Posts Tagged ‘North West American Road Trip’

A montage of Salt Lake City photos. Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Mormons, Donny and Marie Osmond, confusing liquor laws, polygamy…welcome to Salt Lake City, also known as the City of Saints and the Crossroads of the West.

One rarely reads good things about Salt Lake but having spent the better part of a week here, I most assuredly can tell you that this town is one of the best kept secrets in America…shhh, don’t tell anyone!

Before getting to the good stuff, let’s dispel the misconceptions I started this post with.

1) There’s too many Mormons. Fact: While Salt Lake City is where the Church of Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ is headquartered, it is not the most highly concentrated Mormon city in America. With just over 50% of the population claiming to be LDS, the honour of being the most Mormon city belongs to Franklin, Idaho where a whopping 90% of the community declares itself so.

2) Donny and Marie Osmond are Salt Lake City’s most famous residents. Fact: The toothy duo are not from Salt Lake. Technically they were born a short distance away in Ogden, Utah. They may hail from the Beehive state but there are many other famous people, including Robert Redford, Katherine Heigl, Ty Burrell of Modern Family, Roseanne Barr, Julianna Hough, Steven Covey, David Archuleta, and Jewel, to name but a few, who call or have called Salt Lake City and the surrounding area home.

3. Utah has the weirdest alcoholic beverage laws. Fact: It’s true, Utah liquor laws are famously strict but they are relaxing. The three things visitors coming to Utah should know are 1) there is no longer a private club system and membership requirement; 2) at the discretion of the establishment, patrons may bring their own bottle of wine into a licensed restaurant or private club for on-site private consumption if they pay a corkage fee; and 3) patrons may carry out unfinished wine from a restaurant or private club provided that the bottle has been re-corked.

4. Polygamy is rampant everywhere in Utah. Fact: While it may be fun to debate the pros and cons of having a legal second spouse or two or three, polygamy is illegal in all of Utah. Popular television shows like Sister Wives and Big Love have stoked the public’s interest in plural marriage but the only polygamy I’ve seen in Salt Lake City has been served up in a tall bottle with a half-naked man on it surrounded by women with a slogan that reads, “Why just have one!”.

Now, having dispelled the biggest myths, let’s delve into the truth about Salt Lake City…there is literally something for everyone to do. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week…

For the foodie there are many terrific restaurants to try like Frida’s, Cafe Niche, Trios, Copper Onion, Finca, Vinto, Pago, Forage, Bambara, Les Madeleine’s and Red Iguana. Be sure to check out Salt Lake magazines 2013 Best Dining award winners for a more complete list of restaurants and cafes.

For the shopaholic there’s plenty to purchase in boutiques like Hip and Humble, The Children’s Hour, The Sundance Store, Apt. 202, Whimsy, Bella Forte, Babinski’s, Bloomingsales, The King’s English, Four and Twenty Sailors, Haroons, The Tutoring Toy, and Solissa. And, if you’re in the mood for a mall check-out The Gateway, City Creek, and Fashion Place.

For the lover of culture you can while away the hours in the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Ballet West, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Gilgal Garden, the Capitol Theatre, Abravanel Hall, the Natural History Museum, and the Leonardo.

For the garden enthusiast hours can be spent walking around Red Butte Gardens and Thanksgiving Square. One tip, bring comfortable shoes…both gardens are big.

For the young at heart killing time feels more like play time at This is the Place, Lagoon, Discovery Gateway, Hogle Zoo, Clark Planetarium, the Tracy Aviary, and Wheeler Historic Farm

For the historian there is lots to learn at Temple Square, the Cathedral of the Madeleine, the State Capitol, the University of Utah, and the Great Salt Lake.

For the genealogist there is only one place to visit…the Salt Lake City Family History Library…end of story and in the words of Brigham Young, “This is the Place”.

For the wanderer there are terrific neighbourhoods and villages to visit including the Avenues, Rose Park, Capitol Hill, Marmalade, Glendale, Foothill, and Sugar House. And, within the villages, there are neighbourhoods like 9th & 9th, 15th & 15th, and 21st & 21st where one can stroll around and enjoy a bite to eat and a bit of shopping.

And, finally, for anyone willing to drive an hour or so away there’s beauty and adventure in Park City with its three world-class ski resorts, Robert Redford’s Sundance, Snow Basin, Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, Solitude, Provo, and Ogden.

This week we’ve learned a lot about Salt Lake City and we think it’s a pretty cool place for families everyone to visit. Next stop – home! We’ll continue heading east, unpack and clean out the car at our little home on the edge of the Rockies, and then fly through New York on our final journey across the pond.

At long last, we’ll be back to Ireland. It was fun, interesting, educational, and enlightening taking this epic road trip across North-West America. We’ve discovered a lot about ourselves, each other, and parts of America that are not often visited. I hope you’ve learned a little too about traveling this section of America. Perhaps you’ll consider making it a road trip route for one of your upcoming vacations. If so, please do write me for advice or to share your stories.

My parting advice for this holiday is this: don’t do as we did and “wing it”…take time to really investigate possible site-seeing stops and dining options. Whether you stop or not is up to you on each individual day. Overall, I feel our biggest mistake was not knowing where our next good meal would be…otherwise, it was nearly all good!

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IMG_4192As we round out week three on our epic road trip across North-West America, our foursome has become a threesome. My wonderfully gifted, beautiful, sweet, funny, eldest daughter is staying at Concordia for an extra immersion experience. She loves languages and has proficiency in three of them, including Irish. We’ll pick her up in less than ten days and return home to Ireland, but it was with a heavy heart that I kissed her today and said good-bye.

She’s growing up fast…this baby girl of mine…faster than I expected. Not yet a real teen, she is looking beyond the safety of our home and wondering about the world around her.  Secondary school, boys, make up, fashion, parties, dating…I can hardly believe it’s time for us to address these issues in depth. Heck, what I mean to say is it’s hard to believe we’re actually having to LIVE these issues in depth. We’ve talked about them plenty. The dress rehearsal is over and the real show is just beginning. Where has the time gone?

DSC_0100I remember her Baptism day like it was just yesterday. She wasn’t even a month old. I was doing up the pearl buttons on the back of her Irish Christening gown, while my husband held her to his chest. “Why are you crying?”, he asked. “Are you ok?” My lovely husband…so concerned and so bewildered at the same time. “No, Love. Don’t you know? This is the first of her five white dresses.”, I choked out between sobs. “Her what?!”

Her five white dresses.

Growing up a Catholic girl, I can define my life in a series of dresses…all of them white. There’s the Baptism gown, followed by the Communion, Confirmation, graduation, and, finally, the wedding gown. On that special day so many years ago, I realised that our daughter’s Baptism day was the beginning of the end. The first time I understood that precious babies, placed carefully in our arms, are only ours on loan for a {brief} period of time. These amazing children we so desperately want and love are ours by the grace of God and we don’t get to keep them. He gives them to us and then demands we let them go.

We’re only two dresses into her life right now, but I am already struggling with the idea of letting go. Three dresses remain. Most likely she’ll leave our Irish home long before she dons the final dress. It makes me sad and I can hardly bear thinking about it. But, I must…for her sake…and for mine.

Little by little, I let the sadness escape. I liken it to fiddling with a balloon. Because you don’t want to let all the air out at once, you pull back on the sides of the mouth piece and let a little out at a time.  Today was one of those times. We hugged. We kissed. I imparted a few gems of wisdom and then turned completely on my heels {with a glance or two back}, got in the car, waved, and drove away. Through tears, I could see her in my rear view mirror, standing in the gravel car park, waving back.

IMG_4142The last few weeks have been tough. Four of us, strong personalities, in a car traveling the highways of North-West America. Those roads are pretty dull, yet our experience has been anything but. We’ve argued. We’ve cried. We’ve shouted. We’ve smelled bad. We’ve been sick. Through it all…we’ve been together. I know it has not always been easy but it has been special. There’s still several hundred miles ahead of us. I don’t have to wonder any more whether this adventure has been worth it. I already know that it has.

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