Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Salt Lake City and Home

We got to Salt Lake City mid-afternoon on Wednesday, the 25th, for a calm few days before driving back to The Sea Ranch, arriving the afternoon of Tuesday, the 31st.

It's always a pleasure to be with Pam and John and we had a good time, mostly talking.  Couldn't get far from the mountains, of course, since wherever one goes in Salt Lake City, one sees the Wasatch Range.

And to top that off, we went downtown to the I-MAX theater at Clark Planetarium to see "Conquest of Everest: The Wildest Dream," telling the stories of George Mallory's ill-fated ascent in 1924 and of Conrad Anker's re-creation of Mallory's ascent, inspired by Anker's discovery of Mallory's body in 1999.  Anker develops a scenario providing circumstantial, but probably not conclusive, evidence that Mallory made it to the summit before he died.

Compared with Everest, our mountain-top experiences were pretty puny, but having been on the summit of Whistlers, near Jasper, gave us some appreciation for the Herculean and seductive challenge of Everest.  If we have come back with anything, it is a fascination for the geology of mountains.  Starting with the Grand Canyon, carved into a high plateau, the hoodoos of Bryce, at eye level, to the hoodoos of Banff and Jasper, 5000' above the glacial valleys.  So distant, but so connected.

On Monday, we left Salt Lake City, going south to avoid thunderstorms and the boredom of I-80.  We headed down US Route 6 to Ely, then took US Route 50 (the loneliest road in the world, so the signs say) to Carson City.  Again, we were in the mountains, crossing range after range, including the ranges that delineate the Great Basin.  It's forbidding country, but with a beauty to it - wouldn't want to live there, but nice to drive through (if you are not looking for the non-existent rest stops).

Yesterday, we had an easy drive from Carson City to Reno, down (and I do mean down - 7200 feet at Donner Pass to sea level in less than 100 miles) I-80 past Sacramento and Fairfield, across our favorite back roads past Napa and Sonoma, to Petaluma.  We knew we were home again when we stopped for the familiar goodies at Trader Joe's.  Then the 1.75 hour drive to The Sea Ranch, and a quick trip the Post Office for an almost full garbage bag of mail.  (New unit of measurement- one tall kitchen garbage bag = eight weeks of mail, including about 30 credit card offers).  The house looks, feels, acts the same as before we left, although surprisingly, the grass in the front grew the past seven weeks - it's not supposed to do that in July and August.

So, in the past seven weeks, the Prius took us 7707 miles at an average of 49.4 mpg.  Not bad considering the mountains we climbed and the roads we drove....

Now it's time to fill in entries on the blog with pictures, post a couple of concluding entries, and then reluctantly say "good-bye" to it - but only until the next installment of the National Park Adventures - this was too much fun not to continue with more.

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