Friday, July 10, 2009

Learned a little history today.

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.
More saltbergs.
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)


This Place is a Disaster! said...

I knew the facts of the golden spike - BUT HAD NO CLUE ABOUT SOME CRAZY SPIRAL JETTY! So cool.

Max said...

Glad I could enlighten you. If you haven't heard of it, you might also want to check out the Tree of Utah:

A Paperback Writer said...

How come you get comments and I don't?
Nice post.
I am amused that you copyrighted the pic I took of you -- but that's okay.
(Notice I was nice on my post and didn't tell about your little mistake.)
It was a great day. I'm glad we did it.

Max said...

Yeah, that was a little mistake. When I do the sizing and copyright, I just put all the pictures into one file and do a batch process. Since they were all in the same 'to put on the blog' file, it got copyrighted along with the rest. (although, it's not really a copyright, because it doesn't have the little c with it's circle around it. It's just sort of a marker to my site).

A Paperback Writer said...

No biggie.
Did you know that anything you write is automatically copyrighted under US law? I don't know about photos, though.

Max said...

Actually, I didn't know that. Good to know. And - too late, I've already changed it. Pbbbblttt!

A Paperback Writer said...

Gee, it looks so official now. I am impressed.

Jannx said...

A very interesting blog entry. I enjoyed the photos. It looked like a great trip. I did pick up a bit of information about the Golden Spike, but don't seem to remember much. I also seem to remember coming across the spiral jetty, again, I don't seem to remember much about it.

Thanks for sharing great photos about your adventure. Now, I'm going to stop over at Paperback's site. Bye for now.

jmpnmark said...

And here I thought 'Golden Spike' was slang for... ummmm..