Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Bonneville Today

Heavy overnight downpours actually made the salt track deeper underwater!

Heavy overnight downpours actually made the salt track deeper underwater!

Well, a couple of overnight thunderstorms with strong winds sure didn’t do the track much good, and with more rain on the way, it doesn’t look good for getting in any runs anytime soon. I like it here though, since the temps have been in the mid-70s and the surrounding area is certainly nice enough on its own. I’m told that it’s normally much hotter this time of year, but I assume that the consistent cloud cover has had its effect.

In the distance is I-80, with the "track" being closer in. It's under about 8 inches of water.

In the distance is I-80, with the “track” being closer in. It’s under about 8 inches of water.

Today was errand day for fly paper, laundry and a minor food shop, but I also explored some back roads in the F-250 before I did anything else. I held the errands off for a day because I’d called the sole local hardware store and found that flypaper was out of stock but expected at the end of the day. I dived off the paved route at a dirt path labeled a “Scenic Byway”. Having virtually no traffic, it was smooth dirt with a few rocks, except for a few washes that crossed it. One was especially deep, and with the recent rain, I got out and made sure the soil was firm before passing through it. I think I went about 7 miles before deciding to turn around. I try to be careful because my “RV travel insurance” (which I think is about to lapse) does not cover problems encountered off of established roads and highways. Get stuck or break down in the boonies, and you’re on your own, pal. Good to know.

The start of the Scenic Byway.

The start of the Scenic Byway.

The trail wound its way beside a range of mountains, with flat plains on the other side.

The trail wound its way beside a range of mountains, with flat plains on the other side.

After checking the track condition, I headed for town and looked at what had been semi-dry dirt along each side of the access road. It was all sopping wet now, and the area generally used for event camping was a guaranteed problem for anything trying to get through it. A fifth-wheel camper that was already parked there when I arrived was doing fine – as long as it didn’t need to be moved.

I think you could walk to it, but I wouldn't try to drive to it!

I think you could walk to it, but I wouldn’t try to drive to it! The towing fee here begins at $200.

I spent quite a while looking for a laundromat in town. Two of them had gone belly-up, and the third was difficult to find because it was part of a gas station/convenience store that had changed brands, so the GPS couldn’t list it. Whatever. Wendover is actually Wendover, Utah and West Wendover, Nevada. A pile of casinos dominates the west, and the pseudo-downtown on the Nevada side is perky compared to the poor cousin on the other side. Still, as far as basic necessities, it’s adequate and no more. While cruising around, I stumbled over an abandoned WWII Army aircraft base, complete with hangers and bunkhouses.

One little group of bunkhouses among many acres of them.

One little group of bunkhouses among many acres of them.

Turns out it was Wendover Army Air Base, hurriedly installed after the war started. It first was used to train bomber pilots (since Wendover’s population was just 100 or so people) and B-17 and B-24 pilots got to practice heavy bombardment on an assortment of targets in preparation for deployment in the European theater. Then in 1944, bombardment training ended and P-47 fighter pilot training began, probably for use in the Pacific. But then everyone was kicked out in just 5 months and the 509th Composite Group was moved in without explanation. Turns out they were assigned to deliver the atomic bomb, and had to evaluate ballistics of the tubby shapes, electrical fusing and detonators, release mechanisms, and flying characteristics of the modified B-29’s to be used. 155 test units were dropped in ten months. Assembly and manufacturing took place at Wendover Field. You pretty much know the rest.

A single bunkhouse.

A single bunkhouse.

The moment the war ended, the place was cleared out and all of the nuclear bomb tooling and some of the buildings were moved to what would become Sandia AFB. Given the vast number of run-down mobile homes in the area, I wondered why the bunkhouses weren’t used toward that end, but realistically, a bunkhouse built in 1942 as part of the war effort might not make the best conversion to residential housing. A few are used as small businesses, and I wonder how that works, but it’s all interesting and just exudes history and a time long past.

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4 thoughts on “Bonneville Today

  1. Interesting how situations change. No racing but historical investigation yields new finds. Never seen this area. Such is life…

    • I’m with you on that, Dave. Going with the flow and letting things pan out the way they must can be a lot less disappointing than insisting that some event must occur or the trip is wasted. I won’t be particularly pleased if the World Finals (Oct 1-4) is rained out too, because there may be considerable mileage and fuel cost involved to return back here then unless I can locate another campsite closer than 120 miles away. More of a challenge than a problem.

  2. Hey Doug

    Can’t wait and see how fast your truck & trailer are on the track when its dry.
    I bet you can kick his butt.

  3. Me too. I’m waxing the Enterprise now to cut surface friction, just in case the track dries out…

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