Day 3: Walking on Water

January 18th, 2016

Bonneville Salt Flats

 I‘m taking part in a 30-day writing experiment. The theme for me is “personal, not pretty.” See Kale & Cigarettes for details and the Facebook Group to read stories by other 500-words-ers. 

I am determined to have adventures while in Utah. If you don’t ski, snowboard, or climb rocks—and if you’re not Mormom—Utah can feel like a place pretty devoid of culture. But, having been to 48 of the U.S. states so far, I have faith that this state has something to offer a heathen girlie-girl like me. My mission is to uncover those gems, or at least to gamely participate in some of the things that Salt Lake City and its environs do have to offer in a pretty obvious way. This is the attitude that has led me to check out the Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival, Cornbelly’s Corn Maze, a bunch of meh farmer’s markets and, today, the famous Bonneville Salt Flats.

As you drive longingly west on I-80 toward California, you first pass the Great Salt Lake and its smelly marina; then a little farther out of the city, a Morton salt factory; followed soon after by a disturbingly enormous and somewhat grim-looking mountain of salt by the side of the road. Loose.

And finally, just before Nevada, you reach the salt flats. 

In the summer this is the site of a 10-mile racetrack called Bonneville Speedway that attracts fans from all over the world. Once, my husband would have you know, it was on Top Gear, a surprisingly entertaining British show about cars that has aired, in some form or another, since 1977. Recently the racist and egomaniacal antics of one of the hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, got it kicked off the BBC, but now it’s back up and running on Amazon or something.

Jon says that when Clarkson came to the Bonneville Speedway here in Utah, he wore cowboy boots and talked in an exaggerated American drawl. Which is cute, cuz this is Utah, not Texas. I mean, maybe there are cowboys here, but I’ve certainly never seen one. Anyway, I guess America is all cowboys to the British? Anyway.

That car stuff happens in the summer. In the winter the salt flats get covered with a thin veneer of water that lies in eerie calmness all the way to the horizon. You can drive your car out onto the flats and then walk for miles without ever getting in deeper than a few inches, and pretend you’re Jesus. It’s pretty cool. 

So today we stuffed the girls into their car seats for the 2-plus-hour drive each way just so we could take a walk and some pictures. It was totally worth it, even though my car was coated inside and out with salt, Jon had to throw his old hiking boots out and drive home barefoot, and both car seats are now a crime scene of congealed mango smoothie and wet Mum Mum. 

Oh and the best/worst part—I got out of Utah for a hot minute! We drove over the Nevada border to get a coffee at a Starbucks inside a smoke-filled casino in the most heart-wrenching town on earth, Wendover. Seriously, this town makes the good people of Making a Murderer seem like affluent rocket scientists who make good choices. 

There’s nothing like a quick trip to Nevada to make one happy one lives in Utah.



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