Tuesday, July 8th
Salt Lake City
When we headed out of Winnemucca around 11 AM the temperature was still in the 80s and our gas gauge, which had come to its senses - was indicating that we still had over three quarters of a tank. We passed through Elko an hour or two later. From the highway Elko looks much nicer and greener. Next time I'll go the extra miles and stop in Elko, A couple hours later we passed out of Nevada and into the salt flats that lasted about an hour and a half. The salt flats are surreal. Perhaps on a different day I might have enjoyed the experience, but on this day it struck me as the most desolate place I had ever been. It's as though you've passed into the back lot of creation, where the landscape and scenery have never been installed. It's just the same monotonous, flat, hazy expanse passing by like a Hanna Barbera meets Salvador Dali cartoon.
Eventually (but not soon enough) the scenery began to change. Mountains began
to come into view through the haze, and more importantly, NPR began to break
through the static on the FM dial. We had been relying on recent "Fresh Air"
programs that I had downloaded from Audible.com onto my iPod before leaving San
Francisco. But our Fresh Air Supply had been exhausted long before, and we had
been listening to the unabridged "War And Peace" that I had also downloaded
from Audible.com, and which incidentally consumes 62 hours and almost a
gigabyte of space on the iPod.
We rolled into Salt Lake City around 5 PM, mountain time. We hadn't gassed up
since Lovelock and our trip computer was politely informing us that we only
had about 25 miles worth of gas left. After going the wrong way when we got to
our exit on I-15, and then finding our way back to I-15 one entrance past our
intended exit, Daisy called the Sheraton and had them guide us in.
We found a gas station across the street from the Sheraton and gassed up with
less than 15 miles showing on the trip computer. Upon checking in we were
informed that there was a convention of cheerleaders staying in our wing, so
they couldn't guarantee that we would have peace and quiet. I inquired whether
these were professional cheerleaders (for the Utah Jazz perhaps) but alas they
were highschool cheerleaders.
As we were unloading the car a bunch of the cheerleaders were practicing in the
parking lot and they asked us for our opinion on whether they were loud enough.
Having never attended a pep rally in my life (one of only a few educational
achievements that I am actually proud of) I told them that I had never heard
better, but Daisy told them they needed to be louder. After glaring at Daisy
for the requisite interval we finished unloading the car. Once we had
everything moved into our room we freshened up, made a few phone calls, and
then headed into town.
I figured that my Morman uncle would want to take us to see the Mormon temple
in the center of town so I decided to do the American thing and take preemptive
action. We found parking at the Mervyn's across the street from Temple Square
and wandered in to have a look around. Almost immediately we were approached by
one of the tour guides, who wanted to know if we'd be interested in going on
one of the free tours that started at ten minute intervals. After being assured
that the tour only takes about half an hour I said that we would be delighted
to go on a tour. Before long however, I fear that they were not delighted to
have me along on the tour. Oh well - the lord works in mysterious ways.
After going on the tour we listened to the calm, reassuring, tape recorded
voice of Jesus telling us about how we too can enter the kingdom of heaven
simply by accepting him, and only him as our saviour - we filled out the survey
cards, declined to provide our email or street address, and then departed.
After returning from dinner the chearleading had ceased, only to be replaced by
the sort of shouting and squealing that one would expect from a slumber party
of wholesome Mormon cheerleaders. Fortunately this too abated before long, as
it was getting a little late for wholesome, cornfed Mormon cheerleaders to be
awake - and we all called it a night.
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