HLWT Day 5 – SLC to Nine Mile Canyon; Parading Mormons and Ancient Petroglyphs

Today was the parade. We pretty well based our entire trip around this date – Pioneer Day. It’s the day when Brigham Young apparently saw the SLC valley for the first time and said “This Is The Place!” and it came to pass, etc. So each year on this date, Mormons all over Utah (and the world, I guess) celebrate it the best way we Americans know how – by taking the day off of work, having a parade and fireworks at night.

We, along with our co-host, Mandy, got to the parade early, by 7am. Like I had posted about before, others camped out. Some for two days. We got a great spot (so we thought) next to the portopotties on Temple Street. Before the parade even started, we got to witness the obligatory privileged man who somehow wandered his BMW onto the parade route and wanted to cops to part the swelling crowds just so he could get out. They did not.

Also celebrating this day was Union Pacific, who have been in business for 150 years. Sure, it was 150 years of exploitation and swindling, but hey, they have trains. And they had this little guy for the parade.

Mostly, however, the parade was for and by Mormons. And boy do Mormons know how to build floats. These were, by far, the best floats we’ve ever witnessed.

Smartz liked this one best.

No parade would be complete without a Jimmy Buffet fan on a pennyfarthing.

This float explained to us how Mormon boys hit upon Mormon girls. “Hey there sisters!” said one buff fellow (on the back of the float. The sisters behind us erupted into fits of giggles. “Ciao bella!” he parted. Amazing.

This won our “absolute genius award.” Totally because of the hands.

Speaking of hands – these pioneers want you to come along!

There are many circles of thought involving evolution of man vs. dinosaurs. A few of them insist that men and dinos existed together. A few less imply that men actually rode these big ol’ lizards.

Very few black folks are involved in the Mormon Church. It wasn’t until the mid 70s that they were even allowed in. And so, it seems in SLC, the black community grew separately from the LDS community. Here is Mama’s Temple, complete with black(ish) Jesus (probably his true skin tone – not the incredibly white skin that covers him in Mormon paintings) driving a hot rod. Aside from the marching bands, this was the only live band of the parade.

The theme of the parade was finding your dreams – not a bad theme at all. While all of the floats were awesome, some seemed to slip from the theme. It didn’t bother me at all. This was a great mechanized float with a train popping in and out of a tunnel, apparently following its dreams and then getting embarrassed and retracting like a turtle.

Speaking of turtles, after the parade, we had to say so long to our wonderful hosts, Mandy and Earl. It’s always wonderful to see them, and I’m glad we got the chance. Thank you!

We decided to take a little-known pass over the mountains east of SLC. This took us upon yet another dirt road.

But it dumped us out at Heber – home of the Heber Valley Railroad. It was a huge and unexpected surprise.

They’ve got a railyard with old rolling stock and offer excursions.

We had no time for an excursion, but wandered the junk piles for awhile.

Here, I covet a caboose.

And admire the crap out of a Mikado that used to be owned by Union Pacific. I believe it’s still in running order.

Time, however, was not on our side. See, we had planned to stop after only 100 miles or so, but since that wasn’t much, we decided to go to Nine Mile Canyon before dark. Not the best idea I’ve ever had, but not the worst, by far. We had to keep our eyes on this intense lightening storm as most of the way involves dirt roads.

We were not so lucky here. The rain poured upon us as heavy as I’ve ever seen. And yet this dirt road remained very passable. Almost dry. This is because Utah seems to understand how to maintain dirt roads. I was very impressed. Take notes, Texas!

Braving the wind and rain and mud was well worth it. Nine Mile Canyon is literally covered in petroglyphs and pictographs. Here are some petroglyphs (meaning that the image is carved into the rock).

And here is a pictograph of a deer forever destroyed by some asshole. There’s really no other word for it. Thankfully, this seems to be the only such instance of modern vandalism that covers the art (though there’s a lot of random and decades old vandalism near other carvings/paintings). From what we saw, this is the biggest and most detailed painting. So very sad.

Others, like these nearby petroglyphs, were left untouched.

There really are so many that we couldn’t take photos of them all.

The area we were exploring was vast and beautiful. It was hard to keep in mind that we had to keep stepping so as to not get trapped in here at night.

Our car showed the ravages of mud.

But the blue skies came back.

The Big Hunt – the most famous of the petroglyphs, this was probably carved around 1000 AD. Though some, which depicted horses, were clearly a bit later.

Most of them were more than likely carved then.

Hey! It’s a balanced rock!

Thankfully, we were able to see almost everything we could. We know we missed a LOT – very very few are marked and only one (the Great Hunt) is interpreted. But that seems to be changing. We’re already excited to visit this place again in a handful of years to see the rest.

We got in late and pretty well went right to sleep.

To see a bunch more photos of the parade and the carvings/paintings, go here to our Facebook gallery!

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