HLWT Day 3 – Twin Falls, ID to Salt Lake City; Straight Roads, Open Desert, Spiral Jetty

We woke before dawn to a Twin Falls morning. The strip mall areas surrounding the city and crowding what would be a beautiful gorge were busy, but the downtown was completely dead.

It looked like the zombie apocalypse happened early in Twin Falls. It’s a nice town with a lot of beautiful scenery that, because of “progress” and expansion, has been turned to utter crap. You blew it, Twin Falls. You had something nice and ruined it. Way to go.

And so we made our way east on Route 30, passing through a small town here or there. Quite nice, really.

These old motel signs are almost reason enough to get off the interstate, at least for a bit.

But woe! We had to get back on the superslab for a little. Meanwhile, we watched the skies for rain, which, with the help of Darius Rucker, was fairly easy to see. Thanks!

Rain was a huge worry as we were going to be hitting a 100 mile desert dirt road. One must be careful here. Not enough gas or water and you’re likely to make the desert your home or grave. Thankfully, we had enough of both.

The road is actually the old Central Pacific Railroad Grade, which you can take from near the Nevada border east all the way to where they drove in the Golden Spike, uniting east and west.

Most of the way, it’s just open desert. Sometimes, you’ll see an old townsite, which has some bricks or bits of metal or glass, letting you know that humans used to dwell here – you can see from the trash they left behind!

At this point, however, the “trash” has become historical (and rightly so). Anything remaining helps to tell you what life was like here.

The road itself necessarily bypasses old railroad bridges via sometimes crude and sometimes elaborate side roads.

Sometimes we saw jackrabbits. Smartz was almost 100% certain that this one had antlers.

Terrace was the biggest down on the line. It had saloons, schools, houses, a round house and many other things that make a spot a town.

We spent some time searching for debris that was interesting. Smartz found a bottle with “Utah” written on it, and I found part of an old cup that had “HOTEL” pressed into it. We, of course, left everything where we found it.

Along this stretch, we saw only a handful of motorcycles, mostly touring BMWs. That was it, however. No other vehicles were encountered until we reached the end.

Last year, when we did this, we nearly got stuck right here. I had to off road the Yaris (hardly a simple thing), and we obviously made it out. This year, it was much drier.

One of the last things we explored was one of Utah’s arches. I don’t know the name of this guy, but we had to check it out.

See? It’s an arch!

Finally at an end, we came upon the site where the last spike was driven. Here, they have two working steam locomotives (built in 1975ish). They run them out each weekend to entertain the tourists and to basically play with trains. Whomever is in charge of this playing with trains bit is my own personal hero.

Oh, but we were not done! Not by a long shot! About sixteen miles out of the way, there’s the Spiral Jetty, a man-made piece of land art created by the late Robert Smithson. This is one of our most favorite sites in the world. The jetty takes on different feels depending on the weather and how high the water is.

Today the water was very high, so you couldn’t see it from ground level.

So we made a rather strenuous (for us) climb to the top of a nearby rocky mountain hill. There, we caught an amazing view.

Around the Jetty were obvious remnants of hippies, whose only apparent legacy is that they can stack smaller rocks atop bigger rocks and leave them there. Thanks, hippies.

Leaving the park, we were lucky enough to drive on an old part of the grade where Central Pacific workers (mostly Chinese) laid ten miles of track in one day, setting what was then a record. Quality didn’t count here.

A few lovely cuts and we were ready to head to SLC and our friends Mandy and Earl!

First, however, we stopped for a celebratory dinner at Long Life Veggie House to satiate our vegan cravings.

Then we returned to their place so I could break their chair. Yay!

Thanks so much for reading!
If you’d like to see even more photos, head to our Facebook page!

Also, this happened right above the Spiral Jetty. (She said yes.)


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