The Trans-America Challenge 2012
7th May - 8th June 2012
Provo to Jackson
MAY 20TH, 2012
Utah, Idaho, Wyoming. Three more steps along the road.
Oddly, given its status as one of the least populated states in the Union (see Turini passim), the run out of Provo was perhaps the busiest, in terms of infrastructure, shopping malls and traffic lights that we'd seem since we left Memphis. With the Salt Lake on our left we headed up to the Wasatch Cache National Forest. In total we had 50 traffic free miles of urban sprawl and six lane highway to negotiate before we broke into the mountainous ski areas of the Wasatch.
Once off the interstate at Summit Park we were straight into the first regularity through a lush green valley. This little canyon, part of the bigger East Canyon was used by the pioneers in 1847 on their way to Salt Lake City. An 'oldtimer' we met with a 007 license plate filled us in on the history of the place, showed his gun and told us he was missing so many teeth because he'd spent all of his money on tyres and gas. They seem to like their cars around here and we saw plenty of muscle cars out and about, Vipers, Chargers, Corvettes and Mustangs were quite obviously enjoying themselves through the turns much as we were so it was a surprise to see "fun free family activity" advertised on a billboard.
Once we'd seen the road to Monte Cristo we knew we could count on having a great time through the second test at Ant Flat, a reddish brown ribbon of gravel snaking through the Bear River Range with tufted alpine meadow and small stands of poplar on either side. The long range views were also fantastic across to snowy peaks and rolling hills. On the descent from the test we followed a crystal clear stream, Mill Creek which tumbled and twisted down the tarmac road to join the Logan River through the Canyon of the same name which took us up to the PC overlooking the beautiful turquoise Bear Lake where we spotted a Chipmunk looking for some treats. So, with all crews present and correct we pressed on down the hill towards the lake shore and into Idaho ("Too Great to Litter") through a town known as the City of Paris where we looked in vain for the Eiffel Tower and a croissant.
There were still miles to be driven though, through the Caribou Forest, over the Geneva Summit and into Wyoming. ("Forever West"). 156 miles from Yellowstone. We're on part of the old Oregon Trail now and we crossed the Salt River Pass which was part of this essential route for settlers and traders coming from the East, before the railroad was completed in 1869. Dropping down from the pass we passed through Afton with an elkhorn arch ie an arch over the main street made from elk horns, with two fighting elk on top. You really can't miss it.
The route took us North across the Salt River Range plateau and as before, all around us were snow-capped mountains. We rolled through the aptly named town of Alpine before turning to Jackson over the Snake River bridge and through yet another endless tree lined canyon. Jackson, our night halt, is a skiing and mountaineering sort of town. There are plenty of bars and hotels. It's a lively place made more so by our arrival. We took over the Wort hotel where we dined on the rarest buffalo with delicious apple cobbler for desert. Having had another great day on the road and some more quality miles under our wheels the atmosphere in the bar was highly charged.
Many crews are sporting Stetson hats both to shield them from the intense sun and perhaps to blend in little with the locals. Bruce Washington however has taken this blending process to a totally differ level and arrived in the dining room dressed in a pair of leather chaps, a waistcoat, a boot lace tie and toting a six shooter for good measure.
Tomorrow the day is free of timings and controls as we drive through the magnificent Yellowstone Park. We'll need all of our concentration for the scenery.