Southwest 2021:
Day 6 - Salt Lake City


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Southwest 2021: [Day 1 - Missouri] [Day 2 - Kansas] [Day 3 - Kansas] [Day 4 - Ft. Collins] [Day 5 - Perry] [Day 6 - Salt Lake City] [Day 7 - Salt Lake City] [Day 8 - Salt Lake City] [Day 9 - Goblin Valley] [Day 10 - Torrey] [Day 11 - Kodachrome Basin] [Day 12 - Coral Pink Sand Dunes] [Day 13 - Lees Ferry] [Day 14 - Grand Canyon] [Day 15 - Grand Canyon] [Day 16 - Lyman Lake] [Day 17 - Carlsbad] [Day 18 - Davis Mountains] [Day 19 - Marathon] [Day 20 - Arlington] [Day 21 - Hot Springs] [Day 22 - Bowling Green] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

Sunday, February 21, 2021: Breakfast was large chunks of dragonfruit, some veggies for Tom, and a Winchell's donut each.
When Debbie went to add water and chemicals to our cassette toilet, the hole shone like light from heaven because Tom had removed the cassette. Of course, this demanded to be photographed.
In the middle of the night, Debbie had woken to the sounds of neighbors returning, followed by knocking and general mayhem. The morning light revealed that something had gone horribly wrong for our neighbors and they now had a nailed-on plywood door instead of a working door, ...
... which was lying in a mangled heap in front of their RV with empty sleeping bags tossed on the ground next to us. We expect to hear from the Perry, Utah, police force any day to ask us about what we may have heard. From this day on, we would always refer to this place as the crime scene campsite.
The sun had just started to peek over the mountains when we left around 8:45 AM.
In Brigham City, the main street was lined with trees, presumably box elders, ...
... because the Brigham City Utah Temple (shown) is across the street from the Box Elder Tabernacle.
Thank you, Brigham City. We did feel welcome.
Our last view of the town was of the Box Elder County Clerk Passport Office building.
Once we were past the last traces of civilization, it was a scenic drive through some wetlands. This sign noted that these are public shooting grounds and a waterfowl management area. Watch out, birdies!
What's this?! The Northrup Grumman (formerly ATK, formerly Morton Thiokol) plant that makes solid rocket motors is just up the road!
Their buildings were scattered among the hills.
Their most famous product, the Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters, have only failed once, but they apparently took that lesson to heart.
The mountainside has many test sites going up its slopes. They are little more than dirt roads leading to flat, concrete pads with fittings to hold the rocket motors in place while they are fired.
Oooh! They have a rocket garden and that counts as an air and space museum! You have our attention.
The parking lot was empty on this cold Sunday morning. We had the entire display to ourselves.
There were a lot of rockets on display. Big ones, little ones, and teeny tiny ones, each with a very nice display explaining where the rocket motor fit in the launch system, how much it weighed, and how much thrust was produced.
This one, for example, is part of the TOW 2 anti-tank missile. The missile itself is more than 10 feet long, but the solid rocket motor that propels it is maybe 16 inches.
The mighty SCUD-busting Patriot missile of Gulf War fame is powered by solid rocket motors, which make up about half of the missile's overall length.
This one is the first stage of a small ICBM that was designed in the 1960s.
This one is a STAR 30BP, which is used to stabilize satellites in geosynchronous orbits.
The Sidewinder air-to-air missile is on the left, and the Hellfire air-to-ground missile is on the right. It is amazing how many different shapes and sizes there are.
The Minuteman ICBM's first stage boosters were all produced by Morton Thiokol.
The star of the display is the four-segment solid rocket booster (SRB) that was used by the Space Shuttle. It is 149 feet long and 12 feet in diameter, and produces 2.6 million pounds of thrust. At the time, they were the only reusable rockets in the world.
All of the displays showed the overall system that that solid rocket motor was a part of, with the solid rocket motor itself highlighted in blue. It is a fantastic display.
This display showcases how the solid rocket propellent is shaped inside the motor. The shape controls the burn process, which allows for control of the thrust and burn duration. This one is the first stage of a Minuteman ICBM.
This Polaris missile engine is interesting in that it has both forward and reverse thrust nozzles. The reverse thrust is engaged during stage separation after the motor is nearly burned out.
This little guy is a booster separation motor used to separate the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster after the first two minutes of flight. It is nearly three feet long and produces 85,000 pounds of thrust. There were eight of these on each booster: four at the top and four at the bottom.
This display showcases the juxtaposition of the space-age rocket garden with the transcontinental railway's historical meeting place in the background.
The SRB really is huge. A sign nearby asked visitors not to climb into the nozzle so Tom didn't.
The little round ones are adorable.
All of these motors power various missile systems, from 2.75 inch air-to-ground rockets to the AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missle of the 1950s.
This booster for the Polaris missile eventually evolved into the Castor I and Castor II solid rocket motors used for space vehicles. The Castor 30 descendent is used on the Antares 230 launch vehicle used today to send cargo to the International Space Station.
That was fun, but we had more to do.
Further down the road is Golden Spike National Historical Park, where the transcontinental rail line met in 1869.
And we say further, we mean really further.
Much of the original railroad that went through here was removed, and this sign noted that the road was on original railroad grade.
We made it over the pass and finally saw the park buildings in the distance. That's the Engine House toward the left, ...
... and the Welcome Center toward the right.
Welcome to Golden Spike National Historical Park!
It makes perfect sense that we would cross a railroad track to get to the visitor center.
We were the only visitors in the parking lot, which is how we like it.
On our way in, we photographed this bison statue ...
... and this plaque honoring Stephen Tyng Mather, who contributed so much to creating the National Parks system. This was the first of three identical plaques we found on this trip, including at the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest.
We used our shiny new National Parks Annual Pass for the first time at the visitor center.
This display shows the routes taken by the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific to reach Promontory.
This famous photo shows the locomotives of the two companies finally meeting on the completed track. The locomotives are Jupiter (on the left) and No. 119 (on the right). More about them later.
We went to the back of the building where all the excitement is.
But first, we needed to get our National Parks passport stamped. We don't actually have one, but they have kindly supplied a roll of paper so you can still get stamps.
Here are ours.
These plaques commemorate the joining of the rails on May 10, 1869. The one on the left celebrates the 100th anniversary of the event, the one on the top right honors the historic contribution of Chinese-Americans who made up majority of the Central Pacific workforce, and the bottom right acknowledges what an amazing feat of civil engineering was required to complete the rail line.
This plaque was dedicated to the Irish workers of the Union Pacific line.
Let's explore, shall we?
The site was very well done, with walkways out to the rails and displays marking various events that took place leading up to the joining.
The lighter colored tie, made from laurel wood, was used for the ceremonial spiking of the last section of the railway. After the ceremony, the rail was unspiked, the ceremonial tie moved, and a standard tie was put in its place.
There's a plaque on the tie, with a much more legible version in the visitor center.
Rows of chairs face the final tie, probably for ranger talks in the warmer months.
There's the back of the visitor center.
These displays have details of the two locomotives involved. Neither were out in the cold and snow.
They only bring those out during the summer, but don't worry, we'll get to see them safe and sound in the Engine House.
In the frenzied race to lay the most track, a crew from the Central Pacific laid 10 miles and 56 feet of track in a single day. All by hand. Amazing.
This replica of the original Golden Spike was flown aboard STS-38 as a symbolic joining of the western frontier with the final frontier of space.
This amazing display showed the process of laying out and building the railroad, staring with surveying crews that marked the route, the grading crews that made the route flat, and the rail crews that laid the ties and spiked the rails.
These display cases showed details of the camp life of the workers, including personal artifacts, typical medicines, and other aspects of their daily lives.
There were four ceremonial spikes driven into the final rails. Two were driven by the executives of the Central Pacific railway, ...
... and two from the Union Pacific. Three of these spikes have been on display in museums around the US, but the four spike's location is listed as "unknown."
We bought a couple of souvenirs before leaving: a teeny-tiny Golden Spike for our shadow box, and a U.S. Geological Survey magnet that matches the Grand Canyon one we have at home, but doesn't quite match the one on the obelisk outside.
This obelisk was the first monument erected at the site in 1916 by the Southern Pacific railroad, the successor to the Central Pacific. It has been moved from its original location to just outside the visitor center.
This is embedded in the corner facing us in the previous photo: U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Bench Mark.
Another family had come and gone while we were visiting, so once again, The Ocho was the only vehicle in the parking lot.
We drove down a short dirt road to the Engine House next.
The Engine House contains replicas of the two steam engines that met for the historic joining of the rails.
But first, look at this adorable little locomotive. It is used to pull the other trains around the tracks whenever necessary.
Up first is Engine 119, which was coming from East to West as part of the Union Pacific line, ...
... and here is Jupiter, which was coming from West to East as part of the Central Pacific line. Both are classified as 4-4-0 type locomotives, meaning that they have four leading wheels, four driving wheels, and no trailing wheels. Jupiter burns wood, which is why it has a flared smokestack. Engine 119 burns coal and has a straight smokestack.
They are both immaculately maintained.
The bell and brasswork was spotless.
That other family left just after we arrived, so The Ocho stood alone again.
We drove back down the mountain, ...
... and got a good look at the hills strewn with Northrup Grumman buildings.
We stopped at the Big Fill viewpoint, ...
... and Tom got out the binoculars to look (unsuccessfully) for specific Northrup Grumman test sites in the hills.
Anyway, back to the Big Fill.
That's the Big Fill on the hill up there - the flat stretch of hill that looks a little manmade so that a railway can be built across it.
Another sign at the viewpoint showed the length of the first transcontinental railroad.
Back to The Ocho, ...
... so we could drive past more Northrup Grumman buildings ...
... and signs.
Oooooh, pretty.
The nearest town, Corinne, has an establishment named Golden Spike.
It also has a wayside display about the regional history, ...
... along with metal artwork depicting the famous locomotives, Jupiter ...
... and Engine 119.
There was also a little sign about a guy named George A. Wyman who was the first guy to ride a motorized bicycle across the US in 1903. He finished his trip twenty days before the first person completed the cross-country trip by car.
We got another view of the Great Salt Lake as we headed to ...
... Del Taco in North Ogden ...
... for lunch.
The view from our dinette was lovely.
Our next stop was Ogden, where Utah's Merci Train boxcar is on display. Here's the front ...
... and here's the back. It's paint is badly peeling, but the boxcar is still intact.
The museum itself was closed but there were a few other trains on display outside too.
The Ocho was filthy again after driving through snow the day before, so we found another self-serve car wash.
We were able to use up some of the stack of dollar coins left over from our previous wash in Denver two days earlier.
This car wash had two bays just for trucks and RVs with a catwalk that allowed you to easily wash the top of your rig. Best car wash ever!
The Salt Lake City area was overrun with these identical billboards: Seraph Young: First Woman To Vote, along with a website you can visit. We suspect that the website directs you to an advertisement for a billboard company, just like the Kokomo 1961 Basketball Champs signs do in the Indianapolis area. We'll have to watch for this trend in other cities.
We attempted to view the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in the state of Utah. We drove up a steep, winding road and couldn't see the house anywhere.
A block or two beyond where it should have been, the road ended and we had to turn around ...
... and head back down.
We took lots of pictures and consulted Google Maps afterward. It is the only home on this road set far back from the street, and this grove of trees hides the property well.
However, you can almost see it through the trees here.
The view on the way down was beautiful, if terrifying.
That's a cool gated entrance to one of the very expensive homes along the way.
We drove to our hotel next and could see downtown Salt Lake City, including the capitol building in the distance. We were headed there two days later.
After five nights in a Class B motorhome, it was beyond luxurious to be staying in a hotel. We would be dropping off The Ocho to get some work done the next two days, so we decided to stay in a hotel for two nights instead of just the one when we'd be without our home-on-wheels.
We needed a rental car too, so we headed to the airport to pick it up.
Remember airports and rental cars? Apparently, they're still a thing.
We drove back to the hotel in two separate vehicles, ...
... then got into one to drive to Apollo Burger to pick up some dinner.
There was a cool sun devil in the sky on our drive back.
We got to try fry sauce on French fries as our friend Bryan had advised long ago, ...
... and Debbie enjoyed a steak sandwich while Tom went with a huge Apollo Burger. Delicious! After dinner, we finally treated ourselves to the most glorious showers ever.

Day 7 >


 

 


Southwest 2021: [Day 1 - Missouri] [Day 2 - Kansas] [Day 3 - Kansas] [Day 4 - Ft. Collins] [Day 5 - Perry] [Day 6 - Salt Lake City] [Day 7 - Salt Lake City] [Day 8 - Salt Lake City] [Day 9 - Goblin Valley] [Day 10 - Torrey] [Day 11 - Kodachrome Basin] [Day 12 - Coral Pink Sand Dunes] [Day 13 - Lees Ferry] [Day 14 - Grand Canyon] [Day 15 - Grand Canyon] [Day 16 - Lyman Lake] [Day 17 - Carlsbad] [Day 18 - Davis Mountains] [Day 19 - Marathon] [Day 20 - Arlington] [Day 21 - Hot Springs] [Day 22 - Bowling Green] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

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