salt lake city

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The drive back to Salt Lake City from Jensen took a bit longer than Google Maps said it would. This was at least partly due to the fact that I was so over the seats in that car.

Once we arrived back in Salt Lake City, I had three goals: 1. to see the state capitol building (and, at one point, I could have crossed a moon tree off my list, but it is dead now); 2. to see City Creek, which was the water source for the early city (and still supplies water to the city today); and 3. to make it back to the airport in a timely manner.

And I achieved all three.

The trip to the capitol building took us up State Street (which makes sense), which eventually becomes one very lane going uphill. It was near the end of the work day (around 4:30 or so), so I figured that most traffic would be headed away from the capitol. I’m not sure why so many cars were headed towards the building at this time of day, but the road was very congested. This was not my favorite part of our trip, and made me wish we had had a little more time and energy on our first day in Salt Lake City to hike up the hill to the capitol. The view of the capitol building once you emerge from this narrow street is very impressive, I’ll give it that.

Once you reach the capitol, you find a street, with the understandable name of “Capitol Street” that makes a circuit around the building. Due to the congestion we didn’t even attempt to make a left and instead just took a right turn. Along the eastern side of the capitol is a very small parking area, so we parked and I got out to take pictures. There was no time to go inside the building.

It was so late at this point, that I despaired of being able to see City Creek until I looked at my phone and noticed that the creek went right past the spot where we were parked. The parking area is at the very edge of City Creek Canyon. So Alex stayed by the car and I took the winding path down into what turned out to be Memory Grove Gardens.

At first, I have to admit that I thought that Memory Grove Gardens looked like a cemetery. I was unaware of the name of this plot of land at this point, but  even the name sounds kind of cemetery-like. The path ended at a replica of the Liberty Bell. As I looked around a saw several marble monuments that looked more than vaguely like graves to my eyes.

City Creek, Memory Grove Gardens Park, Salt Lake City

City Creek, Memory Grove Gardens Park, Salt Lake City, 2017

I spent quite a bit of my childhood visiting a great-aunt and great-uncle who lived down the street from a cemetery, so I’m no stranger to spending time in cemeteries. I thought it might be disrespectful to take pictures, though. Then I noticed some people walking dogs and decided that if it’s okay to walk dogs, it’s probably okay to take pictures there.

I think I saw some kind of sign indicating that this was a park at this point. I’m trying to remember (it was two and a half months ago and the Google Maps car has apparently not been along Canyon Road down there yet). I think the sign indicated where the off-leash area for dogs stops. So I got some pictures of the park, the creek, and the walls of the canyon and went back up to the car. I had been down there for a while, and Alex was about to come down after me.

We got back in the car and filled our gas tank at a very small gas station down the street from the Temple and then headed back to the airport. And even with the late start and everything we still got there in time to recharge our phones before we got on the plane (I also caught a Ponyta at the gate).

I try to visit all of the famous bodies of water that I can make it to when I travel. In 2014, Alex and I went way out of our way to see (and for me to dabble my feet in) the Mediterranean. So, I had to at least see the Great Salt Lake. I had two choices of destinations to visit the lake, Great Salt Lake State Park and Antelope Island.

Antelope Island looked as though it was more “on our way” than Great Salt Lake State Park, since it’s northwest of the city and we’d be traveling northward on our way to Yellowstone, but when I put them both into Google Maps, I realized that Great Salt Lake State Park was actually significantly closer, because to get to Antelope Island, you actually have to go north and then back south again. So, since we were facing a seven-hour trip (six hours if we were going direct, but we were planning to stop in Promontory to visit the Golden Spike National Monument), we opted for the easier-to-access destination.

Great Salt Lake, 2016

The Great Salt Lake, 2016. The water was particularly low this year.

So we headed out. After a brief stop at the store for provisions, we hit Interstate 80 towards Magna. It turned out that Great Salt Lake State Park was probably the better choice for two reasons aside from the shorter commute time.

First, I had read about Saltair, a Victorian-era resort where Mormon dating couples could go swimming and dancing without worrying about their reputations because there were Mormon chaperones everywhere. I did not realize that Saltair had been in that section of the lake. I say “had been” because the original Saltair was destroyed by a fire in 1925. The building at the exit from Interstate 80 is not exactly where the original Saltair had been; the original was two miles farther east, but it was close enough in my opinion.

The second was the Kennecott Utah Copper smelting plant, which is pretty much directly across the Interstate from the park. I had noticed the smokestack (the tallest man-made structure in Utah) from the air, and if we had gone to Antelope Island I may never have known what that smokestack belonged to).

I had read that, due to the brine shrimp and brine flies, it wasn’t really advisable to swim in the water, but when we arrived, I saw people in bathing suits rinsing off under a hose. And I thought, “I’m going to touch that water.”

We nosed around in the visitor’s center for a while and then headed outside. The lake was, well, a lake. There is a lovely little island not too far from shore, and there were a *lot* of brine flies on the shore. There are only two things that live near that water — brine shrimp in the water and brine flies near the shore. However, the brine flies attract (1) migratory birds and (2) spiders. I like spiders, so that part was cool for me.

I didn’t swim in the water (I still had a six-hour (it ended up being even longer) drive ahead of me), but I did wade in up to my ankles. The waves made nice Zen-garden-feeling patterns in the sand. I rinsed my feet off under the hose, but still felt like I needed to wash my hands. The restrooms were kind of dark, but seemed clean enough when I was there.

The observation deck is fully ADA-compliant, as are the restrooms, or so the website of the architect who designed them assures me. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a path down to the water that wasn’t rocky, so that seemed off-limits to wheelchair users.