One of my goals for 2015 was to visit 5 completely new U.S. states, so when Paul’s cousins, David and Carol, invited us out to visit their home in Salt Lake City, we absolutely jumped at the chance!
I need to preface the rest of this post in that I learned a lot about what it means to invite someone into your home and make them feel welcome. From picking us up late from the airport, to driving us around everywhere, planning the entire weekend, feeding us, the list goes on, we were both just blown away by the hospitality. So, David and Carol, thank you.
Utah was a completely new place to me, and even though we only spent a measly weekend in town, the weekend was crammed with so much fun that I think it officially outranks New Mexico as my new favorite state in the U.S.
I’ve really only known Salt Lake City for two things: the Olympics and Mormons. And while our weekend was filled with both, I still fell head over heels in love. There was an incredibly welcoming air to every place we went and a definite emphasis on being outdoors, active, and a part of nature.
Did you know Missouri has absolutely 0 national parks? And then we go to Utah and see two of the most beautiful places in the U.S. within 48 hours. Unbelievable.
But let me back up.
We arrived in Utah on Thursday night really late and slightly delayed. It took us a long time to get to the house where we were staying, so it was pitch black and hard to see where we were. The next morning, we were pretty surprised to see we had landed in paradise. Maybe, SLC is the promised land after all 😉
After breakfast, we are off to explore. See that patch of white/beige mountains in the photo above? That’s the Bingham Canyon Mine, the world’s largest open pit mine. It is so deep that you can stack the Sears Tower (fine, Willis Tower) TWICE inside of it. You can also see it from the International Space Station. Neat-o.
The drive up to the mine was something that this ‘fly-over state’ girl was not used to. We barreled up a gravel road that had no guardrails next to the steep drop-offs in a giant suburban. Woof. But the views from the top were so worth the white knuckles from hanging for dear life.
Once we were done looking at the mine, we piled back in the suburban and headed down to what I thought was going to be my highlight of the trip: The Great Salt Lake!
It is only a couple of bucks to enter and park at the marina, but in hindsight they really should be paying you to show up here.
Okay, that is a bit harsh. The weather this year has led to a really dry season and the lake levels are tragically low (for the lake whose mean deep is only 16 feet to begin with!!). Almost all of the boats have been pulled from the marina onto land and so the place was pretty empty for a sunny, perfectly warm day.
My mistake was when I decided that I needed to actually touch the water. There were some people actually swimming in the lake, so I figured just dipping my feet in and feeling the salty water would be really neat. EEP. Not. As you get close the smell of the dead brine is PUNGENT to say the least. And as you get to the water, the edge of the lake is completely covered in a layer of flies. They swarm around and land on your ankles which, while they don’t bite, is not a great feeling. I basically just ran up, splashed my hands in the water, and then ran away like a little girl.
Over on the observation deck, where you are safer from the smell and free of the flies, I was able to get some good shots..
.. but this area is full of rather large spiders living in the rocks and railings.
So our trip to The Great Salt Lake was a tad short. I’m sure if we had actually rented a boat or a SUP and gotten into the middle we wouldn’t had the smell or the flies, but there were big plans for the rest of the day, so I didn’t have any issues moving on.
Next on our agenda was heading south to Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah (about a 30 minute drive from SLC).
This place is incredible!! They have the ski jumps still in place and tons of athletes were practicing on the mountains as well on custom ramps that land in the pool. You can ride a bobsled on the track for time, and they installed a series of ropes courses, free-fall ropes, and zip-lines.
Arriving late in the afternoon meant that wait times for the attractions were fairly long, so we opted to walk up the length of the bobsled track first.
Paul’s cousin Linda (who also joined us for the first part of the weekend) was actually a member of the skeleton team and spent a lot of time in Park City. It was incredibly interesting listening to her explain how it all works, where the athletes were weighed, how they studied each turn, and how much skill is actually involved.
I would have loved to ride the bobsled, but during the summer there obviously isn’t any ice and so the sleds have wheels on them. For $75/person, I really want to experience them with the blades and in the cold, so I’m definitely coming back.
After the walk up (huffing and puffing!), we spent some time watching the skiers (very cool!) and then rode the “extreme” zip-line. The bobsled price is a bit steep for about a 1 minute ride, but the zip-lines were pretty affordable at just $20. They also offer an all-day pass for the ropes course and zip-lines.
After a nice sunburn had set in, we left the park, got some really good sushi at Sushi Blue (try the Pineapple Express roll!), and then did a quick-change in the car on the way to the Capital Theater in downtown Salt Lake City.
As if David and Carol were not gracious enough hosts already, for our wedding present they got us tickets to see the Book of Mormon with them! Seeing this show in Salt Lake City was something else! The entire theater was electric and completely engaged in the musical. And to put it gently, this is a LIVELY show. I loved every second of it.
I definitely crashed hard in the car after the show, which was good because we had an early wake-up call the next day. We were heading south!
Check back soon for our recap of Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park!