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Day 7 :: September 26, 2004: 12:52 PM

Friday, September 24th
Day Seven

We began the day at Afton, Wyoming in a motel which, unbeknownst to us (we arrived late at night) sat below a huge escarpment.

A friend of ours, who made this trip a decade ago with his Significant Other of the time and who are in part responsible for us making this trip, gave us his account of the trip to bring with us. In the motel that morning, reading their next day’s travel I imagined the two of them in the car I know well, hurtling past this little place where we had stopped, then just a field I am sure. They went past in the dark and the journey we set off on, though taking the same route (AAA designated!) was a different journey in the daytime.

Where they had to deal with cows on the road in the darkness we had views of rangelands, mountain passes and canyons.

The day started with breakfast at the diner next to the motel. It was 50 f – proof that the cold front was indeed moving eastwards. The trip odometer read 2697.

We soon approached Salt River Pass (7630 feet) where we were warned:” Open Range, Loose Stock” but the only cattle we saw all day was behind fences. The only green in the landscape in the early part of the day was where complex irrigation systems were in use. More proof of what some locals called a 5, others a 6 and even a 7 year drought as we moved through the states. We passed through a small piece of Idaho, entering 3 miles before Geneva Summit and entering Utah near Bear Lake Summit.

Even before Utah, ...

Even before Utah, the Mormon presence was obvious. Montpelier was first settled in 1864 by Mormon pioneers. In Paris, ID they were restoring the tabernacle which was designed by one of Brigham Young’s sons. In Charles, ID ( where the Mormon church had a memorial to Borglum the architect of the Rushmore sculptures) there was a memorial to a British woman, a pioneer and invalid, believed to be the first European born woman to convert to the Mormon faith.

We came through some depressed farmland and then to Bear Lake itself. Bear Lake is a long lake that shows signs of being in a time of drought but it had the most extraordinary color – a deep mid teal. On one side there are mountains on the other (where the road was) a succession of small towns and beaches, many private but not all. It was a Friday morning and we barely saw a vehicle on the roads other than in the small townships. The private areas seemed to have encouraged building, presumably vacation homes. Beside the road, especially in Idaho we had seen many places for sale, both farms and houses, many of those near the lake at this a point were in bad shape, but on the hillside and, further south, beside the lake there was much evidence of new construction and some very attractive places. Approaching Utah, we were welcomed with a sign (as we had been to Idaho!) We got so taken with the Utah end of Bear Lake and a rest stop/ public beach area with perfect, springy bright green grass and carefully tended flower beds (no-oone was there) we totally forgot to turn off where the Triptik told us to and soon we were headed into nowhere…

The Triptiks have been invaluable. The free road trip palnners, the free maps, the free tour books and money off every night thus far (and actually beyond to the Moab campsite) have been well worth our AAA membership this year. The alternative would have been for me to spend the whole journey with the laptop keeping me (over)warm. We nearly fired up the computer but then worked out our location on the map and had to choose between going onwards on the new road (which would have had us miss Salt Lake City and rejoin our route around Provo) or take a second road back to the AAA route. We chose the latter as we knew we had to do dome shopping and did not know what other localities would have. The choice was great in one respect and not too good in another: the road took us through the Cache National Forest with great moun tain views and acres of aspen turned golden yellow and then thgough Ogden Canyon, which was just beautiful. In Ogden Canyon we saw real plaid shirt and big hat wearin’, horse-ridin’, gun-totin’men, so I guess they were cowboys ( I think this is PC…I myself would not want to be called that but I think they do think of themselves that way… we are most definitely not in the north east any more…) One thing we did not appreciate about this area was that all the road signs had bullet holes shot through them.

For the first time since we left I-90 the temperature passed 79f..

The bad side of the detour? The traffic around Salt Lake City was less than pleasant and the view we had as we drove by was of unrelenting drabness. From about 2:30 pm until 5pm we were stuck in this conurbation with Friday afternoon commuters, trucks and buses. We did see two signs at the side of the road, yards apart: one said Natural History Museum and the next Saratoga Springs (I had no idea there were two!)

We passed 3000 miles for the trip going up Soldier Summit (7477feet) then went through Carbonville which was utter desolation. The area has been strip-mined for coal. The city was surrounded by huge spoil heaps. It reminded me of the environmental disaster of strip mining worldwide, whether for African diamonds or other gemstones, Bolivian tin, British iron ore, Russian or American coal.

As we were driving under some heavy duty electrical wiring we started to hear a male voice…quietly as first but then a little louder and louder again…we looked at each other – it sounded like the radio but it was not on and anyway the sound seemed to be coming from Mike’s seat! . We eventually decided that our wind-up radio, on the floor behind Mike, was picking up current from the wires. When the wires came to an end, so did our ghostly voic

We pressed on, later than we had hoped, towards the national parks we were to visit next. The road was ridged through heavy traffic use and the wheels passing over it made deep bass notes below the car floor, like someone practicing on organ foot pedals ( well, it was better than disembodied voices!)

The scenery was desert scrubland but gradually huge walls of eroded rock came into view. The strata were totally horizontal and as the sun began to set the cliffs took on a fabulous red hue. Soon after dark we arrived in Moab. We had called ahead to a campsite there because most of the national park ones would not take bookings and we thought on a weekend space might be hard to come (turned out to be true.) The AAA recommended site was right downtown and boasted internet in the café and electricity at all sites. Best of all we would be in one place for three whole days!

We finished the day with odometer at about 3100

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