Last week I was supposed to be filming a movie, but sadly the camera broke during the first week of shooting and Ryon, the director, postponed production. I went back and forth on the idea of cancelling the vacation time and keep working or find a place to go and chill for a few days. With time being on short notice everyone seemed to busy to pay for an expensive plane ticket anywhere and since it's my goal to at least take one flight per year I finally got an offer I couldn't refuse.
Thursday I boarded a flight to Salt Lake City. A short plane ride for sure, but one that was rather interesting. I sat next to a young guy, probably in his early twenties at best. Dressed in camouflage pants and sporting greasy hair he didn't seem to think that my reading of my book was all that important and engaged me in conversation.
So GI-Emo kid told me a tale of woe. He was flying to Salt Lake to visit his family and that they weren't going to be happy to learn of his 'lifestyle'. He seemed to want me to ask more about his current habits or activities that would be the cause of parental lack of love, but I refrained. GI-Emo kid still went on about his conservative Mormon family and how difficult it was being raised in his household being "different". I did feel bad for the guy. He seemed like a nice fellow and I wished him well as we exited the plane.
After gathering my luggage I exit the terminal to meet the third blogger buddy I've encountered in person, the lovely Kellie, author of The Rusted Violin. She was gracious enough to pick me up from the airport. We traveled to a coffee house and it was the best cup of jo I've ever had. I'm from Seattle. That's saying a lot.
Later we went to Park City, where I learned that the Sundance Film Festival actually resides. A quaint town with a turn of the twentieth century look we had a nice lunch at a local deli. Then came the shopping. We entered a new age store staffed by some air head clerk who reminded us that Janice would be by in five minutes to give readings, twice. We were the only people in the shop. After browsing a bunch of books dedicated to nonsense we finally made our way for some fun.
Park City Mountain Resort was a blast. The Alpine Slide was a lot of fun and the ZipRider was fast, but all too short. Still the view was beautiful and Utah is just pretty in the fall. The color of the leaves and the rolling mountains was a site I hope to see again.
Friday was a tour through history as I visited the Salt Lake Mormon Temple, aka Temple Square. Yes I was a pilgrim in an unholy land. Things I learned about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:
- They do not strip down to their magic underwear, aka Temple Garments, and engage in mixed martial arts combat in the temple. I wasn't allowed in the temple, as many in the faith aren't, but I'm convinced it doesn't happen as previously thought.
- Not all of them wear short sleeve shirts with ties. Some of them wear long sleeves, at least the ones with some sort of fashion sense.
- They do not roam the night gathering ex-Mormons and throwing them in some LDS re-education camp.
- Followers of Joseph Smith do not come up to visitors screaming 'BRAINS' and try and eat their flesh.
- There were no less than five weddings going on, on a Friday no less. This is very common. When I walked around the grounds I saw many newlywed couples having their photos taken outside the temple. I kind of wished I would've started my photography studio there.
I walked through the visitors center and saw huge paintings and murals of the stories of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. First there were Anglo looking statues of Adam and Eve in the Garden. Then I followed the story up until Joseph Smith's revelation and telling of another testament of Jesus Christ. I read the Book of Mormon years ago, but this was like a pop-up book telling. I got to see in life like scale Christ's preaching in the New World, Moroni burying the golden tablets, God appearing to Joseph, etc. The aesthetics of it was impressive, regardless of what one feels about the theology.
The replica of Thorvaldsen's Christus was amazing. It's quite possibly my favorite depiction of Jesus. Instead of the Renaissance wimpy savior it has a more masculine character. Strong, but still gentle you can see that image of that as one as a carpenter as well as the son of God. Housed in a domed roof that had the cosmos painted on it it was a striking image.
Later that evening I had dinner at the Garden Restaurant at the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. The view was gorgeous, the food was delicious and reasonably priced, and it had a retractable roof. The most interesting thing about the dining experience is that it sold no coffee or wine. Now that's really none too surprising considering the LDS church frowns on consumption of such beverages and they own the building and restaurant, but if such an establishment in Seattle didn't serve coffee I imagine they'd be out of business within a month.
Later that night I went to a bar called the Hog Wallow. I ordered a Guinness and sipped my first beer since I made the journey. I almost spit it out. I told Kellie it tasted weird, but she reminded me that the alcohol percentage was less in Utah.
What the hell? Whoever idea that was can rot in their own feces. Sure deprive me of coffee, but modify my beer, well that's just un-American.
I sat out on the patio with three ex-Mormon girls. One was a chipper sort who told me I looked 19. It was dark. The other upon hearing my profession decided to make it clear her feelings for my company and it's products. I love it when someone wants you to hate the place you enjoy working for. I mean I'm not a fan of many in the law enforcement community, but I don't meet cops casually and tell them I hate police officers. I only tell them that when they hand me tickets for illegal use of the horn. Weird.
Still I was having a great time. One of the highlights of the evening was Polygamy Porter. Yes this beer does exist. As Andrea said it's 'one big bag of Mormon awesome'. Still given it's alcohol content I consumed a lot to even feel as drunk. The lesson learned here is if you want to go out and get intoxicated in Utah you better have coin.
Damn this is turning into a long post.
Saturday night there was roller derby. Oh god that was hot. Scantily clad women all pushing each other around on roller skates. I approve. Sadly we couldn't stay long and had to leave early. This proved to be a bad choice indeed.
The weekend I go to Salt Lake City apparently was an LDS conference. I'm not sure what it all entails, but when we left the arena there was an army of men in white shirts and ties all roaming the sidewalks. Seriously there were hundreds of guys and they were blocking traffic something fierce. I rolled down the window and said 'render unto Caesar what is Caesar's', but they all ignored me. The Salt Lake City police did a terrible job of directing traffic and we were stuck there forever surrounded by the holy.
Sunday I was up at the Sundance Resort and it was just as gorgeous as you would imagine. I was sad to leave that evening, for I had a wonderful time and Kellie made a great hostess, even with her lack of driving skills. It was great vacation and I can't thank her enough for her generosity and great company.
On the flight back they showed 'Everybody Loves Raymond' on the screen. Electing not to listen to it the very cute girl next to me and I made up our own dialogue for the show. Our script got surprisingly vulgar and lots of laughter ensued. Later I learned the lady on the other side of me was involved in a Christian orphan fund. Whoops.
"In your hands or that of any other person, so much power would, no doubt, be dangerous. I am the only man in the world whom it would be safe to trust with it. Remember, I am a prophet!" - Joseph Smith