Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Great Salt Lake in 3D Part 3 Black Rock

This post is the third in a series of articles exploring Utah's inland sea. Many of the photos can be viewed in 3D by gently crossing the eyes until both images become one. It's EZ to see 3D. 

This time our explorations of Utah's salty inland sea took us to where Interstate 80 meets State Highway 201 - where the Oquirrh Mountains meet the Great Salt Lake. 

Black Rock is no doubt one of the most familiar iconic features anywhere on the Great Salt Lake. Millions of travelers have noticed it from the highway as they passed by. Historically, it has been a place where pretty much every pioneer party stopped to rest. These days, Black Rock doesn't receive many visitors other than local litter bugs and shameless graffiti artists.
It's hard to believe that at one time there was even a popular resort that was frequented by travelers and locals alike. Today, receding waters reveal old rotting pilings, the remnants of the old piers - ghostly shadows of what this place once was.  
Black Rock is usually surrounded by water, but the recent drought has lowered the water level considerably. When Captain Howard Stansbury surveyed this region in 1850, his team took a boat to Black Rock where they constructed a timber triangulation station atop the highly visible landmark.  
The ill fated Donner Party stayed here and carved their names in the wall of nearby Black Rock Cave. If you know where to look, the cave can be seen looking southwest at the base of some cliffs.  
The cave can be viewed more easily from the scenic view exit located between State Highway 201 exchange and exit 99 on Interstate 80. The entrance is mostly obscured by a mound of dirt, part of which came from an incident when the former land proprietors attempted to cover the entrance. Fortunately, a local preservation activist seated himself on the cliffs above the cave and prevented the dozer from covering the entrance entirely. Unfortunately, Black Rock Cave is on private property and inaccessible to the public.

Next time, we travel all the way to the Northern tip of the lake to visit the famous Spiral Jetty. See ya there!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Utah Sun Tunnels Summer Solstice 2014

Summer Solstice happened spectacularly at the remote* Utah Sun Tunnels last weekend.

Artist, Nancy Holdt conceptualized this fascinating piece of land art back in the early seventies while researching ways to model the intensity of the sun in the desert. Her idea "to bring the sky down to earth" became a reality just south of the old ghost town of Lucin, Utah... the outskirts of the middle of nowhere. 

In this vast alkali valley, one can't help but bow to the sovereignty of the powerful sun reigning overhead. There is no natural shade anywhere. The Sun Tunnels are now part of the landscape where the annual solar pageant is manifest as a working model that emphasizes the movement and affectation of the Sun.

Most any other day of the year, the Utah Sun Tunnels are bleak and solitary. The 45 mile dirt road excursion keeps most people away, and from Salt Lake City, it takes more than two hours just to get to where the dirt road begins. But on the Solstices, especially Summer Solstice, groups of humans gather to appreciate this grand promenade of light and shadow.

Aesthetically, the 18' long, 9' diameter concrete tubes present an irresistible playground. I observed that a young boy brought some Hot Wheels cars to play with. I complemented the lad on his forethought. I'm definitely taking Hot Wheels next time I go.

Before long, a couple hundred people had gathered for a short tribute to Sun Tunnels' artist, Nancy Holdt, who died earlier this year. Then everyone moved into position to experience the Solstice Sun going down** in perfect alignment with two of the tunnels. 
Some folks took the high ground.

While everyone was doing the peek at the sun through the tubes dance, I was filming them on video. This is a sped up glimpse of that film. 

The next morning I got up early to shoot 3D pictures of the tubes just before, during and after sunrise. The following pictures are a sampling of those 3D images. 

The gathering for the sunrise was much smaller than the crowd at sunset the night before. Those of us who were there experienced an inspiring sunrise... and as usual, the Sun Tunnels performed their function perfectly. Thanks Nancy!


* 41° 18' 12.76" N  113° 51' 49.83" W - Elev. 4389

** like a big bald head

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Great Salt Lake in 3D Part 2 Stansbury Island

This post is the second in a series of articles exploring Utah's inland sea. Many of the photos can be viewed in 3D by gently crossing the eyes until both images become one. It's EZ to see 3D. 
On Saturday, we trekked to the northern most point of the Stansbury Mountain Range then continued north to Stansbury Island. 
Our first stop at the Stansbury Mountains was this little natural hot spring at the base of the mountain. Hot springs are common in the area and the temperature and salinity vary from pool to pool. Nearby Bonneville Seabase, hosts a variety of colorful tropical fish who thrive in the geothermally heated and salty pools.
A few feet from the hot spring we found this carcass of an unfortunate victim of this unforgiving environment. 
Large stones aligned North and South along the old Lincoln Highway. The largest is more than 5' tall. 
Leaving the Stansbury Mountains, we passed beneath Interstate 80 and headed to Stansbury Island, traveling northward, across the unpaved causeway, passed small salt flats until water is on both sides of the road
This valve allows the briny water to fill an evaporation pond. When the water has all evaporated, the salt will be collected and processed for use at your dinner table. Good eatin'
We found this old corral near the northeast shore of the Island. 
On this occasion, the water had an obvious pink hue that these photos don't do justice to. 
We found these salty birds hanging out on the salt plastered shoreline. 
Standing on the shore of this part of the Great Salt Lake is like being on another planet. No wonder the creators of Gentleman Broncos selected Stansbury Island as a primary location to film several pseudo sci-fi scenes. 

Much of the Great Salt Lake falls inside Tooele County, a region known for its diversity and uniqueness. No one knows for sure where the word, Tooele, comes from. It has been suggested that it is a Native American word that describes where land, air and sky meet... a mystical gateway to other dimensions. 
 The white salt and pink water is quite surreal. The birds seem almost out of place. 

 Looking south from the northwest end of Stansbury Island. 

The view along the causeway that leads from Stansbury Island to Bird Island. There is no access to Badger Island because the road is controlled by USA Magnesium.

Next time we'll explore Black Rock Beach and a nearby cave where the Donner Party camped. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Great Salt Lake in 3D Part 1 The Marina

The Great Salt Lake is one the most unique and mysterious bodies of water on our planet. This post is the first in a series of articles exploring Utah's inland sea. Many of the photos can be viewed in 3D by gently crossing the eyes until both images become one. It's EZ to see 3D. 
Last weekend, the Zenberg Blogue was invited to attend the grand opening of Great Salt Lake Marina's new Visitor Center. FOX 13 Utah's Big Buddah and two representatives from the Deseret News, (a photographer and writer), were the only other media in attendance for the AM event that included a boat ride on the Great Salt Lake. 
Ceremonial cake and chicken salad croissant sandwiches were provided too. 
After enjoying some food, we headed to one of the docks to wait for our ride. 
When the boat arrived we boarded and donned the life jackets that were provided. Mine needed some serious adjusting to make it fit correctly. 
Then we set sail.

I was surprised at the size of the swells and got rather wet from sea spray as we sped across the lake. My clothes quickly dried and became hard and crunchy with salt. 
Sea foam accumulates on the rocks along the levy to depths of four feet.
This light beacon sits at the mouth of the marina to help guide mariners. The 1200' tall Kennecott, (now Rio Tinto), smoke stack is visible in the background.
Billions of cute little sea monkeys play just beneath the surface of the briny marina water.
Next time we head west, all the way to the other side of the Great Salt Lake to the very mysterious Stansbury Island. See ya there!