The Great Salt Lake Escape

**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.

Wordish Wednesday

Wordful Wednesday

Sorry for the lack of posting and blog visiting. Seems the spring cleaning bug bit me while on my trip. This is good! I have a lot to get done before I start work again and I need all the help I can get (aka motivation). I plan on catching up next week. I will be training out-of-town and won’t have the distractions: hungry teen, laundry, dishes, plants, mowing, dogs to potty/clean up after, commuting. It almost sounds like another vacation, yes?

Please send Jason some good vibes. Not only will he be dealing with his “normal” crazy life, but he will be stepping into the role of teen parent – helping me out while I’m away – seven years sooner than he should be. Pray. Ha!
🙂

Our trip was amazing. The wildflowers are blooming, especially between San Antonio and Corpus. Purple, pink, blue, yellow, and red stretch like flowing waves as if God dipped his paintbrush and painted a canvas of color. Pictures would not have done it justice and had we stopped for each beauty mark we would have never made it here and back (at least for many, many, many days).

We had a great time. Residence Inn had plenty of space for all three of us. The beach was just as sweet and calming as I had imagined. I never wanted to leave. Ever.

Trip pics

We didn’t forget the sunscreen, in fact, SPF 100 works very well. Yes, 100! I had no idea they even MADE that. Wow.

I love the seagulls. I don’t love feeding them, because they turn ugly real quick, but this one in the air is what I love most. The swift glide they have, and their soft float landings.


Just like a rock star, I really do wish I had her sense of fashion. It truly is inherit and not environment, or environment not inherit, whichever – her aunt is very stylish.


Sand art, courtesy of Jason, believe it or not, someone actually came by and took a picture (besides me that is). Heh!

Bug eyes and I Sydney and I took a nice two-mile trek along the beach. This was before, you don’t want to see the after. Walking on sand? Not easy (for me anyway), but I love it just the same. The exercise and the sights. We got to see a bride in her wedding dress being photographed. Awesome.


Bird? Plane? Size of shark? Don’t you love playing charades in the ocean? Surely she wasn’t jumping over that teeny wave? Hmm.


Perfect ending to a perfect trip. The eight-hour drive back wasn’t even that bad…. considering that SYDNEY drove a big part of it…YIKES. Luckily I had the sea breeze to meditate on – that doesn’t work when parking at Starbucks REAL close to another car if you’d like to know – but the sounds of children playing, seagulls calling, the smells of the salty air, and the gorgeous palm trees flapping in the gust. Ah. Those. Those work wonders while driving with a teenager.

Now, I’m off to mow the yard, then lunch with my matron of honor. Yay! Happy hump day!