Luke and I sat at a small table inside an independent bookstore along Main Street in Park City, leisurely discussing how to spend our final ten hours in Utah. The task wouldn’t have been nearly as daunting if we weren’t trying to decide how to allocate precious time in one of the prettiest states in the country.
Normally, we’d drive to the largest city and wander around until the time came to board our flight. Instead, we established a maximum radius for how far we could drive and still make it back to Salt Lake City to catch our 8pm flight home.
All of the national parks were too far away. Antelope Island State Park was our top contender, until I discovered the Bonneville Salt Flats were only two hours away. We scarfed down our Buddha Bowl and coffee cake, chugged our espresso and ran out to the car, lest we waste any more time dauteling.
The drive to the salt flats took us clear across the state. Along the way, we drove past the Wasatch Mountains, the skyline of Salt Lake City and the Great Salt Lake. The final stretch was a straight, flat, endless highway through the desert. It’s the kind of road that permits you to take a nap behind the wheel without consequence.
As we drew closer to the Silver Island Mountain Range, the pale yellow sand suddenly turned blindingly white. We pulled into a 50’s-era rest stop and got out to walk around on the flats. Water pooled into shallow, mirror-like lakes in some areas. The vast majority was a dry, cracked sheet of sparkling white salt. The ground reflected the sun so brightly, it hurt our eyes to look at it, but we couldn’t bear to filter the view through sunglasses. Splatters of salt coated our shoes and jeans as we walked along.
For a moment, I stood on the flats with the mountains to my right, the endless highway to my left, the bright sun overhead and the even brighter ground beneath my feet. A sensation washed over me that comes only once in a while – usually while I’m doing something really out of the ordinary. My brain gets quiet and my heart gets loud. Rational thoughts and worries are replaced by raw emotion. In this case, the warmth of unfiltered happiness ran through my veins, down to my feet and out the top of my head. For the briefest of moments, everything was right in the world and I was exactly where I needed to be within in it.
My high was interrupted by a historical marker noting the significant role the salt flats played in delaying the Donner-Reed Party, contributing to their tragic end.
Reality found its way back in.