salt flats

On the importance of doing research

Without doing any reading or investigation other than flipping through the catalog of photos in my brain I may have seen online in the past few years, I decided to drive out to the Bonneville Salt Flats over the weekend. On a whim. The last thing I ever did on a whim was adopt a 12-week-old miniature Australian Shepherd. This is my track record.

I had a spare afternoon, a better-than-average weather forecast, and an empty memory card in the camera. This coupled with past whims is all the background information you need for Heather’s Reasons You Don’t Ever Need to See the Bonneville Salt Flats, starting with:

It’s just salt.

Yeah. Salt. A lot of salt. Miles and miles of salt. All of it just sitting there. You think you’re going to show up and see a shit ton of salt without really giving that thought the thorough examination it needs: a shit ton of salt. Now, if it were the Bonneville Ketchup Flats? That’s a totally different party.

Also, there is no official sign indicating Here Is Where You Stop To See A Shit Ton of Salt. There is no park, no overlook, no tour guide dressed head-to-toe in khaki who is way too excited about salt. You have to pull over to the side of I-80, park on the shoulder of the freeway, and walk out onto the flats. There is no sign or plaque explaining the history of this geographic phenomenon, no pamphlet, no gift shop, nothing. You’re just out there looking at a shit ton of salt with no context whatsoever, and if you’ve driven from Salt Lake City like I had, you’re suddenly going, wait. Wait a minute. I just drove an hour and a half to see a fucking condiment.

God, I hope no one I know drives by and recognizes my car on the side of the road.

Those pictures you see of the salt flats online? Totally misleading. Because what you think is a vast expanse of hard, cracked salt is in fact a bog, a wide mushy mess of salt, mud and sand that will eat holes in the leather on your favorite pair of boots. Why was I wearing my favorite pair of boots to the salt flats? First of all, there is no need to take that tone with me. Second, the pictures make it look hard! Like a concrete sidewalk! Why NOT wear my favorite pair of boots? Why not look my best when admiring a shit ton of salt? You’re supposed to be proud that I wasn’t barefoot, carrying a banjo, and breastfeeding a stray possum.

And finally, let’s talk about the pictures, shall we? This is it:

That’s the photo. You can turn in every direction, stand on your head, throw the camera in circles. That’s the shot you’re going to get. Flat salt. As far as the eye can see. I took a total of three photos. I was not going to have wasted my entire afternoon so, thank God for filters!