August 24th and 25th, 2014
I drive down the canyon from Great Basin National Park toward the dry valley and small town of Baker below:
The desert is never far.
On the way I see this ancient wreck in a field beside the road:
The driver doesn’t look like he’s fit to be behind the wheel of a car. Someone has written “1920 Dodge” on the side of the car. I turn around to look at my own 2011 Dodge, some distance back:
I have a decision to make. I really don’t know which way I’m going when I get down to the highway, either left to go into central Utah, or right, to southern Utah and the string of national parks that await me there. This type of dilemma will arrive more than once.
I decide that I want to see central Utah too, so I turn left and soon cross the stateline…
…where these familiar flowers greet me and the clumps of desert grass are much thicker and more widespread than in Nevada.
We continue to go up over small mountain ranges and then through low valleys, but a new feature soon appears. This is Sevier Lake, a dry or not so dry lake (you decide, based on what you see here):
Sevier Lake, into which flows the Sevier River…
…or what’s left of it after so much of its water has been taken for irrigation.
In the town of Delta the Sevier River welcomes me with those familiar yellow flowers:
The Sevier is to become a friend that I will meet again and again.
From here I head north and east through Millard, Juab and Sanpete counties, through irrigated farmlands and neat little towns like Nephi, Fountain Green, Moroni and Ephraim. Moroni, if you don’t know, is the name of the angel who appeared to young Joseph Smith and instructed him several times. Regardless of what anyone may think of the Mormon Church, I’m struck by Mormon efficiency and ingenuity in making this desert bloom. After the dry valleys of Nevada, the town and entire valley of Nephi is particularly impressive with its green fields. Then again, Utah seems to have water that Nevada simply does not have.
Driving down the Sanpete Valley we see the profile of the Manti Mormon temple from some distance–somewhat incongruous in this terrain, yet entirely expected. Once in town I take this close up:
Manti, named after a city mentioned in the Book of Mormon, is a very pleasant town…
…and a historic one in the framework of the Mormon migration and settlement of Utah. It was the first settlement founded outside the northern Wasatch strip (Ogden, Salt Lake, Provo) and one of the first communities to have a temple…
This statue is of the Indian chief Wakara and some Mormon immigrants. Wakara is said to have invited the Mormons to settle here to teach his people the ways of farming:
I wonder if Wakara knew what he was letting himself in for.
I take several pictures of the temple at different times of the day:
That first afternoon, on arrival…
…the following morning, the north profile…
…and the south profile:
The temple grounds are a good place from which to take pictures of the town and its surroundings:
…south and west:
Notice the shadow of the temple in the foreground of the righthand picture.
I take a long bike ride around the town this morning, taking pictures of the irrigated fields west of town; everywhere, everything is green:
I take pictures of many of the houses, too. Manti appears to be one of those idyllic American towns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries:
New or old, well kept or not, they reflect a period, and an image. Of course, there are many houses of more modest standing too and also, as all over the US, a number of mobile homes.
Other noticeable buildings in town…
This was once a Presbyterian church, but is now home to the American Legion:
The local Mormon church, with its characteristic low roof and short steeple:
Not a very good angle, but it was the best I could do. This is taken on Monday morning. At 4 o’clock on Sunday afternoon this parking lot was full to overflowing.
Later this morning I go for a drive around the valley and take pictures of the countryside…
…and of the town from an overlook:
Manti is well known for its annual Mormon Miracle Pageant which takes place every year in the early summer. You can learn more about it here.
And you can learn more about the Manti temple here.