Home » 2015 Herb and Lolo's Migration West

Wyoming to Utah, UT

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 - 1:45pm by Lolo
310 miles and 5 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Momentum Rock Climbing GymMomentum Rock Climbing GymYesterday was the long driving day, so that meant that today we could schedule in some fun. We picked out two very different types of activities in Salt Lake City: rock climbing at the indoor Momentum Gym and touring the Mormon Temple Square.

I have rarely made a climbing gym I didn’t like, and Momentum was no exception. The only down side to visiting new gyms is that you have to get belay tested in each one to make sure you know what you’re doing and won’t let your partner fall to the ground. I definitely agree that checking one’s competency is a necessity, but I wish there was some kind of nationally recognized belay certification so that you didn’t have to waste an hour every time you visit a new gym.

When I think of Salt Lake City, I think Mormons, so we couldn’t just pass through without visiting Temple Square.

Salt Lake TempleSalt Lake TempleWe started our visit at the South Visitor Center and asked if we could take a tour. They said we could and that it was free, and then had us wait for our tour guides in a sitting area with a video screen full of smiling, wholesome faces of various ethnicities upon which you could click to hear their story about how and why they became a Mormon. I think the goal of the “I’m a Mormon” program was to make people feel more comfortable that Mormons were normal people that lead normal lives, and therefore, you could and should become one too.

After getting through about three stories of Mormon conversions, our two tour guides arrived. They were young women – one from Paris and one from Italy – very courteous and very plainly dressed. They were also very, very passionate about the Church of Latter Day Saints.

They took us first to a model of the Temple in the Visitor Center, which was placed before a window opening out to the real thing. Since non-Mormons are not allowed to enter the Temple, this was about as close as we were going to get. I think the lack of access to the public adds to the belief that non-Mormons, such as us, have that secret cult-like stuff is going on in there. In any case, the architecture of the Temple is absolutely stunning.

Large Mormon OrganLarge Mormon OrganOur guides were, however, able to take us into both the Tabernacle, home of the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Chapel, where weekly Sunday services take place.

Rather than stay overnight in Salt Lake City, we continued driving on I80 through Utah. As we did, I continued to play with the “Things to Do Nearby” function on the Trip Advisor app. Up came the “Tree of Utah,” an 87-foot high abstract sculpture of a tree on the edge of I80 on the barren Bonneville Salt Flats. Sounded pretty cool, but traffic was traveling at 70 mph, and there was no place to pullover. I rolled down the window and got my iPhone ready. I actually managed to capture it. It definitely did not look like a real tree, but more like 6 bowling balls protruding from a telephone pole. I have a problem with abstract art.

Karl Momen's "Metaphor: The Tree of Utah"Karl Momen's "Metaphor: The Tree of Utah"To give it the respect it deserved, I googled it and found that the tree is supposed to be a metaphor, and it is also called the “Tree of Life.” It was created by the Swedish artist Karl Momen in 1982. The inscription on the trunk of the tree is Schiller's Ode to Joy, as sung in the choral climax of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

We continued on a few miles to the Best Western in the town of Wendover, the last town in Utah before the Nevada border. – in fact, we were so close to Nevada that we could see the lights of the casinos just 100 yards down the road from our motel.

Pancho Special at the Salt Flats CafePancho Special at the Salt Flats CafeWe checked on Trip Advisor for a place to eat (I was getting obsessed with this app), and selected the Salt Flats Café, a Mexican restaurant located in a Sinclair station truck stop back near the entrance to the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The ambience was just what we were looking for – rustic, casual, with photos of Salt Flats racers covering the walls. The colorful chairs with Mexican motifs were really cool as well. Everyone in the place knew each other, which is always a good sign. They only take cash, which was fine, because you didn’t need much of it. Herb and I both ordered the Pancho Special, which featured a chile verde burrito, steak tostada, steak enchilada, rice and beans – all for $6.95. One of them would have been enough for the both of us.

The next morning, before leaving Utah, we drove back out to the Bonneville Salt Flats to photograph this amazing place in the morning light. The salt flats are about 12 miles long and 5 miles wide and are comprised of approximately 90% common table salt. Near the center of the flats, the salt crust is almost 5 feet thick, but it tapers off to about 1 inch along the edges. .

Truck on Bonneville Salt Flats with CoupleTruck on Bonneville Salt Flats with CoupleBonneville is on the National Register of Historic Landmarks because of its contribution to land speed racing, which has been going on since 1914. It was on the Bonneville Speedway that the 300, 400, 500, and 600 mile-per-hour land speed barriers were broken.

We were surprised to see that there was a shallow layer of water covering much of the flats, since we thought that the West was undergoing a severe drought. Maybe that was just California. In fact, the August racing events had been canceled for two years in a row because of heavy rains swamping the flats. I can imagine that wasn’t very good for the local economy.


Lolo Photographing Bonneville Salt FlatsLolo Photographing Bonneville Salt FlatsDrive from Rock Springs, Wyoming to Wendover, Utah

Wyoming to Utah location map in "high definition"

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