Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Day 70: Salt Lake City to Elko, NV

Visually, the trip from Salt Lake City to Elko was stunning. All day long in every direction the sky put on a spectacular display of clouds and weather phenomena.

We drove down out of the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains and past the Great Salt Lake under a dark lid of clouds that reduced the scene to shades of gray and tan. With intermittent showers, we crossed desert lands ringed by dark mountains.

We passed a puzzling sculpture that is shaped like a tree from a distance but turns out to be a bunch of croquet balls on a very tall rack. We did not stop for a photo, but I grabbed one from the internet.

File:Metaphor The Tree of Utah.jpg
Metaphor: The Tree of Utah, 1986
by Swedish artist, Karl Momen
Internet grab

We stopped at Bonneville Salt Flats Rest Area for photos. The sun was shining but the wind was blowing so hard that Dan could hardly hold his heavy camera steady and the flat iPad wanted to sail away.

On a previous trip, Dan and I had spent a night in Wendover, Utah, and on our way out of town he noticed a sign for an historic airport with a museum. This trip we took the time to check it out.

During World War II, heavy bomber crews were trained at Wendover Army Air Field. It was quite a large operation employing up to 20,000 personnel, with 3 paved runways, 7 hangers and 600 buildings including barracks, mess hall, hospital, library, gymnasium, swimming pool and chapel. Presently it is a small civilian airport, which claims to be "The most original operating World War II Army Air Force Base in the USA!"

Part of the airport office is used to display memorabilia and models of the airport from World War II. One of these was a model of the Little Boy Atomic Bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima. It's weird to see something explained that used to be so secret. The reason it was there is that the crew of the Enola Gay, the plane that carried the bomb, was trained at that airport; there was also a model of the Enola Gay.

Little Boy Atomic Bomb Replica

Model of the Enola Gay

To add color to the scene a group of Red Hat ladies was also touring the museum; with respect to desert winds, most of them wore red headbands or caps.

Time for lunch. Right outside the airport I noticed a freshly painted Mexican Restaurant, that appeared to be converted from a double-wide mobile home. Maybe this was a new business where young people still had enthusiasm. We decided to give it a try.

Los Compadres Mexican Restaurant

My intuition was right. The food tasted like home-cooking, with a very personal flare, and it was incredibly cheap. Except for one take-out customer, we were the only ones there. The only staff we saw was our waitress, a sweet-faced Mexican girl.

From Wendover to Elko there was a spectacular cloud show over the desert.

The Best Western Elko Inn has a nice large pool with water warm enough to walk into. Both Dan and I had a swim; it was a great way to end the day. Only one other family was there, and they were reserved.

I stayed in, but Dan had dinner at The Star Hotel. Dan says that it is the best Basque restaurant in the United States. The food was excellent: soup, salad, bread, beans, then wonderful baked lamb, green beans and french fries. For dessert Dan enjoyed perfectly made flan. He was seated with an engineer from Toronto who worked in the local area supplying equipment to the warehousing and mining industries; they had a good conversation.