When I lived in southern California, at any given moment I could jump in a car and get to the beach in about 40 minutes. Here in Utah, if you want sand and salt water there are two options: 1) drive 10 hours to California, or 2) drive ten minutes to the Great Salt Lake. It’s a hard choice, because if you want to compare the two locations, just replace “California beach” with “chocolate cake” and “Great Salt Lake” with “dog vomit.” One is fantastic, but it takes a lot of work to get there. The other is pretty much worthless, but at least it’s closer, right?
But really, the Great Salt Lake does have its charms. For one thing, you can float in it. The salt is so concentrated it makes you very buoyant, as if little hands are lifting you up from underneath. The only other body of water with this much salt is the Dead Sea and that’s even farther away than California, or so I've been told. This is good news if you enjoy floating, and bad news if you enjoy drowning.
Floating is where the fun ends, however. The only other thing the lake has is brine shrimp, flies, stink, and ratbirds (seagulls). The sand is so covered with flies, they make a thick black carpet all along the shore. There is one exception. Seven miles into the lake is a place called Antelope Island which, at certain times of the year, is completely bug free. It’s home to 700 buffalo and various other animals, like (you guessed it) antelope. I’ve always had it in my head that I was going to visit this island but never actually did it.
Well I had Monday off work. Don’t ask me why they think Columbus Day is worthy of celebration. What did Columbus ever do for anyone? I'm not complaining, mind you. Crazy Spaniard or no crazy Spaniard, it's a day off! None of my friends had it off, so hanging out was out of the question. I was left with three options: 1) stay home, 2) pick my nose, or 3) go to Antelope Island.
Home was boring, nose was empty, number 3 it was. I put on my hiking boots, jumped in Abob (my car), and headed off. It was a sunny day and the Salt Lake shimmered as I drove along the causeway listening to Paul Van Dyk. There’s something about good weather, blue water and Trance that is very soothing. Not at all like bad weather, brown water and light jazz. That just sucks.
Once on the island, I pulled into the Visitor’s Center and looked around. There was this creepy old man who kept staring at me. I avoided his eyes, bought a postcard and walked out to take some pictures. When I came back in, he was still staring at me, standing hunched over, with no expression on his pruney face. As I walked past him, I smiled friendly-like. His face never changed. Stupid old man.
I decided to look for buffalo. They’re not hard to find. Really, they’re no-good, lazy creatures. It’s no surprise they were almost wiped out a century or so ago. Like cattle, they enjoy sitting around on their huge, hairy gluts. Most just lay there and stared at me, kind of like that old man. They must be distant cousins.
The only thing better than staring at bison is eating bison. That’s what I did next. A nice Hispanic woman cooked me up a buffalo burger at a small café on a hill. It was good, tasting mostly like cow. All the “exotic” meat I’ve ever had seems to taste like cow. Warthog, bison, emu and ostrich all taste like cow. All the other birds taste pretty much like chicken. Oh, except dove. Dove is the most succulent meat there is. I suspect Noah promptly ate his dove when it came back with that olive branch. That’s what I would have done.
This long-winded travelogue doesn’t have an eventful ending. I drove around some more, went in the water, did some hiking and went home. Nothing life changing, but a good day nonetheless. I decided that I like this little island in the middle of the fly-ridden cesspool they call the Great Salt Lake. Just goes to show that every bad thing always has some good in it. The Salt Lake has Antelope Island. Country music has a few hot vocalists. Hitler has that funny accent. And Celine Dion can’t live forever. Yup, some good in everything.