Today is Aug 22nd , day 4. We drove 314 miles today from Salt Lake City, Utah.to Rawlins, Wyoming.
Well last night in Salt Lake was definitely a bit more relaxed than the previous evenings. The kids both slept mostly well. Yes they were both up a little but I give them some slack. I mean they're only 3 and 1 years old, and this is all very new.
We were surprised to see the time when we woke up until we realized that we've entered Central Time... or is it Mountain I always forget which is which. Either way it was an hour later than we expected, so we tried to pack up and hit the road quickly.
Before we left though we had to get our included hot breakfast! Waffles, cereal, fruit, and yogurt. We all had a very good meal and then headed out to see the world.
Before we made our way down to our first stop for the morning we decided to do a drive by through downtown Salt Lake City. Erica has never been here before but even with that it seemed like we should move quickly. We drove by Temple Square and saw the LDS Convention Center, drove through the arch on State St, and then down past part of the university. Its really a nice town. If it weren't for all the religion I think it would be fantastic. Then again, we were talking about it as we left the city: would growing up in SLC with all the religion be worse than growing up in a super poor town? Or growing up somewhere in the south where its overrun with Evangelicals? I doubt it would be worse, in fact it'd probably be much better. Then again, we could all be born street kids in Bangladesh, so really we're all pretty fantastically lucky to be where we are.
Our first real stop was for a really nice little hike. This was another recommendation from Erica's friend Chase who lived in Salt Lake City for a while. Donut Falls is off the main Canyon Road on the southern side of SLC amid the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The drive thankfully went well and wasn't too windy, but the last little bit was on a very bumpy gravel road. The kids really loved that and laughed their heads off at the bumps.
We eventually got into the parking lot though and started on the small mile long hike to a waterfall. This is a hike apparently well known to locals and rated highly for kids. Even though it had some reasonable ups and downs it wasn't too steep a grade, and there were lots of fun rocks and treeholds to grapple up. Calum and Alec both walked for most of the trip.
It's amazing to see the change in environment from yesterday to today. I mean this is really right in the wild woods! It's was nice to see birch trees again since they're so uncommon in California. We followed the path along the sounds of rushing water. Winding up and down we soon came to a bridge where Alec took the opportunity to trip trop like a billy goat and check for trolls.
Up and down a bit more and eventually we wound up at Donut Falls. The last stretch involved scrambling over rocks and trees through the stream until we got to the actual base of the tumbling waterfall. I read on one of those tourist Hike Utah websites that the falls we're called Donut because the way the water emerges through the rock. Frankly I didn't see it.
We didn't stay long because the falls at the base were really a better place for big boys. Our kids may be adventurous little boys but they're still little and tend to fall a lot. So we started back. Calum rode on my shoulders a bit and in the front carrier some and Alec ran a lot of the way, of course he took a tumble and scraped his elbow, but that was probably to be expected.
Along the way back Alec showed us a lot of trees that were Lorax trees, and he took the time to thoughtfully draw arrows and lines in the sand along the path for the next people to follow. Of course the worry if anyone actually followed his lines would be that they'd get terribly dizzy.
Calum on the way back decided that chipmunks were monkeys and chased after then squealing “monkey! monkey!”
Eventually we got back to the car and took off again. We decided to drive straight through the National forest. Logistically today was a big kafuffle. We struck out east leaving Salt Lake City on the 190, down the canyon and into the woods, once through we dropped onto the 224, 248, 189, and back on the 80. From there it was straight north east and into Wyoming.
But I should back up a bit. Driving out of the Wasatch Forest was pretty cool, we scaled the mountains over a few large switchbacks and got some great views of the pines. We passed more than one ski resort, a few with the ski-lifts running. I wonder how many people they get out in the wilderness during the summer?
Back onto what passes for the highway we drove through Park City. Nice town, not as ritzy as Aspen but definitely a destination for hipsters. Erica ate a lot of snap peas as we drove. She loves those. And Alec has started requesting songs be sung for him. If you've met Alec before you probably know he LOVES music. If he hasn't yet he will probably sing Puff the Magic Dragon for you at some point. Well now he's started wanting more complicated music. I think he's trying to learn the lyrics, so he needs it sung a lot. Today he's had me sing both “Hotel California” and “After the Goldrush” about 20 times. Admittedly I enjoy it for the most part, but it does get a bit much after a while.
Getting back closer to highway 80 we started to see some farmland as the hills evened out. Cows, horses, and even sheep were grazing. Soon the land grew more sparse again. Not like the Nevada desert, but closer to it. And the earth took on the classic red tint of the American West. I suppose this is a bit more than I usually imagine it, but there's definitely a Wile E Coyote vibe to the area that only got stronger as we got closer to Wyoming.
We passed some trains along the way East much to Alec and Calum's delight. This is really beautiful country. Honestly since most of my experience with it has been on film, it feels somehow old timey.
Eventually we crossed the border into Wyoming and decided that everyone needed a break. We stopped at Evanston, WY for some run around, grocery shopping, and a walk up Main street for an ice cream. We tried to find the river walk but got a bit confused so ended up just parking in the downtown. Sure it may have been Wednesday afternoon, but I was surprised at how few people were on the street. A number of the shops on the main street we're actually shut down or boarded up, including the ice cream parlor:( Seems like the economy falling apart may have had some effect on Evanston. And fortunately for us the Drug Store had a great ice cream counter.
Alec had Chocolate, I had Cookies and Cream, Erica had Mint Chocolate Chip, and Calum had Vanilla. From there, since we couldn't find a park Alec, Calum and I hung out in a little park-let beside the fire station while Erica ran off to the Walmart for groceries for dinner.
The park-let had a cool old piece of fire equipment. No plaque explaining it, but it sure looked like fire equipment... there was also a huge buffalo statue that the kids crawled under and around for a bit.
Erica came back with some good food to cook. And we took off once again. It was around this point that we decided not to stay in Rock Springs for the night, instead we're pushing on to Rawlins, WY. That's one of the nice things about not having anything specifically booked beforehand. We drove fast and kept a good pace for a while, both kids fell asleep for a nap and we drove through some beautiful country. We passed a row of windmills along a ridge slowly turning. Eventually the kids woke up and we ended up stopping for our dinner in the lovely town of Green River.
What a stroke of luck finding Green River, and stumbling upon a fantastic spot for the kids to run around and us to BBQ. The town doesn't seem to be very much, sitting just on the outskirts of Rock Springs (you've got to think there are probably 100 towns called Green River across America). My mind of course always goes to the classic CCR album, and song :) Anyhow, this was exactly what the kids needed. A very cool playground, with a water play area, and other kids to run around with.
With the kids in their PJs the only thing left to do was keep heading east on 80, past Rock Springs and into Rawlins. There were a few cool rolling hills with... um what are they called again.. you know those lines delineating different types of rock, and different time periods. Star..stra.. something. Anyhow there were a few of those in view as we drove, but mostly the ground evened out totally and it was just flat. We caught fleeting glimpses of oil drilling machinery, and passing trains as the sun set. Certainly very pretty, but in a barren kind of way.
With the time difference kicking in we really aren't even running too late. We pulled into Rawlins with the kids still awake around 8:30pm, and checked into the Quality Inn. Double bed, smoke free, a pool somewhere, crummy internet, and a coupon for 50% off breakfast. This is definitely budget, but not bad budget. And while the area seems a bit sketchy, but for my money all of the people I've seen seem fine.
The kids are in bed now sleeping soundly and we're hoping for a good night. We've got a trip out to Saratoga on the docket tomorrow and a rendezvous with my Uncle Dan and Aunt Carolina planned. Hopefully we'll get to those hot springs too.
Striation. That was it. Totally striation...