We did indeed wake up to go look at the Great Salt Lake but it was far from great: about a half mile of salty muck and garbage filled the marshy banks and we could see the choppy water a ways out. It smelled preeeetty disgusting. So broken umbrella in hand we raced back to the car.
And it proceeded to rain. All. fucking. day.
We actually couldn't stop anywhere to explore (not that there was much in Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska) but we love nature preserves and state parks. And we didn't want to get out in the rain, mud, and cold. So we drove drove drove through the disappointing Cheyenne onwards to stay in Grand Island, Nebraska while listening the whole way to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on CD.
Side note about HP on CD: I was really looking forward to listening and overall would give the series a three star rating. I liked the narrators voice and was impressed that he did voices for each character -- but he often got their inflections and meanings incorrect. I don't know if that's too nitpicky, but when you're listening and he just says everything Hermionie says in the same whiny voice no matter what her inflection is... it is a tad disappointing.
We were surprised by the small town quaintness of Lincoln, Nebraska on our third day of driving, when the sun was bright and shining. I slept most of Nebraska and didn't even see Omaha and woke up about 50 miles west of Des Moines. We had a great late lunch with my friends Loc and Robbie in Iowa City where they both attend school - it was awesome to see them and stretch our legs.
My favorite part of the road trip (with the exception of the Redwoods) surprisingly was our drive up Route 2 in Illinois, the last fifty minute drive up to my house. You pass through several small tiny towns (Dixon, Byron, the Blackhawk statue) and really get to see the hidden countryside of northern Illinois along the river. It was beautiful to end the trip with and it just flooded me with all of the reasons I miss Illinois when I leave. When I think of Illinois in the summer I think of strawberries and fresh cut grass and so far there has been a lot of that.