brilliant blue skies and nothing changed the whole way…lovely.
For much of the journey we were in Wyoming, so the long dusty plains and the soaring mountains came as no surprise. What was a bit of a surprise was the number of trucks on the road. Maybe Sunday is their day? They are very speedy on the down slopes and swing in and out to pass each other at about 70 mph (although the regulation is 65 for trucks) but much slower on the inclines. Our aim was always to get beyond a bunching group before the climb, and ensure we had squatters’ rights in the fast lane. Not that we could stay there for too long as, unbelievably, people wanted to exceed the speed limit!! The other surprise was the distance between civilisation and services. We passed one stopping place with a loo, which declared the next stopping point to be in another 102 miles. OMG…even if you didn’t need a bathroom at the first point, the thought of having to wait for another 102 miles was painful. And, no, there were no trees, no hiding places off the roadside just the pain of trying to focus on something else.
The scenery changed as we crossed into Utah. In addition to the sandstone cliffs, there were verdant valleys with occasional houses, which grew in numbers and size. Before long we were doing a fast cruise down the mountains with the number of lanes on the highway growing quickly. Lots of exits loomed and almost without us realising, we were nearing the end of our journey. It was the first city we had really experienced since leaving Vancouver and, although the traffic was plentiful, the hurried pace of city life was noticeably calmer on a Sunday afternoon.
Having booked into another nice hotel, we decided some exercise was on the cards and Temple Square was about a 30 minute walk. The Mormon Tabernacles in Salt Lake City are world famous, so of course we went to look. The setting and the two temples are quite spectacular, but, of course, you can only enter if you are of the Mormon faith. There is a visitors’ centre and lots of kind and friendly members who want to share their “unusual” brand of the Christian faith. It would not be appropriate for me to be critical in any way, but suffice to say I was uncomfortable and happy to leave Temple Square. Dinner in a restaurant where we were the only customers was our next surprise. No music, no alcohol, blimey that was the situation last time we visited the State of Utah. However, further down the street on our walk back we found bars selling alcohol and one with live music. We know where to go next time!
We now have the luxury of another full day here tomorrow. Perhaps a visit to the lake that gives the city its name? Perhaps some exploration of the city, and perhaps even via the electric scooters you log into via an app, sign off when you are done, and leave by the roadside. Cool!
Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities
It is very tempting merely to write…
“Set Sat. Nav.
Set Cruise Control
Drove 440 miles on the I80
Arrived Salt Lake City”
However, I am renowned for never using a word when a paragraph will do!
As we travelled, we listened to an odd playlist which had found its way, somehow, onto my iPhone. The tracks seemed to be a shuffle from albums I had purchased for some reason in the past. Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, Ian Dury, The Hollies etc. segued with Snow Patrol, Adele and In The Night Garden Dance! Wot?! The best inner smile for me came with Kath’s facial reaction to hearing Barbie Girl by Aqua for the first time (No.1 in the UK for three weeks) and her almost falling off her seat laughing to ‘Dogging’ by the incredible Fascinating Aida! The Hollies brought a wry smile from me when the lyrics, “The road is long; with many a winding turn” seemed particularly inappropriate in one aspect. Long, it was; winding, it wasn’t!
Another smile along the way was the sight of a three wheeled motorcycle. Not humorous in any way… usually. Ours today featured a guy in full leathers driving at variable speeds and blocking overtaking by changing lanes. Not funny, neither.
On the pillion, though, was a woman who was not a ‘Girl on a Motorcycle’ but one of older years who was wearing a pair of baggy cotton shorts and waved to us as we overtook them and then they accelerated past us at our cruise controlled steady speed. The speed was 75 mph and she must have had the wind blowing very hard in places the wind shouldn’t be blowing.
Several curios occurred to me on the journey:
Imagine sending a letter before the telegraph was invented. Stagecoach? Pony Express? During the Pony Express’ “18 months of operation, it reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about 10 days. From April 3, 1860 to October 1861, it became the West’s most direct means of east–west communication before the transcontinental telegraph was established (October 24, 1861), and was vital for tying the new state of California with the rest of the United States.”
The enormous distance required travelling across this country is mind blowing. Even crossing one State, Wyoming, is demanding even using modern means.
Talking of distances, today was the second longest distance we are travelling and you may ask, “Why?”. We did! The reason is that there are almost no staging posts on the journey. Mile after mile of countryside and… well, almost nothing else. Hints for tourists from these two travellers: go to the toilet before you set off, fully fill up with fuel whenever you can, carry water and the odd snack.
Oh, and be aware of ‘Semis’. (Stop chuckling!) Warning signs told us that ‘Semis’ need the length of two football pitches to stop. As Kath indicated, they’re agile in changing lanes but not as agile climbing hills or accelerating. Seemingly, not as agile at stopping, either! Yes, this is a Semi!
So, we arrived in Salt Lake City. As we walked to Temple Square in a very dry heat we felt a little breathless and checked to find we are 4226 feet above sea level. For comparison, the height of the highest mountain in the UK stands at 4413 feet. Only four mountains in Scotland are higher than we are and there are none as high in England or Wales! No wonder we felt a little breathless.
Kath wanted to see the Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints) temples but felt uncomfortable when we got there and I can understand why. Again, I had a couple of events from my past which resonated. The Mormon Church mission to the UK started in our home town of Preston which now (actually in Chorley) has a brand new temple.
Of course, that was way before either of us was born but I remember going to a Mormon youth club as a teenager. Indeed, I played my drums on the stage which was above, and hid, the baptismal font – full body baptism – underneath. Adding to that, my dad had tiled the font! The young men who did their two year obligatory missionary service were polite, well-dressed and suited and… chewed gum. No alcohol; no tobacco. What’s not to like, we thought. What’s not to like is the hugely mistaken beliefs they have, in my view. I suggest, the premise and practice of their religion is deeply misguided and potentially dangerous in a number of ways. I don’t want to dissuade anyone from their personal belief unless it will do them harm. If their views don’t correspond to my own, that’s fine but I will object strongly if their beliefs interfere with my basic human rights. I’ll leave it there.
Tomorrow is another day. Planning is already underway with live jazz a possible for tomorrow evening.