Salt Lake City, Our Last Stop in Utah

21 Jun
2012
Posted in: Utah
By    8 Comments

I’m trying to be positive about Salt Lake City (SLC), but Utah is wearing me down. I’m tired of this state, of its rules, of its righteousness. I’m ready to leave. I don’t like being surrounded by people who think I’m going to go to hell because I have a cup of coffee in the morning. Enough is enough. They can have the state. When we visit in the future, I’ll BYO good beer and pack my own lunches. I can make it work.

SLC is less than 50% Mormon (“Moes” in the local slang, or “LDS” if your Mormon). That’s important to know if you’re visiting. It feels 100% Mormon, and the downtown is set up to make you think that. Half the people in town drink coffee … or are allowed to. Of course, they may be Jewish and not put dairy on their meat. Or they may be Christian and not eat meat on Fridays. But they can drink coffee. They may also drink beer.

Anyway, as I was saying, the downtown is set up as a Mormon Mecca. It’s their flagship metropolis. We look at the temple and are oddly un-awed by it. Seemed bigger in the pictures. Nicer too. We can’t seem to find the front of it. We look at one side and think the front must be the other side. We go around to that side and it doesn’t feel like the front either. Turns out, we were looking at the front the first time — it’s the side with the reflecting pool and the gold-leaf window that looks boarded-up in the wrong light.

When we enter Mormon grounds, there’s a smiling guy in a suit at the gate. He’s a guard dressed as your annoying uncle, ready to talk Joseph Smith and Jesus, I imagine. We avoid eye contact with him. There are lots of smiling young people with name tags, also trying to make eye contact.

At the visitor center, I urinate. We look at the statue of Jesus and listen to a snippet of the speech he’s supposedly giving. Then we leave. What else is there to do in this town?

We do a driving tour of the Sugar House neighborhood. We visit a thrift store Lisa remembers from her youth. We drive out to the Salt Lake, look at it, drive back. We twiddle our thumbs. Our friends have jobs, it’s too early to meet up.

We turn to the Google. There’s a brewery here, but it’s outside town. We can’t seem to find a bar to retire into or any restaurants besides the Cheesecake Factory.

We go to the brewery outside of town. It’s a working brewery, but it functions as a bar for the working-class locals, union guys that work in the surrounding factories. We get a six pack to go for our friends.

After we meet up, we see the good side of the city. We go on a hike in one of the surrounding valleys. We go to a cool area (either 9th and 9th or 15th and 15th, I can’t remember) and have Spanish tapas and wine and fun. Our friend gets weird looks for having a splash of wine — she’s preggo and used to the looks. We’re seeing the good side of things now, but it’s still not exactly Paris.

As a city, you can live a pleasantly sheltered suburban life here, I’m sure. It’s not really a city, not really a mountain town. We’re happy to see the good side, but it’s still not exactly our taste. There’s no grit, no guts. It’s a bit too artificially “safe” and definitely too righteous. We’re ready to be done with Utah.

The Great Salt Lake. Supposedly great sailing.

The Great Salt Lake. Supposedly great sailing.

The Utah State Capitol building.

The Utah State Capitol building.

The front or back of the Temple.

The front or back of the Temple.

Lisa really likes the walls in the Jesus room.

Lisa really likes the walls in the Jesus room.

Hiking in a canyon far above the city.

Hiking in a canyon far above the city.

Salt Lake sunset.

Salt Lake sunset.

An ominous smoke cloud hung over downtown the next morning.

An ominous smoke cloud hung over downtown the next morning.