Observations From the Intermountain West

This evening we are in Rock Springs, Wyoming, having fled Idaho and crossed a corner of Utah we have made it safely into the Cowboy State. Along the way there are always things to see and comment upon.

My most striking memory of the trip thus far is that speed limits have been raised in all these mountain states. Our home, Washington, recently defeated a proposal in the legislature to raise speeds in the eastern (intermountain) half of the state. However, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming have raised speeds to up to 80 mph in some areas. Even the construction zones are 65 mph! To me this is a sure sign that the price of gas has gone down, but usage is not rising enough to satisfy the oil companies. Raising speed limits burns more fuels and makes them more money! Here’s an article about the issue of speed and safety.

Idaho’s central basin is an arid wasteland, or would be if they didn’t irrigate heavily. When it’s not growing season they stop irrigating and the area is ravaged with dust storms. (We got trapped in one of those several years ago.) It makes me wonder where all that water comes from and how long it can last. This is not sustainable agriculture!

Idaho dust storm.

Idaho dust storm.

Utah’s Great Salt Lake is a tiny remnant of a vast sea called Lake Bonneville. Of course it was never really named because people didn’t exist then. However, this sea covered 20,000 square miles of what is now Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and California! It had no outlet to any ocean. When the Snake River broke through a ridge on the north end it began draining the lake to the Pacific. Nature has taken care of the rest with dry hot conditions, leaving smaller briny lakes and the Bonneville Salt Flats as the remaining visual reminders. Today we drove for 3 hours on the old lake bed!

The border between Idaho and Utah is obvious. Not only do the agricultural practices change, the rocks all become red. Utah is covered in red rock from north to south! Then crossing from Utah into Wyoming the rock suddenly turns gray! The geological answers are too lengthy for discussion here, but it is wonderful to see.

red rock

As for art I have had little opportunity to draw while driving. (DWD) Jean has done some pen and ink sketches of passing views. These require a quick pen because the driver does not slow down, turn off, or in any other way accommodate the artist. When we have better internet connections we will post some art work.

For J.P., who is curious as to our travel plans, I will divulge that tomorrow we drive to Colorado Springs. He will have to be patient to learn of coming adventures.


About Paul

I'm retired, but working at painting, photography, and song writing. We like to travel and paint plein air in new places. Of course that's also where photography comes into the picture, so to speak. Sometimes I get inspired to write songs about the people and places we visit.
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2 Responses to Observations From the Intermountain West

  1. Jean-Paul Dumont says:

    Your pictures are wonderful. Your comments to the point. One of them at the beginning of the posting is striking; I am refering to Lake Bonneville who was not really a lake since no humans existed who could see it. This raises the most interesting question of knowing where something is (or exists) if it is not or cannot be observed. The query ain’t new, still fascinating.
    As for my impatience, yes, it is notorious.
    Do enjoy everything that comes your way and for His sake, DWD; I have never ever heard of anyone getting a ticket for “drawing while driving”
    A hug to both of you

  2. Robin says:

    Thanks for the ongoing travel updates. Even without pictures, the information is interesting and enlightening.

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