Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

January 25, 2008

Wyoming and Utah

The weather improved significantly for the last few days of our trip west. We left Denver, but because we didn't want to have to drive the truck and car transport over the Rockies, and because I-80 terminates at the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, we took Highway 25 north from Denver to Wyoming to pick up I-80. That way we would limit our mountain driving to just the Wasatch Range in Eastern Utah and the Sierras in California.
Our first stop along the way was to see Tree Rock. This is a photo of it taken in the 1800's, along with the story below, which I got off google.
Lincoln Highway at the Tree in the Rock
"In the spring of 1868 when the Union Pacific was being constructed west of Cheyenne, the surveyors came across this struggling small tree growing out of a solid boulder of 1.43 billion year old pink Sherman granite. The railroad was relocated so as to preserve the tree. Locomotive engineers would stop to water the tree. In 1902, the railroad was relocated so as to avoid the steep grade at Sherman Hill and the necessity of double-heading the locomotives up the grade from Laramie. The old rail grade continued to be used as a wagon road. With the opening of the Lincon Highway, the old grade continued along the same location. Today, I-80 continues along the same route with the tree in a wayside park located in the median."

I've no idea what that red spot is on the photo; it's on the negative too.

I did not take this next photo, I found it on google images. I didn't have my camera ready when we passed this same sign on I-80 in Wyoming and we never saw another one. But it came as a real surprise to Brian and I that we were at 6,930 feet, crossing the Continental Divide, and, as you can see, there isn't a mountain in sight. My only frame of reference at that point in my life was Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, which is the highest point & mountain in New England, at 6,200 feet. I went to the summit of Mt. Washington once and the view was amazing - we could see all the way into Maine. Yet here we were, 730 feet higher than Mt. Washington's summit, on flat prairie land.
Of all the states we passed through, I would very much like to go back to Wyoming and spend some time traveling in the western part of the state. The buttes and mountains are unreal. If I had known how amazing Wyoming was, I would have planned to stay a day extra and explored.

We finally stopped for the day in Green River, WY, about 3/4 of the way across the state. This butte is called The Citadel and it was right behind our hotel.

I admit to having a really overactive imagination. I think anyone who was brought up as an only child learned to live in their head a lot, so I find it extremely easy to look at things like this butte see and what it was like before "Manifest Destiny" ruined the west, see the Lakota and Cheyenne's peaceful villages before Custer and the rest slaughtered them and the buffalo (but that's a rant for another day and time). I could have stared at this butte for hours and hours and let the visions of those bygone days entertain me.

I found this photo online of Green River in around 1865 as the railroad was being built.

The next day, we were on the road and had planned to stop in Salt Lake City. But first we had to slog up the east side of the Wasatch Mountains and that was reallllllly slow going in the truck. I don't think Brian was able to get the truck past 35 mph. It was a beautiful area though.

This was our first San Francisco sign. I was both elated and scared shitless. Uh oh, we're nearly there......we're not just on a road trip, we're running out of country fast and we have A LOT of work to do at the other end..... On the other hand, I was beaming because I was getting close to home!!
When we dropped down out of the mountains into the Salt Lake area, there were just too many highways zig zagging all around us and the city didn't look all that impressive, so we decided to bag getting off the highway. It had the potential for disaster with all those on and off ramps, so we kept going west and decided to stop at the Great Salt Lake instead.

I am not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't this. It ain't no Lake Tahoe, that's for sure. And lemme sum up the Great Salt Lake for you: P-U. Stinky. Smelly. Briney. It just reeks of sulphur. We met up with a VW bus of Deadheads at that rest stop. We were comparing '89 Summer Tour notes and set lists, when the girl surprised all of us and waded in to the lake to dunk her head. Her travel mates, Brian and I were like, "ewwwww!" But she laughed and said that she had to do it to say that she'd done it.

Desolate. Depressing. Oh and did I mention that it smells bad too?

What I found far more interesting was the Great Salt Desert. Just this flat, bright white plain of salt on both sides of the highway for about 80 miles. The other thing that was cool, was that other travelers had stopped and made designs or wrote stuff with rocks placed on the hard salt plain. There were peace signs, hearts, initials, the occasional swear word, etc. At least it gave me something to look at because it was pretty monotonous. The famous Bonneville Salt Flats are located in this area and a lot of car commercials film there as well.

Next: Crossing into the Pacific Time Zone


  1. Anonymous11:12 AM

    I am so enjoying my tour of scenic America with you. I love all the commentary because I am learning so much about somewhere I've never been. Your photos are terrific. Thanks for sharing,Jojo.

  2. western wyoming is wonderful..i spent 4 days in the tetons, camping and hiking...and ya know that expression, does a bear shit in the woods? it's true!

    and i almost had an accident on i-80 going thru the salt desert...i fell asleep at the wheel!

    but, i know what you mean about seeing your first san fan sign...i get the same feeling on i-80 just east of cleveland.."new york city and east" or on i-8 in so cal that states "san diego and west"

  3. I love Wyoming too, there was a time when I wanted to go to college there.

    Great pictures Jojo, I'm having a great time on this trip :)

  4. Anonymous1:11 PM


    i am so jealous. you've seen so much of the country by car and you took the time and care to really stop and shoot so much. great job, JoJo.

  5. It all looks beautiful,except the desert.And the idea that the GSL stinks turns my stomach,blech!But then again,the Cape Fear River has its days as well.