by Dewey Leavitt
The Great Salt Lake! Once a part of the mightiest lake in this hemisphere, the Great Salt Lake is now a festering pool of disgust and wonderment.
My first salt lake excursion was last Saturday and despite several forewarnings of the nature of the Great Salt Lake, my friend, adventurer and fun-guy Cy Ott, and I made the trip to Antelope Island State Park.
Cy paid the $10 entrance fee to a park ranger, who pointed us in the direction of the best swimming spot on the island. I can’t remember what she said or where specifically we went, but I am sure any park ranger would give out the same information to the same question.
Our goal was straightforward. We had heard that the saline levels in the Great Salt Lake caused extreme flotation. We wanted to try it out for ourselves.
The path from the parking lot to the beach was not long, per se, but it was not the shortest walk I have taken in my life. It was sandy and rocky, and my tennis shoes rapidly filled with sand.
We did note that the small parking lot had a shower in the corner. It ended up being a cold, high-pressure shower, but it was free and it got the job done. Better showers were usable with quarters. (I assume they would be better, however, I did not try them).
Clouds of flies rolled off the sand in lethargic clouds. I was bit by a large, triangular bug, but that seemed an exception to the rule. Cy did not get bit by anything. It was gross, but it did not deter us.
The water at the edge was almost unbearably warm, but warm lake water freaks me out to begin with. If it is warm, I feel as though the parasites and microbes that would give me strange diseases multiply two to three times as fast.
The water quickly cooled off though, but never got very deep. We had to walk quite a ways out into the water to even get our belly buttons in. Most people only walked ten or so feet out, so only their mid-shins got wet. Even swarming with brine shrimp, we thought that was a waste of time and gas.
(Some of the shrimp) looked scary but the water had so many, I rightly assumed they couldn’t harm me.
The only facts I really knew about the lake was that no water flowed into it, and only brine shrimp and flies survived in its salty waters. Some of the shrimp looked like miniature, but unobtrusive versions of the shrimp I am familiar with.
Others looked like tiny microbes, with a tail, tiny wiggling fins and two black dots for eyes. They looked scary but the water had so many, I rightly assumed they couldn’t harm me. Why else would anyone get in the water?
The water was saltier than I expected, even with the name the GREAT Salt Lake. After minutes of deliberation, and both Cy and I whimpering about the cold water, I dunked my whole head. Even with eyes shut tight and mouth closed, I tasted too much salt and my eyes stung badly.
Cy did not dunk his head; I think he made the right move. It also made my hair stiff and salty, but it washed out easily.
Cy continually described the experience as what he thought being in the space station was like, and I concur. I spent most of my summer in public pools teaching swim lessons, and I have never experienced floating like that, even in the ocean.
With legs crossed and arms folded, my shoulders still popped out of the water, no treading necessary. My own buoyancy even made it a bit difficult to swim on my stomach, because my legs and butt kept floating up behind me so I could never kick.
We were relegated to chicken-airplane-zoom, or “squidding”, on our backs to get around. My behind lifted with a breastroke, and normal backstroke and freestyle threw too much salt water into my eyes.
For the most part, we floated and talked. It was so easy that we felt like we were sitting in very comfortable chairs, and despite the shrimp scuttling around us, we stayed for several minutes, chatting and imagining we were on the space station.