Day 27: Park City, UT to West Wendover, NV

Today was a day full of new sights and I felt like a tourist rather than a bicyclist passing through.  First we stopped at the Park City Olympic Center,  really a neat place where they awarded many of the medals during the 2002 Winter Olympics.  We left Park City early on a beautiful hill climb outside of town, and we must have passed several hundred other bicyclists. It is a bicycle heaven out here in Utah.

We descended into Salt Lake City – I mean a really steep descent – and the first stop was “This is the Place” Heritage Park. The park marks the location during the 1847 migration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints where their leader, Brigham Young, announced that they had arrived at the spot that fulfilled his vision to “make the desert blossom like a rose.” He was riding in the back of a wagon because he was ill with Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but when the Mormon pioneers reached the crest of a small hill, he looked down into the valley and gave the word: “It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on.” Heritage Park is absolutely stunning for its beauty and its history.

After the park, we made our way through the beautiful University of Utah campus and visited its version of Innovation Park, which is very large and integrated with many companies and centers and institutes associated with the medical school.  As we came through the campus, we ran across a celebration of Fort Douglas, the military garrison that was established in 1862 and mostly turned over to the university after it closed in 1991. Part of the old fort, including Fort Douglas Military Museum, is used by the Army Reserve. The historical celebration included re-enactors portraying the various stages of the fort’s history from the Civil War to the modern military.

Then it was on to the Salt Lake Temple, the Mormons’ best-known temple and the heart of Temple Square in the city. The architecture was spectacular. I also visited the Mormon Tabernacle and heard a bell choir playing. The acoustics are unbelievable – they say you can hear a pin drop from anywhere in the Tabernacle.  We saw many tour groups enjoying both the Temple and the Tabernacle.

After Salt Lake, we passed the airport and onward to West Wendover, Nevada.  We stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats close to the Nevada border. The famous densely-packed salt pan is a remnant of ancient Lake Bonneville, which was as big as Lake Michigan and included the Great Salt Lake and many smaller salt flats in the area. The flat land is famous for speed records, including the bicycle speed record of 167 mph by a Dutchman who was pedaling behind a race car for favorable aerodynamics. I didn’t set any speed records, but I sure had fun pedaling around. People were out sunning and doing yoga, and some were racing their cars and spinning doughnuts on the salt flat. I was completely covered with salt, and so was my bike. Bonneville probably ranks as the most unusual place I have ever been.

Tonight we are staying at a hotel in Wendover, Utah, but the state line is on the street right outside. Once you cross it into West Wendover, Nevada, there are casinos everywhere. It was quite a day, filled with lots of sightseeing and learning about the remarkable history of Utah.

1 Comment so far

  1.    Kellie Sade on June 20th, 2012

    What’s Up!!!! Go Greg Go! Go Greg Go! Almost there…..We miss you in class, thinking of you, sending our strength! You are amazing!