Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Long Weekend Getaway, Day 1: Elko to Layton (via Wendover)

I called yesterday "day 0" because I was working in the morning before we left for Elko. I "slept in" (which for me means getting up at 6:30 instead of 4:30 AM) at the hotel in Elko. We took our time, partially because the weather report said that overnight snow would lift by later in the morning. As it happens, there was only a small bit of snow, and it had turned to rain and thus slush by the time we left. Nevertheless, Lisa (who is doing the driving) said she didn't feel comfortable getting off the Interstate today, so we took the "straight route" east through Wendover on I-80. However, this meant we could finally visit a museum for which we've never had the time before.

Wendover Air Museum

Historic Wendover Airfield is the former Army Air Force Base most famously known as the home of the 509th Composite Group, the group that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan in World War II. They trained here learning how to handle the bombs that they would deliver on Japan. The airfield is still an active, albeit not very busy, airport, with the airport operations office and the recently restored officers' club (behind the tower) including a museum about the airfield. The tower is no long active, but has been restored as part of the museum.

Wendover Airfield Museum

This is one of the displays in the airport operations building.

Wendover Airfield Museum

As usual, Kuma Bear got into the act.

Wendover Airfield Museum

The larger part of the museum is in the restored Officers' Club, and it's a beautiful job that includes this large events hall. In the middle here is one of the dummy "Little Boy" bombs like those used for training. This one is signed by many of the people involved in the project, including 509th Composite Group commander Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.

Wendover Airfield Museum

There are displays about many aspects of military life, including communications, which very much interests Lisa.

Wendover Airfield Museum

There are other displays about typical life in the military.

Climbing Wendover Tower

As the weather was clear (but cold), we decided to climb the former control tower. I didn't realize I had my finger partially over the lens when I took this picture of Lisa making her way up the steep stairs.

Wendover Tower

Volunteers have restored the tower to something like its WWII appearance. It is no longer used for operations, although there is a modern radio in the tower repeating air traffic control on a speaker outside.

Wendover Tower

Wendover Tower

I took photos from the tower in all directions. Click through one of these photos to see the many others.

Wendover Tower

Looking north from the airfield is modern Wendover and in particular West Wendover, Nevada, where casinos sprout right at the state line.

Jet Set

Just as we arrived at the airfield, a shuttle bus from one of the casinos showed up and several people boarded this airplane, which shortly thereafter took off for wherever high rollers on a private jet go.

After a very nice afternoon exploring the museum, it was time to move on, as we wanted to get to Layton before dark if possible. As with yesterday, our travel was only about 250 miles, so we had lots of slack in our schedule.

Salt Water Flats

Just east of Wendover is a rest area with a view of the Bonneville Salt Flats. I did not climb up the observation tower on the eastbound I-80 side. It may not be obvious, but there is a lot of water out on the flats right now. This would not be a good time to go out onto the flats unless you enjoy getting stuck in quicksand-like salt.

Wendover Local

Continuing east, we spotted what I think was probably the Union Pacific Wendover Local ambling slowly westward on the former Western Pacific main line toward Wendover.

Even with rest area stops, we made excellent time because the rain had stopped and the roads dried, allowing us to make the full 80 MPH. It doesn't take that long to cross the salt flats at that speed.

HIX Layton

We had the choice of Ogden or Layton for our two-night stay here, based on conveniently located Holiday Inn Expresses. Because of our familiarity of the immediate area due to having stayed nearby (at the Home2Suites) during SpikeCon, we picked the Layton HIX. Once again, Kuma Bear charmed the front desk clerk, who has the wonderful Twitter handle Someonemagical.

Black Bear Diner Layton

After checking in to our hotel, it was time for dinner, and in this case, time to collect #33 in our Black Bear Diner passport book. We also cashed in the $5 "Bear Bucks" coupon we received as part of our prize package for completing Level Four of BBD's Passport program. (We also received a nice travel blanket that unfolds from a convenient carrying size. I will put it in the Rolling Stone as an extra blanket for when needed.)

We'll be here two nights. Tomorrow we have planned a trip to a museum that we wanted to visit during our Westercon/NASFiC trip last July, but for which we just didn't have enough time.
Tags: hotels, kuma bear, nevada, travel, utah, wendover
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