Friday, September 30, 2011

western wanderings: part iv (the final installment)

We're finally onto the last day in Utah. Our schedule was kind of loose but we decided we wanted to do some exploring in Salt Lake City before we flew out the next morning.

After a leisurely lunch at the coffee shop we decided we needed to make a quick stop at Swasey Beach on the Green River. For the record, Christian would have rather gone to the "swimming hole" which includes a 40 ft cliff dive into the water. Sadly, it was too far away and the rest of us were too chicken to try it anyway.

The water was pretty chilly. Christian was the only one determined enough to get in.

The road to beach was also the same way we reached Melon Nights the day before. These signs are the only markers to get there.

If you look really closely you can see some campers parked way in the distance. That is where the party was held. Crazy, right?!

Watermelon fields

Stopping for a photo op at a watermelon stand on our way out of town.

We said our goodbyes to all our lovely Green River hosts and newly made friends before hitting the road. The drive was a little over three hours which we passed with trivia, mainly about the state of Utah and Salt Lake City.

Right before you enter Provo, Utah, there is an amazing grouping of windmills. 

They are truly enormous and its a shame we don't see them more often.

Finally we rolled into SLC and found a hostel for the evening. 

We stayed at the Avenues Hostel in a really quiet and peaceful neighborhood. It seemed really safe and clean, was within walking distance of downtown, and was really cheap. We even got the "executive suite". I would highly recommend it if you are ever in SLC.

We barely threw our bags in the room and set out exploring and to find some dinner.

The gang + photographer Erik. Doesn't Kurt look nice in a cardigan?

Headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have an overwhelming presence in the downtown on a 10 acre plot called Temple Square.

Kurt made a really interesting observation that Salt Lake felt a lot like a European city in that a church and accompanying plaza was the centerpiece of the city as opposed to a municipal building. 

The city was pretty interesting. It felt relatively dense although we did notice a lot of parking garages. At least a garage is better than a flat parking lot.

Unfortunately we were there on a Sunday and the city was absolutely dead. They take their "day of rest" pretty seriously here in Utah. We walked by business after business (restaurants included) that had "Closed on Sunday" signs in their windows. We started to get worried we wouldn't find dinner!

They do have some nice, old buildings and a pretty slick looking transit system.

We were hoping to have dinner at the Salt Lake Brewing Company, also known as Squatters Pub, but they were closed for an employee party :(

So then we considered P.F. Changs to get our chain fix...well, not really. It did make me think of BStar though :)

Instead we joined the masses at Redrock Brewing Company.

I was surprised to see so many breweries in a city/state with such strict alcohol regulations. I guess they are making do somehow. Our food and drinks were pretty good!

We thought we might do some more SLC exploring and maybe even make it over to the University of Utah campus to get a taste of the nightlife, but we were so exhausted after dinner. We were lucky to make the walk back to our hostel. Along the way we saw this sculpture installation and a few interesting historic sites.

For a city of less than 200,000 people, I was really impressed with Salt Lake City. It can go suburban really quickly but the dense city center has a lot going for it. Plus, it seems pretty bike friendly and the public transit seemed reasonable.

Come to find out our hostel was only a couple blocks from the Governor's mansion! Not too shabby, eh? 

The next morning we packed up and headed for the airport. We saw several Mormon pairs headed off on their two year missionary journeys but I don't think we had any on our flight. Here we are going over the Great Salt Lake. We briefly considered checking this out (on the ground) but heeded the advice "it smells bad and there are lots of mosquitoes" and steered clear. Thanks for the tips!

And here we are going over the mountains.

We had a long layover at Chicago's Midway so we got some food and beers to pass the time.

The guys got really interested in my Real Simple magazine for a short while.

We finally embarked on the last leg of our journey. I think at this point Erik was regretting sharing a row with Kurt and me.

Bye, Chicago!

Phew. Back in NYC. We were exhausted but it was an amazing trip.

Thanks to my travel buddies, Kurt, Erik, Christian, and Uel. You were all troopers. Next time I propose the gang goes somewhere I can just sit on the beach with a fruity drink. Okay?

Thank you to our lovely Green River hosts. We very much appreciate all the hard work you put into organizing the weekend, giving us a place to stay, and showing us a good time. Continue all the good work you are doing for the community there. I'm truly in awe of your dedication.

And finally thanks to Kurt and Erik who provided me with many images from the trip. I am jealous of your fancy cameras.


  1. your trip looked like a lot of fun! i am enamored by Utah's landscape - so unique and beautiful!

  2. What a crazy experience that trip seems so clean and picture perfect reviewing it here, but it really was crazy-interesting.


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