May 14 - 20, 2014:
The ride to Salt Lake City was mountainous in the initial going, following the railroad up Price Canyon to Soldier summit. The incline did not seem so steep, but the descent seemed to go on forever. The traffic and congestion picked up the further we went and in the Provo, Utah metropolitan area was quite intense. We haven't done any driving in traffic in quite some time and I don't miss it much. Our route into Salt Lake City on I-215 wasn't so bad and the Pony Express RV Resort was right off of an exit. This is a big park, full hookup, cable TV, big sites with concrete pads, store, showers, pool and unfortunately rather weak internet. It is within sight of downtown Salt Lake City and an easy commute to the attractions. Also there is a nice walk/bike path, the "Chevron Mile" adjacent to the RV park. It runs along the Jordan River which has an abundance of wildlife, birds, ducks, beavers and quite a few gnats this time of year. Chevron has a refinery within sight of us here in the valley and when the wind is right, it can be kind of smelly at times.
On Tuesday, we did the tourist thing going into downtown Salt Lake City to explore the Temple area. There is so much to see there and it is extremely well manicured and clean. They have huge flower beds in bloom at this time of year and it is quite spectacular. We managed to attend the noon organ performance at the Tabernacle and hear the famous "pin drop" on the podium from the rear of the room. You need to stay aware of the cute roving Mormon missionary girls as you walk around Temple Square, who will approach you all smiles, answer your questions, show you the sights and then if you seem at all interested will then move into the religious spiel. We then had lunch at the City Creek Center, across from Temple Square, which is a new upscale shopping mall. Everywhere you go in SLC there are historical signs and everything seems to have been planned, managed by the man himself, Brigham Young. He was everywhere, seems to have micro managed everything with incredible success. Perhaps he did have divine connections, visions or whatever.
Twinkles then insisted on a trip to Trader Joe's to stock up on treats. Yes, it is good to get out of the boonies once in a while.
|Early settlers cabin in downtown Salt Lake City|
|Temple Square view|
|Temple Square fountain|
|The Temple in spring|
|Listening to the Mormon Tabernacle organ|
|Sea Gull Statue and Assembly Hall, the Seagulls have|
special meaning to the Mormon's as they came in
and ate the insects that were destroying their crops
|Replica of the Angel Moroni and plaque that|
are on the Temple
|Hundreds of the Mormons pulled their belongings across the country|
by hand cart like this, amazing !
Tuesday night, I ventured downtown to the "Urban Lounge" to see the band "Old 97". It was a packed house, lots of Old 97 fans in attendance and a room with a large stage dedicated to live music. I had heard of them, they've been around about 20 years and are a fairly successful and interesting band. They also had a opening act, Nikki Lane, who I ended up liking better than the Old 97. The Old 97 has a dynamic lead vocalist who has the rock star looks and moves down pat and they are heavy on the guitars. They are one of the original Alternative Country bands from the early 1990's. They had the fans going crazy, it was exciting, big fun, but once is enough, I wouldn't care to see them again.
|Old 97 in concert|
Friday, I went to Jiffy Lube with the Jeep for an oil change, I hate them and I think I'll start doing oil changes myself again. I'm tired of their multi point inspection, their fake friendliness and then the sales pitch to sell you all sorts of things that you don't need.
Then I'm off for more exploring in downtown Salt Lake City, which is mostly just wandering away aimlessly. I'm dying in this heat, a week ago I was freezing at Capital Reef while today I'm sweating. I find the old Union Pacific train Depot which still has a very impressive waiting room now rented out for special events. The tracks are gone and the old right of way turned into the Gateway Shopping Mall. I then found the Rio Grande Depot with the waiting room now an art gallery, tracks long gone also with a popular restaurant attached. At least the buildings were not torn down. Next I wander a few blocks around Squatters Pub Brewery to build an appetite for one of their nice burgers and a "Provo Girl" brew. Then back to the Temple area to take a look at Brigham Young's home, the Lion House and his office, the Beehive House. The Bee Hive is a Utah State symbol which signifies working together as a team, working hard, dedication, organization, all things that the Mormon's do well.
|This unusual solar ring was ominous over Salt Lake city|
|Interior of the Union Pacific Depot|
|Beautiful flowers all over the Temple area|
|The Lion House where Brigham Young lived|
|Interior of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building|
|The Rio Grande Depot|
Saturday was a ride to Park City to check out the historic Main Street area. It is an old mining town, turned into a upscale Ski town and in January of each year is home to the famous Sundance Film Festival. We did lunch at the "No Name Saloon" that was very good and the ambiance inside was excellent. As a rule, any place that has a naked woman painting over the fireplace or bar is a favorite of mine. On the way back we stopped at the Olympic Ski jump, Bobsled and Luge complex area which now houses a museum. The museum was really good. We learned all about Alf Engen who is like the father of Ski Jumping in this area or perhaps the country. In addition, he was a World record holding Ski Jump champion. They had a display case filled with all of his trophies and awards that was very impressive. There were many other great stories and video's on Olympic greats, one I read with great interest was the story of Lindsey Van who was like the first female ski jumper, trained with the boys and went on to Olympic greatness.
|The Egyptian Theater in Park City is pretty special|
|As is the No Name Saloon of Debauchery in Park City|
|Downtown Ski lift in Park City, the snow is gone|
|Interior of the No Name Saloon caught my eye|
|Twinkles posing with Alf Engin at the museum|
|Alf Engin trophy case|
|2002 Olympic Ski Jump at Park City|
Sunday was a tour of the incredible Utah State Capital building along with a couple of bus loads of Asian tourists. It is truly an amazing structure. Next it was a few miles north to the "This is the place" park with several Mormon statues depicting Mormon history, the Mormon Battalion, the Pony Express and other early pioneer Utah trappers and explorers. There is also a large recreated village, but we declined as we are now totally overdosed on the Mormons !
|Utah State Capital|
|Interior of Capital|
|Another interior view, the entire building is amazing|
|This is the place memorial|
The City of Salt Lake actually is only about 40% Mormon, there are many other ethnic groups around, but seem to be out of sight or do not go downtown around the touristy Temple area. We learned of a festival, the Living Traditions Festival, held all weekend with ethnic craft demonstrations, music, dance performances and food booths, so we went to see if these people do actually exist. It was a great festival, well attended and people were pigging out on the food.
|Indian Pow Wow, note the little guy|
|Indian Pow Wow|
On Monday, I went to South Temple street in the area of the Bar DeLuxe to look around for a seedier area of town. I'm sort of tired of this polite, wholesome, clean cut environment. People don't even jay walk here, they wait patiently for the walk signal. I had hopes that I would get some sleaze on the south side of town, but other than a couple of alternative bars, nothing to get excited about. Continuing on this quest, Monday night I'm off to the "Garage Bar" for another live music event. The Garage turned out to be a very cool music place, with expansive outside stage, tables and fire pit. The opening solo acoustic musician, Candid Coyote, was excellent and kind of stole the show from the headliner. The main act, a touring trio called Jack Evan Johnson, were good, interesting songwriting, but much of the crowd had left by the time they started, a problem on a Monday night which put a damper on things.
|Jack Evan Johnson at the Garage|
|View of the Garage|
Our last day in SLC took us for a short, steep hike up "Ensign Peak" to a viewpoint overlooking the city. Of course, this is where Brigham Young came to view the valley with his inner circle to make plans for the city's development. We then went to the Salt Lake State Park on the lakefront which is mostly a marina. It is sort of sad, not much there, the view is spoiled by a coal power power plant on one side. The Lake doesn't smell so good either and no real beach or picnic area. In 1893, there was a huge, impressive Amusement Park with bathing facilities called Saltair. Unfortunately, it burned down, it was rebuilt but was not economically successful and eventually also burned down. A third was then built which never became popular and is now a shady looking concert arena.
|View of the Salt Lake City rail complex from Ensign peak|
|Downtown Salt Lake City from Ensign Peak|
|Monument on top of Ensign Peak|
|View from Salt Lake State Park|
|Another lake view|
|The original Saltair Amusement Park|
|View of a portion of the lake|
On wednesday, May 21st we leave Salt Lake and continue further north, see what we can find there ?
Going to see the Golden Spike,
Twinkles and Slick