Last known location: London, England

Route 50: Utah Saints

From Ely we continued east, passing a lot of pretty lush green open range. Before long we were in view of Wheeler Peak which, at 13,063 feet is the second-highest and most impressive mountain in the state. Soon we were approaching the remote Nevada/Utah border. We stayed on Route 50, avoiding the I-70 freeway, and were rewarded with some lovely scenery throughout the west of the state. As well as the dusty rolling hills there was a huge dry salt lake and a stream of MGs passing in the other direction – apparently competing in the Rally to Reno. They were beautiful old cars and must have been fairly reliable as they were nearing the end of their journey! A lot of the towns we passed through were really tiny, with a handful of houses and maybe one local store. We spent most of the day driving, stopping occasionally for gas and a leg stretch.

We had no idea where we were going to stay that evening, and we didn’t see a motel for hours until we reached the town of Springville, an hour or so south of Salt Lake City. It was in a spectacular setting with huge snow-capped peaks on one side. Eventually we checked into the Days Inn, the only place we could find, which was very comfortable. It had a pool so I got an hour or so sunbathing in before Dan insisted we get some dinner. There was a commercial park a few minutes away with your average fare; Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, Taco Bell. We settled for IHOP (International House of Pancakes), another chain specialising in pancakes and other breakfast grub. They did burgers and salads, too, so we didn’t end up having breakfast at 7pm! After dinner we visited the local Walmart, an enormous store (possibly the largest we’d ever seen!) selling everything from hoovers to hash browns. We picked up a few bits for lunch the next day and chatted to two of the staff who were impressed with our accents and the trip we were taking. One had visited London a few years ago for her birthday and commented on how friendly everyone was. Not something you usually hear about London!

The next day we were back on the road, passing more empty towns and heading through the mountains. We stopped off in Helper, a tiny old railroad town which was said to be unchanged for almost a century. It was more or less a ghost town with loads of closed shop fronts. We only saw 2 other people in town and couldn’t even find anywhere to get a cold drink so we jumped back in the car to get on our way.

A few hours later we came down from the mountains and the entered the canyon lands of South Eastern Utah. Our next destination was the Arches National Park and just before we arrived we got our first look at the Colorado Rocky Mountains. They seemed a lot bigger than anything else we’d passed through recently, and we’d be driving through them in the next day or so! Exciting stuff! The Arches National Park takes its name from the hundreds of naturally formed sandstone arches scattered around. They range in size from about 3 feet to nearly 300 feet in width and are the result of erosion over millions of years. The whole park is mostly red stone under bright blue sky but it’s pretty amazing. We stopped first at The Windows, with a dense concentration of arches and spires. There was a short trail we followed to both the north and south windows and both offered great views of the rest of the park. We also stopped at the viewing points for Delicate Arch, which more or less resembles its name, and the panoramic viewpoint of the whole park. A few mini hikes provided us with some much needed exercise and more gorgeous views.

After a few hours at the park we drove off towards Colorado where we were meeting Dan’s uncle, David. Opting for the scenic route we followed Highway 128 which winds for 25 miles along the broad, brown, beautiful and brimming Colorado River. The scenery was lovely but the road wasn’t the easiest so we were relatively pleased to join Route 50 again for some straight roads across the border and into Grand Junction, our home for the next two nights and one important birthday!

1 Comment:
  1. Al 21 Jun, 2011

    I love the post titles! Hope you enjoyed the dramatic scenery – it sounds like there will be a bit less of that over the next few days.

    Glad to hear you met up with Brian – I expect you never thought you would meet in Wichita!

Post a comment
If you want your photo to appear with your comment (optional!), upload it at Gravatar.comOpens in a new window