I guess I was going for the title of “World’s Laziest Blogger.” My radio silence has no excuse, except for that, laziness (and maybe, life, work, and all that jazz stealing my attention). In any case, here I am, fresh off a trip to Utah, where I saw so many noteworthy things I just had to write something.
I’ll start with Salt Lake City. I’d only ever been there once before and never got out of the airport. I was excited to explore, as I am with all new cities I visit. You’ll hear this more than once during my post because it bears repeating. This city is WEIRD. Sometimes, that’s a compliment, sometimes not so much.
As a Philly gal at heart, I am always baffled by cities in which there are no crowds of people walking the streets, on their way to work, school, shops, etc. I walked the downtown my second day there and passed only a handful of people, a quarter of whom seemed native, half of whom were tourists (you could tell by their cameras and attire…) and the rest were homeless. I’ll get to that rant in a moment. No one scurrying, chatting on their cell phones, elbowing for space on the sidewalk…it was weird.
I visited the walled, gated compound that houses the Mormon Temple and all of its accoutrement. The grounds and building are opulence quadrupled. At every entrance, more homeless folks. Within the grounds, there were lots of young people with clipboards, like the survey folks that used to corner you in the mall when you exited the Gap. I felt a bit like I was in a live-action video game, where the object was to get out without being tagged by the clipboarders. To keep my sense of humor, I kept humming songs from the Broadway comedy, The Book of Mormon. There’s no admittance to the temple or other buildings for the unworthy masses, but there is a scale model in the visitor’s center in case you may be curious about what all that gleaming white stone looks like on the inside.
I ventured into the LDS Family History Center, the real target of my trip. I am keenly interested in genealogy and in finding my father’s family’s entry into the US. For those that don’t know, the church owns Ancestry and lots of other research sites. They control and house the largest collection of resources for family history research. The experience was so creepy, I didn’t get much research done at all. The experience was part time-share sales pitch and part funeral home showroom. You’re herded into a room to watch a movie. If you get there late, you have to watch it again. Only then are you allowed into the sign up area, where you have to create a computer account under the watchful eye of a “research assistant” who never leaves your side. Unattended folks are a no-no, apparently. I didn’t get much further than a few cursory searches on their database. My handler was in my personal space, smiling her perfectly crafted smile, the whole time. It made the hair on the back of neck bristle. I had to get out before doing anything meaningful.
Lest you get the impression that I didn’t like the city, I’ll offer these few things that I actually loved while I was there.
1. Tony Caputo’s Market and Deli – http://www.caputosdeli.com/ An amazing selection of all things Italian. I could have stayed there for days.
2. Dolcetti Gelato – http://dolcettigelato.com/ – I am a big fan of Capogiro in Philly. This place is the closest anyone in the US has ever come to rivaling Capogiro. Their specialty is Sticky Rice gelato, which I will crave until I return again. It was amazing.
3. The Gateway Shops – OK, it’s a mall. But there’s a cool water park ringed by Olympic Memorial Brick and there was a chalk art festival that was world class. A few shop keepers I spoke with were incredibly nice and friendly. One was in DownEast Basics – http://www.downeastbasics.com/. The other was in Salt Lake City Gifts (no web site). There was also a great art gallery installation right in the mall, at the Urban Arts Gallery – http://utaharts.org/locations/urban-arts-gallery/upcoming-exhibits.