Day 119. Monday, 26th August. From Nephi, Utah to Cokeville, Wyoming

Yesterday we had seen lots of odd shaped, bulk tanker trucks and wondered what they were carrying. When we left the motel this morning there was one parked by the entrance. Dennis stopped to ask the driver and the reply was ‘gypsum’. It must be being extensively mined somewhere around here.

We took the I-15 in to Salt Lake City. At first it wasn’t too bad, but got horribly busy as we approached the outskirts. There was plenty of parking and under shady trees too. We walked around the centre. It is a clean, prosperous city. Large bank offices and major hotels, among the more historic buildings. Wide boulevards, parks and fountains. The city is in a wide valley with mountains on either side. On the outskirts there are large petrochemical plants. Traffic fumes and filth from the petrochemical industry, sadly made the atmosphere rather polluted.

We looked at the old and new State buildings, both impressive, but spent most of our time in the Latter-Day Saints complex. Beautifully landscaped with flower beds and fountains. There is a very large skyscraper office building, the temple, the Lion House and the Beehive House. 

The Beehive House served as Brigham Young’s residence, office and reception area for official visitors. Young was the second President of the Mormon Church (The modern name being the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or LDS). The original Mormon founder was Jospeh Smith. The sect began in New York in the 1820’s. Brigham Young led European Mormon settlers to this part of Utah to escape religious persecution starting in the late 1840’s. They set out to occupy every piece of their new land. As it was Native Indian land this led to many skirmishes.

For almost 50 years after the US acquired Utah Territory from the Mexicans, requests for statehood were rejected, due to the Mormon practice of polygamy. In 1890 the then Mormon leader, William Woodruff, had a divine revelation and the church officially discontinued the practice. Despite TV programmes etc regarding Mormons still practicing polygamy, the Church does not approve and any one found to be practicing polygamy would be immediately excommunicated. Some other off-shoot sects may have continued to practice. It is however, illegal in the US.

The Lion House was built by Brigham Young for his wives and children. Called the Lion House because of the stone, carved lion above the portico. Young was a practicing polygamist.

After leaving the centre of town, we parked in a quiet side street for lunch and then proceeded north out of the city. Once off the busy highway out of town, we turned on to the 39 which took us  to Woodruff. This was a wonderful drive. Narrow and through canyons to start but climbing all the time. Very different scenery as we ascended. Woods with many camping sites, which we passed as we thought it was too early to camp, followed by wide open vistas the higher we climbed. No altitude marker, so not sure how high we were but we passed over Mt McKinnon, which Google tells us is 2768 m.

Typically if you pass camping by, you can bet there will be none when it is getting late and you want to stop. As we continued north the countryside was dry and inhospitable with few shade trees. We passed a large wetland area, a nature reserve with much birdlife, but no sign of camping. Arriving in the small township of Cokeville we looked for an RV park. We had noticed two motels as we drove through, but no RV park. Turning around we entered the first motel, only to find it had closed down. Crossing the road to the other, we were advised it was $65 a night. I said it was a bit expensive, and the lady owner said they had an RV park at the back where we could stay for $26. Deal done. We are on a nice gassy spot and have the bathroom to ourselves. What more do you need!

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  1. Justin Mattioli

    I just saw your vehicle driving North of Red Lodge today and was intrigued by your banner and found this site. Hope you enjoy Montana!

    – @HookedOnMontana on Twitter

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