Today is Aug 21st , day 3. We drove 228 miles today from Elko, Nevada to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Last night we pulled into Elko, NV pretty late. It was dark, the kids were already asleep and we were all tired after a long day. The hotel was a really nice little place, despite being in the same 'power center' off the highway as a Raleigh's supermarket, a pizza place, and a Del Taco.We we're fortunate to have two beds in the room and I think it made all the difference. The kids transferred asleep and despite Calum being up a bit in the night we did pretty well considering.
A hot breakfast was included with the hotel at a restaurant nearby. Essentially it was a family place, think Swiss Chalet, Kelseys, Applebees. They had decent breakfast food, especially considering it was free. Erica let Alec have some of his favorite flavored milk while we were there (vanilla creamer). Am I wrong in thinking its weird for kids to drink creamers? I mean I'm sure I did it, but I don't think I was ever allowed... Then again I let him do stuff that Erica thinks is questionable all the time... so we're pretty even on the parenting stuff.
Hitting the road we had some really beautiful views of sun filtering through fluffy clouds with grey bellies. The landscape slowly changed from the barren desert of yesterday to a greener more shrub filled desert. It was for the most part still flat but we could feel a transition starting to occur in the landscape. When I lived in Africa, they called this kind of land around the Sahara the sahel, and it speaks of change, good and bad, with the growing or shrinking desert.
Logistics we're straightforward today. We drive straight East along highway 80 all day.
The drive went well. Both kids we're in good spirits, and then Calum had an early nap. It seems like he might be taking two naps these days with all the driving. Probably the combination of no stimulation then 110% stimulation, then back to none again. It must be tiring. Anyhow, we got our first taste of rain as we drive through the flats and into some hillier areas. But it only smattered and we pushed through for quite a while and then stopped for lunch right on the border town of Wendover. Actually we stopped in West Wendover on the Nevada side of town. The playgrounds are just better there :)
This was a really big playground, with a lot of varying equipment some looking basically brand new and other pieces scattered about seeming to be from the 1950s. There we're some very old looking licensed bouncers and sea saws, but I think they may have been knock offs...
And man was it windy! The kids had a very good run around while Erica put together sandwiches for lunch. Although it looked like rain it never actually broke, and Erica asked one of the few locals we saw in Wendover only to find out that this weather is commonplace.
The kids had a fun play and we all ate a little lunch and then headed back into the car to finish our much more relaxed day driving into Salt Lake City.Before we left Wendover for good though, we had to stop by and see Woody. Yes, that woody, the one from Toy Story apparently lives in Wendover. Oh and apparently he smokes now...
Almost immediately across the Utah border we could see the ground flatten out considerably. And within a few miles we could see the coloring even out and grow paler and paler. If you know your geography you'll realize where we we're coming up to. The Bonneville Salt Flats we're calling, and we couldn't get by without stopping to check out the Speedway where so many land speed records have been broken!
We peeled off the highway and made out for the nearby outlook where we could get out feet down onto the salt. We thought better about driving on the salt flat itself. The last thing we need right now is any car trouble and it looked pretty gnarly out there. We made it out to basically where the main raceway starts though and stopped for some time on the flats.
Its really amazing to be there in this expanse of white salt mud and earth. To see the cracked ground where you know the fastest people on earth have traveled. The one thing I wasn't expecting about it. The salt is really fine on the top. Its all been ground down to a sticky fine powder. It got on us pretty much everywhere but I didn't really mind, and the kids we're suitably impressed. I think... Its hard to tell with them sometimes.
While we were there we met a man named Stacey. He was a pretty cool dude who said he'd been out there for speed week and was more or less just bumming around waiting for friends to show up for more drinking and racing action. He was an old time bike engineer and actually worked on two motorcycles that broke speed records on the salt flats. This is the kind of guy that belongs out on the salt flat.The kind of guy you totally imagine would work on motorcycles all his life just to get that little bit more juice, just to go a little bit faster. He was a very cool dude.
As we left the salt flats there was a pretty funny incident. Well two really. First I caught Alec licking the salt off his shoe. Yup, pretty gross, but he seemed to like it :( But then we also somehow managed to get a fly in our car. Alec has taken to very loudly shouting “shoo fly shoo!” whenever he sees a fly. Event though we opened the windows this fly didn't want to leave though so eventually Alec gave up and told us that we'd have to get a new car. I guess the fly won ours through a fair fight...
As we headed into Salt Lake City pulling through that last 100 miles we decided to call ahead to our hotel, the airport Super 8 and ask them to see if we could have two beds in our room. When called though they informed us that to upgrade to a two bed room would be an additional $5, more importantly though we'd have to pay an additional $15 for a non-smoking room! What?! We ordered this through Priceline, and they are giving us a smoking room?! And a non-smoking room is more? Shouldn't it be the other way around these days??? Well we called Priceline customer service and apparently there wasn't anything they could really do about it. We got the room at a very good rate by doing this “name your own price” thing, and when you do that apparently you get what you get. So we had nothing to do but cancel. Priceline was as good about it as they could be, but we were not impressed with Super 8 at all. We ended up booking through Priceline again, only over the phone this time and found a really nice place that was more or less comparable in price and gave us tow queen beds and a guarantee of a non-smoking room. Look I'm no hater on smokers, I used to be one, but I can't have my kids around that; and you can't tell me those rooms don't smell.
To cheer things up a bit Alec decided to pull all of the clothes and diapers out of the bags packed around him and bury himself in them. He kept telling us how dressed up he was. It was very cute.
He also very cutely randomly shouts "Hooray Mummy!" at the top of his voice.
Finally we pulled into our hotel off the highway in Salt Lake. Its still an airport hotel and we haven't made it into the city proper yet, but we expect to do a little (a very little touring tomorrow). I've been to Salt Lake before, and while its got some impressive buildings to admire, unless you want to take to time to catch the Tabernacle Choir I don't know that there's much I'm super excited to see here.
Oh thank heaven!
This is nice though, we arrived mid afternoon and had some time on our hands, as opposed to pulling up after the kids are asleep. The whole family dropped our bags in the room and then went down to the outdoor pool for a swim. It was a bit chilly at first but fine once we got used to it and the kids had a great time. Then we spent a very short time in the hot-tub, and headed back in for cleanup and prep for dinner.
A friend of Erica, named Chase, who lived here in Salt Lake a few years ago had recommended a good Mexican place to eat that was more or less a local joint. So we headed down the block to the Red Iguana. At around 5pm it was already very busy with locals so you could tell it was going to be good. Thankfully they proved us right with some truly excellent Mexican food. Erica and I both had Enchiladas and Alec stuck to his favorite of cheese quesadilla. Calum ate some of everything and then generally made a mess. That's one thing we always have to be prepared for at restaurants with little kids. They are terribly messy.
Two points specifically at the Red Iguana, they had this really great non alcoholic Apple Beer that I'd definitely recommend and when Erica asked them about the mole they promptly brought us a sampler plate with all six or seven different varieties they offered and let her pick what she wanted on her enchilada . Pretty great, we'd definitely recommend it if you're in Salt Lake.
After dinner we crept home to the hotel and the kids went more or less quietly to bed. We've got a little patio looking out onto the highway and Erica and I are working through a few logistics now, getting ready for tomorrow, and our trip out to Rock Springs, Wyoming and beyond.