By Jim Urquhart
As soon as I got out of my car and stepped onto the salt I could feel the skin on the end of my nose begin to sizzle. Within five minutes I cracked open my first water bottle and was relatively uncomfortable. By the time 15 minutes had past I was already questioning why in the hell did I choose to go on this three day assignment.
When the bright sun began blinding me after it was reflected off the salt under my sunglasses into my eyes and I could feel it begin to burn under my chin I became thankful I didn’t pay homage to the Scottish half of my ancestry and wear a kilt. In fact, within an hour of arriving I met a young couple that decided to tell me while waiting in a line the day before I arrived they had their nether regions sunburned because they didn’t have on the right underwear under their shorts to protect them from the reflected sun.
I had heard of this happening so I planned ahead. I did not pack shorts… or a skirt.
So, that first hour pretty much set the stage for the next three days of work covering SpeedWeek on the Bonneville Salt Flats. I had heard about the event for years but had never ventured out the 120 miles into the Utah desert from my home to cover it. I guess I always knew better that it was best to stay away from the Salt Flats in 120 degree heat in the middle of August.
But there is a draw to coming out here. Where else can you witness a land so stark and flat that you can actually perceive the curvature of the earth? The flats have taken lives, even before men started to push machines to engineering limits. At one point the Donner Party thought it was going to be the flats that would take there lives, but it was a pass named in their honor that killed them in the Sierra Nevada mountains.