With my heart still beating fast due to my near death experience from a few days before, we packed up our tent and got on the road again. We were spending the night in a hotel with a nice soft bed and not rock hard volcanic rock. So, thank you Ramada hotel of Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City being in Utah, which was our 7th State.
Our first stop of the day was a very small town called Arco, Idaho. Although it has a very small population, it has one major claim to fame. In 1955, it was the first town to be powered completely by atomic power. It was for only a few hours to show it could happen, but it still happened and the town are very proud of the fact. They are the pioneers of nuclear power and train many people from around the world and have one of the largest laboratories that specialise in the development of new technologies. They also have the sail(?) of the US submarine, which was named 666. It was powered by atomic power and when it came to rest at the end of it’s life at sea, they gave it to Arco. Now, it looks like it is hiding under the ground and as you drive past, looks very odd! In the background of the town, on the hills, there were some numbers that had been painted. Back in 1920, the graduating class decided to paint their year on the hillside. The next year’s class thought it was a good idea and painted their 21 on it. The tradition started and every class since has tagged the hill!
Utah is where the Mormon’s call home so what better way to spend the first day in Salt Lake than spend it walking around some of their historic buildings. It was a short drive to the first Mormon village that was at a place called “This Is The Place Heritage Park”. They had a few statues that we looked at and took photos of but it looked busy and you had to pay to go into the village. We decided not to go in and moved on to the town centre where they have a small section devoted to the Mormons. About a 20 minutes drive later, we were at Temple Square. They have a few churches there and the grounds were covered in flowers, colourful bushes and flourishing trees. One thing I will say about the Mormons, they definitely look after their gardens! Everything looked so clean and it was really peaceful walking around it. You could tell the Mormons by their famous black name badges. Whenever you saw one, they were very friendly and always seemed happy. I’m not religious, but this seems the one that I’d probably go for. I think it’s down to their name badge. I never remember names. To be honest, I think everyone should wear name badges. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier – especially solving crimes! It was a very nice section of the city but the high-rise buildings surrounding it really took away some of the visual delights. The office blocks were certainly different from the first Mormon cabins that were built there in 1847. One still stood there and inside laid the furniture and fittings from the era to show what their lives were like. They must have been so bored. No TV. No games consoles. No Internet. I’m glad I was born when I was!
After walking around for a bit, we found the Family History Library. They have the largest database of people from all around the world. Birth, death and marriage certificates, they had them all. And their files went back to 1800s! Based in a 5-story building, you could go to your floor and discover your family tree. I tried mine but having the memory of a goldfish, I couldn’t even get past my grandparents! This building was run and maintained by Mormons and they helped you through the process. They sat with you and helped you through every stage, again with a smile and positive attitude. If I were trying to help someone like me with the little knowledge of my family I had, I would have got so stressed and probably asked me to leave!
Who could come to a place called Salt Lake City and not actually go to the lake. Now to name a place after a landmark, you would expect it to be amazing. So did we. Apparently, the salt content level in this lake is so much; it will make you float when you are in it. I’ve never been to the famous Dead Sea, where it also happens, so I was quite excited. We got out of the car and were instantly hit with a smell. And it wasn’t a good one. The water level had receded so much it was a small trek to the waters edge. The ground was covered with crunchy salt crystals. We had put flip-flops on as we thought we would be going into the water and the salt was really scratching on our feet. It didn’t hurt but it was enough for you to know it was there! The backdrop was really nice as you could clearly see the mountains in the distance, but not even the delights on the eyes could take away the discomforts on the nose! After about 10 minutes of walking, we started to spot something that was really weird. Dead birds. At first it was just one or two but then there were loads – we must have seen about 100 of them and we only walked a small section. I guess there must have been 1000s of them across the lake in total. All of them were half buried in the sand and were all rock hard. We soon learned that they died of some bird disease many years ago but due to the salt levels in the water, it had preserved them like they had died the day before.
As we got to the water, the smell got worse. A LOT worse. To add to the vile smell, on the floor were hundreds and thousands of small flies. They were everywhere and if you stood still for too long, they would be all over your feet and legs. They didn’t bite, but they irritated you like there was no tomorrow.
We topped off the visit to Salt Lake City by getting the car washed. It needed it. It had more dead flies on the front of the car than we’d just witnessed flying around at the lake! While we were waiting, we decided to have a go of the car wash’s massaging chairs. We were expecting a really nice massage but it felt like there was a midget hiding in the back of the chair squeezing, pushing and punching our backs. It was painful but at the same time nice.
We hobbled back to the car, drove back to the hotel and rested our bruised backs and abused noses from the day’s adventures!