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Jun 29, 2001: Across the Great Divide

WARNING: narcissism ahead

Last missive was from Omaha. Spent the next day driving the length of Nebraska, which is dusty and full of prairie so lovely that it made me hungry. If you're a train nut, go there; saw several that were at least 150 cars. Then a couple days of hiking, biking, and sampling microbrews with a cousin in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Another visually-stunning drive to recommend: Fort Collins to Laramie, Wyoming. Local route but fast. Interesting transition from powerbar-munching, outdoor-fanatic culture to the realm of big belt buckles. Then back to I-80, heading, naturally, west, through the rest of lunar Wyoming.

Crossed the Continental Divide which, to my disappointment, wasn't an Everest-like experience where you can stop and just look down in one direction to the Pacific and the other to the Gulf of Mexico. It was actually on a huge flat plain with no distinguishing characteristics.

Other than being surrounded by huge biblical mountains and enveloped in 100 degree heat, Salt Lake City has a lot in common with Crown Heights, Brooklyn: lots of religious men wearing impractical dark clothing and toting along huge families. Found it odd that the state house sits on the heights overlooking the city, high above the Mormon Temple; considering the history there, I'd thought it would have been the other way around.

Hoped to take a dip in the Great Salt Lake, but at the Salt Air resort it was pretty nasty — didn't smell too good, no beach, and swarms of bugs. So continued on I-80 past the incredible salt flats (the world's driest ocean) and Pilot Peak through northern Nevada. Views and straight-aways for dozens of miles. Now about to head north, cutting through Oregon on local roads, and eventually on to Portland by Sunday evening. The Passat is holding up fine, but my butt and back are bickering over who's more sore. They keep whining to me: "Are we there yet?"

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