Did you know that there is not just one single Golden Spike? For the ceremony connecting the railroads of the west to the railroads of the east, there were actually 2 gold spikes, one silver one and a regular spike that was plated with gold and silver. Yup, I never knew that either. Did you also know that not one of these ceremonial spikes was the actual last spike that connected the railroads. Yup, they left a few spikes out, slid a ceremonial Laurelwood railroad tie (predrilled for the spikes, gold would have just smooshed when hit) under the rails, did the ceremony, slid the Laurelwood tie out and some worker put in the last 4 ties.
I learned all this, and a lot more, because Paperback Writer and I decided to go for an excursion, and chose The Golden Spike Memorial up in Promontory, Utah since neither of us had been there before.
We stayed for a reenactment a bunch of volunteers did for the Christian Harley Biker group that was there. We stayed for the reenactment mainly because I got roped (or as the Ranger said railroaded) into playing a part in the reenactment.
We'd checked out the spike, the trains and were heading back to the Visitor's Center. On the way there was that telegraph unit on display and a little kid (probably 7 or 8) was looking at it in awe. I made a comment about it and the volunteer showing it asked me if I knew how to use one. I told him that I didn't know Morse Code, but I knew how it worked, and he had me show him how it worked. He told me "You should be our telegrapher", and I kind of chuckled, thinking he was joking. He pulled a laminated sheet out of the box next to the telegraph, hands it to me and tells me "You just read the highlighted parts while tapping on the machine." This is when I realized he wanted me to play a part in the reenactment, they were a few volunteers shy. (They grabbed 3 or 4 other visitors out of the audience for other parts). Despite being afraid that I would be too quiet and nobody would hear me (riiiiight) I agreed. And I only screwed up once. They didn't tell me that there would be two false starts to the driving of the spike before I was supposed to tell the whole nation "D-O-N-E, done." Oh well, at least I wasn't the only one that messed up, and the audience loved the show anyway.
The whole Harley group in front of the trains.
There's the Harleys themselves.
Since the Sprial Jetty was right in the vicinity (16 miles of dirt road away), we decided to go check it out. One of the Rangers in the visitors center told us that is was a really bad road, and advised against taking my Subaru down it. She said she only made it 7 miles before having to turn back. Yeah, like that's gonna stop me, the Subaru did the Shaffer Trail down by Moab, a little lava rock won't stop me. I don't know what she was driving, but we got within a mile before the road even got bad, and the Subaru did fine. A couple in a lowered VW Rabbit GTI made it within walking distance.
At first glance the lake appeared to have waves, frozen in time, sitting still on top of the water. Turns out it was just chunks of salt that I dubbed saltbergs. You may want to click on this one to get a better view of them.
Looking down the path at the beginning of the Spiral Jetty
Me, playing in the salt at the base of the Sprial Jetty
Looking back across it at the Subaru, that little white dot on the side of the hill.
Writer in the middle of the Jetty
On the side of the Jetty there were some rocks that had a thin layer of salt covering them. They looked like glazed donuts. Well, rock shaped glazed donuts.
The Spiral Jetty from up the hill a little bit.
Same spot as the picture above, just zoomed out all the way.
The road leading to it. This thing was out in the middle of nowhere.
(Clicking on any of the photos will give you a full sized version)