UTAH STATE FAIR
We were eager to leave Boise and head to Salt Lake City because 1.) we were tired of Idaho, 2.) we really wanted to get moving so we can make it to the east coast by early October, and 3.) the Utah State Fair was taking place in SLC and we wanted to catch the end of it! For some reason we had built up in our minds that a state fair somewhere in the midwest would be drastically different – and more “country” perhaps – than the fairs we’ve been to in Oregon and Orange County. Apparently, though, that isn’t really the case…
We planned to explore for a couple hours but quickly found ourselves, bored, wandering the arts and crafts exhibits looking at statues of cows carved from butter. It had all the trappings of your normal fair — awful food, a ferris wheel, charming livestock, pig races — but nothing too spectacular beyond that.
Once we entered the fair we couldn’t leave, though, because at 6 pm we were attending the evening’s main attraction: the demolition derby!!! We weren’t sure how much we were going to enjoy it (really, cars purposely hitting each other? Sounds….. fun), but we were excited about experiencing something atypical for us. And wouldn’t you know it, we had a blast! Watching old, beat-up cars smash into each other was surprisingly cathartic, and we cheered along with the crowd when a few engines caught on fire (minor flames, easily extinguished) and one of the cars got stuck /under/ another and the rest of the cars tried to “help” by running into them.
We made our way into the temple and were immediately — no joke, immediately — apprehended by an older gentleman in an entirely white suit. He asked where we were from and then stated matter-of-factly “So you’re not Mormon.” Uhmmm… no? I guess we give off a pretty strong heathen vibe, so we were summarily kicked out of the church and told to go look at the conference center. We instead made our way into the temple grounds and tried to blend in with one of the many wedding parties milling around outside (in our defense, it looked vaguely open to the public).
After our foray into the temple, we were hoping to attend an organ recital in the famous Tabernacle so we could experience the acoustics. We actually wanted to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform, but we missed their weekly practice session by a day. The organ recital was the next best thing, but at the last minute it was moved to the conference center. We were bummed not to see a performance in the Tabernacle, but the pipe organs in the conference center were actually more impressive! Also, the wall behind changed color, which impressed us as well. We’re apparently easy to impress.
GREAT SALT LAKE
A trip to Salt Lake City just wouldn’t be complete without a quick dip in the lake. Now, large bodies of water and I have a complicated relationship, but I was willing to see past that to float in a lake that has up to 27% salinity, which makes it second only to the Dead Sea in terms of salt content!
Google informed us that one of the better locations to swim and explore is at Antelope Island State Park, so we grabbed some sunscreen and water (it was 90 degrees!) and took off. The visitor’s center on the island indicated that the lake was at a historically low level, so to get to the water we had to traverse a lengthy expanse of crunchy dried-salt beach.
Once we were in the water (which was shallow and sort of murky), we actually floated!! And not like “I’m floating on my back like most any person can do” floated, but like a “I’m seriously not sinking” kind of float! Not sinking took no effort at all, and I could actually cross my legs and pull them under my upright body…. and my head still stayed above the water. It was pretty fantastic, so we spent quite some time spinning and doggy paddling and trying to make ourselves sink (while being very careful to keep our faces out of the water, because even a little of it up your nose burned like the dickens).
As we were finished and making our way back up the beach to the showers, we started to get crusty (ewww) and our swimsuits began to chafe. When the water evaporates on your skin, an insidious layer of salt sticks around. Cool in theory, not so cool in practice.
The other cool thing about the island is that it has a herd of bison that, while not quite native to the area, has been around for around 100 years. They’re fairly acclimated to visitors, but a sign warned us that they’ll charge if they feel threatened. So of course we took that to mean we should go find some bison to harass…. I mean photograph.
We found some lounging off an unmarked gravel road and tried to get as close as possible. One of us would creep out and get as close as we dared while the other stayed in the car, prepared to bolt (hopefully with a passenger!) at any sign of danger. This was our first opportunity to prove ourselves as the intrepid and daring wildlife photographers we knew we could be! However, while we were busy putting our lives on the line to get the perfect photo, all the damn bison wanted to do was lick the snot out of their noses and pretend we didn’t exist. Oh well.