While walking around Elko, Nevada, a gold mining & railroad town located off of Interstate-80, (I was stretching my legs before getting back on the road) I chanced to find this really NEAT shared store site called the Carlin Trend Mining Supplies Services…. This is combined mining store (i.e., mining services/goods) and temporary employment agency for the local mines,
AND Rolling Rock Gallery a pretty impressive Gift shop (I shit you not) but with a definitive science geek flare.
At first I thought that place was just ridiculously eclectic,
but the more I looked at it however the more I realized that there was a trend that veered predominately towards things of a science nature.I talked to the staff member and she told me that the store was owned by the local science teacher who was married to the local geologist and in addition to those jobs they had opened this store in town.
Located just next to I-80, about an hour west of Salt lake City Utah, and maybe 15 minutes east of Wendover, Nevada, I’ve driven by the “Tree of Utah” many times over the years, but this is the first time I ever stopped… and really looked at it I remember the first time I passed it was like a mirage, as you’re driving through a very large desolate desert area (the Great Salt Lake outside of Salt Lake City Utah) … the sort of place that must have terrified the first settlers in their covered wagons…
only for this weird alian-like tree to suddenly pop up on the side of the road…
“On a clear day the Tree is visible to travelers on the highway at a distance of 17 miles. Motorists first see the multicolored spheres, as though they are suspended by seemingly invisible means above the desert. In warm weather the trunk is lost in the convection currents of hot air rising from the blanched desert floor. Only the spheres shimmer mysteriously and silently in the arid atmosphere. On travelling nearer, the trunk becomes visible and the balls are elevated high above the surface, changing hue with the prevailing conditions of light and weather.” — About
I.e., now that I’m blogging about, I just discovered that this was in fact the artist’s intention, and it was based on him having just that sort of mirage like experience the first time he drove across that bit of desert.“The tree’s six spheres are all coated with natural rock and minerals found within the state of Utah, and the pods below symbolize the changing of the seasons, when trees naturally transform themselves.” — Wikipedia
The artist, Karl Momen, built it at his own expense and gifted it to the state. Only when you try to approach it you’re NOT allowed to walk right up to the statue (there’s a fence around it — see above) so from that distance you can only JUST make out the plaque on its side, but can’t really read it… so the artist’s comment is unreadable without powerful binoculars — and the state’s made no attempt to replicate it where you can read it (which kind of tells me something about the state’s relationship to the work).
What’s really interesting is if you actually stop your car (which technically you’re NOT supposed to do (I passed a sign that said do not stop for any reason right as I was approaching it… although it’s clear when you get up close and personal that many people disregard that sign)
is the relationship that locals and travelers have developed with the work. Every one of the “fallen fruit” type things that surround the work are heavily graffitied /tagged
And individuals have even found ways to put their mark on the fencing that surrounds the work, which are much harder to see from even a few steps away
After I got back into my car and started to drive, about five minutes more west of the tree I came across this off to the side of the road and stopped…. to give you a sense of its actual size (it was a bit away from me)
The Pink flamingo is the size of pink flamingos that folks tend to put in their front yards… i.e., the green monster is much larger than you think….
P.S., on April 22, 2019 I got this Facebook message from M (not going to put the whole name) “Hi I seen your blog about wendover Nevada,the green snake monster is something my husband and I built … I was so tickled to see someone had blogged something about it,we thought instead of seeing nothing but crosses,grave markers? We wanted to make people laugh,but we named it bonnie the Bonneville salt flats monster lol we haven’t told a lot of people because we were afraid we’d get in trouble, [then she wrote something she asked me to keep secret] thanks again for sharing our fun”
Located in Gothenburg Nebraska is a historic Pony Express Station (well, as it turned out… the walls are original, the roof is new) serving as a museum and gift store. Now granted, it’s not in its original location, historically, it was on the far side of town [they moved it to a park in the middle of town because that was better for business] …. and most of crucial importance, it has no bathroom… But, that said if what you’re looking for is a decent excuse to stretch your legs while road-tripping down I-80, this is it.
When I first arrived the exterior of the place met my expectations for a small museum dedicated to the historically important, if short-lived, Pony express
Most people don’t realize this but while it’s a favored features of Hollywood Westerns, the Pony express only was in service for about 18 months, partially because only the government or insanely rich people could really afford it…
“the cost to send a 1⁄2 ounce (14 g) letter was $5.00 at the beginning, (about $130.00 to today’s standards). By the end period of the Pony Express, the price had dropped to $1.00 per 1⁄2 ounce but even that was considered expensive (equivalent to $27 in 2017) just to mail one letter.”
— from Wikipedia, but also told to me by the docent… and the informational signs they had attached to the walls…
And as I already knew, about 18 month after it began working the first electrical telegraph wires had been set along the same distance, GREATLY reducing the transit time for a message from 10 days by pony express rider
Who had to ride the whole route on horse back…. albeit from station to station, each time switching to fresh horses
to the amount of time it took to send out all the dots and dashes of the message.
That said, on closer inspections, mostly what it is, is a gift shop — with over 50% of the space dedicated to sales, and just enough museum pieces thrown in to justify calling it a museum… that and the woman who works there knows just enough about the pony express to give you a short history of it. To be honest was expecting a bit more than this