Monthly Archives: December 2012

Questions from the Road

We had an awful lot of questions surface while we were traveling and decided to document them. And yes, we are working hard to get the answers to them! We’re calling in the experts and we’ll post the answers as we get them. We encourage you, our loyal readers, to weigh in with the answers in areas of your expertise using the “Leave a reply” feature of the blog. Here goes!

Per JB – I have a one word answer for ALL your questions….. GOOGLE!

Per Bob – Good questions but where is the corn man?

  • When did Brigham Young arrive in Salt Lake City?

July 24, 1847

  • Does salt need to be cleaned after being “harvested” and before hitting the shaker?


Amazingly thorough answer from the Morton Salt people!

“Yes salt is cleaned after being harvested by heating salt to 230 – 250° after the salt is dissolved and the salt brine is pumped up into the salt plant.  Any solid impurities are settled out before the brine is pumped into vacuum pans, or evaporators, that heat the brine in the presence of a slight vacuum until the brine boils (which is at a slightly lower temperature than if the brine was at atmospheric pressure).  As the brine boils, the water evaporates away, and the steam is used to heat the next evaporator (energy conservation).  Salt crystals begin to crystallize and grow as the water is boiled off, resulting in table salt-sized crystals.  The salt slurry is then removed from the evaporator.  The remaining salt brine is removed, and the salt is subsequently dried.  Drying is necessary, or the salt would not flow and it would cake severely before reaching the consumer’s home.

Thank you for contacting Morton Salt.”

  • Why does Utah have mini telephone poles? (about half the height of normal poles)

Per JB – The residents make few LONG DISTANCE calls. Glenda, you should know this!

Here is the response from Chris Parker, Public Utility Division Director, Division of Public Utilities in Utah “Sorry, I’m afraid I can’t help you. You may try contacting the utility companies directly but I know pole heights do vary based on operational concerns, environment, etc. A list of utilities can be found on our website.” 

  • How many years ago did the Newfoundland Evaporation Basin evaporate?

Here’s an answer plucked from a U.S. Geological Survey paper about Utah:

“In order to help mitigate high lake levels in Great Salt Lake during the 1980s, the State of Utah undertook the West Desert pumping project. The project was designed to pump brine from Great Salt Lake into a topographic low portion of the Great Salt Lake Desert, evaporate the bulk of the water, and return the dissolved salts to Great Salt Lake via surface return flows. A series of dikes and weirs were constructed to restrict the size of the evaporation pond and to control the return to Great Salt Lake. The enclosed area became known as the Newfoundland Evaporation Basin or, more commonly, the West Pond. However, a series of climatic and technical factors resulted in the reduced effectiveness of planned surface returns and, as a result, about 600 million tons of salts were left in the evaporation basin at the end of active pumping in 1989.”

OK, so the story distills down to this. The government decided to shrink the Great Salt Lake by moving water, evaporating it, and then putting the remaining salt back into the Great Salt Lake. It didn’t work so now there are many tons of salt in the middle of nowhere. What??? Perhaps our readers can explain why this was done; we don’t get it…

  • Can cows live in the wild?

We had a number of bovine questions and contacted Nancy H. Ing, DVM, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University. She responded to all our queries, including this one. Her answer was, “Cows can live in the wild….there are feral cows in Florida where the land is swampy and not fenced.” Who knew? Thanks, Professor Ing!

  • From where does Nevada get its water?

Per JB – From faucets just like we do

Ok – the real answer, from an article in The Guardian from March 2012, is that most of Nevada’s water comes from the Lake Mead reservoir. “Nevada, which for years has been drawing more water from its Lake Mead reservoir than has been flowing in, could be at serious risk of going dry in 20 years, said Pat Mulroy, the manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which is pursuing the pipeline project.” Yikes!

  • What is Nevada’s annual precipitation? What about California? Isn’t there a fight?

Nevada Annual Precipitation Average – 9.5 inches, driest state in the U.S.

California Annual Precipitation Average – 22.2 inches, 40th wettest state in the U.S.

There are definitely on-going water wars; we are remaining Switzerland.

  • Is “eureka” a Greek word?

Yep, it’s Greek. Per Wikipedia, the word comes from ancient Greek εὕρηκα heúrēka “I have found (it)”.

  • What did the pioneers feed their horses?
  • Is there a doctor in Ely, NV?

No.  We could not find a human medical doctor in Ely.  The closest ones seem to be located in Carson City and beyond.  We find 1 veterinarian located right in Ely.

  • Why is Route 50 called the Lincoln Highway?


Some info from Wikipedia about how part of the Lincoln Highway became Route 50…

‘The Lincoln Highway is the first road for the automobile across the United States of America. The highway turns 100 years old in 2013.

Conceived in 1912 and formally dedicated October 31, 1913, the Lincoln Highway is America’s first national memorial to President Abraham Lincoln, predating the 1922 dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. by nine years. As the first automobile road across America, the Lincoln Highway brought great prosperity to the hundreds of cities, towns and villages along the way. The Lincoln Highway became affectionately known as “The Main Street Across America.”

Many … named highways were supplanted by the United States Numbered Highways system of 1926. Most of the Lincoln Highway became US Route 30, with portions becoming US Route 1 in the East and US Route 40 and US Route 50 in the West.’

  • Do cows go through menopause?

Another question for Professor Ing at Texas A&M. She’s a specialist in the Physiology of Reproduction and here’s her response. “Don’t know, probably not. But few cows are kept to very old age (30 years…)”. 

  • Why do so many East Indians visit Niagara Falls?
  • Why is there only one grasshopper pump on many acres of land? Why aren’t there more?
  • Who are “geyser gazers”? Is there a club?


Geyser Gazers are people who are interested or one might say obsessed with watching and tracking and observing geysers in Yellowstone National Park.  Yes there is a club for this fun bunch – the Geyser Observation and Study Association (GOSA).  GOSA boasts over 300 members who run around on bikes with walkie talkies observing geysers.  They enjoy sharing news and tips about Yellowstone’s many geothermal features.  And yes we saw them in action.

  • What is the Community of Christ? Are they affiliated with the Mormons? If so, how?

We never had heard of the CofC and were confused about their connection (or lack thereof) with the Church of Latter Day Saints. As we now understand it, Joseph Smith died and Brigham Young took the leadership position. Some folks, though, didn’t follow Brigham and felt the leader of the church should be a descendant of Joseph Smith. The CofC evolved from the splinter group that followed the Smith family. Descendants headed up the church from 1860 to 1996. There were a lot to choose from since estimates of the number of Smith progeny range from 11 (with wife Emma) to 199 (with other wives). In 1996, a non-family member was picked to head the church. They think.

  • What is biodynamics? Who is Rudolf Steiner?

Rudolf Steiner is an Austrian philosopher, social reformer and architect and esotericist.  His name came up from Joanna of our Hotchkiss B&B who had participated in a manure and cow horn burying ritual ceremony in the grape fields of her B&B all in the name of biodynamic organic farming.  Somehow the manure stuffed into the horns which were buried in a circle would magically harness cosmic forces in the soil and lead to a banner grape crop year.  A friend of Glenda’s, a German National also knows of the Waldorf Schools founded by Steiner with a specific educational philosophy.  Rudolf seems to have been an all-around Renaissance man.

  • Grass-fed cows vs. feed-lot cows: pros and cons, discuss


Our third and final question for Prof. Ing. Her thorough and politically neutral answer was, “Grass fed beef is leaner and doesn’t taste as good because fat gives the meat a lot of its flavor. So health experts would tell us to eat grass fed beef as would environmentalists because cows naturally eat grass and there are many other uses for corn, soy beans, and other things that go into grain-feeding at the feed lot.”

  • How high does prairie grass grow? Is there a record?

  • How was personal hygiene on the frontier? How often did they bathe? What did they use for soap? Buffalo tallow?
  • Why was Wallace removed as FDR’s running mate for his 4th term?
  • In which state are the most cranberries grown?

Wisconsin is the big winner with 56% of the cranberry crop. Next is Massachusetts with 26%, followed by New Jersey with 8%, then Oregon with 7% and finally Washington with 3%. The end.

  • Who won 1st place in ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI?

Adonna Khare, an artist from Burbank, Calif., won 2012’s $200,000 ArtPrize for her 8-foot tall, 35-foot wide drawing “Elephants”. Congrats!

  • Is Mac still friends with Nick?


  • Do Donnie and Marie live in Las Vegas?

We think we have it right but correct us if you know differently! Donnie lives in Provo, UT and Marie lives in Las Vegas, NV. 

  • Are prairie dogs related to gophers? What about squirrels?

So, prairie dogs, true gophers and grey squirrels all belong to the “order” Rodentia. After that, the gophers are off on their own but the grey squirrel and prairie dog stay in the same “family” Sciurdae. Whatever. The prairie dogs are still ridiculously cute, even if they are rodents.

  • What are the features of a maximum-security prison?
  • We saw a 1.8 mile-long freight train. What is the longest?

Per JB – “Long Train Runnin” by the Doobie Brothers 1973

  • How long can beavers stay underwater?

Apparently they have specially adapted lungs and can stay underwater for as long as 15 minutes. This explains why we never actually saw any beavers and only saw their dam handiwork!

  • What is the Continental Divide?


Per Lee – The continental divide has to do with the waterways and whether the water goes west into the Pacific or east into the Atlantic. I mean waters east of the CD go into the Atlantic and those west of it go in to the Pacific. I think.

I am exhausted reading the addendum. I hope I did not miss anything. But did you award the best Jersey Connection story?

How about the award for the latest dinner in the most southern state with the most charming daughter of a New Jerseyite?

Just suggesting…

  • What is the color of sulphur?

Sulfur, as a solid, is bright yellow. If you melt sulfur, you get a blood-red liquid. If you set it on fire, you get a blue flame. Nuf said.

  • What does an eagle nest look look like?
  • What does riparian mean?
  • All questions moose – habitat, eating, mating, antlers

  • What is life like in Eureka, Nevada? (or any other similar middle-of-nowhere place we visited) Work life? Social life? Dating life? Do they travel 50 miles to get groceries? Do they use a Coleman refrigerator to keep things cold on the way home from the store?
  • What is bentonite?

Per JB, The poorer second cousin of Kryptonite, Superman’s favorite.

The technical answer is that bentonite is an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate, essentially impure clay consisting mostly of montmorillonite. What is it used for, you might be asking? Well, it’s a substance found in cat litter and in Glenda’s facial scrub. That just seems so wrong!

  • Are the majority of the U.S. geologists from geology-glorious Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Arizona?

  • Do Fedex and UPS do one-day delivery on “the loneliest road”?
  • What does Newark mean? Why is there a Newark Valley in Nevada?

According to David Smith, one-time mayor of Newark, CA, the etymology of Newark is Dutch. He said the name came about after towns were pillaged and rebuilt, thus the Anglicized version of “new-work”. As to why there is a Newark Valley in NV, that requires more research!

  • What did the Pony Express riders feed their horses?

Per JB, That depended upon whether they were staying at Hilton or the Howard Johnson’s.

  • What is the unidentified corn leaf-like crop?

  • What are those giant, rusted, upside-down badminton shuttlecocks?