Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 134 - Utah Rocks! - Full Circle

I know times are hard but road trips are a necessity for nothing more than realizing that our world is really just a "tiny little world."  When we step outside this daily hustle and bustle we begin to see how big the world is and how the connections of the human race keep it in close contact.  The next couple of blogs will be to tell you about a recent vacation we took to Utah.  A state I had never been to before and sometimes the right thing to do is to step out of our "comfort zone" and do something or go somewhere that is different than us.  After vacationing in Utah I have to say that it is America's Best Kept Secret.  I'll share some hints and tips along the way and hope that you will visit one day too. 

Tower King Room Little America Hotel
We started in Salt Lake City.  The only thing I knew before I came about this city was that people go there to ski and the Mormon faith is centered here.  We had gotten a deal to stay the first night for a whopping eight hours as our plane didn't arrive until 11 PM at night. When we arrived the receptionist said they were going to give us a free upgrade to a "tower room."  Without knowing anything other than "free upgrade" we were fine with this.  It felt like we were getting something for nothing basically.  The Little America Hotel is across the street from the Grand America Hotel we were told by one of the people we met on the plane.  I feared the worst.  Nothing good can come from being "little" across the street from "grand."  I was pleasantly surprised.  I later researched and found they gave us a room valued at $189/night for $80.

The room was a 600 square foot room with the French Richelieu furniture and brocade furnishings on the windows.  The bathroom was a room within a room made of Italian marble.  The second dressing room sported a dresser, a second sink made with old fashioned wooden legs.  And the biggest pleasant surprise, they still offered free stationery!  You could write a letter or send a postcard.  Boy the good old days.  The hotel was built by the founder Admiral Byrd. When he was a was a young man herding sheep in a dreary section of Wyoming, he became lost in a raging northeast blizzard and was forced to camp out all night. He thought what a blessing it would be if someone would build a house of shelter at that desolate spot. Many times he dreamed of a haven for travelers with a crackling fire, warm bed, delicious food.

The first hotel was built in Wyoming and this was his second.  The Steakhouse Restaurant serves a wonderful buffet breakfast and the decor is like a fancy cabin in the deep woods.  Red leather round booths and dark wood holding Oriental vases and old leather books add to the old west flavor.  The chandeliers are made of antlers of deer or antelope and give you the outdoor feel in the warm indoors.  We had breakfast here and as I say, "Everything is bigger and better in the West." Coming from San Francisco, I know that the strawberries are bigger and sweeter, the blueberries are the size of pennies and the east coast sports the same blueberries but the size of peas. 

The atmosphere reminded me of a ski lodge.  At a young age, I vowed never to ski as in this mindset already I told this to my roommates in college at the age of twenty.  I said that every time I thought about skiing I heard somebody else had broken a leg on a ski trip.  I felt that this was Gods way of telling me that it wasn't for me. They laughed as they went off to ski.  I had to keep from laughing when one roommate didn't come home for several days as she broke her leg that weekend and was in the hospital.  It wasn't funny but the irony of it all still supports my mindset of respecting the sport and knowing it is too risky for me.

We noticed one crazy thing in Salt Lake City that makes you feel like you are going the wrong way on a one way street.  They back into the 45 degree parking spaces. Everyone does this and thinks its normal.  I didn't but what I do think is completely logical is the grid that the city is built on.  Making any direction easy to follow.

The city is built on a grid that centers around the Temple Square which is the center of the Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ Mormon Faith. Salt Lake’s unique street numbering system is almost identical in concept to that of longitude and latitude. Think of the point at which the Equator intersects the Greenwich Meridian – in other words, 0 degrees longitude and 0 degrees latitude. On the globe, that zero-point is just south of Ghana off the West African Coast. In Salt Lake City, it’s at Temple Square. Salt Lake is laid out on a simple grid system. Virtually every address in the city has a set of two coordinates telling how far east or west and how far north or south it is from Temple Square (or the corner of Main and South Temple Streets to be exact).

The Temple

Noon Concerts by Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The Temple Square hosts the Temple, the visitors center, the Assembly Hall and the Church where the Tabernacle choir sings everyday at noon.  A free concert for anyone who wants to hear them. The organ is monstrous and the ambiance beautiful.   The square also has maintained the house that Brigham Young lived in at the time with his wife and seven children.  All the original furniture and china are yours to see.  We're told he actually had 17 wives but that wasn't mentioned on our tour.  The majority of worship buildings are Mormon in the area. Being Catholic it was different not to see any other kind of religion establishment other than the Latter Day Saints Churches so one could understand being Mormon and wanting to live here.

We visited the Temple on the way back before our flight.  It was just beautiful. So we came full circle on our trip and ended at a square.  Its never been so easy to fit a round peg into a square hole.

(I'll blog more about the Mormon faith later but for the mean time, enjoy the view of Brigham Young's Bee Hive House)

The Entertainment Room

The Dining Room

The Sitting Room

The flowers of Temple Square - Spring Tulips

A good man, is a good man, whether in this church, or out of it.  ~Brigham Young

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