Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bonneville Salt Flats

I'm going to guess the first thing you think of when you hear 'Bonneville Salt Flats' is not the salt on your dinner table. And yet...speeding by at 80 MPH on I-80 just beyond Salt Lake City this is what you see - Morton Salt. That white cone just left of center is not a building, it's your seasoning for that yummy steak you just pulled off the grill.

Morton Salt Works
More amazing piles of salt

We set out on this bright, cheery April day to do something we've both wanted to do since we were little kids - drive really fast on the Bonneville Salt Flats! There were no events scheduled so we figured we'd have the whole place mostly to ourselves as it was a Sunday in Utah. A lot of stuff is closed on Sunday. Luckily, not our National Parks, Monuments and BLM lands. We hit no traffic at all the entire trip out and back. The occasional car or truck, but the cruise was set for 80 and 80 we did.

As with other places we stopped at on this trip, I did a little research (little being the operative word) and I had a map (map being very important throughout the entire trip). I found there is a rest area along I-80 that was built pretty much especially to view the salt flats without having to exit the highway. Unfortunately, I misread the directions and thought it was about 15 miles west of where these photos were taken.

So, we pulled over here to get out and stretch. Even doing 80 MPH it's a 2 hour drive. We were getting close! We started seeing signs for Bonneville. I think these are some of the best pix I've ever gotten of reflections - the water was completely calm. There are a few ripples where people were taking their shoes off and wading in. And walking pretty far without getting in much past their ankles.

OK, time to move on. The excitement was building. Bonneville! The fastest Indian (motorcycle). The fastest car (630 MPH). The fastest bar stool (yes, there is a classification for that record).  People have been racing here since 1896 (bicycles). And we were next. Not sure how fast our little Chevy Cruze was going to go but we were ready to give it a run for our money.

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah
Ink blot #1 - the water was so completely calm I got the bits of dark rain clouds reflected on the surface.

Silver Island Mountains, Utah
Ink blot #2 - Silver Island Mountains

Silver Island Mountains, Utah
Ink blot #3 - you can see the rain falling
Getting closer! It's weird, you get off the interstate and it's a truck stop with a lone sign pointing out to what seems like the middle of nowhere. But, there it was...Bonneville Salt Flats! I have to stop here to tell you a story - my parents have been out here before and they always have a story - here it is:

"We're driving down the road (below) and this guy is standing in the middle of it. We pull up to see what he wants and he says it's $5 to drive out because of an event. But we're going to get a hot dog and a soda once we get out to where the other cars are. And the guy points off into the distance. So, we gave him $5 and drove off."

You know where this is going, right? There's no hot dog and soda and the guy is long gone, having made several hundred dollars in a couple of hours. Who knows how many times he does that in a summer!

Bonneville Salt Flats sign
Bonneville Salt Flats sign.
So, we're driving down what seriously looks like a landing strip, you can see the shimmer on the horizon, and what appears in the shimmer? 2 guys. We look at each other and swear we are not paying $5 for a fictitious hot dog and soda. We drive on, resolved.

Although they are walking, it's really hard to tell if they're still in the road or not. We're doing about 45 MPH at this point. There is salt as far as we can see along the edges and we can see where cars have driven off and back on the paved surface again. It looks a little...soft. Trying to figure how you can get up to 630 MPH on what looks like a beach.
The 'runway' to the Salt Flats.
And then we get to the end of the road. And the pavement just stops and the salt flats begin. And so does the water. Yes, that wonderful view from the rest area on I-80 IS the Bonneville Salt Flats. And they are under water. Inches of water. Not-able-to-drive-thru water.

We look at each and laugh. We've built this up over the course of planning the vacation.Over the course of the two hour drive. Bonneville. We're going to drive on the legendary salt flats. We're going to break our own personal land speed records. Not.

At the salt flats. At the very damp salt flats.

Where the road ends. That is a huge hunk of salt Rock is standing on.

OK, so all is not lost, right? There is a racing museum out here in West Wendover, Nevada. We'll go to that. We can look at whatever they have. Maybe some cars. Motorcycles. One of those bar stools. Back in the car we have some lunch and look over the map. We plug the museum info into the GPS. Michelle tells us, 'Please drive to highlighted route,' and we're off again.

Back in Nevada the first thing you see is a casino. You can't not know you've crossed the state line! Michelle takes us along the main drag and lets us know we've arrived at our destination. Now Michelle is sometimes temperamental. She tried to convince us to turn left off a switchback mountain on our last vacation. Or maybe that was Samantha. Usually, we get pretty close to our destination. We were now in front of the police station. 

Wouldn't that be interesting! A museum dedicated to zipping along at outrageous speeds and it's in a police station! No. No it isn't. We drive back up the street and she insists on putting us back in the same location. I call the phone number on the website. I get a taxi driver. He's a little surprised that a museum that hasn't been built yet is using his phone number. But at least he solves our problem.

We laugh again. Poor Rock is batting 0 for 2 for his big day out. We decide to stop at McD's for a shake and decide where to go next. I'll let you think about Rock's batting average for a moment. Yup, the only McD's in the Western world that does not make shakes. I'm not sure we can laugh at this point.

It's ok. There's a ghost town out here, we'll go look at that. That's a story for another day, though. Next up, we're off to Antelope Island.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main Street Freeport, Maine 04032

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