Even though I’d lived in Utah for over 20 years, I’d never been to the Salt Flats until recently. I don’t think I even knew they existed until 2020 when someone mentioned they visited them during the pandemic.
The Bonneville Salt Flats are located 110 miles west of Salt Lake City and were formed when ancient Lake Bonneville dried up. During the last Ice Age, ancient Lake Bonneville was the size of Lake Michigan. As it dried up over time, minerals were left behind. The built-up minerals compacted over time to form a flat, hard, and salty surface. The Salt Flats now measure about 12 miles longs and 5 miles wide.
When I was making my List of 50 Things, I knew I had to add “Visit the Salt Flats” to my List. You see, when we lived in NYC, I figured we would live there for a while. So, I put off visiting a lot of places because I wanted to save them to experience with visiting friends and family. Unfortunately, we ended up moving away after only three years, so there were a lot of things I never experienced (like the Empire State Building). Often life is like that. You put off experiencing things because you figure you can always do it later. Sometimes, later never comes and you miss out. Based on what I had heard from others, the Salt Flats was one of those things you didn’t want to miss.
Did you know that people travel from all over to see the Salt Flats? In fact, movies like Independence Day, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi were all filmed at the Salt Flats. Since the Salt Flats were in my “backyard,” I knew I wanted to visit them. But when?
As the months passed, I forgot about the idea. Then one day, as I was thinking about our upcoming family Christmas cards, I thought about the Salt Flats. Wouldn’t it be cool to take a family photo there? Since my oldest daughter knows some great photographers, I asked her to set up a shoot at the Salt Flats.
The week before the shoot, the photographer contacted my daughter to tell her the Salt Flats might not work out for our family pictures because of all the recent rainfall. You see, normally, the Salt Flats are dry and you can walk/drive on them. However, if they’re wet, they become muddy and you can’t walk or drive on them or you can get stuck.
This news was quite discouraging because family pictures are stressful enough. If the Salt Flats weren’t going to work out, I’d rather not hire a photographer and just get our pictures taken at Camera Shy.
As the next days passed and it continued to rain, it looked as if the Salt Flats—and our family pictures—would have to wait. This was so frustrating. Four days before our shoot, the rain suddenly stopped, and it looked like we might be able to go out on the Salt Flats after all. After my daughter called the photographer, she confirmed that our pictures were still on, and I was thrilled.
The day of our shoot was stressful and hectic, and I worried about my youngest because he had been sick all week. Why are family pictures so stressful? I thought that when my kids grew up, family photos would be easier and less stressful. Guess what? They aren’t any easier, and they are still stressful. Want to know why? Because you want to capture your family in a semi-perfect state of happiness and cooperation. I’m pretty sure a mother coined the term “picture perfect.” While I think most mothers realize their family isn’t perfect (it’s usually SUPER obvious), it’s fun to pretend one day out of the year. THIS is why family pictures are stressful.
Did you know that the Salt Flats are 2 ½ hours away from Provo? By the time we arrived, the stress had been building. It didn’t help that as we drove along the Salt Flats, we saw cars stuck in the mud. Maybe this wasn’t going to work out after all.
After driving around to find the photographer, we finally met her in a parking lot and made the decision to drive out on the Flats to get the best shot. I have to admit that this made me a little scared. It also didn’t help when my daughter casually mentioned that salt can ruin your car and rust it out if you don’t remove every trace of it. What?? Holding my breath, we followed the photographer’s car onto the Salt Flats. As I saw other cars doing the same, I began to relax.
Stepping out onto the Salt Flats was a surreal experience. It was like being on a different planet. White cracks blanketed the salty ground with mountains rising in the distance. The sun was starting to set and the setting was perfect—picture perfect.
The next 45 minutes went by in a blur and before we knew it, the shoot was over. Soon, we were climbing back into the Camry and driving back over the Flats to the parking lot. You’d think the stress would be over, but noooooo, a new stress suddenly set in—the “I hope the pictures turn out and everyone likes how they look in them” stress. I know you can relate.
After several weeks of waiting, we finally got the link to our picture gallery online. Before I looked at them, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that regardless of how the pictures turned out, visiting the Salt Flats was a really cool experience. AND, I checked it off my List of 50 Things.
As I began to scroll through the first few images, all I could think of was “HOOOOOOOORRRRRRRAAAAAAAYY!” The pictures in the gallery turned out great, and I was so happy and relieved. Hopefully, one of these pics would make the cut for our family Christmas card.
After sharing the gallery with my kids, they all seemed pretty happy about the pictures. So, we went ahead and ordered the cards. They should arrive any day. And just like that, the stress was back—the “I hope the cards all turn out, and I didn’t spell anything wrong” kind of stress. Yes, family pictures are stressful.