The Land of Mormons

Coming to you live from Ogden, Utah at 6:30 am local time.

First, I want to clear some things up since several people read my last post the wrong way. I said it was a time where I was giving up on my trip for the night. Not for good. A good friend mentioned something to me about quitting my trip and heading home and I thought she was crazy. And then my dad mentioned a family member thought the same thing and I started thinking I was crazy because I had no idea where people were getting that from. So just to let everyone know, I’m doing fine, I’m continuing my trip, and I won’t quit until I’ve hit all 48 states now (unless the weather has different plans for me).

Let’s see what I’ve done since my last entry….

I drove to Laramie, Wyoming to see the University of Wyoming’s stadium. The drive between Cheyenne and Laramie brought my first snow. I was a little hesitant since there were signs saying that there was ice on the interstate, but looking back after what I’ve done since, that was nothing. Just a dusting in the mountains.

From there, I drove down to Colorado (35th state). I stopped in Fort Collins at the visitors center to see what there was to do. I had completely forgotten that Colorado State University was there, so off I went! It was really cool how their place butted right up against a mountain. But apparently that’s par for the course around here, as it wasn’t the last one like that.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but since I’m on this trip alone, I’ve tried to skirt the big cities along the way. You could get lost for days doing stuff in a place like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc. And, personally, I just think that would be something done as its own vacation and probably with other people to fully enjoy the experience. So I had no intentions of getting stuck in Denver seeing things, but had to ask my friend I stayed with in Texas what her top recommendation would be since she went to grad school here. As I said in the last entry, her top place was Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater. I was a little iffy about just stopping at a concert venue…What fun can that be, right? Completely wrong. That place was amazing. So thank you Kathryn for that stop!

From there, I headed west, thinking I’d have no trouble finding a place to stay, given all of the ski resorts. Well, the further west I got, the darker and more desolate everything became. I finally found a little hole in the wall in Georgetown, Colorado and hunkered down for the night. Everything kept saying snow, so I was excited about that but glad to not be driving still. Talking to the guy working the desk at the hotel, he said that the first resort (Loveland) was actually opening up for the season the next morning. Crazy! I had a good but short conversation with him about traveling, as he said it’s something he wants to do. I hope at least one of these people I see along the way wind up doing it. Hopefully all it takes is seeing someone else doing it to push them over that edge.

This was my view most of the next morning on my way west.

Just absolutely breathtaking. Once I got into the mountains, the temperature dropped like a rock. It got down to 24 at its lowest, I believe. I didn’t anything other than flurries while driving, but the snow had hit the nights before. One of the lanes on the interstate was closed due to the snow and ice. So all of this is definitely a first for a boy from South Carolina. If there had been that in SC, the state would have shut down by then. I was a little tense, given that I don’t REALLY know how to drive in it, but I made it through unscathed!

My big site on the to-do list that day was the Arches National Park in Moab, Utah (36th state). I was just amazed at the rocks and the sheer size of them. They’re so big, you really can’t comprehend the size. Most of the pictures, I tried to include people or cars in the shot so that there’s some perspective. But I was standing there in front of it all and couldn’t get a grasp on it, so I know pictures won’t do this justice. This first shot is from the visitors center parking lot. I just took it to show how massive that wall of rock is. If you look close in the bottom left, there’s a car driving by.

Balanced Rock was next. It’s this massive boulder sitting on top of a stand. All of the descriptions were a little depressing, as everything seemed to end with something like “But even though nature has carved these beautiful sites, it won’t be too long before nature reclaims them for its own again.” And this is one that won’t last TOO much longer (relatively speaking, of course), as the wind will just keep tearing away at the stand.

Then came the arches for which the park is named. The first picture is of the Southern Arch. I took the the time to hike up to it and scope out the view. But everything’s just so big, you can’t get a good feel with pictures up close (Sidenote to Momma & Stephen if you’re reading: TWSS 😉 ). This one might take some squinting, but there are people standing at the bottom of the opening. The second picture is of both the Northern & Southern Arches together. The third picture is of the Double Arch. There are three people in this one: one in the arch on the left, a lady in a red top and black pants in the middle, and another in a blue top on the right side. These structures are just huge.

And the last arch is the most famous in the world, according to the park, the Delicate Arch. I’m sure everyone has seen pictures of it. It’s everywhere in the state: billboards, the license plate, etc. There was a trail hiking up to the base of it but it was 3 miles in and 3 miles back. And honestly, it was the end of the day, I was tired, and had no intentions of taking an hour to get there to take a few pictures and an hour hiking back. I know, I know…I’m letting you faithful readers down. But I did get a few pictures from the overlook. Again, the tiny specks near it are people.

And last but not least, Park Avenue. It’s a trail that cuts between two walls of rock. Just very cool scenery that probably isn’t located in many other places on earth. I won’t go as far as to say it’s a must-see for everyone like Yellowstone, but if you’re in Utah, it’s worth a shot.

After the park, I made it to Green River, Utah for the night. Yesterday, the plan was to get to Salt Lake City, see a few of the schools, and get into something fun. Well, “something fun” included driving in worse snow than the day before. You couldn’t see the lines on the interstate, just simply following tire tracks from the car in front of you. The view when I left the snow was pretty surreal too. I’m up in the Utah mountains and getting pounded by snow so hard you can’t see more than 50 or 100 feet in front of you. The sky is really gray because we’re pretty much driving through the storm cloud. And the mountains on either side finish the job in shutting out all light. So there’s a line of traffic winding in and out of the mountains and finally we hit a turn where you can see out of the doom and gloom. The mountains part, which lifts the storm cloud at the mouth of the opening and offers some blue sky. But also standing in the opening are 8 of the huge wind turbines. It looked like something out of a science fiction movie. Very futuristic and eerie. But I was glad to be out of the snow for awhile. The guys at the oil change place I stopped at had to knock ice off of the grill of my truck so they could get everything clear to work on.

From there, I hit BYU’s campus, as well as Utah’s. I didn’t know the main ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City were held in Utah’s football stadium. They had the torch still up and Olympic sport pictures everywhere.

After the stadiums, I had to hit up Utah’s Hogle Zoo! It was absolutely dead there given that it was during the day on Monday, being 45 degrees, and super windy. There were maybe 10 cars in the parking lot when I got there. But it was really good. I enjoyed it (since when do I not enjoy a zoo though?)! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

  • Christie the momma elephant. Zuri, her baby, wasn’t out and about today.
  • George the Rhino
  • George the Rhino’s close up
  • A Siamese crocodile. Apparently there are only 45 in US zoos (this was one of two born last year) and 264 in the wild. It’s one of the rarest reptiles on the planet
  • Giraffe garage doors! How cool is that?
  • Very cool giraffe setup they had indoors. They had a lower level then a mezzanine where you could look down into them.
  • Tigers are stunning to watch. Not so much when they sleep, but they’re still amazing creatures!
  • This is the biggest gorilla I’ve ever seen in my life. I was all of 6 inches from him when we were both at the glass. And he smooshed his face against it. Very cool experience.
  • Giant teddybear hamsters known as prairie dogs
  • The fun story about these cougars is that I couldn’t think of anything but Talladega Nights and the scene when the cougar is in the car. The cougar in the back watched me like in the movie. Anywhere I’d move, the eyes would follow. Kinda scary, but fun!

Another few days down in the books! And speaking of books, I finished Blue Like Jazz which wasn’t bad – very thought provoking for sure. I’m starting Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

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3 Responses to The Land of Mormons

  1. Very cool, kid. Literally and figuratively. Makes me want to travel, just like you said. I have been looking at Alaska opportunities this week. Peepa wants to white-water and hike while we’re there – at least one helo ride. But there’s just so much to choose from – just like you on your trek. Stay between the lines and stop when it’s bad so I don’t worry.

  2. Pepaw wants to hike?! I’m impressed! You ought to try the fishing if y’all care anything about that! The salmon fishing trip I took was a good one – got to fish and see a bunch. And the fishing wasn’t insanely hard on you like the halibut trip was.

  3. RMJinAK says:

    What do you mean, insanely hard, about the halibut fishing?! I was twice your age and seasick as well. You probably thought I was just resting all that time 🙂

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