Day 2 -- Salt Lake City to Jackson, WY

When I woke up this morning, I had to consider the best way to mesh Kathy's and my schedules together. After showering and getting dressed, I straightened and sorted my belongings; still no phone call. Though I was hungry, I lay on the bed for a while and read. Finally I decided to go down to breakfast and hoped that I wouldn't miss her call. The breakfast room was just behind the front desk; therefore I could hear the phone ring while eating. Feeling a little bit better about being able to catch the call, I had a more leisurely breakfast than I had thought would be possible and continued reading my book, Colored People by Louis Henry Gates. Jr. I didn't hear the phone ring during breakfast so I returned to my room to finish packing and continue waiting.

Finally the phone rang. Kathy and the kids didn't get into Nephi until 11PM! Rebecca had been sleeping over at a friend's house the night before so they had a late start and a very long day. Since they had not eaten breakfast yet and still had 40 miles to drive before reaching Salt Lake City, we agreed that it was best for me to do my shopping before they arrived. At last that was settled.

I headed out into downtown Salt Lake City. The streets were much busier now with people coming in to work. The stores weren't open yet though. When the bookstore wasn't open I went on to Inkley's, the local camera shop. It wasn't open either! A sign on their door said that they would open at 9:30 so I wandered off to find a clock. Within a block I found a large old clock at a major intersection; it was 10 minutes until the store opened. I walked around the area and confirmed something that I had first noticed last night. The traffic lights had 2 different aural signals, one for the east-west and one for the north-south walk signals. As opposed to the aural signal (singular) that we have in Amherst center, which assumes that blind people are also deaf, and is therefore extremely unpleasant, these were pleasing sounds, more like bird chirps, but in different rhythms. Certainly a more intelligent and pleasant system.

I reached the camera shop just as it opened and quickly purchased the disposable cameras that I wanted. Now to the bookstore, a block away. But the bookstore wasn't open! And I was not the first person to arrive either. A large RV was occupying 2 parking spaces; its owner was pacing the sidewalk. I examined all the books in the window display again; still no action in the store. I couldn't find any sign telling me what time they would open. I wandered up the street and back down again. Still no action. By now people were starting to drop by. They began asking me when the store would open. On my third detailed examination of the window display, I found an old and sagging sign, behind all of the displays, saying that the store would open at 10 AM. At least it was confirmation that the store would open today! After another tour of both sides of the street, I returned to the bookstore shortly before they opened the door. I was able to gather up the DeLorme Utah Atlas, Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose and Terry Tempest William's Refuge quickly, but I took a few minutes to look through the children's books to find something for Daniel too. I finally settled on A Boy Called Slow and quickly paid for the books and walked back to the hotel.

Kathy and the kids weren't here yet. I went up to the room and separated my possessions into the things that could go into the back of the Previa and those things I wanted access to during the day. When done with this, I picked up my book and went down to the lobby to read and wait.

It was another 15 or 20 minutes until I saw Kathy come walking into the lobby holding Daniel by the hand. Rebecca walked demurely just behind them. After a few minutes Daniel and I were reacquainted, and we all headed up to my room to make use of the facilities (which I later learned had rated 4 star by Rebecca because of the very large bathroom). I showed them the books that I had bought for them. Then we gathered up my luggage and headed for the car, which was parked around the corner and just up the block. This part was easy, and we jumped into the car to pull it around to the front of the hotel so we could bring all the camping equipment I had brought out to the car. We parked on the street not far from the hotel entrance and paraded back to the hotel to get the equipment.

After I checked out the desk clerk opened the baggage room door for us. I used my brand new Swiss Army knife, purchased in Darmstadt at WWW III, to open the box. We distributed all of the pieces in the box into waiting arms and paraded back through the lobby and out to the street. Daniel trailed with his arms wrapped tightly around a sleeping bag.

While we were rearranging the luggage the back of the van, one of Salt Lake City's female street people stopped to talk to Daniel, asking how old he is. He shyly insisted that he is 4 ½, not almost 5! We finally got the camping equipment arranged and got the kids in their seats. As Kathy and I prepared to get into the "Prev", she found a ticket on the windshield. She couldn't believe it; we'd only been here a few minutes, and the meter hadn't run out yet at her first parking spot. This ticket had to be paid within 7 days or it doubled from $7 to $15 and increased rapidly after that. I tossed it on the dashboard, and we drove off to Temple Square.

Kathy drove around the block after reaching the square to find a parking place. I spotted one in front of the LDS Geneological Library, across from the back entrance to the Temple area. We almost forgot to put money into the parking meter after locking the car, but I quickly turned back and put some change in the meter. We then crossed the street and entered the compound.

Tours of the area were being organized. We chose not to join them but to wander around on our own. The flowers were just as beautiful this morning as I had thought them to be last night, and they were extremely well cared for. But Daniel loved the Temple itself. From this close it seemed to reach straight up into the sky. The sides were perfectly smooth and flat. It took 40 years to build the Temple. We went out of the entrance on the front side of the temple and crossed the street to the plaza where I was walking last night.

Mormon Temple

This morning more of the fountains had been turned on. Some of the areas of flowing water were just beginning to fill as we walked in. Walking up the ramp from the plaza, I could see that the big central fountain was quiet, the water calm. Around the plaza were larger-than-life-size bronze sculptures celebrating the LDS family and community structures. Children were climbing on the figures and playing among them.

Statue and kids in the Plaza

Then suddenly the small jets appeared in the large central fountain. They disappeared and then reappeared. Then larger jets appeared in the center of the pool. For a minute or two they came and went. Then all the jets were on full force with the spray flying in the breeze. The kids screamed and ran away from and then back toward the water as the breeze waxed and waned. This supplied a few minutes of excitement for Daniel before we gathered him up for a quick tour of the rest of the plaza before heading back toward the car. We stopped at the end fountain where the water flowed from various outlets in the wall into a pool whose bottom was littered with coins. Rebecca and Daniel added some coins to the collection.

We finished our tour of this area and headed back toward the Temple, nicely lit now in the morning sun. The waterways along the paths were almost filled now and Daniel examined all the possible paths for the water to flow. We finally drew him away and I led them down to cross at the intersection so the kids could see the bronze statues of the indian and the settler, at the vehicle entrance to Temple Square. I took this time to point out to them the different chirps the traffic signals make for east-west and north-south walk signals. We stood near the intersection for a moment listening to the traffic signals chirp like birds. Halfway down the block we re-entered the area around the Temple itself and reenterd the gardens. There was a large crowd being funneled toward one of the buildings. An usher wanted to direct us there as well as an organ concert was about to begin. We politely declined and sat in the shade in the gardens for a few minutes. Daniel played in a small fountain and we watched a small Japanese girl take great delight in the moving water, giggling and grinning at everyone. After a few minutes we gathered Daniel up and headed for the car. It's time to get the show on the road!

We crossed the street to the car and organized the kids for the longer drive ahead. Rebecca was in charge of snack and drink distribution. The cooler was beneath Daniel's feet, the only spot it would fit. We climbed in and I got out the new Utah Atlas to figure out how to get on to I-15 North. The downtown construction blocked our obvious path to the freeway so we turned north on city streets and drove parallel to the road, hoping to find an entrance in a few blocks. But we didn't find any! We kept driving north, leaving the residential area, and the road got rougher and rougher. Finally we saw a sign indicating that an entrance lay somewhere ahead. Suddenly there it was, with no further warning: a sharp left turn and no lane in which to pickup speed, but finally we were on our way.

Now I had to keep track of exit numbers and mile posts so that we could make our way through the last heavily populated regions we will see for a while. I must also locate the road to take us into Logan Canyon where we wanted to eat lunch. As we drive north, parallel to the Wasatch Fault, the Great Salt Lake, the remnant of Lake Bonneville, lies to our west. To our east we see the Watsatch Range, showing clear evidence of the fault along which it has been pushed up. North of Ogden, the Promontory Mountains extend out into the water.

Just south of Brigham City we turn east to cut around Wellsville Mountain. The west side of the mountain is defined by the Wasatch Fault. The mountain was lifted thousands of feet relative to the Great Basin area just to the west. At the town of Mantua the highway turns north, crossing a series of layers that were deposited by the great Cambrian sea, millions of years before Lake Bonneville, as reflected in their abundance of well preserved marine fossils.

East of the summit the road descends into the Cache Valley, a classic graben, once beneath Lake Bonneville. The lake's outlet was once northward through the Cache Valley into Idaho. Logan is built on a gravel delta laid down over 50 thousand years ago by the Logan River when it emptied into Lake Bonneville. We crossed the river and the East Cache Fault and entered Logan Canyon.

We bypassed the first picnic area because it was filled with people fishing. A short way further along we pulled off into a small picnic area/campground which was almost empty. The stream was moving rapidly down the slope just 10 or 15 feet away from our table. Wild roses were blooming nearby. Now we felt really underway and out of the city. Even though cars went zipping by on the highway just above us on the other side of the stream, we were immersed in the canyon, listening to the water and the birds. We were now ready to head on into western Wyoming.

From here we continued climbing up Logan Canyon. At the summit we could see Bear Lake, not far from the site of the Bear River massacre (See also.). The drive down was much steeper than the climb had been. We took advantage of one of the pullouts along the roadside to get an overview of the landscape below us. The lake is an enormous contrast to the surrounding land which is covered with sagebrush. This valley is another graben, between two north-south running faults. The brilliant blue-green color of the water, contrasting so with the landscape in which it is embedded, is caused by the fact that the lake is very shallow and the bottom is covered with white sand.

At the bottom of the grade lies the town of Garden City. These regions at high altitude have a very short season when they are able to make repairs to their roads and other public services, a fact that caused us some difficulty over the following week. In Garden City, the highway through town was being paved. We drove slowly over the unpaved streets and followed detours to find the highway into Idaho. A flag girl (person?) directed us to the highway north, along the western edge of Bear Lake. At St. Charles we leave the lake behind and continued on to Paris and Ovid. In Montpelier, we filled the gas tank and picked up a few more snacks and a six-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper. Now we were ready for our last stretch of driving before reaching the area where we will remain for a few days to do some exploring on foot.

Just after Geneva we entered Wyoming. Here we were in the overthrust belt, where a series of large overthrust sheets of rock overlap one another like shingles on a roof. We crossed over a divide and moved into the Salt River drainage. At Smoot we encountered road work again and saw a sign ahead saying BUMP. Expecting the usual bump, we were totally caught off guard when the road suddenly disappeared. We were left, after a sharp jolt, on a bare dirt road with many large, slowly moving vehicles just ahead of us on the right of way. We crawled along here, stopping and starting, dependent upon the work going on in the immediate area. We drove under a huge arch of antlers which stretched entirely across the highway. Daniel got to watch one of his favorite sights when we were first in line at one stopping point. Large chunks of concrete were being removed and piled on the side of the work area. Shortly beyond this point, in Afton, we regained the pavement. Soon thereafter we entered the Star Valley, another classic graben. The Grand Valley fault, on the east side of the valley, is still active. Triangular faceted scarps, similar to those we saw earlier along the Wasatch Range, are evident here again.

At Alpine Junction we turned sharply east and entered the Snake River Canyon. Here we drove high above the river and looked down into the rapidly moving water. We could see an occasional raft drifting downstream, soon to be plucked out of the water. Then I spotted some large white birds on the river below, in a quiet spot. With my binoculars, I confirmed that they were swans!

At Hoback Junction, we turned north toward Jackson, following the Snake River through South Park, the southern extension of Jackson Hole. The highway follows the trace of the Hoback normal fault. On the outskirts of Jackson we noted that the motels here were not filled. We decided to have an early dinner and then to go look for a campsite.

We picked a family restaurant offering typical western fare. It was here that I discovered that Rebecca was a big meat eater; she ordered prime rib and ate it all! Daniel had the first of a long string of uneaten meals; he ate about 3 strands of spaghetti, no sauce. I tried the elk sausage, which showed promise if only it had been warmer. We were now ready to find a place to settle for the night.

As we drove through Jackson, a western town that has been turned into a tourist trap, we lost all desire to come back to find a motel room. We drove north toward the entrance to Grand Teton National Park. To our left was the National Elk Refuge, empty of elk at the moment. Our objective was the Jenny Lake area where we intended to hike tomorrow. The Teton Range, the youngest range in Wyoming, rose into view. The road, through a flat, sage covered terrace of the Snake River, took us to Moose, where a ranger welcomed us to the park. The Jenny Lake area lay 12 miles ahead.

To our left, the Tetons rose over 7000 feet above us. Bradley and Taggert Lakes, at the base of the mountains, are natural lakes, formed by dams of glacial moraine debris. This debris was all around us in the valley and at Timbered Island. Unfortunately we are very pressed for time and can't stop to take in the landscape. The campground at Jenny Lake was full, and, even if the lodge were not, it was out of our price range. While Kathy drove on north, ever farther from Jackson, I pored over the map, locating campgrounds outside the park in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

We passed Signal Mountain, itself a glacial moraine from the Bull Lake glaciation. The campground there was full too, but the campground host told us that the Colter Bay campground has not filled yet this summer, so we continued on north. From this point we drove with Lake Jackson on the west, between us and the mountains. At Jackson Lake Dam there was a large moose sauntering down to the area below the dam. He was completely unimpressed by the crowd watching him from their cars and along the side of the road. We lingered only a moment since we were still hoping to get a campsite at Colter Bay.

When we pulled into the campground, there was still a little bit of light left to work by. We immediately understood why this campground was not full; there were about 300 spaces here. We passed the first several loops and then began driving through, looking for an empty space. We passed by the first few empty sites because we saw notes on the tables and assumed that they were there to claim those spaces. After passing by the third of these, Kathy decided to get out and check the note on the next one; it was a bear country warning from the Park Service. We then did a quick survey of the open sites in this loop, chose one, and began to unpack the car.

Our first objective was to get a tent set up; so, with Rebecca's help, Kathy and I got their tent set up quickly. We decided to put up only one tent and squeeze four of us in for both time and warmth considerations. We then got the pads and sleeping bags out of the van and into the tent where Rebecca could lay them out for us. Kathy and I then reorganized the back of the van and got needed items from the luggage. On one of these trips Kathy caught her foot on the picnic table and took a hard fall. Fortunately she was not badly hurt; we did not have to go in search of first aid. I took my contact lenses out and resigned myself to wearing bifocals for the next few days. When everything was prepared for the next morning, nothing left out to attract the bears, we retired to our tent and our sleeping bags.

We quickly discovered two things when we settled into our sleeping bags; 1) the sky was still light; and 2) Daniel needed to be reassured about the bear threat. We couldn't do anything about the sky, but we could talk to Daniel. First we moved him to a position between Kathy and me; then we talked to him about the problem. Rebecca's logical arguments on the unlikelihood of the bear's choosing our campsite out of so many others cut no ice at all. We assured him that we had left nothing out that would possibly attract bears, but he had to work it out for himself. While we had been setting up the campsite, he had been making a detailed survey of the surrounding area. He had found several special things there that would protect us from the bears; he would show them to us in the morning!

In a short while, a light rain began.


Recommend this site to a friend!

A photograph of central Salt Lake City taken in about 1896 by the famous photographer, William Henry Jackson is available from the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress.

Utah Atlas and Gazetteer, DeLorme Publishing.

Wyoming Atlas and Gazetteer, DeLorme Publishing.

Roadside Geology of Wyoming, David R. Lageson & Darwin R. Spearing, Mountain Press Publishing Co., Missoula, MT

Roadside Geology of Utah, Halka Chronic, Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula, MT

Colored People, Henry Louis Gates, Vintage Books.

Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey, Ballentine Books.

Refuge, Terry Tempest Williams, Vintage.

Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner, Penguin, USA.

Hyper/Text/Theory, George P. Landow, Johns Hopkins Univ.

Hypertext 2.0: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology, George P. Landow, Johns Hopkins Univ.

A Boy Called Slow : The True Story of Sitting Bull, Joseph Bruchac, Paper Star. (Hardcover)

Time Exposure : The Autobiography of William Henry Jackson, William Henry Jackson, Patrice Press.

William Henry Jackson and the Transformation of the American Landscape, Peter B. Hales, Temple Univ. Press.

William Henry Jackson: Framing the Frontier, Douglas Waitley, Gwen McKenna, William H. Jackson, Mountain Press. (Hardcover)

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© 1995 - Karen M. Strom