Sunday, October 1, 2023

A Third Day with Mom: September 22, 2023

My first day with mom is here and my second day with mom is here

On my third day with mom, September 22, 2023, I picked her up at her assisted-living facility in Taylorsville at 10:00 a.m. We headed north on the I-215 then Hwy 201 west through Magna. I remarked to mom that I'd never been on this road before. We passed a huge smoke-stack, which mom pointed out, and eventually merged on to I-80 at the Great Salt Lake and then pretty quickly took Hwy 36 north through Stansbury Park and stopped at Maverik in Erda for gas, water and some spicy dill pickle almonds and wasabe & soy almonds. To the west we noticed the Desert Peak Utah Temple with a very distinctive Angel Moroni-less and copper steeple mount. We continued north through Tooele and I was looking for a road to the west which would take us over the hills and into the west desert (a route out I'd taken on my last trip). We made it through Tooele and turned into the Tooele Army Depot, which I thought might be the route. No, it was a guarded gate. We did a u-turn to get out and back onto Hwy 36. Eventually we saw Rush Valley to the west and took Hwy 199 west, south of Rush Valley, through Clover. I wasn't sure if this was the route I'd taken before, but it looked promising. We got near a lower saddle in the range and stopped for a mother mule deer and her two large fawns. Mom was thrilled to see them and we watched them for several minutes. They hid behind trees, then merged into the open and then into more trees. It was a wonderful discovery. We eventually reached the saddle and went over the west side of the saddle down through Terra (a town by name only on the map) and eventually the trees died out and turned into desert. I recognized this as the same road I'd taken previously. We eventually reached an LDS chapel out in the middle of nowhere, then spotted the entrance to the Dugway Proving Ground, a top-secret military base where scientists work on deadly chemical and biological weapons. We figured that the chapel must be for members on the base. There we took a dirt road south. I'd seen wild horses there on my last trip, but none this day. We continued south and eventually saw a white wild horse quite a distance to the east. 
I stopped and fiddled with my camera and finally got a poor photo with my 300 mm lense. 
We continued on and saw quite a few wild horses near the base of a mountain. We could only tell they were horses by taking a photo with my lens and then enlarging it on the camera. We saw an SUV in front of us stopped by the side of the road. We slowed down and saw a group of pronghorns in a field to the west. I was fiddling with my camera and only got one decent photo before it jammed. 
Another SUV came behind us and the pronghorns scattered. They stopped and apologized for scaring the pronghorns and continued on. We started again and the SUV that had stopped to apologize was now parked by the side of the road. We stopped about 75 yards behind them and eventually saw a wild horse. It was walking right towards us. I got out of the car with my camera and mom had a good view through her door window. The horse came right up to the front of my car, around it, right past me (I could see the people in the SUV in front of us, aghast at our great view), and continued on down the dirt road. 

Look at the people in the SUV in front of us staring at us and the wild horse!

This was a thrilling experience. I could almost have reached out and touched the horse. Mom was ecstatic. She rode show horses as a young girl and teenager and got silver goblets as prizes that have been handed-down treasures for her children and grandchildren. She loves horses. We continued on, leaving the SUV behind. I think they got back in their SUV and back-tracked to get a better look at the horse that had passed us. I saw a pronghorn cross the road a distance in front of us and then a group of pronghorn in sunflowers to the side of the road. I slowed the car down and came to a stop near a dirt road. Most of the pronghorns distanced themselves from the road, but one walked up the dirt road and stopped at a little puddle in the road and took several drinks. Mom's car window was open and she called to the little pronghorn several times. It stared at her and did not shy away. This was as remarkable, or more, than the wild horse that had just walked past us. I got some photos of the pronghorns further out and noticed the SUV we'd passed come up and stop about 50 yards behind us. They could see some of the pronghorns that had scattered when we stopped. 

We drove on and could see wild horse scattered around and at least two vehicles stopped in different places looking at them. We stopped several times along the road to look at various groups of horses. Some of them were stunningly beautiful. 

We spotted a single wild horse a distance away that had just passed a white truck and was walking down the dirt road. We decided to go up to it. It kept walking and as we approached walked off the road and into a field. It had a beautiful black and gray mane and a coat of chestnut and grayish white splotched with brown and blackish legs. 

I'd considered taking mom to Fish Spring NWR, about 40 miles further down the dirt road. But she mentioned she was getting hungry. So I suggested we go a little to Simpson Springs, and then head back to civilization. Simpson Springs was a station on the Pony Express Trail, currently has a campground, and still house a waterhole for use by the wild horses, which we drove to. My first time there I saw dozens of horses, but none this day. We traced our route back to where we'd seen the horses and I took photos of a few more. 

A beautiful view of distant mountains and clouds. 
On the way back we took the Pony Express Road (dirt) over Lookout Pass and hooked back into Hwy 36 near Faust and traveled north back through Tooele and Erda. In Stansbury Park we stopped at Dominos Pizza, near Pole Canyon, and ordered a large veggie pizza with Italian sausage on it. While it was cooking we visited Soelberg's Market and I bought some tortilla chips, seven layer dip and a cheese ball with green onion. I was happy to see that mom used the chips to dip into the seven layer dip particularly, and then had two big slices of the pizza when it was ready. 

We continued our drive back to Taylorsville on the I-215. I took the exit at 4700 South to check out the huge building going on next to the freeway that I've seen the last few times in Utah. It turns out it is the Taylorsville Utah Temple, just one exit away from mom's freeway exit of 6200 South. I'd wondered if it was a temple, but it did not have the traditional Angel Moroni spire. Mom was surprised and pleased. 

I spent the night in Lehi and then headed home. During my drive I got a call from mom thanking me for taking her on outings for the two days. She acknowledged that she and I share a love of animals and that it allowed her to get to know me again. I was happy to believe that she did have a good time. I certainly did. These three days in the last few months have made me feel much closer to mom.