Ward Charcoal Ovens, NV

Early silver production brought the need to produce charcoal for use in the smelters which processed the ore. Near Willow Creek, six charcoal ovens were built in 1873 to produce charcoal to fuel the smelters. The ovens were built by Swiss-Italian charcoal workers called “Carbonari” and were made from Quartz latite welded tuff quarried near the ovens. The beehive shaped ovens were designed as a replacement for the open-pit system that originated in Italy, because they were a more efficient way to reduce pinyon and juniper into useable fuel.

Vents on the bottom of the kiln allowed for fine adjustment of temperature, and the parabolic shape reflected heat back into the center. The Charcoal ovens produced about 30 bushels of charcoal per cord of wood. All wood types were used in the ovens, including pine, cedar, oak and aspen. The problem with the ovens was their permanence: wood had to be transported to them. In many cases, the cost of transportation overshadowed the worth of the yield.

The ovens are 30′ high and 27′ in diameter at the base. The walls are 20″ thick with 3 rows of vents around the base used to control drafts. It took 13 days to fill, burn and empty a 35-cord kiln. Wood was loaded through the back doors where the ovens were banked against higher ground.

This was a short stop on the trek across the Nevada desert. These ovens don’t look that big from a distance but are actually quite massive. Can’t imagine the heat they must have generated out here in the scorching desert.

Emerald Bay State Park, CA

Emerald Bay was designated a National Natural Landmark for its brilliant panorama of mountain-building processes and glacier carved granite.

The park features Vikingsholm, one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere. The “Tea House” on Fannette Island, the only island to be found in all of Lake Tahoe.

Journal: I Brake for Dinosaurs

Aspens in the Flat Top Wilderness Area of Colorado

Continuing with our goal of avoiding interstates on this trip, we headed west from the Rockies on a “scenic byway” through the Rout and White National Forests. This scenic byway turned out to be 60 some odd miles of dirt road. Up and down, back and forth as we drove through the Flat Top Wilderness area. The roads weren’t marked very clearly and we took several wrong turns and ended up dead ending at ranches. Dude Ranches – with signs like “Dude, turn around – yer trespassing and we’ll shoot ya.”

Pulled over for speeding in Dinosaur, CO

In the end, the dirt, scenic byway was worth it for the views even though it held us back a bit on time. And since time was running out I was cruising at an ample speed to try and make it to Utah in time to see the Dinosaur Quarry museum. The speed limit on this desert highway was 65 when all of a sudden it dropped to 40mph for a tiny town that was about 4 blocks long. I slowed down and went through the town, then picked my speed back up to continue on the desert highway. And Lo and Behold, what do see behind me in my rearview mirror? A cop with his lights’a’flashing. I pull over and he informs me that I was going 57mph when I entered the town’s 40mph speed trap..er I mean zone. So, we go through the routine that I’m sure you all know very well (Mr. Jakubowski). We sit anxiously in the car wondering, will we get off with a warning? Heidi tries to force some tears but the desert heat has us all dried out. We get the ticket, a fee of $90, and the cop leaves. As I start off towards Utah again (now going a conservative 45mph in a 65 zone – why do we think going ultra-slow after a ticket will change anything?) Heidi begins cracking up laughing. And she reads me what the ticket says – “Traffic Violation on East Brontosaurus Avenue in Dinosaur, CO”

Dinosaur National Monument, CO

Dinosaur National Monument was a very cool place. We saw the Dinosaur Quarry where they have TONS of fossils in one long 250foot section of cliff face. They have all sorts of theories as to how so many bones ended up in one place – the most interesting involving a dominant species of dinosaur call Jimjonesaurus. That evening we hiked up Split Mountain – a mountain known for its mysterious characteristic – a river has split the mountain in two, right down the middle. The info brochure said it is odd because water always takes the lower route and goes around mountains, yet somehow this river carved right through this giant mountain of rock. It has the Evolutionists baffled.

Fort Bridger, WY

After Dinosaur we headed to Salt Lake City by looping up through Wyoming. In Wyoming, we drove through the amazing Flaming Gorge (which Heidi proclaimed to be “gorge-ous”) and stopped at Fort Bridger. Fort Bridger was an old supply stop for emigrants on the Oregon Trail. At the Fort they do the whole Williamsburg, VA thing where they had underpaid teenagers dressed (much to their chagrin) in period garb and acting like they actually lived and worked there. Funny how that stuff fooled me as a kid but now I just feel sorry for them. The poor boy who was the “General Store manager” looked utterly miserable as he recited his lines “Welcome, to the Fort Bridger General Store can I help you with anything? We’ve got cured ham in the back.” When I asked him how old the ham was he said he didn’t know but it had been there the four years he had worked at the fort. Mmmmm, cured ham.

Four interesting things about Salt Lake City impressed us. #1 – The big barrier walls along the interstate have silhouettes of the distant mountains painted on them to give you the illusion that you can see them since the 25 foot walls actually block your view. #2 – The city is very flat and spread out. The tallest skyscrapers aren’t that tall and there is a lot of space between buildings and blocks. #3 – The Mormons have their names on EVERYTHING downtown. Every building or plaque says something about the “Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints”. #4 – There is no such thing as a good 49cent hotdog.

Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, UT

We wandered in circles for a while trying to find the Mormon temple. We expected its steeples to dominate the skyline but after going to the City Hall, the Catholic Cathedral, and the First Presbyterian Church, we realized maybe the Temple is located in that place called “Temple Square” that all these signs point to. It was.

We weren’t allowed to go into the temple because it was Friday, apparently the day for Mormons to wed. We saw three weddings going on in front of the temple. We think it was three – we saw three brides. Another interesting thing we saw was that in front of the temple there is a statue of Joesph Smith proposing to his wife. It seems to be a Mormon newly wed tradition to have your picture taken with your new bride in front of that statue, mimicking their pose. How odd that on your day of commitment you would want to have your picture taken with a statue of a very uncommitted man proposing to his first of 5 wives.

And that’s the news from Salt Lake, where are the women are many, all the men are mormon, and all the children ride bicycles and wear shirt & ties.

William and Heidi

Salt Lake City, UT

Located in the north central part of the state, it is 24 km (15 mi) east of its namesake, the Great Salt Lake, and lies along the western slope of the Wasatch Range. The entire Salt Lake Valley was once part of the basin of ancient Lake Bonneville. Today, the Jordan River passes through the city. Salt Lake City is the international headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church. It is the largest and most important city in a large region of the interior West and serves as the industrial, financial, religious, and commercial center of Utah.

I believe we spend more time in SLC traffic than actually walking around downtown. The main thing we went to see was the Mormon Temple in the heart of the city. It turned out that Fridays are when Mormons get married so we saw 3 of those going on.