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Road Trip USA week 4 -The Emigrant Trail

Updated on January 29, 2015

Road Trip U.S.A. -4: The Emigrant Trail, Salt Lake to Reno

Moab and the Arches National Park was truly amazing with the Colorado River flowing through it and the wonderful sandstone mountains forming the backdrop for scenes out of old John Wayne movies, in fact many of them where shot in this area and you can buy C.D.copies in the tourist shops here. Moab reminds one of any of the outdoor holiday destination towns found in many areas of the States - Aspen or Durango both come to mind with many ‘outfitters’ offering a variety of trips such as river rafting, rock-climbing and mountain biking.

Beautiful scenery and enough activities to make young and not so young’s blood run warm. This year according to the locals not so many of the young American couples are doing the vacation thing but we certainly saw many young German couples at the camp grounds sharing a rental car and a tent. Perhaps the economy in Germany is better or they booked the trip some time ago. We did see many ‘snowbirds’ in their luxury campers doing the trip.

If Moab was a surprise then Salt Lake City did not disappoint. Utah, while really dry in most areas, also has great green valleys nestled in between towering mountains. Our next campground was about 20 miles out of Salt Lake in one such valley on the Provo River where Deer Creek Campground has about 75 stands on the river all occupied by permanent RV campers whose owners either have retired there or keep them for weekend or vacation homes. Apparently many live in Salt Lake City and come out for the weekend. One site next to the little shop is kept for emergencies and we proved to be such an emergency, and decided to stay two nights.

Soon after arriving there we were amazed to see a distraught father come into the shop looking for help because his 25 year old son had fallen off his tube in the fast flowing Provo River and they could not find him and thought he may have drowned. The very gracious camp host seemed rather unconcerned and eventually reluctantly phoned 911! She explained to us, after the father had left to resume his search, that this was almost a daily occurrence and that the missing tuber/rafter was usually found washed ashore some were down the river. The law demanded that every one going down the river has a life jacket on but many ignored this rule. We saw families on blown up pool chairs and in fact anything that semi floated going past in the river. One that scared me most was a young mother with her young daughter of about one year lying on her stomach as she lay on a tube, neither having life jackets.

When I mentioned this to a local they said that someone’s child had drowned the previous week. Audrey and I considered going down the river on one of our blow up mattresses but as one already had a puncture we decided rather reluctantly not to try it. With our luck we would be fined for not having life jackets and apart from that the water was very cold as it was snow melt. To cut a long story short after assisting with the search we saw the missing rafter on the other side of the river where his very relieved mother and sister had found him looking not too much the worse for wear and tear. This camp ground was where we saw some great birds including our first Golden Eagle, two species of Humming Birds and many Cedar Waxwings.

The camp host ties flies for local shops and he insisted on giving me a handful of nymphs and some Woolly Buggers that he recommended for the river. So the next day with a $12 Utah fishing license and my new cheapo fly-rod (ex Wall-Mart) I set out to fish the icy waters of the Provo. We had also basically run out of food and so a brown trout for supper sounded like a good idea. A trout in the river is a far cry (cast) from a trout in the pan but hope springs eternally from the human breast and besides I have always been a lucky fisherman. The other problem is that you could only keep brown trout, not rainbow or the native cutthroat trout and only under 15 inches. With all these restrictions on my mind and fishing waters unknown I was going to be lucky indeed (or unlucky from the trout’s point of view) to supply us with supper. Needless to say my luck held and while the size was always open to debate as I did not have a ruler that measured inches, in fact I did not have a ruler at all, the brown trout fresh from the Provo into the frying pan was delicious and if anyone tells you I foul hooked it I would deny it to my dying day! Walking through the camp the S.A. fishermen had acquired a new respect from the local residents who had doubted Ed‘s Woolly Bugger as an effective fly in these fast flowing waters, but after all, the proof of the fishing is in the eating and no one could deny that!

A drive into Salt Lake City and to Best Buy (The name” Best Buy” being a strange paradox with the trouble we were having) and Audrey’s third new computer has now finally put to rest the problems that we were having in getting electronically connected with friends and family. The problems we were having seem to have been that someone at Virgin Mobile had neglected to activate our account! I also managed to get the cell phone working again with some help from the young man at the local telephone supply shop who suggested I take the sim- card out and replace it, which did the trick.

Driving past the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake amazed us at the European Cathedral type building that could only be called ostentatious in the extreme, but must undoubtedly impress the many Mormon pilgrims that make their way here every year. Then the long trek across the plains and hills of Utah (522 miles) to Reno began. Leaving at 6pm and watching the sun go down over the distant hills as we passed from Utah into Nevada along the Emigrant’s or California Trail.

Nevada is a place you pass trough as quickly as possible, in spite of the brochure we got from the friendly lady at the Battle Mountain Visitors Centre that lists 101 things to do in that area. We did learn that there was actually no battle that took place there-simply a story made up by a resourceful local- perhaps the brochure is somewhat similar. We never really got to test its veracity. The stopping areas warn about Scorpions and Rattle Snakes, the bill boards invite a visit to Pussycat Ranch with its promised delights (or the ‘World famous’ Mustang Ranch). The large correctional facilities in the area warn by means of signs next to the road that hitch hiking is illegal in that area (certainly that must worry any escapees no end!)

The many Casinos that light up the skyline in every town invite you to make a contribution to the Nevada economy and the Dwight Eisenhower Highway with a speed limit of 75 miles an hour and its 4 lane roadway goes on and on a little like this report, but then I am sitting in the Ramada Inn in Reno watching an amazing sunset as we relax in a very comfortable room with air conditioning, warm shower, a well equipped, but apparently little used gym and a huge swimming pool and also free breakfast promised in the morning. All this at a very reasonable rate due to a coupon Audrey found at some local shop/Gas station. Saturday night on the trip seems to be hotel night as we prepare for worship on Sunday.

We have just completed the book of Hebrews in our daily devotionals and found it an interesting and stimulating study. Audrey has found several congregations of the Church of Christ listed in the phone book and so we are spoilt for choice tomorrow. We continue to walk almost every day and so far have managed to control our eating somewhat. Tomorrow we plan to move on to California and the Tahoe Lake area were we have been invited (with some help from Jessie, Audrey’s sister in Florida) to stay in the mountains near Truckee with friends of hers. Hope they will still be friends after we leave!


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    • Johan Smulders profile imageAUTHOR

      Johan Smulders 

      6 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Thanks for the comment. What a great area to visit!

    • Kebennett1 profile image


      6 years ago from San Bernardino County, California

      Thank you for the tour! Your hub was awesome and I appreciated the thoroughness and imagery. Voted Up, useful and awesome.


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