Our foggy, cool drive to pick it up turned into a hot muggy, sunny afternoon of packing.
Early AM, Tuesday, we headed south & west avoiding bridge reconstruction thru rain and lightening.
Daylight on I-80 west through rolling hills covered with golden brown crops waiting for harvest with occasional green pastures for contrast.
We discovered that Pilot Travel Centers and Flying J Travel Centers are one company and points are interchangeable. No more cash discount on gas, but the points for purchases will apply to meals and other purchases from their store.
Drove thru fog and rain for several hours on Wednesday heading west. Passing fields of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, & sunflowers; pastures with cattle; irrigation rigs; and long trains.
Into Wyoming under a sunny blue sky with fluffy white clouds.
Views thru the windshield:
Cattle grazing around oil wells scattered over the rolling pastures. Tall white windmills lined up along the ridges. Refineries, storage tanks, oil wells, power plants, tall poles carrying electrical wires, & communication towers scattered over the landscape. The tall peaks of the Rocky Mtns with splashes of white snow provide a backdrop. The leaves on the aspen trees are turning gold making a brilliant accent to the brown grass and green pines along the water ways in the valleys. New wooden snow fences are lined up in formation like soldiers waiting for the battle to start. Signs giving warnings about the dates of the closings of certain rest stops. Areas with prairie dog mounds. Herds of antelope grazing.
The rolling hills turn into pine covered mtns and rocky cliffs. Each curve in the road provides a different vista of the country. The fluffy white clouds turn into dark clouds and drop rain and strong winds. “Strong Wind next 5 miles” sign is frequent for the rest of the day. Over the Continental Divide. Past a large area that had recently been burned. We could still smell the acrid odor of smoke & ashes.
Thank-you, Walmart, for allowing us to stay overnight on your parking lot!
Good Eats: Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad. ½ of a salad is generous and just right with a baked potato for a meal. The salad also contains cranberries and blue cheese chunks and is served with a Pomegranate Vinaigrette Dressing. The Spicy Chicken Caesar was not so good.
D-day: We living in mountain time, but our bodies are programed for central time, so up early and driving under a full moon. Know we are missing some beautiful scenery. The moonlight highlights mountain peaks as we climb and curve through the valley but also will miss some of the morning commuter traffic near Salt Lake City.
Our printed directions contained street names, but the streets are actually numbered. Thanks to "Gertrude," our Garmin, we found the car wash & dealer. Fast check-in.
Scenic Drive (Our First Fall Colors of the Season!)
In the Saturn and headed south on I-15 out of Salt Lake City to SR 89 for a scenic drive. Utah is definitely using our “stimulus money” for road construction! They even have a sign to let us know that we are paying for it! The mountains in the background are covered with shrubs with red leaves.
Thru the windshield:
Lots of mountain wilderness with occasional small homes until the valley widened. More small and large ranches. Interesting businesses: Ranch Rental for small or large groups. Commercial Pheasant Hunting.
Lunch at the Home Plate Café. We parked our little Saturn between the local four-wheel drive pick-ups with deer antlers on their dash! Enjoyed a good, but not outstanding meal while listening to the conversations of the local people
Two lane Highway #31 curves thru the canyon with spires of green fir and spruce trees and neon yellow/orange of aspens.
Our first fall colors of the year! What a treat! Not only did God create trees for our use, for our protection, but also for our enjoyment year around!
Signs seen: “Snow plows operating both directions in your lane”
“Frequent Deer Crossing”
“Cattle Grazing” because this is open range.
We did see a flock of sheep walking up the middle of the road and around the curve was a sheep herders trailer parked under the trees in the pasture. It looked like a wagon on wheels with a curved roof. His horse was tethered to the side of it.
Many trails for ATV’s and hiking.
Streams and lakes for fishing.
Wasatch Plateu: Transition between Colorado Plateau on the east and the Basin & Range province to the west. At the timberline.
Mammoth bones discovered in August 1988 when digging a dam to control the flow of water thru the mtns. An area museum has the bones. The mammoth probably died in Noah's flood?
We drove past several lakes formed by dikes. The water level is very low. They have had very little rain in Sept. this year. One lake covers an abandoned coal mining town from the l870’s. A vein of coal was discovered and coke huts were constructed to burn impurities from the coal making it burn with a higher heat to use for making steel. Coal mining is still taking place in other areas of the valley. It is used for the power plants.
Spruce Beetle is killing trees. The Forest service is removing the dead and dying trees to encourage aspen growth. Aspens are a natural fire resistant tree.
Out of the canyon and into the wide valley surrounded by rock mountains. It looks like the inside of a super gigantic gravel pit! Small ranches & farms with grazing livestock, hay, wheat & clover fields where irrigation is available.
Took the Interstate to Salina to find a motel for the night. $3.14/gal for gas. One of the highest prices on the trip.
Hwy 24 east is an excellent road taking us past a gypsum plant, rocky mountain peaks, drilling rig for natural gas, oil wells & equipment & pipes are scattered along the valley along with ranches.
In the Fish Lake National Forest the yellow blossoms on the creosote bush mingle with the soft greens of the sage, the shades of brown grasses and splashes of neon yellow aspens in the high peaks in the distance! This area was known as Grass Valley when Brigham Young and the Mormon settlers arrived. Such contrast.
Driving along the top of a mountain we can see a patchwork of fields with ranch buildings resembling toys set in the corner of each area! All irrigation systems are running in the valley! We stopped at a local gas station convenience store for a cup of coffee. It also sold fishing poles, lures & horse bridles! The owner said that it had been very wet this spring. The second cutting of hay was a foot tall before the bales from first cutting could be removed.
Along the valley near Bicknell, Utah we found the Nielsen Grist Mill built in 1893. The water was channeled from the Fremont river and dropped 27 ft into the mill wheel. They ground grains into flour, gemade (could not find out what that was), bran and shorts(?). A farmer received a sack of flour for 3 bags of wheat. The sacks were sewn by hand. They could not grow hard red wheatin this area. It makes the best flour so eventually trucked in the four rather than wheat and closed the mill. All the equipment is in usable condition now.
Capitol Reef National Park
What is the Capitol Reef? It is a giant buckle in the earth's crust that stretches across south-central Utah. It is called a waterpocket fold, forced upwards probably during Noah's flood, which has eroded into colorful cliffs, massive domes, soaring spires, twisting canyons and graceful arches. The basalt rock, which makes up most of the ocean's floor weathers to a reddish or greenish tint. In this area it is mostly reddish.
The early Morman settlers planted orchards which still produce cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, apples and plums as well as almonds and walnuts. You are welcome to stroll into any of the unlocked orchards and pick and eat for free or pick and take for a fee.
Are the petroglyphs left by the early Fremont Culture from 700 to 1250 the first Facebook profiles or the first blog or first "tweet"?
Awesome formations and canyons.
It was time to head home. Back to I-70 east, 80+ temp, clear blue skies with only a few small white fluffy clouds lined up in formation over the distant mountain peaks.
Interesting signs: "Eagles on Highway"
At some of the exits: "No Services" "Ranch Exit"
Facts about Utah:
State emblem is the beehive which symbolizes industry and the pioneer virtues of thrift and perseverance.
State insect is the honey bee.
State tree is the blue spruce.
State Mineral is Copper. Kennecott's Bingham Canyon mine in Utah is the world's largest open-pit copper mine.
State Bird: California Seagull. It saved settlers by eating crickets destroying their crops in 1848.
The people of Salt Lake City consume more Jell-O per capita than any other city in the Untied States.
The federal government owns 65% of Utah's land, including 5 national parks, 7 national monuments, 2 national recreation areas and 6 national forests
Personally, I had always considered Utah as desert country, but was amazed to see all the mountains, canyons and irrigated farm land.
We chose Hwy 50 through south western Colorado. Good road curving through the Rocky Mountains with ranches in the valleys. The leaves on the bushes are shades of pink, red to purple & green with occasional neon yellow gold aspens. Velvet covered mountains with gold jewels! A nice farewell before we enter the brown fields being harvested in Kansas, Missouri and Iowa.
Life lesson: Notice the mileage signs along the Interstate. They are located every so many miles to keep you informed of what is ahead. They always list the closest town and then a city far in the distance. My "mileage signs" are in God's word. Reading daily to let me know where I am in my spiritual life, strength and guidance for the day, focus for now. But also what is ahead in the future, the promise of what He has provided through faith in Jesus shed blood. Eternal Life with Him! Thank-you, Lord!
Thank-you for traveling with us!