We went back to Salt Lake City to enjoy the amazing genealogical resources at the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The people are still friendly and helpful, the working areas comfortable, and the collection is growing. Of course the Mormons believe that their Mormon Temple, Salt Lake City ancestors can be baptized into the church even though they are dead, and that is what started their interest in genealogy in the first place. But they have done more for the field than any other organization, and they continue to spend money expanding their study of genealogy.
Last summer Bob had discovered that Brigham Young is his 5th cousin 4 times removed, but he was very good and kept his mouth shut while in Salt Lake City, not wanting to cause a stir.
Our hotel room faced Temple Square, with a good view of the Temple itself illuminated at sundown each evening. Thursday evening is rehearsal night for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, public invited, so we were treated to a couple of hours of lovely choral music with the added advantage of listening to an excellent director work with talented singers.
Salt Lake City is busily preparing for the Winter Olympic Games. Actually, we changed our plans and came to Salt Lake City now in order to beat the Olympic crowds. We looked out our 16th floor window one afternoon into the face of a young man on a scaffold expertly wiring sections of a banner which now Basque hotel and restaurant, Elko covers one entire side of the hotel. Bleachers are being assembled, pins are for sale everywhere, and even the New Year's Eve celebration downtown was a test of the mass transport system.
We found a road which went north of the Great Salt Lake and then headed southwest into Nevada, Along the way we left the hay-and-pasture stock operations of the Utah valley and entered the last world of the real cowboys. They still ride horses at work here, not just for the rodeos, although they use their pickup trucks too, for example to pitch some hay on top of the snow for the horses and cattle. We managed to avoid a couple of cow collisions, and so, fortunately did the driver of the semi behind us. Even so, there were three dead cows next to the road, which made us wonder when the cost of building and keeping fences would be offset by the value of lost stock.
When we got on the freeway for the drive to Elko, we noticed that some of the exits are called "Ranch Road." If you don't know whose ranch, you probably don't belong there. Trick boots used by a cattle rustler
Elko is still cowboy country, with saddle and boot shops, and old-style Nevada brothels. And it's Basque shepherd country, too. We ate lamb chop Basque lunch at The Star Hotel, Basque built and owned for almost a hundred years. As we left we noticed the manager in conversation, in Basque, with two of his buddies. There's a jai-alai fronton in town, and the local museum has a good section on the Nevada Basque families, but the most touching sight is the Basque memorial, "Our Roots Run Deep", a mural of a young Basque man before the Guernica oak, bidding farewell to his country before leaving for his new life in America.
The museum has won awards as one of the best regional museums in the country, and we've been there before. We're attaching a photo of a pair of cow-hoof-shoes, used unsuccessfully by a local rustler.
At least one of our readers is a big game hunter, and may know about a hunter from Burbank named Wanamaker. His trophy collection was donated to the Basque mural, Elko museum, and occupies an entire wing.
We were two weeks early for the Cowboy Poetry Festival in Elko, but we've read some of the poetry and it's pretty good.
We'd like to put in a plug for a motel, something we do quite infrequently. We stayed at the Best Western Gold Country Inn, and the room was very large and extremely comfortable, with nice oak furniture.
There are a lot of motels in Elko -- possibly to handle the crowds for the Cowboy Poetry Festival -- so they have gotten imaginative and developed 1-to-3-day gambling junkets. These feature round trip airfare and hotel room. For example, a 2-night junket from Eugene, OR leaving 1 Jan was priced at $49 per person, double occupancy. The highest price item on the winter schedule was a 3-night trip from Bloomington, IL for $139 per person, double occupancy. It appears to us that the Charter Airline (Casino Express Airline) is able to serve about 85 cities with perhaps three or four airplanes, by scheduling junkets infrequently enough so that the customers have time to build up another gambling bankroll (each gambler must show $350 in cash).
Basque mural caption: