Day 4. 1/14/2016. Starting Odometer: 143042. Final Odometer: 143280. Mileage: 238. Total Mileage 1108.


A light snow fell at dawn. The news said that a storm was coming, and would hit Salt Lake City about noon. That gave me the time I needed to see the capitol and get out before it hit. I had never been to Salt Lake City, and apparently Cortana hadn’t either. She gave me instructions that were a little awkward. I drove through an industrial section, then a narrow-streeted residential area with very steep slopes. I was grateful that the snow hadn’t started sticking yet and the streets weren’t iced, or this route would have been very difficult. I resolved to find a different way back to the freeway. Surely there had to be one.

Eventually the capitol came into view and it was truly beautiful.

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I found a park on the street and walked in. Like in Idaho, there was no massive security, no barricades to entry. Anyone who wanted to could come in and see the various art, history, and government agencies working here. The exhibits lay testament to Utah’s vast geological and natural history, as well as the importance of the Mormons, their colonization of the region, and their faith.

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I would have stayed longer, but I was concerned about the incoming storm. I set off for Nevada, and the Great Basin National Park.

As I passed out of the Salt Lake City/Orem area, I saw a sign. Something I knew I wouldn’t find in Nevada, so I decided to risk the weather and make the stop. Cracker Barrel. Yum! They had a wonderful turkey lunch with stuffing and potatoes and gravy.

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By the time I was done eating, I was also out of time. I tipped the waitress, climbed into Caravan One and hightailed it south, then west, toward a town called Delta, and a dry bed of salt called Sevier Lake.

In the distance, something was burning. Something big.

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Whatever it was, it was enormous. The plume was as big around as the two huge buildings next to it, and it turns out those buildings were massive warehouses. Warehouses stuffed with, it turned out, coal.

Train car after train car of oil and other consumables, lined up for miles, waiting to be burned in the middle of nowhere to provide power for everyone in every direction for hundreds of miles. This was the Intermountain Power Plant, and boy did they know how to burn stuff.

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I crossed through a small pass carved into the mountains south of Sevier, and suddenly the world of technology went away.

Only two radio stations. No phone lines, no cars, no cities, no internet, no phone. Just miles and miles of desert, distant mountains, and the off-and-on-again appearance of snow. For almost 100 miles I drove without cell service, and was grateful that my tire had exploded the day previous.

Every minute, a new vista opened itself. This raw, rugged land was stunning in its regal desolation. Mountains jutting proudly over the desert, frosted with snow, unbent against centuries of wind and erosion. Nature exposed to the elements, revealing coiled strength and power.

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And then cell phone reception returned, but not internet. Apparently AT&T truly does suck compared to Verizon. I don’t know. I just know I didn’t have internet when I reached Nevada. I had passed Baker for the second time. This time it was Baker, Nevada. A desolate little hole at the end of what they call the loneliest road in America. And just a few miles from here, Great Basin National Park.

I found my way to the campground, discovered that I was the only person sleeping in the park that night, and settled down to a quiet, lonely night in the snow.

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Utah had impressed the hell out of me, and I hadn’t even seen the parts of it that they consider impressive. There are five National Parks in Utah, and not getting to see them were part of the compromise I’d made when I agreed to turn the road trip into a month, instead of a year. I hope to return there some day, and see all I missed. I feel I’d need at least a month just for that, to do that great state the justice it deserves.

It’s strange.Loneliness is a two-edged sword. I loved the sense of freedom, the isolation from the rest of the world, the serenity and contentment I felt here, cut off from the internet, no one to interrupt me in any way. But I was sad, too. It was just me here. Without someone to share an experience with, did it really happen?

I went to sleep at sundown. The light above the RV entrance keeping watch burned alone all night, and nary a soul did it see, except mine.

 

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