Adventures in Utah: Salt Lake City

‘I am furiously happy. It’s not a cure for mental illness … it’s a weapon, designed to counter it. It’s a way to take back some of the joy that’s robbed from you when you’re crazy.’-Jenny Lawson

As I mentioned at the start of my Adventures in Utah series, I was in desperate need to get out of Bend. It had been a hard, stressful, and exhausting year and I had to get away. I’m so grateful I did and Salt Lake City was not supposed to be the highlight of my trip. It was a stop on the way home to do a bit of exploring, see the Great Salt Lake, and eat In-N-Out. It turned out to be so much more!

I have been open about life in Bend and that was before a global pandemic! I decided pretty quickly that Bend wasn’t going to be where I hung my hat for the long term. I have spent a lot of time with my therapist to embrace Bend for the time I’m here and, honestly, it has been the best place to deal with a pandemic where you cannot do or see anyone anyway. But always in the back of my head is where to go next. Maybe outside of Seattle or back to my old haunts in Southern California or Austin/Houston. Salt Lake City was not even in my periphery but now it is!

I spent two nights outside the city. I found a great price for a proper hotel (less than a $100) and it was midway between Provo and downtown Salt Lake City. I had one full day so I hit the ground running. I spent the morning near the capital building. I was one of a few people around, which was nice! I then went to the Latter Day Saints headquarters, Temple Square.

I should not that I am not religious at all. I was raised Catholic but I’m very much like my dad, I believe that there is something greater but maybe organized religion isn’t the only way to feel connected. This is to say, I was just going to go because you should, right!? Well, it is incredible. Everyone was so nice and not a single person tried to give me a brochure-Mormons are heavily focused on their mission work and, as I was dressed in shorts and a shirt (Madewell-my favorite company-, so posh but not ‘conservative’), I stuck out a bit from others. The Temple Square has some of the prettiest gardens I have ever been to, so much so I wish I could have told the gardeners ‘great job!’ I love flowers and took dozens of photos of them. The main cathedral is closed for restoration projects and the Tabernacle building was also off limits. I know some of this was Covid related but I’m also not Mormon, so I’m not sure how much I would be able to see in ‘normal’ times. I should note, Mormon’s have strict guidelines on who is allowed to take part/view certain things. You should be respectful to this.

Downtown SLC is great! It is very quaint for a city and very well appointed. There is a big shopping area with loads of restaurants and shops. It also had a Cheesecake Factory, where I went for lunch. CCF is my favorite chain restaurant and I have no sham in eating there. I worked at one for nearly five years and it fed me through grad school. So, yes, I needed my Santa Fe Salad! I also went into a bookstore that I thought was just their chain, well it is but it is for Mormons. It was really pretty inside and the clerk was very nice (and he was VERY handsome-even in a mask) but I felt uncomfortable, like I was someplace I shouldn’t be (or maybe Catholic guilt, lol). Nearby are several theaters and the main arena. After, I headed to the Natural History Museum of Utah. It was so cool! During Covid, you have to pre-purchase your tickets online. I bought mine in the parking lot. They have loads of stuff about Utah but, really, I went for the dinosaurs! There were so many of them!

I decided to close out my day by watching the sunset over the Great Salt Lake. Before I headed out, I was notified that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. She was an icon of mine and I was pretty brokenhearted, so it was nice to get out. I just plugged in Great Salt Lake in my iPhone GPS and it took me to the best spot! I had read that the area had a strong odor but I didn’t smell anything unusual. There are a lot of gnats, which I had also read about. It was also crazy walking down to the water. The ‘beach’ was salt. It looked like sheets of ice and crunched when you walked on it. I’m not sure how far the water goes during high tide but I loved the vibes of low tide. The sky was very moody and I saw a truly spectacular sunset!

I remember texting my dad midway through the day saying I think Salt Lake City is where I want to live. There was just something about the city that I really vibed with (and not just because there is an In-N-Out and Cheesecake Factory, lol). I realized that SLC had much of what Bend was lacking. Stores, concert venues, a proper theatre, an arena with NBA team, museums, mountains, a big airport…access (a word I use with my therapist a lot). I had hoped that I could possibly move there this summer, although leaving my teaching job, a job I love, would be hard. But Covid hit hard again and my restaurant has temporarily closed to dine in along with all my extra money. So I will probably have to delay until the summer of 2022. I mean, there are worse places then Bend to regroup financially during a pandemic. But you never know. In the summer of 2019, I would never in a million years think I would be living in Bend, Oregon!

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