Groan. Almost home. Almost.
This is a little bonsai tree Older Daughter has had for four years. She's been babying it all the way home, carefully bringing it into the motels each night and gently packing it into the car during the day. Yesterday she was horrified to see it had started to wilt.
Turns out it had a touch of frostbite, acquired during yesterday morning's lengthy attempt to de-ice the car in Denver. It may lose a few leaves, but we're confident it will recover.
Since we spent last night in Salt Lake City, we figured we'd take the time to look at Temple Square. Our neighbor are LDS and they often spoke of this iconic place. Following Older Daughter's GPS, we made our way downtown.
SLC's downtown is very clean and beautiful, with many ornate and venerable buildings.
This is an archway topped by (I think) an eagle, photographed from too far away to be certain.
The temple is predictably grand.
People were decorating for Christmas as we strolled around. This tree was full of twinkly lights which would look lovely at night.
I wish more buildings were built in this ornate Gothic style.
The golden statue at top gleamed in the morning sun. I don't know what it depicts.
The grounds had many statues and sculptures, very handsomely done. Here's the Holy Family in the middle of a reflecting pool.
Immediately next to the temple is this enormous office building housing the LDS business offices. Wow, huge.
We passed a lovely statue of Joseph Smith and his wife Emma.
It was a beautifully rendered sculpture, very tender and sweet, but a touch disingenuous to have just one sculpture instead of 40 or so.
After we had walked around Temple Square, we set off north on Hwy. 15 toward Ogden.
The scenery was very rugged and rocky.
Older Daughter was driving during this stage. She glanced over at some houses near the base of a mountain and remarked that they looked like barnacles on the side of a ship. What I found amazing is the sheer volume of suburbs ringing Salt Lake City. I think there were suburbs from the city's edge all the way to Ogden. After days and days of driving through lots of emptiness, this took some getting used to.
From a distance up the highway, I saw what looked like another temple.
Eventually the suburbs petered out and farmland took over.
We cut through the southwest corner of Idaho, another place I'd never seen.
Lots of rugged escarpments here too...
...as well as more vast vistas.
We passed some of the harshest terrain imaginable: rocky, and full of sagebrush and juniper
And then boom, we were out of the rocks and into potato country.
After Idaho Falls, things turned rugged. The stretch from Idaho Falls into Butte took us through some of the loneliest country I've ever seen.
Near the peak of the Continental Divide, we saw snow fences, an indication of the snow load this area receives.
Continental Divide, elevation 6870 ft.
We were driving through high desert, while the dramatic peaks peeked at us from a distance.
But the closer ranges were very rugged and beautiful, if (largely) treeless.
More loooong ribbons of highway stretching before us.
Looks like Marlboro Country, no?
In fact, it was cattle country.
We finally pulled into Butte, Montana for the night, too pooped to go further but wondering what we were going to do with ourselves since it was only 4 pm. So -- ahem -- we found a bookstore.
In fact, it was a stupendous secondhand bookstore with friendly staff and an astoundingly comprehensive selection (this photo only shows about one-third of the inventory). Yowza, highly recommended if you're ever in Butte.
Also, perched waaaay on top a mountain overlooking Butte is an enormous (90 feet high) statue of the Virgin Mary called Our Lady of the Rockies. Apparently it's the fourth-tallest statue in the U.S.
So that's our day's travel. I tell ya, as exciting as this trip has been, it will be good to get home.