Sunday, September 28, 2014


Rainy weekend.  Faucet repair completed.  School is all planned for the next week.

So, what did I decide to do for this Sunday?  Yup – go find some mud to play in out in the West Desert.

As usual, I fill the gas tank before heading out.  I reset the average gas mileage indicator and about 30 miles out on I-80 I check to see how I’m doing.

27 MPG?  Wow.  My old one could only have made that if I’d driven it off a cliff.  And turned off the engine on the way.  Now, I know the onboard MPG computer is not completely accurate.  I kept track of it for a while and compared it to my actual mileage, and it was off by about 2%.  But that’s still over 26 MPG.

I get to one of my favorite spots out there and I see a bunch of cars parked on the side of the highway.  Nobody in sight, so of course I wonder what is going on.

Along the dirt road, just off the highway, I see the first abandoned vehicle.  I’m pretty sure nobody got hurt because I didn’t see any blood on the inside.

Somebody seriously rolled their Jeep.  But just one vehicle is not a bad omen.

A little further down the road I find this truck abandoned, with a flat tire.  Man, there was some bad luck out here this weekend.

I keep going, having a blast getting my wrangler all dirty, spittin’ mud all over the place.  Then I come across this Subaru, another abandoned car out here, but this time there doesn’t seem to be any reason for it.  Kinda getting creepy.

I head down another road, cruise around for a half hour or so and then come back around the vehicular graveyard.  A young couple are walking along the side of the muddy road, carrying a gas can.  I flip around and offer them a ride to their car, thinking it’s the one I can see way down the road.

As it turns out, the next car isn’t theirs, but another abandoned one instead.  We could see why this one was abandoned.

So deep into the water that the floor behind the driver’s seat is flooded with murky water.

Well, as it turns out Janice and Cam were part of a party out here in the dry lakebed that made the news when a heavy rain storm hit and flooded the whole area.  Their description of the whole thing was crazy.  People in cars stuck all over the place, they waited 6 hours in the car before a group of school busses showed up to bring them back into Grantsville.

We went to the lakebed to find their Jeep.  At first I drove onto the flats figuring that it would have dried up enough that I could drive on it.  Yeah, but just barely.  A couple of times I almost got stuck, and if I hadn’t heeded the advice “whatever, don’t stop moving”, I would have.  I was just barely moving, but I headed uphill and got out of the slick, snotty stuff onto the edge, which was just better enough that it was manageable.  From that point on, we skirted the edge of the lakebed.

It was surrealistic.  We drove all around the lakebed looking for their Jeep, a couple of miles, and saw at least two dozen abandoned vehicles.  Tents were left out there, as was a couch somebody brought.

It looked like some of the people stopped before they got stuck, figuring they could just drive out when things dried out a bit.

Other people look like they fought the mud, and ended up losing to it and would have to be pulled out.

Anyhow, 2 miles of abandoned cars littered all over the place, in my Jeep with 2 strangers and a can of gas, I felt like I was in some kind of apocalypse movie.  Maybe “Return of Lake Bonneville: The Brine Shrimp’s Revenge.”  Yeah, they must have got sick of being sold as Sea Monkeys.

Finally we found their Jeep.  I parked up on a (dry) hill and made them walk the couple hundred feet to their vehicle.  I wasn’t going to become a victim of the Brine Shrimp.

There’s Janice taking a picture of their Cherokee buried up to it’s axles in mud.

I was going to stick around for a little more mudding, but it was almost 4, and it started to rain.  I’d seen what happened the last time it rained, I was getting the hell outta there.


Lisa Shafer said...

Oh my heck! It does look like a setting for a post-apocalyptic novel!
I got caught in massive desert rain on my way home from Cedar City yesterday, but I was on I-15, so I didn't get stuck. Still, I kept moving, remembering how I-15 washed out near St. George just a few weeks ago.
I read in the newspaper today that we set a new record for rain on Sept. 27, the last one set in 1982. Oh dear. That was the year the flooding began, and I think that's the very day the road washed out near Snowbird.....
I wonder if this means we're into the flood cycle again. It's been over 30 years; it just might be time.

Lisa Shafer said...

PS. At least these folks know their cars won't get stolen. :)

Max Sartin said...

Another 1983? Yikes. I was working at the pizza place and having the city cut up by an impassable State Street and 1300 South made delivering pizza quite interesting.

Karen S. said...

Absolutely one could be writing a storm a way here! I'm all for this kind of messy fun, just not the roll over kind! Ouchy! You really do know how to have some wild fun Max, of course most of us here know that! :)

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Maybe “Return of Lake Bonneville: The Brine Shrimp’s Revenge.” Yeah, they must have got sick of being sold as Sea Monkeys.

Haha, that made my day. Great messy adventure story!

Michèle Dextras & Jean-Claude Barre said...

Wow, now this is a good story of a mess! Thanks Max.

Bob Scotney said...

It seems crazy to me that any one risks driving in those places apparently just for fun. What a mess!

Max Sartin said...

Hey, don't knock it until you try it. And it's actually not that bad when the ground is dry. The problem is that when it rains heavily here in the desert, the ground isn't used to it so all the water flows down to the flat spots. The ground there can go from completely dry to super-saturated in a matter of minutes. If those kids had been paying attention to the weather news, they would have known that, but otherwise it can happen so fast you can't react to it fast enough.