Salt Lake City

07/21/2019 to 07/28/2019

Bringham Young, The Mormon Church, Great Salt Lake, & an Open Pit Copper Mine

Sunday 7/21/2019     Today’s drive was 240 miles and we arrived at our KOA Campground in Salt Lake City at 2:15 pm. We checked in and drove to our site, #824. This is a huge campground with 210 sites. There’s an outdoor pool, a basketball court, a cornhole game, a game room, a gift shop, and the usual restrooms and laundry rooms. We just set up the trailer, went out for fuel and a quick meal. We went for a short drive around the area, stopped at a Walmart and Lowe’s and then just returned to the trailer for the remainder of the day.

Monday 7/22/2019     It’s been a while since I’ve needed to do any repairs on the truck but my luck has run out. During our stay in Moab, I noticed that the Jake Brake on the truck was no longer working. A Jake Brake, also called an exhaust brake, uses the diesel engines compression to help slow down the truck. It saves wear and tear on the normal brakes. It really helps to slow the truck and trailer when I'm traveling down long or steep hills. There was a Cummings repair shop very close to our RV park in Moab and I stopped to inquire if they could take a look at it. The man in the shop was very nice but said that the Jake Brake was actually not a Cummings part but a Chrysler part and he wouldn’t be able to get what I needed. He suggested I try a Chrysler dealership when we got to Salt Lake City. So, I called and made an appointment for this morning at 7:10 am. I left at 6:30 am for my appointment and got to the dealership early. It’s a very large dealership where you get in line and they come out and take your information and then drive your vehicle into the shop. For some reason, my appointment was at 7:10 but the mechanics don’t begin working until 8. Go figure………….

I sat in their waiting room for about an hour before the service advisor called me over and gave me the bad news. He said it was the vacuum pump for the exhaust brake (which I already knew from researching on the internet) and gave me the whopping quote of $1,700.00. ($1,200.00 for the part and $500.00 labor) He also said he wouldn’t be able to get the part for a week. I said thanks but no thanks, paid their $ 140.00 diagnostic fee and left. When I returned to the trailer, I checked online and found the part I needed for $219.00 plus $35.00 for 2-day shipping. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do the repairs myself but I ordered the part, had it shipped to the KOA Park and decided to try to find a mechanic that would install it for me.

Later in the afternoon, we went out for dinner, stopped quickly at Home Depot and then I decided to have the truck’s brakes checked. They’ve been squealing for a long time and I noticed a Les Schwab Tire and Brake shop on the way out to eat. We stopped and they said they could look at it while we waited in their sitting area. We waited about an hour before the mechanic came out and said the brakes and pads were fine. I guess we’ll just have to live with the noise. At least this inspection was complimentary, they didn’t charge me anything. After returning to the trailer and waiting for the temperature to cool down a little (into the lower 90’s) we went for a long walk around the RV park and took some photos.

Tuesday 7/23/2019     Last evening I did some research online hoping to find a knowledgeable mechanic who had good reviews. I made a list of several I wanted to check out and so I woke up early this morning and drove to three different mechanics hoping someone could squeeze me in. Every one of these three said they were too busy to install the part but they gave me names of other people I could ask. I didn’t drive to any of these but instead called them on the phone. They were all too busy, too. I drove back to the RV park and decided to install it myself when it arrived via FedEx.

After lunch, we went to a Harbor Freight to buy a few items I thought I might need to work on the Jake Brake and then we drove back to the KOA. Adjacent to the KOA is a self serve car wash and we stopped to wash the truck again. It had a lot of red dust from our stop in Moab and I wanted to wash it off.

That was about it for the day.

Wednesday 7/24/2019     I spent this morning online stalking the FedEx driver anxious to get the part and begin installing it. While I waited, I did some housekeeping to pass the time. The part arrived about noon, and keeping my fingers crossed I began tearing the old vacuum pump out and hoping I could get the new one installed with no problems. I can hardly believe it myself but wonders of wonders I accomplished the feat in only an hour. And it worked. We took it for a short drive to test it out and I couldn’t stop patting myself on the back. I was expecting it to be an all-day job with all sorts of problems and I’m so relieved. And to think, the Chrysler dealership wanted $1,700.00. I felt so good we drove to a nearby mall, had dinner at Red Robin and walked around the mall for a while. We drove back to the self serve car wash outside of the KOA and vacuumed out the floor mats of the truck. I also did a little preventative maintenance on the truck. Hopefully, nothing else will go wrong for the rest of our trip.

Thursday 7/25/2019     I made reservations for a morning bus tour that would pick us up in front of the KOA office at 10 am and bring us to downtown Salt Lake City. It was a full-size bus but was only half full. The driver was also the tour guide, speaking almost continuously throughout the four-hour trip. He explained a lot of the Salt Lake City History which was settled by Brigham Young and his group of Mormon pioneers on July 24, 1847. This date is a state holiday in Utah and all of the state government offices were closed yesterday to celebrate. Even many of the small, privately owned businesses closed in honor of the day. Our first stop was Heritage Park. Here you stroll around the grounds, see several monuments in honor of different people and then we quickly visited the gift shop. They also have a small pioneer village with many old buildings reconstructed on the property. There’s a small school, lodge, church, and several small houses. We were only given about twenty minutes to roam so it was a little of a rushed visit.

After another short bus ride, the next stop was Temple Square. This where the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs. The choir and mammoth organ and pipes are in a gold-colored, dome-shaped building and we arrived just in time to hear an organ recital. He played for about thirty minutes but we left a few minutes before he was finished so we could take some photos of the building, the old beautiful cathedral and as much of Temple Square as we could in ten minutes. All the buildings are housed behind a large, stone wall so it’s difficult to get any good photos once you are outside of the square.

We continued on the bus tour to the state capital building. The state representatives were not in session so the buildings and grounds were quiet and there weren’t too many tourists. The capital building is amazing. It was built in 1914 and much of it is marble. I am always awed by the talented craftsmen who worked on these old buildings and the attention to detail. Of course, there’s a statue to Brigham Young inside. (there are many statues of him throughout the city) We were again only allotted twenty minutes to visit so we hurried through and took our photos.

The last stop was at Brigham Young’s houses in the downtown area. The house on the left is called The Lion House and this was where he and his many wives and children lived. The house on the right is called the Beehive House and this was where the church had their offices. The Lion House is now a small cafeteria-style restaurant and we were given forty-five minutes for this stop in case you wished to eat here. We thought about eating but then decided to take our time and visit the Beehive House but the tour wasn’t starting for a while and it lasted thirty minutes so we didn’t have enough time. Instead, we crossed the street to a tall office building named the World Trade Center which had an underground mall and food court. It was really a nice area to walk around. When our time was up, we boarded the bus and the driver began dropping off the passengers at their hotels. We were last to be dropped off at our KOA around 2:30 pm.

There is a short path very near our campsite that leads out of the KOA onto a hike/bike trail called the Jordan River Trail. It seemed to be a nice shaded, paved path that ran alongside the small Jordan River, but after a short trek, we noticed that the homeless population seem to like it too. I almost tripped over a man sleeping near a small bridge we needed to cross. Once we crossed the bridge and continued walking, there looked to be a small encampment of homeless in front of us. So, we turned around and walked in the opposite direction until we came upon the main road which led us back to the front of the KOA park.

Friday 7/26/2019     We started off the day with an oil change at a Valvoline Instant Oil Change. I still had about 1000 miles to go before my next oil change was due but we are not going to be close to any large towns for quite a while. They are very quick and efficient at their job and we were on our way to Antelope Island and The Great Salt Lake within twenty minutes. I think it was about a 45-minute drive to Antelope Island State Park from our campground and it costs $10.00 per car to enter. As you can tell from the pictures, it was drizzling rain and a very overcast day. Our first stop was the Lady Fingerpoint Trail. It was a short climb up some rocks to the point. This area had so many spiders in their webs on the vegetarian that I had to move slowly so I wouldn’t run into them.

Next, we headed to the visitor’s center, roamed around the inside and outside for a short time, took some photos and continued on down the main road. We took a few photos of the stream of people who park near the pavilion and make a long walk down to the beach and into the water. The people are very tiny in the pictures because it was about a half-mile walk. There’s not much you can do in the Great Salt Lake as it is so full of salt and so shallow that most people just wade through it. I guess the heavy salt makes it easier for people to float on water but we didn’t see any people actually doing that.

We continued on the road until we reached our next destination – The Fielding Garr Ranch. It was settled in 1848 and headed by several Mormon families throughout the years. You can tour their barn filled with old farm instruments and equipment and their blacksmith shop still equipped with their tools. The farmhouse is available for viewing as are their two underground supply cellars. They also offer horseback trail rides but since we just had the horseback ride at Monument Valley, we passed. We had to take some photos of an original “RV”. It was a covered wagon the sheepherders used when they needed to stay out further on their farmlands for a while. It had everything they needed to eat and sleep. This was our last stop on Antelope Island.

As we drove back to the causeway, we saw a herd of buffalo just lounging around. They were a distance away so they’re very tiny in the photos. The park also has a marina but it looks like it’s barely used. I read where the saltwater is very damaging to boats so not too many people use the lake for boating. Also, the lake is so salty there are no fish in the water, only brine shrimp that the birds seem to love.

Saturday 7/27/2019     I planned a super exciting adventure for us today. We are driving about 30 minutes away to the Bingham Canyon Mine in South Jordan, Utah. It’s one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world and they offer a tour of the pit for $5.00 per person. We began the morning with a breakfast of bacon and eggs and left the trailer at 11:00 to arrive in time for our 12:00 pm tour slot. After parking, we waited a few minutes for the next shuttle bus at the stop outside of their small gift shop trailer. The shuttle bus takes you for a 15-minute drive to the viewing platforms for the open-pit. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. The shuttle lets you off on a cement platform with a gigantic dump truck tire for photo taking. There’s a covered pavilion with placards telling you the history of the mine throughout the years and outside of this are some picnic tables. The covered pavilion is actually a giant yellow dump truck bed and the picnic tables are under the cab overhang part of the dump truck. It really demonstrated how big the tires and dump bed are. We took a walkway down to another section of the viewing area that had a Cummings engine that powers these monster trucks, a huge bucket from a giant excavator and another giant blade from a bulldozer. The open-pit mine was literally just a humongous hole in the ground. There were many dump trucks moving along the circular paths inside the pit. It really reminded me of kids playing with their toy Tonka trucks. We were at such a distance that the construction vehicles all looked like toys. After gazing at the hole for 30 minutes or so, we boarded the shuttle bus for the ride back to the parking lot. I was disappointed that I hadn’t really learned too much about the copper mining, there was no tour guide or representative at the viewing platforms to explain anything to you. But on the bus ride back down they played a ten-minute video explaining some of the copper mine workings. So, I did get a little information and I was just kidding about the super exciting day. Rose said it was more boring than all the car museums I’ve dragged her to and I’ve dragged her to a lot. We drove back to the KOA and just hung out around the trailer for the rest of the day.

Sunday 7/28/2019     We had no plans for today other than the mandatory Sunday breakfast of French Toast with a side of bacon.  Later in the morning, we drove to Walmart to stock up on some groceries for our next destination.  We're headed to Arco, Idaho tomorrow to see The Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve and there doesn't seem to be too many choices to eat nearby.  After Walmart, we stopped at an Ace Hardware store to buy a section of hose that I needed to change the fuel filter in the truck.  When we returned to the KOA, I waited for the truck's engine to cool down and then I changed the filter.  Later on, in the early evening, I received a phone call from the KOA's office.  It seems I messed up on how many nights we were spending here.  I paid for seven nights when I should have paid for eight.  For some reason, I was thinking we were staying from Sunday to Sunday and that would be seven days.  (it's actually eight) I have to admit that I was embarrassed and walked down to the office to apologize.  They charged me for an additional night and said it was no big problem, that it happens more often than you'd think.  I felt bad, too that the next family had already arrived that had been assigned to our spot and the KOA had to move them to another site.  That's only happened to me one other time - a few years ago in Maine when I thought I had paid for five nights and they said I only reserved four.  They weren't as kind though and made us leave in a hurry before the next camper arrived.  We luckily were able to secure one night at a different park but it wasn't nearly as nice.  Tomorrow's trip will be 244 miles, so we just watched a little TV on our last night in Salt Lake City and then went to sleep.

Monday 7/29/2019     Today we packed up and are headed for Arco, Idaho to see "The Craters Of The Moon".

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