**This story won 2nd in humorous travel stories at my work. The prize? An iTunes gift card. Woo!**
Summer of 2009, my boyfriend (now husband), and I, decided to take a weekend trip to Utah. We wanted to get away from the Texas heat and enjoy a little “winter” weather. What did we know about Utah? Well, not only are the temps a lot cooler, but it has mountains and the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere. The largest! I was pretty sure I read somewhere about all the healing wonders of salt in said ginormous lake. I couldn’t wait to go float on my back gaining holistic healing superpowers. Ahhh!
I had magic dreams of the Great Salt Lake. Watching the sunset on the beach, absorbing the magical minerals into my pores, and breathing in the pure mountain air with my honey by my side. We would enjoy all the gorgeousness of nature together. I just knew, knew, I would be the earthiest gal around. Restored, renewed and ready for the orange ozone alerts upon return Texas.
Flying over the Great Salt Lake to land in Salt Lake City, I could see the lake from the sky. It lit up with the setting sun and it was spectacular; blue and pristine. I about jumped out of my seat in glee. There it is! The Great Salt Lake! Right there! Awesome! We planned to trek the next day to Antelope Island – home of the Utah buffalo – and apparently, antelope too (heh). They all live happily ever after on the Great Salt Lake. What fun!
At the rental car counter, Hertz offered my boyfriend an upgrade to a Jeep Wrangler, top removable, it was a sweet deal. Oh yeeaah! He really wanted a Jeep Wrangler, plus I could see us on the road to the beach, wind whipping our hair, shades on as we cruised the lake front – ultra cool. Yes! We took the upgrade.
The next day, we make a stop at Wal-Mart for beach gear. We pick out straw towel sets with matching pails and buckets. We take the top off the Jeep. The sunshine is beautiful and bright through the roof. Perfectly clear blue skies for a perfect drive to the lake. We head off to an island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake – Antelope Island. Weee!!
My first clue that I should have done a tad bit more research than Wikipedia was when the SMELL hit us like a ton of bricks. Not only was it the worst thing I have ever smelled (and I grew up with LOTS of dogs – HOUND dogs), but it went on for MILES. The entire area around the lake was marsh. The marsh was full of BIRDS. The birds – well, they were full of
poop unspeakable evil – let’s just say, they had serious intestinal issues. Must have been something they ate. Since the top was off, there was no closing the windows. We held our breath, which? Turned out to be a very good thing.
Enduring and labor breathing along the road to the Great Salt Lake, we finally catch a sheer glimmer of beauty through the icky marsh. About that time was when a firestorm of BUGS enveloped the Jeep. Not just the Jeep, but the windshield, the side mirrors, our clothes, our hair, ears……… everywhere. This was no ordinary swarm of bugs, this was a massive attack of gnats pumped up on minerals. It should have been our second warning to stay away from the Great Salt Lake. But nooooo. We kept going. Eyes squinted. Mouths closed.
We started noticing these swarms more and more, not just on the road but everywhere else. In bushes, and roaming the countryside in clusters of intimidating wing spans. I started feeling uncomfortable the closer we got. Not to mention, still picking off the kamikaze gnats tattooed to our clothes and foreheads.
Arriving next to the Lake, I couldn’t help wonder if another bug bombing was on the way. Outside the Jeep, we had zero protection. Not even the windshield. I get out ready to duck for cover. Every step tentative. The air at the lake felt odd. It’s flat, no sound, no echo. More bugs here and there, but no roving gangs in sight, just loners. Then there were the birds. Loud birds. An island off the island of birds. Yes, more birds! Then the lake itself up close and personal just looked stank. I didn’t even want to put my TOE in it. To get close enough to do that, I had to step over algae and foam, and guess what? Yeah, more bugs. Bugs covered the top of the sand on the beach and bugs of a different kind roamed in the lake. They were like mini seahorses, but deformed and atomic looking. Scary.
It was a ghost town on the beach. No one. In the middle of summer. Now, I knew why. Regardless, I was determined to stand in the Great Salt Lake, no matter what guts it took. I marched my way over by way of the least contaminated path through the foam, the mud, and more waves of flying bugs from my disturbing footsteps. Swallowing hard, I removed my shoes and socks, then stepped my bare feet into the Lake. Next to Jason, I stood there. Trying to feel peace. Trying not to be creeped out. Trying to take in the wonder of the Great Lake. It lasted for about ten seconds. Then we hit the road faster than the bugs could follow us (I hope).
Come to find out, the Great Salt Lake is also known as “America’s Dead Sea”, and home to three things; birds, brine shrimp, and algae. The only creatures that can live in a lake with that much salt concentration. It is as gross as it sounds. I didn’t get much minerology therapy, but I will say the mountains are very nice. Park City!
Our great escape ended on the summit – bug free.
*I feel the need to add an edit to this post. Salt Lake City is amazing. Wonderful, kind people. Beautiful Mormon temple with an incredible history. The mountains are breathtaking and there is SO much to do there. A weekend is not long enough. Just scratch the Great Salt Lake off your to do/to see list.
20 thoughts on “The Great Salt Lake Escape”
Oh the timing! I have recently become obsessed with Utah- and have been trying to alternatively convince my girlfriends we need to take a girls weekend there- or my husband that it would be a great vacation!! Like you did – I have very little research backing my enthusiasm. Perhaps I need to rethink it…hehehe.
Shannon– DEFINITELY GO! It’s wonderful! The mountains are beautiful. The people are incredibly nice and the Mormon Temple is amazing to see. I was blown away by their gardens. We LOVED Utah – I just didn’t like the stinky Salt Lake. 🙂
The mountains were beautiful and the people were so nice! I’d do this trip again in a heartbeat. Next time it’d be fun to get to Park City with some white stuff on the ground — or if we go in the summer, let’s try white water rafting.
Sweetheart-Yes, we need to go back! I loved it. I would love to go further North to hike and do river rafting. Remember all the lakes we saw? And we never made it to the caves! I’m ready when you are. 🙂
I didn’t know it is like this. I went to the Dead sea and it is mineral theraphy and beautiful azure blue. You can float in it but after about 1/2 hour your skin gets irritated AND 1/2 cup of it will kill you if you drank it.
I was expecting you to say that your feet were all irritated.
Nothing lives in the Dead Sea, which is nice in a way if you don’t like things touching you while you swim. I wonder how those shrimp survive?
Purplume-No my feet didn’t dry out. It was just really nasty. Those type of shrimp live off the algae. Weird huh? The Dead Sea….now THAT’s intriguing. I may have to plan a trip! 🙂
I had no idea that the great salt lake was like that. I’m glad I never planned a family vacation there for fear of bieng killed. Sorry it didn’t work out as expected but the mountains look beautiful!!! 🙂
Gary-LOL! Do visit. The people are wonderful. They are friendly and non-judgemental -at least all the ones we ran into. 🙂 The mountains are incredible and so are the regular lakes in the area. Lots of gorgeous parks and we just missed making it to some caves (there was a rockslide). Lots to do there!
I have flown into Salt Lake City and over the Lakes but never visited – now thanks to your story I doubt I ever will 🙂
Jane-Utah is GREAT. Just don’t bother with the Great Salt Lake. You would love Park City, Utah – except for the cold – but it’s a gorgeous mountain town. To the North and South is lots of hiking and cool mesas. 🙂
We are glad you enjoyed the utah trip, and most of all the mountains! The photos are great, please share them and your experience with others on Facebook when you become a fan of Park City, http://www.facebook.com/parkcityUT. Come see us again soon.
Pingback: Tweets that mention The Great Salt Lake Escape | Living, Loving, Laughing….. -- Topsy.com
Oh my, what a day.
I would have never guessed that about the Great Salt Lake.
I’ve heard about the healing powers of the lake too so I wouldn’t have know it was as you described. Ewwww.
I am happy that you won a gift card, cool.
Utah is pretty at least the small bit of it I’ve seen.
Next year we hope to go to Utah, thanks for the warning! It must have been horrible, all those bugs!
Scratching the Great Salt Lake off my must see list, glad the rest of the trip was so much better 🙂
Oh my word! brine shrimp? yikes!! My DH had an older land cruiser & when we were dating, drove it to Bodega Bay (about a 90 mile drive) with the cover off. Sounded like a great idea at the time, but I got the worst sunburn of my life & was colder than an iceberg by the time we got there. I can’t compete with smell, but I’d say these kinds of trips are always fun to reminisce about 🙂
I have never been to Utah but the pictures are telling me what I’m missing ! Thanks for the posting them . Glad you two had fun !
Find out your dream holiday according to your zodiac sign.
Hahahaha, I laughed out loud while I read this! 🙂 Great experience, huh? ;op
Well, that is hilarious. I’ve always wanted to visit the Dead Sea, though–but knowing what you’re heading into, in advance, is always nice. Looks like it still turned out to be a great adventure. 🙂