Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

2016 Worldcon Road Trip Day 2: Wendover NV to Rock Springs WY

Today's travel mostly repeated an equivalent day on our 2008 trip to Denver for Worldcon, although we didn't have the unwanted auto repair adventure in Wells. (We hope the difficulty with the blower motor earlier this week was sufficient sacrifice to the minivan.)

Last night, while unpacking at the Rainbow Hotel in Wendover, I realized that I'd left my electric razor back home in Fernley. This is particularly galling because I specifically remember getting the razor (a second one that I'd bought so I'd have one in the Rolling Stone all the time) packed and ready to go. Apparently, I set the bag aside and forgot to actually put it in my luggage. I made do with my backup blade razor, but this was not going to be a viable long-term solution because I have really sensitive skin. Still, there was nothing to be done about it immediately, so we got breakfast, packed the van, and set out east. Lisa continued to drive us, leaving me free to take photos from time to time.

There are many photos behind the cuts here. There are even more on my Flickr account; click through any photo to go see the others if you are interested.

Bonneville Salt Flats

A few minutes east of Wendover is a rest area with a viewing platform of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Bonneville (2)

My camera-phone has only a limited zoom capability, so Lisa got out the big camera with the 12x telephoto lens. You can see here lots of vehicles out on the salt flats for Speed Week.

Mesa Along I-80

After about 40 miles of dead-straight, 80 mph driving through salty wastes, the road curves away from the salt pans into the hills. There were numerous views of interesting geology like this all throughout the day.

Desert Train

This was the first of quite a few trains we would see today. This stretch of track is the former Western Pacific track, now part of Union Pacific. The former Southern Pacific track is north of here, where it cuts across the Great Salt Lake on a huge long causeway.

Great Saltair

We passed the Saltair Pavillion, once a lakeside resort and now a concert venue.

Utah Trains

And there were still more trains.

In Salt Lake City, we stopped at a Target store to look for an electric razor for me. I feared that I was going to have to buy a model that had more bells and whistles than I wanted just to get the features that I did want. Fortunately, we found a model that was almost perfect, other than not being the same as my current two razors (so the parts can't be shared between them). On the other hand, this one might become my new preferred model for road trips, because it doesn't require a drop-in charger; the charger just plugs directly into the base of the razor. In any event, Worldcon is spared my "fashionable stubble" look this year.

Haunted House (Closed Sundays)

As we were leaving Target and driving back to the freeway, we came across this extraordinary looking haunted house under construction along 1300 South. That dragon is articulated and was moving its head as I took this photo while we were stopped at a traffic light.

Leaving SLC

Interstate 80 climbs quickly into the mountains. I don't recall seeing so many low-speed (45 mph) curves on an interstate highway before. I-5 has a few of them, but not the rapid succession of them that seemed to be part of this stretch of I-80.

We briefly considered detouring to the Heber Valley Railroad; however, it looked like it would be more of a detour than we could afford.

Echo Canyon

As we had done in 2008, we stopped at the Echo Canyon rest area for a picnic lunch. The rock walls here are spectacular.

Echo Canyon

We climbed up to the high vista point above the rest area. Lisa made us sandwiches and we sat in the shade and admired the view.

Trains in Echo Canyon

A westbound intermodal train passed on the Union Pacific main line (part of the original transcontinental railroad) far below.

Kevin and Kuma (2)

After lunch, travelswithkuma and I sat on the wall and looked at the rocks and trees. Lisa more-or-less recreated a shot she'd taken eight years ago. Kuma Bear wrote about this earlier today so you can go compare the eight-years-apart photos from almost the same spot.

Watch Your Step

Cleaning up our picnic lunch, we made our way back down to the car. This photo does not really show just how steep the climb is. I estimated that it was close to a 1-in-4 (25%) grade. Going down was harder than going up. If you tripped here, you might roll all the way to the bottom of the hill. We took it carefully. This path was clearly built before the Americans With Disabilities Act passed.

Utah's Castle Rock

Setting off east once again, we stopped briefly to take this photo, which an all-but-unreadable sign identified as, from left to right, Castle Rock, the Cottage, and the Devil's Post Office.

Not far beyond Echo Canyon, I-80 enters Wyoming. I was amused that the Wyoming port of entry (truck inspection station) is so close to the border that the exit is numbered using the Utah sequence.

Turbines Over Wyoming

It's surprising to me how the land changed so markedly between Utah and Wyoming, given that the boundary between the two states is an arbitrary line drawn by politicians on the other side of the continent. Zoom in here and you'll see a line of wind turbines across the top of the ridge.

Wyoming Badlands

These photos do not do justice to the Wyoming Badlands.

Little America

Little America is a feature of this otherwise-mostly-desolate stretch of I-80, and has been an oasis along the way since long before the Interstates were built.

Penguin in Wyoming?

Among the features of Little America is this stuffed emperor penguin, a gift from a Antarctic expedition. Kuma Bear is puzzled at seeing a penguin in Wyoming. (Click through to see another photo of the former symbol of the Little America Hotels.)

We had been getting steadily farther behind schedule as the day wore on, but that's okay, as we had lots of time to spare. Passing through Green River, Lisa decided to go look at the railroad there, and that turned out to be a really good decision.

Castle Rock / Green River

Wyoming's Castle Rock looms over the city of Green River.

Green River Train Station

Union Pacific's Green River station is closed and no longer serves passengers since Amtrak ended the Pioneer (successor to UP's "City of Everywhere"). Lisa and I actually traveled over this route by train once, on the California Zephry in 2009 that was detouring over the northern route due to construction over the former D&RGW route over which the Zephyr normally runs.

Green River Yard

A pedestrian bridge spans the large yard here at the junction of Union Pacific's Evanston and Rawlins Subdivisions. Here, a yard switcher (including a former Southern Pacific locomotive with UP "patch job" paint) makes up a train while a westbound intermodal train in the distance pauses for a crew change.

Green River Yard

Locomotives are fueled and watered here, and can have light maintenance done on them (parts like brake shoes are on the racks on the platform).

Car Mover in Green River Yard

A car-mover shunts a single hopper here. The machine can decouple from the car without a person having to lift the coupling bar on the car.

Car Mover on the Move

After doing the shunting, the car mover then drove off the end of the tracks, changing from its steel wheels to rubber ones, then driving away across the yard.

We continued on to Rock Springs, where tonight we are staying in the Holiday Inn, where we stayed on August 3, 2008. Today's trip was under far more pleasant circumstances than eight years ago, although we still had to do a room shuffle to find a room with a bathtub (not just a shower stall) in it.

Bus Tag

An amusing side note to us is this bus, which appears to be bound for the Lowell, Massachusetts Regional Transportation Authority, presumably being driven from the Gillig bus plant in Hayward, California. We found ourselves playing tag with this bus much of the day today, passing it three or four times. When we pulled up at the Rock Springs Holiday Inn after spending an hour or so train-spotting at Green River, we found that we'd caught up to the bus again, as it was parked at the Quality Inn across the street.

We're very happy to have given ourselves time today to stop and sightsee. Tomorrow is similarly planned so that if we find stuff we want to look at, we don't have to skip it due to an iron timetable.
Tags: hotels, lisa, trains, travel, utah, wyoming
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