Saturday, August 30, 2008

When in Salt Lake....get in the salty lake.

Saturday morning dawn over Jeff's fence. We make plans.

We'll head north.

And we'll go visit....

An island in the middle of the Great Salt Sea.

It was a spur of the moment decision. We packed PB&J, some chips, oranges, a change of clothes.

Twenty minutes later on the road I remembered I had forgotten my swim suit.

Who cares? I still have my running bra on under my tee shirt; I'll go for my first swim in the Great Salt Lake in my yoga pants and a running bra.
It will work.
And it did.
A nice lady from Georgia offered to take our picture.
Everyone in the lake seemed united in the joy of experiencing the lake.

And we floated in the water just like they said we would.
19% salinity, baby!
(Some parts of the lake have 25% salinity. I want to try those waters too!)

Bobbing like corks in the deep.

Serious work at all, I can raise my arms and legs and I am still floating.

I can roll over on my stomach and lift my feet, and still hover just inches into the warm salty water surrounded by pastel colors.

Bernie is taking pictures, floating on his back in the water, one arm lifted with the camera.

I notice something: We both can't stop smiling.

We float together, touching feet.

It is SO good to see Bernie happy. It feels so good to feel connected in this new experience.

Tiny flies rest all over the surface of the lake; we later learn that they are called brine flies. They float on the water, alive for just a few days.

When they die, the brine shrimp eat them.
The bottom of the lake has filled with a black substance with the smooth texture of cold cream.
There is no outlet to the lake; centuries of sediment has covered the ground below.
Bernie suggests reaching down and getting a handful and using the mud to smear our bodies.
This is what he has seen European visitors do when visiting the world's other salt lake, the Dead Sea of Israel. They cover themselves in the black mud, then lounge on the shore until the mud has dried, then dip in the water again to wash themselves clean.
He swears it will be good for our skin.
I lift a handful of smells...but moments later the scent is gone.
I smear; dry; rinse.
My skin does feel smoother.
I guess this could be considered my very first mud bath.

We float in water the milky color of the sky above. Where does the water stop and the sky begin?

Clouds wisp in.

Feathers floating above in the sky.

Bernie is smiling like I have not seen him smile in a very long time.

It's good to have him back. His years of job related tension has melted away in the briny lake.

We are constantly feeling a soft tickle, as if champagne bubbles are running up our arms and legs.
It is the tiny brine shrimp, the little fluttering shrimps of the great salt lake ecosystem. They are everywhere in the water. Children around us squeal as they catch them. I find myself trying to catch them too.
Parents coach their reluctant teens to get into the water, noting that to have a similar floating experience would require a trip to Israel. The teens still decline the experience, scowling at their bobbing parents.
Younger children are coached to lay back in the water; they are fearful of drowning, of getting water in their eyes; at last they relent and trust-their high pitched voices gleefully calling out invitations to watch them float.

After the swim we hike back across the dried lake shore; the water level is down sixteen feet. The muted pastel colors match the water and the sky. The lake scent is not totally pleasant; a bit of a pond scent and fish and bird smells mix in the warm breezy air.
As we walk our skin begins to dry and show a dusting of salt; salt as fine as my childhood memory's popcorn salt. It itches slightly, and burns where my skin has been reddened by the sun.

Bernie points out that experiences are not always perfect: the sand is hot on the feet, the scent is not totally unpalatable, but not romantic floral or seashore fresh either.

It too is part of the experience.
The long walk through the soft grey sand is hot upon our feet. Bernie coaches me to walk in his foot prints; his steps compress the sand making it easier for me to climb from the lake bed and up the hillside to the showers.

The showers feel incredibly good.

Around the showers bloomed this flower.

And this flower as well, the brightest color in the area.
The second post I ever did was about Jeff's first camping trip to this Island.
Almost two and a half years ago that was.
A seven mile causeway connects the island to the main land.
As we drive back to the main land, we promise each other that swimming in the Salt Lake will be our Labor Day weekend tradition from now on.
It is fun to begin a new tradition!
Back home, Jeff has grilled up some mighty fine grub.

We dined in the patio, with storm clouds dark over head, and lightening flashing in the distance.
It is windy and warm, and we talk and enjoy being together for hours.
What a perfect ending to a perfect day.


Laura said...

Very nice, momma. Very nice. the shot of the yellow flower caught my breath.
Brings back many a memory/

Anonymous said...

Don't you just love starting new traditions? In a way, I always feel like September is a new start - just like New Years - and for you two, is REALLY is. Glad you're enjoying the Labor Day weekend.
I'd love to have the experience of swimming in a salt lake - looks like you had a blast!
Lori T

Lovella said...

Jill, your story telling of the day had me smelling the scents and feeling the floating. .
Oh and Jeff's dinner looks wonderful . .
May you have many more Labor Day soaks in the salty sea. .
Blessings to you this labor day weekend as you both are embarking on new jobs. .. .sort of fitting to beging them this time of year.

Janitha said...

Dinner looks delicious! Can I have some? Maybe the Swedish chef has to come over and throw something around "dodobodok├Âttbulle" and get the recipe...

Anonymous said...

Seeing you two floating in the Great Salt Lake brings back memories when I was in the 9th grade and took my first swim in the lake. My family was visiting relatives in SLC and we all went for a swim. I remember making a chain with 8 cousins all one behind the other and paddling around with our hands under the water so we wouldn't splash. We were told not to get the salt water in our eyes. It was such fun and so different than ocean swimming.
I am so glad you both look so happy and relaxed....just what you both needed. Next time we are up there, I will have to go for a swim and refresh my memory of long ago happy
time. Maybe I can get my cousin Joyce who is 85 now to go with me. She is my last remaining cousin in SLC. Keep the good times rolling! Love you both, Mom D.

Sara said...

Your blog has a fresh new look, I like it.

It is very good to see you smiling and stress free!

This is the very first time I have ever heard that the Salt Lake is so similar to the Dead Sea. What fun to float like that.

The blues and white and reflecting surface of the water make some gorgeous photos.

Becky said...

I smiled as your toes met between the blues of sea and sky. Great shots, and I could almost feel myself bobbing! Looks like you know how to enjoy the moment ~ Kudos!!

Vicki said...

You have such a way with words (and photos). I was right there with you... floating and de-stressing... and salivating at that yummy dinner.

I especially like that photo of you from behind, floating in the water looking off in the distance. That looks so peaceful.

Our next big vacation (in a year or two!) may have to include a layover in SLC.

Kathy said...

Ah - God bless you guys. It sounds like you're off to a great start in your new neighborhood. May that connectedness and joy continue.

Ladygrande (Texas Marie) said...

Oh, my!!