So, after a four day jaunt in the greatness that is St Anthony, we finally managed to get out of the town, Sean was sitting on the bed, saying how he was losing the will, feeling so trapped in the town, just as the phone rang, it was Travis, the mechanic, telling us the car was good to go! It was Thursday afternoon when we got it back and after checking over a couple of car things, an hour later, we were finally on our way out of Idaho. It was a little nerve wracking to not know where we would be by that evening or where we would be sleeping or which state we would be in by we decided to embrace the adventure and attempt to see as much as we could in the remaining three days of spring break. We passed through the border into Utah about two hours into the journey which pretty exciting seeing as I have wanted to go there since I was a kid – the red rocks have always fascinated me and I can’t wait to explore the southern part later in the year. We arrived in Salt Lake City at around half 9 and after a drive around, a trip to Walmart for some foam to use as sleeping mats, we parked up and had a walk around the Mormon Capital. We saw the Temple majestically lit up at night, reflected in the water of the fountain. It was really beautiful and despite our nervousness about our first night of car camping, we had a really nice walk around before deciding it was time to find a spot to camp at and set up for the night. In the USA, most walmarts allow you to stay in the car parks overnight if you are car camping or if you have an RV which is very kind of them and very convenient. We drove out about 10 miles to a Walmart on the edge of the city, and set up camp for the night. It was pretty cosy in the back of Shane the Chevy (named after the guy who towed us in Idaho) and it was cool going to sleep in a new place in the dark not really knowing what kind of views we would wake up to. The next morning, waking up with the sun, the views did not disappoint, in fact, I would put it down to one of my favourite wake ups I think. There were mountains in every direction, and the sun streaming behind them as it rose, it was so beautiful and made me fall a little bit in love with car camping. So, after making some breakfast (bagels and cream cheese had become our staple) and getting dressed, we left the gorgeous views, and headed off into Salt Lake City, after seeing a tiny bit of it the evening before, I was excited to explore it a little more. We started at Temple Square, taking in the huge white Mormon buildings and learning a bit about the history of the religion. Salt Lake is famous for its Mormon Roots, and it was fascinating learning about the religion as it is completely different to the culture in which I grew up. Once, we were done there, we walked up the hill to see the Capitol declaring that we were indeed in the state of Utah, from up there, we could also see great views of the city, including one of the longest road I have ever seen. We explored the city a little more after that, heading to the mall for a wander round, Salt Lake was pristine and perfectly maintained, especially in the central areas, it was quite refreshing for a city to be like that. We contemplated a 10am slice of Cheesecake and then decided against before heading to the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art just around the corner to experience the ‘Panopticon’ exhibition for an essay I needed to write, it was really interesting but it was such a beautiful day that we didn’t want to be inside for too long so soon enough, we were on the road again, waving goodbye to Salt Lake, and heading to Antelope Island, located on the Great Salt Lake about 60 miles north of Salt Lake. All this before Lunch. It’s amazing how much we managed to pack into a day, waking up in your car ready to go, definitely has its benefits.
We reached Antelope Island at around 1 and as we drove down the 7 mile stretch to the Island, there were breathtaking views of snowy mountains reflected in the blue waters of the Great Salt Lake. The weather was gorgeous, around 25 degrees, warmer weather than we had felt in months so the shorts were on, and we were off on a hike, after parking at a beautiful viewpoint and seeing the tiny outlines of Buffalo on the planes down below. We hiked an ‘easy’ trail and were met with orange rocks, views of snowy mountains and the outlines of other islands on the lake. I got in some bouldering, we took a fair amount of pictures and it felt like we were the only people on the island. We were so happy to finally be on our adventure after the days imagining what it would be like while stranded.
We also managed to get up close and personal with some buffalo (from the car – don’t panic Mum!) after driving down the hill, and a walk across the sands. We saw a beautiful blue and yellow bird, fluttering in front of our path, and nearly got chased by some angry buffalo when they started to migrate towards the area where we were walking. We had a look around the museum of the island and enquired about the best paddle boarding spots, before setting them up (with struggle – one of them didn’t work) and heading out on one board together out onto the lake. We were stopped for a chat by some fellow road trippers who funnily enough had a daughter living in Bozeman – what are the chances? We couldn’t really stand up paddle board since it was too unstable with too of us so we sat down and paddled out into the lake. Sean’s goal was to reach a nesting site, where there were a gathering of birds, squawking at the top of their lungs and circling the land. They looked relatively close, but the more we paddled, the less we believed that. We did eventually make it and it was definitely worth it being so close to all these birds, we assumed it was some sort of mating ritual or that there was some sort of animal that they were all picking at because there were just so many of them. We guessed around 900 (very excited) birds. It turned out we had paddled around 3.5 miles and it was much easier floating back due to the wind, once we reached the Marina we both had a go at stand up paddle boarding as the sun set over the mountains and the lake. It was so gorgeous, and made me want to set up home on that Island.
We were very much in need of food and showers at this point, and had spotted some showers on one of the beaches earlier in the day so drove over there and got there to find we needed four quarters in order to get the shower to work for a mere four minutes. Searching our wallets, we came up short since parking in Salt Lake earlier in the day had taken all our change. We were a bit disheartened, a warm shower had sounded so appealing, but then I found some in a coat pocket, just enough for us both. After showering andwrapping up in warm clothes, we set up our stove on a picnic table overlooking the beach and the setting sun, and cooked ourselves a feast, looking up as the stars came out. It was one of those moments that I hope I won’t forget, sat on the beach shivering while eating cous cous with my favourite boy, watching the stars and the last moments of the sunset. There was another family slightly further along the beach having a BBQ which made us feel happy, it was nice to not be the only ones. We took in the views for as long as we could, and at around 10, we drove off the Island (there were no camping spots left for us) and headed to the nearest walmart for another night of car camping. Day 1 of the road trip was complete, we had full bellies and happy hearts and were ready for the next day’s adventures. Utah, we will definitely be back.