Vancouver-to-Mexico Roadtrip: Um, Salt Lake City?

Part of the Salt Lake Temple. (Wasn’t inspired enough to switch to my wide-angle lens.)

After Boise, and a fun visit with the Vogel family, we headed south toward Utah and Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City had a weird and slightly off-putting vibe I can’t quite put my finger on. We’re not Mormons, so maybe that had something to do with it. I don’t know.

The seven-lane downtown streets have the longest traffic lights I’ve encountered in my life, so it took forever to walk anywhere, because we had to wait for an eternity at each red. A lot of homeless people have congregated in Salt Lake City, something that really stood out after having spent a year in Europe and Turkey, where I saw maybe three obviously homeless people the entire time. Residents were standoffish. And my head cold didn’t help.

Temple Square was mildly interesting for about five minutes, but after the grandeur of Europe, the three of us found it difficult to get overly excited. Scout found a cooperative grasshopper that perched on her arm for the hour or so we wandered around; this was the highlight of her experience.

Temple Square highlight

We popped into the Tabernacle to check out the impressive acoustics, enthusiastically demonstrated by a Mormon Sister standing at the pulpit who dropped pins and tore newspaper strips that could be heard in the back of the cavernous building.

The Tabernacle (That’s Scout journaling right smack in the middle of the walkway.)

Then we wandered through the grounds looking at this and that. The temple itself isn’t open to visitors.

Assembly Hall


Handcart Monument honoring Mormon pioneers. (Oops, sorry, didn’t notice the “no standing on monument” sign until too late.)

Scout deflected the Mormon history factoids I fired at her with great cunning. Whenever I shared a “fascinating” tidbit, she countered with a nauseatingly detailed description of a scene from the novel she’s writing. Little rat, she knows that’s the quickest way to make me go away. Fine, whatever, I give up.

Game, set, match Scout.

One lesson I learned during our European roadtrip is not to beat a dead horse when a particular cultural stop doesn’t resonate. When you’re roadschooling, kids aren’t captivated by every little thing, so you have to pick your battles. This was one of those times.

So we changed tack and headed to the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Success! Scout loved it and ran from exhibit to exhibit, madly scribbling in her journal. At closing time they politely asked her to leave twice before finally kicking her butt to the curb. She was so happy she practically vibrated and couldn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the night.

So that was our stay in Salt Lake City. I wish we’d had time to research Mark’s Italian grandfather at the massive Family History Library to see if we qualify for Italian passports. Also a trip to the Great Salt Lake would have been a much better idea than Temple Square. Scout would have loved bobbing like a cork in the salty water.

But that’s travel. You win some, you lose some.

Next stop: Bryce Canyon.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Boyink September 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

We had that same “can’t quite define it” feeling in SLC. I noticed while biking on the bike paths that other bikers/runners wouldn’t make eye contact, nod or say ‘good morning’. They didn’t “see” me. We felt like outsiders, somehow made obvious (my goatee maybe?)

We happened to catch a Tabernacle Choir rehearsal – and that was nice. The library was impressive as well. But not sure I’d hurry back.


2 Renee September 19, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Exactly! So it’s not my imagination…


3 Living Outside of the Box September 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm

p.s. About half of the population of SLC isn’t Mormon! Goatees are not uncommon. Just like any big city…not many people exercising are going to stop and smile…they just have their own agenda for the day! 🙂
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