June 1st --Salt Lake City, the Great Salt Lake and the salt desert--

First thing I had to do was to buster the strange noise of my Jeep. I checked out the motel and started to check inside the hood. Everything looked OK, so I started the engine. The noise didn't come. This means that it doesn't hiss when the engine is cool. Judging from the type of noise and this symptom, I guessed that air or gas was leaking from rubber connection somewhere. But I didn't have any idea of where it came, so I decided to go to a Chrysler-Jeep dealer.

On the way I dropped by the State Capitol and a visitor center. A woman in the center showed me many attractions in Salt Lake City, but I didn't feel like going now. I just took one picture of the Capitol and went back to my way. As I had checked the place on an Yellow Pages, I could find the dealer easily. I drove into a garage and explained what was going on. A guy told me to leave the car until tomorrow. So I explained my situation and asked for a brief diagnosis. Fortunately, he was not a bureaucratic kind of man. One mechanic came to my Jeep and started to inspect it. First he bent a tube for transmission coolant because it had touched a rotating part of the engine. But it didn't kill the noise. Then he started to touch all the rubber connection. Soon, he hit the one. He mended the rubber connection and the hissing noise was gone! Fortunately, it was just a minor problem. I asked how much it was but the mechanic said it's OK.

What a good feeling to drive a car with a normal sound! I went back to the downtown and parked near the Temple Square. This was the only place I wanted to see in Salt Lake City. When I entered the square, one sister talked to me and told me that there was a free tour with a Japanese guide. I took the tour. The guide was a sister who came from Japan as a volunteer. First, I only had one guide but another sister joined later. What a tour! Two guides for one tourist. Of course they are doing so because they want me to know more and more about the Mormon. Thanks to these sisters, I knew many historical stories - the first pioneers settled here were about 150 people, it took forty years to built the Salt Lake Temple, they miraculously had seagulls bustering crickets and could harvest crops, that's why the state bird is seagull, and so and so.

Needless to say, I couldn't go through without talking about religion and Mormon. We argued about God, Heaven, Family, etc. etc. I really enjoyed talking and they gave me many good ideas to build up my philosophy of life. I think I'd better summarize my thought here. This is my point up to now. Seeing these great buildings and this city, I can't help admiring the power of religion. But I myself don't feel like believing in religion. One reason is the existence of God. I can never believe in God. Of course I sometimes feel some uncontrollable power directing me to a certain path, which could be called fate, or "Flow" in my word. But I should be aware that even the "Flow" is just a product of human thought. Everything occurs at a certain probability. And it is a tendency of human brain to relate random events together to build into an organized pattern. So the "Flow" is just like constellations organized from random position of stars. Based on this idea, God, in a sense of the creator, is also one image with which people can easily explain and understand natural events. I don't deny the concept of God, because it is convenient to make everyone understood with it. But I think I had better be aware that God is just an image.

The other thing I can't accept is the existence of heaven, metempsychosis, samsara, a circulation of soul or whatever. When a person dies, he or she will never think nor feel nor see anything. This is the reality. But since this reality is too merciless to accept, people created another image to avoid thinking of it. This is the heaven. I again don't deny this concept because this helps many people and remove many pains of people. Yet, I think I'd better be aware that this is also one way to live without anxiety.

I don't deny prayer or meditation. This is a real thing. With these action, human body becomes mentally stable and can use his power efficiently. Anyway, in my opinion, religion is just one method to live easily, happily, without anxiety. So if one is capable to accept reality as it is and knows how to live happily with this reality, he or she doesn't need a religion. This is my point.

It's time to move on to the next thing. As I stayed in the Temple Square for a long time, I had to hurry up. The next place was the Great Salt Lake. Since I was on the way to Seattle, I wanted to go north. I took the I-15 and went to a Willard Bay State Park, just one hour drive from Salt Lake City. I parked my Jeep and walked to the lake side. Although I couldn't say that the water was clear, I tasted it anyway. NOT SALTY! I tasted again, but it didn't taste salt water. As I had expected a taste like sea water, I was so much disappointed. I took some pictures and left the park. At the entrance gate, I asked a guy, "Is this the Great Salt Lake?" He answered, "NO. It's fresh water." I couldn't understand what he was saying. If you see the map, Willard Bay is surely a part of Great Salt Lake, but water in this bay is fresh. He suggested me to go to the southern part of the lake.

It was already 15:00. I was behind the schedule. In addition, I had already driven about 40 miles to the north. But I stopped to figure out if I could go south. I supposed to take the I-84 west which goes north to the lake. If I go south, I had to take the I-80. Looking on the map, I found a highway connecting the I-80 and the I-84 in Nevada. So I decided to go south to taste the Great Salt Lake. On the way down to the I-80, I had a heavy jam. It was about 17:00 when I reached the I-80.

The state capitol of Utah

Two sisters guided me in the Temple Square

The Salt Lake Temple

The Willard Bay had fresh water

Southern part of the Great Salt Lake

Huge desert of salt

Driving on the I-80 west for some time, I got to a lake side. This time I smelled saltwater. Although it was convincing enough, I dared to taste it. Again the water was not clear but it tasted salty. Exactly, it is the Great Salt Lake! Contented with the salt water, I drove west along the I-80. At first I saw a large salt pan on the both sides of the highway. I also found a refining factory with large piles of salt. But after a while, I saw a huge desert of salt. It was a great choice to take the I-80. I could see a huge white desert called the Newfoundland Evaporation Basin. It is a part of the Great Salt Lake Desert. Now I understand why I tasted fresh water in the Willard Bay. It was the inlet of the lake. And the outlet is this basin. So the concentration of salt has some gradient at which the diffusion by the concentration and the drift of the water flow balance. It is quite natural to have almost zero concentration at inlet and 100 % at outlet. Along the I-80, there was a rest area on the salt desert. I parked there and sampled some amount of salt. It was crystallized and very beautiful.

When I crossed the state line of Nevada, the road became tough. It climbed up and up. I worried about my Jeep but it did a great job. I switched to the US-93 north at Wells. It was getting dark and I was so tired. After a long drive, I got to Twin Falls in Idaho at 23:00. I can call it a full day.

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