Last night I was in Reno, which is sort of a trashier, smaller Las Vegas (which itself is sort of a trashier, smaller planet Earth). This morning flung myself across the northern Nevada desert and landed in Salt Lake City, home to the Mormon Temple and thousands of Mormons filling the streets in front of my car as they get out of their Friday night service and I’m trying to see the Temple as a purely tourist endeavor. So I’ll have to go back tomorrow; I also might check out the genealogy library there and see how many of my ancestors have been posthumously baptized into the Mormon church. Salt Lake City seems like a nice enough city. The downtown area is fairly compact, and pretty upscale. Some decent architecture. I didn’t realize how small of a city it is overall though. It seems like the whole place is almost literally nothing besides the Mormon church and people who attend there.
I got to the Great Salt Lake at sunset but wasn’t able to go wade into it because of an outdoor concert about to start. My drive in from Reno did take me around one side of the rim, and I was awed by the sheer size and flatness of it. No waves, no wind, just a purely still expanse of salt water. It was starkly beautiful, and was only added to with the fading sun.
Most of the drive from Reno wasn’t anything to write home about. For some reason the Nevada Department of Transportation likes to put construction barrels out and close off lanes for miles for no reason at all. This just caused me to get stuck behind slow semi trucks and extended my already long enough time by myself in the car. No big deal. I did get pulled over by the police though. I had both a headlight and a brake light out, so they pulled me over and once they told me they’d let me go with a warning they asked me if I had any of a list of illegal items. I said no but they wanted to check anyway so I got out and went and stood with the second officer. He told me they were just looking for any reason to pull cars over so they could check them all for drugs. He said it was like a slot machine, the more cars you check the better chance you have of catching someone. I was sort of disappointed at this; I kind of hoped something in my demeanor suggested that I was enough of a rebel to possibly have drugs in my car. Apparently not; I seem like a perfect law-abiding citizen (except for the expired license plate I’ve been driving around with for seven months, which the officer today said checked out okay anyway).
The scenery wasn’t too much through the Nevada mountains, especially after all the stuff I’ve seen so far on this trip. But the mountains stop almost exactly at the Nevada/Utah border, and there’s no way to see what’s on the other side of those mountains until you come up on it. When I came over the summit and all of a sudden the endless salt flats appeared out of nowhere below me, I literally gasped.