Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Golden Spike and Spiral Jetty

After the Race for the Cure (which Amy posted about quite some time ago), we drove up to Golden Spike National Historic Site for the 139th anniversary of the driving of the spike. We'd been wanting to check it out--the middle of nowhere out near Promontory Point--and this was finally the perfect excuse to go. They had a reenactment of the driving of the spike, complete with actors, full dress and regalia, and a script. It was cute--they even reenacted the telegraph posts and the missed attempts at driving the spike. There was a steam demonstration by both of the big locomotives (replicas of the originals), and plenty of people around. Golden Spike is about 30 miles in the middle of nowhere. Literally nowhere. The closest thing is a rocket-testing facility owned by Thiokol. It was all fun and entertaining, even to the kids, who could watch most of the reenactment.

Afterwards, around 3:00, we drove out on a 16-mile trek westward over craggy and gravelly dirt roads, to see a sight I'd been wanting to see for some time: Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty. It's a piece of earth art, jutting out into an otherwise empty stretch of the Great Salt Lake. Smithson trucked in black basalt rock in 1970 that would contrast with the blood-red algae and the white sands. It's massive and only recently resurfaced (it had been covered by the lake for decades), so we could all walk out on it and play in the salt and sand.

The whole trip is documented in Flickr sets: Race for the Cure, Golden Spike, Spiral Jetty. Here are some of the pictures:

Union Pacific No. 119

The actors

Watching the show

Oey was watching too

Sittin on an old bench seat on the way down to the Jetty

Amy and Orion made it down first!

Jarom and the sand

I love the arms, and the mound Bella's on


Bella kept running up and down this strip of salty sand

Jarom loved the lake, and investigated the salt crystals stuck to pine needles

He felt he had to clean his shoes before we left (he was wading in the water)

Spiral Jetty rocks

Our farewell glance. You can see all the people still walking on it.

We spooked this family of cows (the same size as us!) on our way back.


heather said...

you guys can sure pack a lot into one saturday. i love the golden spike demonstration, the fact that they had to reenact every little detail like missing the spike the first time is cracking me up. people are so cute, how seriously we take our histories.

and i am so glad you posted these salt lake pictures here! after reading terry tempest william's refuge, i am fascinated with great salt lake. you should go to the ruins of saltair, the old amusement park, or have you already been there? i have no idea what it is like now. also, did you know that north of promontory point there is a breeding ground for the long-billed curlew, a migratory shoreline bird whose population is declining rapidly. if you guys were birders you would've been in heaven. there are a lot of marshes up in that area i think, known as locomotive springs. in the book, she and her husband sleep there surrounded by bird sounds.

i want to be a naturalist!

heather said...

also, here is a poem that reminded me of you guys. it could almost be the future bella's voice:


one of my earliest memories
is visiting Zion National Park
in the southwestern corner of Utah.
My brothers and I, with our cousins,
were taken there by our mothers.
What I remember is being led
on a steep path to "the Weeping Rock."
Once there, the temperature cooled,
the sun was shielded.
Our eyes adjusted to the darkness.
A tall black wall with ferns dripping
loomed before us--
I don't recall our mothers
offering any explanation.
And I don't think I wondered
why the rock was crying
or what it was weeping for.
I just remember standing there,
as children, our small hands open
receiving the rock's tears.

Amy Beatty said...

When Matt took me to the Iron and Wine concert it was at saltair. Where did you find such a cute poem? I hope Bella will write things down about her childhood when she is older.

heather said...

that is the coolest thing i've ever heard, that the concert was at saltair. has it been all remodeled or is it still ruins? anyway the poem is from terry tempest williams, my new favorite. she writes all about utah, she grew up there and still lives there now and she is a brilliant naturalist and a poetic writer. i love her right now.

spring said...

I want to read Refuge now. I remember when that flood happened and being sad about the Saltair Palace because it was under water and it was Victorian looking. I worked at Rivendell's back in 1997 when I first heard of that book and I haven't read it yet, it will be next! Anyway, Matt and Amy I am so proud of you guys and how your little family is just on the go all the time discovering and learning and enjoying this beautiful earth!

mooncowboy said...

Heather, you would have loved the reenactment, I know it. Amy kept commenting on how this was probably so fun for the people involved, doing it year and year, costuming up, acting and being so into it and the history.

I think I told you, but we have been to Saltair a few times. It actually is the same one that flooded in Refuge. I saw Third Eye Blind and Eve 6 there in 1998, and Amy and I just saw Iron and Wine last December. I love that place. I always want to stop every time we drive past it.

Saltair's history is amazing. I've read a decent amount about it, mostly on the following websites:

Saltair : A Photographic Exhibit -- Make sure to follow the photos by clicking "next" at the bottom. Awesome.
Saltair -- Pleasure Palace on Stilts -- Awesome images, text, and history.
Saltair -- Death of the Giant Racer -- Same website as above, but all about the massive (largest at the time) rollercoaster that *blew* down in the 1950s. A sad and wondrous tale. So much good history here!

Are you talking about the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge? We drive right by it to get to Golden Spike. I have a cool brochure about it I will have to show you (I wonder if that's where Terry Tempest gets the title "Refuge"?).

I really love the Zion poem by the way. It's inspiring me. It too reminds me of Bella, of us, because I think it's maybe also how I view it, how I would write it, how I would think Bella and Jarom and Orion might view it, and it's amazing. Love you Heather.