I just realized that it has been a month since I posted a blog entry. I am so very negligent. I could give you a million reasons, like the fact that I’ve driven through 21 states (and into another country!) since the events of my last entry. Or that I’ve been sick and drunk on Nyquil (except when driving) for the last week. I could tell you that this particular post has been sitting on my computer in partially-finished draft form for several weeks. But I know that none of those sorry excuses can assuage your anguish over going a whole month without me waxing prosaic on topics I know next to nothing about. So I’ll give you part one of this post now, and I’ll finish it up soon and post the rest.

This time the title is accurate, because ewwwwww. But we’ll come back to that.

Just like there was ancient Lake Lahontan in Nevada, there was ancient Lake Bonneville in Utah. And driving through western Utah, you see evidence of it everywhere. At its maximum, it was a huge lake.

(Image borrowed from USGS website)

My route cut a diagonal from the Nevada border, to just north of Sevier Lake, past Utah Lake, and then north to Salt Lake City. Sevier Lake is now dry, as you can see from this photo of its salt flat. It is filled by the Sevier River, but most of the water is diverted for agriculture around the town of Delta. What little water does enter the lakebed quickly evaporates.

All three of the current lakes (Sevier Lake, Utah Lake, and Great Salt Lake) are remnants of Lake Bonneville, and everywhere along that route, you see evidence of its former glory.

Based on where I was when I took this shot (halfway between Delta and Utah Lake), I believe we’re seeing wave cut platforms from the Provo and Bonneville levels of Lake Bonneville. You see, the various water levels are so well demarcated in so many places, they’ve given names to all the water levels. You can see a great animated map of the levels here.

Oh, and did you notice the sunflowers along the road? They’re everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. I think every road in Utah, other than city streets, has sunflowers along the road. It’s awesome.

So once I got to Salt Lake City, I really wanted to see the Great Salt Lake, and maybe wade in it. You know, just because. And I found a totally unexpected gem of a park in the middle of the lake: Antelope Island State Park.

Antelope Island is one of 11 islands in the Great Salt Lake. To get to the park, you drive across a causeway from the town of Syracuse.

Incidentally, while driving through Syracuse on my way to the park, somebody’s horses were running around on the street. I hope they got them under control and nobody got hurt.

So, remember the whole Basin & Range thing I talked about before? Well, Antelope Island is one of the ranges. It just so happens that its particular basin has a bunch of water in it, so it’s an island.

An island, by the way, that is covered with sunflowers. Sunflowers make me happy in a way no other flower does. It totally made my week to see so many of them in Utah.

So, if I had to pick one word to describe the lake itself, it would be “gross”. I’ll show you why. You see these brown masses on the beach at Badger Bay?

This is what they look like up close.

Those are dead brine fly larvae. You see, there isn’t much that can live in the super salty water of the Great Salt Lake. But brine flies do. And the wind blows them into these great stinky piles on the beaches.

There are still plenty of them in the water, though.

And on the beach. So, yeah, I took my sandal off, stuck my toes in, took a picture, and high tailed it out of there.

Oh look, more sunflowers. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

So, you’re thinking, being right in the middle of the Great Salt Lake, there must be more Lake Bonneville wave cut platforms visible there. And you’re right.

You can see every named level of Lake Bonneville on the island.

You can see sunflowers, too.

Coming up in part two: big animals, old rocks, and yellow flowers.

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