Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Thursday, 22 May 2008

The Donner Party and Sentinel Chickens

nner Wendover, Nevada

We've covered some territory in the last few days. The RV is back in Moab, Utah. We drove the Toyota 100 miles over the Great Salt Lake desert to Wendover, Nevada to see my brother. He took us out into the desert to see a little lake or spring that percolates up at the base of a mountain range.

You can tell a poison spring in the desert by the lack of insects and other life. Many of them are full of arsenic or selenium. This one was full of little fish and mosquitoes. They put "sentinel chickens" near some of the springs so they can test them for West Nile virus.

Later we walked out onto the Bonneville Salt Flats. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) prepares a strip 80 feet wide by ten miles long for world land speed record attempts every year after the salt dries. When the salt is wet, it's like driving on porridge.

We found a place 25 miles out in the desert on an empty gravel road where the Donner party crossed the salt flats and drove their wagons up over a low pass. That's the party that got stranded in the mountains for the winter (because they got stuck in the salt and delayed) and revived the practice of cannibalism.

After we left Wendover we went in to Salt Lake City. We went to Temple Square and saw a two-hour movie about Joseph Smith, who founded the Mormon religion. The movie showed Smith finding a loose-leaf binder filled with gold pages. The binder was full of revelations. It was in a language that only Smith could understand. Smith established the Mormon religion and moved his congregation around the country (New York, Illinois, Missouri). Apparently the Mormons were persecuted everywhere and Smith was killed by intolerant neighbors in Carthage, Missouri. Then Brigham Young took over the church leadership and moved the Mormons to Salt Lake City. Mormons have reputation as hard-working people who shun alcohol, gambling and tobacco. They have a strong evangelical tradition.

Then we caught a plane and flew here (North Carolina) to visit our six grandchildren.

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