August 17, 2019 – Bridger, Wyoming to Mountain Home, Idaho and The Golden Spike!

We actually back-tracked five miles this morning to go to a place for breakfast in Mountain View, Wyoming. Crazy Ate Cafe was nice and popular.

Crazy Ate Cafe & Steakhouse

When the waitress asked what we wanted to drink, I said coffee and Andy said decaf. She replied that they don’t have decaf. I murmered that it didn’t matter and Andy told the waitress, “Lie to me”. So, when she served the coffee she said, “one coffee and one decaf” with a smile and walked on. Andy ordered a full omelet breakfast. I am not a big breakfast fan so I just ordered a small cinnamon bun. I am proud to say I didn’t eat the whole thing but ashamed to say I ate most of it. We ordered one to go for tomorrow’s breakfast. Folks, that is a full-sized dinner carry-out food container holding a giant cinnamon bun (wrapped in plastic). You should have seen the large ones!

Cinnamon Bun

I was approaching a truck on the interstate and turned on my turn signal to move to the left lane. Two cars and one motorcycle went by. I knew there had been two motorcycles but didn’t see the second one in my rearview mirror. I turned my head and there he was right alongside. He was pointing to the side of our RV. Then he moved on. I pulled over and stopped at the next exit ramp. It was the fuel fill door, left open from our fuel stop. Thank you, motorcycle man.

We left I-80 and turned northward on I-84. The grassy mountains turned into a rocky gorge as the interstate followed the Weber River down the mountain. It was gorgeous (pun intended). For a while, the river ran in the median of the interstate. We saw a busload of whitewater rafters getting ready to launch and also many already in the river. Andy said we were heading north along the east side of the Great Salt Lake but were not close enough to see it. Also, there was a mountain between us and the lake.

A bit north of Ogden, Utah, I saw one of those brown signs for parks. I caught a glimpse of it just as we passed the exit. It said “Golden Spike National Historic Park. I could not pass that by. The next exit was just a mile or two up the road, so I turned around and came back. Then we noted that the park was twenty-seven miles off the interstate. Andy did not object, so I carried on.

It was twenty-seven curvy miles through farm fields and then barren grassland. We were truly out in the middle of nowhere when we came across an enormous Northrup Gruman facility. It has something to do with rockets.

Promontory Summit is at the end of nowhere, at the north end of the Great Salt Lake. The scenery all around is grassy plains and mountains. The visitor center parking lot was nearly full including a dozen or two hot rods.

The visitor center is a very attractive stone building and this is the view out the back.

We walked out for a closer look. These two locomotives are replicas of the Central Pacific’s “Jupiter” and the Union Pacific’s No. 119. They were built in 1979. No. 119 was running and a sign warned people not to touch it.

Union Pacific No. 119

The “last tie” was between the trains and had a plaque on it. It is not the one used in the ceremony; it was taken back to San Francisco and burned in a fire after the San Francisco earthquake. Of course, the golden spike was not left there to be stolen either. It is in the museum at Stanford University. I was still thrilled to stand on the very spot where the U.S. east and west were connected. It was the beginning of an era.

If you have not read Stephen Ambrose’ “Nothing Like It in the World” order it right now. Here, I’ll make it easy for you. This was one of the best history books I’ve read. Ambrose is as readable as a novel. It gave me a real appreciation for the Herculean effort and tremendous amount of money (and a high cost in human lives) that went into completing the transcontinental railroad.

What American school student has not seen this photo?

The Last Tie – May 10, 1869

We watched the twenty-minute movie and then got back on the road west. We crossed the Snake River three or four times on our way through farm country to Mountain Home, Idaho. We finished our long day of 235 miles at 1839.

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