8 – INTERSTATE TRAVEL

Somewhat like the Pony Express riders, after the long drive we had crashed the night before, knowing that we had to make a reasonably early start to get to our Wyoming destination that afternoon.

Once the blinds were open we encountered a bright sunny day and, from the knoll where we were perched, we could see Wendover, Utah, just across the border. So, after breakfast, the dog had his last run, the cat was put in her crate, the slider was retracted, the generator and water pump turned off, and the old lady seat-belted into the front passenger seat. The transit over the border into Utah was almost unnoticeable, not like California with its rows of check stations.

With the exception of the Dead Sea, The Great Salt Lake, 72 miles long, is the saltiest body of water on earth, at least six times as salty as the ocean. Its extreme salinity results from the mineral-laden freshwater streams that feed it and have no outlet. Evaporation leaves so much salt behind that only blue-green algae and brine shrimp can tolerate it. The Great Salt Lake Desert lies to the west of it, including the Bonneville Salt Flats with expanses of hard white salt crust popular with racing enthusiasts since the 1930s. On the north side of the lake lies Promontory Summit, the site where the Golden Spike was laid, linking the eastern and western parts of the Transcontinental Railroad.

After traversing that distance we had only a short trip past Salt Lake City and through a portion of Utah before we reached the high plains of Wyoming, with occasional pronghorns and other wildlife leaping through the fields adjacent to the highway. I had visited Yellowstone National Park when I was nine years old. These grasslands were not what I remembered of Wyoming.

Our stop for the night was Rock Springs, where at cocktail time I had my first opportunity to begin to get acquainted with our fellow travelers.

The adventures for the next day were to be crossing The Continental Divide, stopping at the halfway point of Interstate 80, and then spending the first of two nights in Cheyenne, with the daylight hours reserved for exploring.

Oh yes, the Pony Express survived only eighteen months. The advent of the telegraph in 1861 made communication by horse and rider obsolete.

Some more trivia: How deep is the Great Salt Lake?

And still some more: What exactly is the Continental Divide? Check the next blog.

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