Thursday, August 10, 2017

I drove to Utah to see some rocks.

There seems to be a lot of people making jerky out in the middle of nowhere between Las Vegas and Barstow. It used to be that Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker held the market for dried meats in those parts but I counted no fewer than 8 billboards advertising jerky from other enterprises. A jerky boom is happening people, whether you're ready for it or not. This has nothing to do with the rest of the post but I thought you should be prepared for it.

I went to Utah with a few plans in mind, but the one I really needed to accomplish was to see Spiral Jetty. When I was a teenager, lo these many years, I saw a picture in an art book of a spiral jetty that Robert Smithson built at the north end of the Great Salt Lake as a piece of land art. I've wanted to see it ever since. I don't know why! Maybe it called to me. I mean, I don't want to get all woo-woo mystic on you but I've thought about it a lot over the years, is what I'm saying

"But Rachel," one of you is wondering, "you're an old woman. What took you so long?" Well, Cheeky McGee, when I was a student up there it was underwater - the circumstances of land art are that sometimes nature takes over. And then a drought struck the West and the water receded but every time I've been in Utah since then I've been on a schedule and it's a long trek out there. Plus, it's kind of a hard sell for people you may be with. "Who want to drive forever to this barren place to see some rocks that you've never heard of but have been calling to me from across the wilderness for decades? Anyone?" But I was entirely on my own this trip and the master of my own schedule. (Don't get me started on this because I will talk your ear off about the benefits of solo travel. Although I met up with Camille later that night for another adventure, so you don't have to worry that I'm becoming a total recluse.)

First stop was Promontory Point, where the railroad met between East and West in 1869. Because you have to drive through the visitor center parking lot to get to the county road that takes you out to the lake you might as well just go in and have a look and use the bathroom. And then you get to learn all sorts of fascinating stuff about trains and how the US abused thousands of Chinese immigrants on the project. Sorry about that.

I asked a ranger about driving out to the jetty and after he gave me directions he said, "The conditions are good today but please don't go unless you have a tank full of gas and a car full of food and water. You have no idea how many phone calls I get from panicked mothers in different parts of the country saying that their idiot sons are stuck out there." I assured him that I was a very sensible middle-aged woman with lots of snacks. As long as he thought my wee car could handle the washboard road then I'd be fine.

And I was fine, my car was a little champ. No frantic calls needed. The drive was surreal and stark and beautiful. And silent. At one point I stopped the car and got out just to see what it felt like and it was as if someone had put noise cancelling headphones on my ears. There was nothing. No wind, no animal noises, no distant cars. Nothing. I'm not sure I've ever experienced that kind of silence before in my life.

This was my view about half-way there. I would like to thank the clouds of Utah for helping out with my pictures.

You know how when you've been wanting to experience something for a long time it has the potential of letting you down? This did not. It exceeded all of my expectations. It's just so cool. Once I got there I scampered down the rocks and started walking around it all the way to the center, which had been my plan all along. When I first saw the picture, in fact, my first thought was that it would be cool to see it and walk all the way to the center. Childhood goal - achieved!

There was only one other person out on it and the only sounds were our shoes crunching the salt. There's a lot of salt. And dead birds, I assume because of the salt. SO MANY DEAD BIRDS! I'll spare you the pictures although I took plenty. I'll show you these pictures instead and you can just presume that there are plenty of decomposing birds in them.

I had to stop myself from making all of my pictures black and white.

From the center looking out.

At the beginning.

Go Dodgers!