Thursday, 5 January 2012

Off to Denver

In early October of 1986 a clergy conference was scheduled at Burlingame, California which is just south of San Francisco. It had been a busy summer and I needed a break so I wrote to the MCC Pastor in Denver asking if there was a place where I could stay for a few days.

I had it in mind to drive along I-80 from San Francisco to Denver but my friend, Geoff (with whom I stayed while in San Francisco), suggested that I leave I-80 at Sacramento and take US 50 through Lake Tahoe and Carson City. I traveled along that route all the way to where it intersected with I-70 in Utah and then by freeway the rest of the way.

                    US Route 50 ('The Lincoln Highway')  in California and east of Sacramento

US 50 rises up the Sierra Nevada mountains to a pass from which I could see for miles to where Lake Tahoe lay at the eastern foot of the mountain range. The view is spectacular! The highway took me along the southern and eastern shores of the lake and then over some more high ground and down to Carson City. There I picked up a hitchhiker who was trying to reach his family home in southern Utah. He was a very pleasant travel companion and, as we did not reach the point in Utah where his route diverged from mine until the following morning, he shared the motel room with me in Ely.

The view from the top of the pass - Lake Tahoe is in the middle distance.

Lake Tahoe with the Sierra Nevada Range in the background'

To some eyes the drive along US 50 across Nevada would be boring but I found it to be starkly beautiful. There were low and eroded 'mountain ranges' to cross with deserts in between - and much of the route was very colorful. It was a little unnerving to see - suddenly - a sign reading "Military Ammunition Range - Do Not Park Nor Leave Your Vehicle"! However, we were not shot at.

US 50 is the first interstate route to be built (it is known as the Lincoln Highway as well). The Interstates are freeways - US 50 (The Lincoln Highway) most definitely is NOT!
                                                          Some Western humor!

In some of those old mountain ranges were small mining towns looking so bleak and inhospitable. Nice country to drive across but I have no desire to ever live there.

                                                    The old mining town of Austin

It was through terrain like this where we saw signs warning that we were crossing 'Military Ammunition Ranges'. A tad unsettling!

                       The town of Ely where the hitchhiker and I booked into a motel for the night.

A few miles past Ely Route 50 crosses into Utah and, about 20 miles further, crosses an interstate and that is where the hitchhiker left me to continue southwest to his family home.

I want to thank Larry and Bill who drove this route recently and gave me permission to display some of their photos. To view more photos of Larry and Bill's trip along US 50 (The Lincoln Highway), put the following into your browser -

The Interstate through much of Utah as well as Colorado was easy to drive with little traffic - except near larger settlements like Grand Junction. It was growing dark when I passed Vail and the other ski resorts so I was unable to get a good look at them. Of course, they are located near the highest points in the Colorado Rockies from where there is a fairly steep decline to Denver.

I found my hosts' home fairly easily and spent a few days there. Downtown Denver is/was spread along one street along which there is a free commuter train. Very pleasant.

One morning Charlie Earhart - the MCC Pastor - called to invite me on an outing with him and one of the Board members of his church. A new Mormon 'Temple' had been erected in the suburb of Boulder and, as it was not yet 'commissioned', 'Gentiles' (non-Mormons) were welcome to go on guided tours through the edifice. Would I like to tag along? I jumped at the chance!

The building was very modern and esthetically beautiful - but not at all like 'churches' that I am used to seeing. Upon entry we had to shed our outside footwear and don slip on slippers. At each point in the tour young Mormon women and men were stationed as guides. In the 'Inner Sanctum' there was a young man dressed completely in white. He gave me a warm and friendly smile so I wondered if I had met him already in one of the Gay bars in Denver? Perhaps I am being very sacriligious with that thought!

After leaving the building and putting our street shoes back on we exited at another gate than the one by which we had entered. There a group of 'ex-Mormons' had stationed themselves with their books and leaflets. I took a couple with me to read - only I forgot them at the home of my host on the next night!

The day after the tour I left to begin my drive back home. I took Interstate 25 north to Fort Collins and then a secondary highway to Laramie, Wyoming and I-80 back west to Salt Lake City. My hosts there were the Pastor of Salt Lake City MCC and his partner. The Pastor was a Methodist by background while his spouse was a Mormon whose sister worked for the church and was stationed in Germany. Her task was to search graveyard records to record family trees. In the Mormon faith a believer can have any and all ancestors called 'converts' to Mormonism no matter how long they have been deceased.

My hosts lived in a southern suburb of Salt Lake City. My route the next day was north on I-15 to north of Ogden and then northwest on I-84 into Idaho and on to Boise where the MCC Pastor there was to be my host. While on my way through the built up area of Salt Lake City I could see the Mormon Temple over to my right - but I did not get a glimpse of Temple Square.

I had left my host's home in Salt Lake as they were leaving for work so, when I realized that I had forgotten to pick up those 'anti-Mormon' books off of the bedside table, it was too late to return for them. Oh well!!!

Overnight in Boise and then on through Oregon and Washington to I-5 and north to the border and home again.

The Columbia River with Oregon on the right and Washington to the upper left. This photo is placed here through the courtesy of Michael W. in Vancouver.

In order to view and read the description of Larry and Bill's  trip along US 50 (the Lincoln Highway) put the following address into your browser -

1 comment:

  1. I loved your descriptions in this post, but I am appalled, as I always have been, by the fact that Mormons have deceased people baptized.

    Love this setup, btw.