When Caesar and Emmett tried to book rooms at Salt Lake City a few days back, they were hard to come by. They finally scored a good deal south of the city. Getting into town, it turns out that there were several conventions in full swing. At least traveling into the city was against traffic, so overall it worked out in our favor. Our first stop was Temple Square, the exact center of town. Even at 9AM in the morning it was busy. The Mormon population is very predominant and very active. It is also incredibly international, and you get that cosmopolitan feeling in the air.
There is no end to the museums and exhibits. Very well maintained, very well done, and courteous people all around. After coming all this way, a visit to the genealogy archives was irresistible. As it turns out, people can do the same research on familysearch.org. But it was very helpful to get the insight on how to utilize the system. An hour later we needed to come up for air and toured the “Beehive” house. It’s not shaped like a beehive. It was Brigham Young’s original house. Pretty cozy, and in line with the mid-1800’s Victorian styling. Its name is from the beehives carved into the wood staircase railings and finials. The beehive (Deseret) is the symbol adopted by the Mormons, representing working together towards common goals. A worthy concept to live by.
At noon we found ourselves in the conference center for the daily organ recital. We had been to the acoustic house, which is where the recital is usually performed. As luck would have it, the organ was in repair – though we did manage to hear the acoustics demonstrated for a private tour. Quite impressive. The actual recital was a half hour long, and very entertaining. The presentation reminded me a lot of the opening section of Disney’s film Fantasia.
There are several eateries located within the Temple Square grounds, but Emmett and Caesar decided to search around the downtown section and found a jewel of a local brewery south of square. Squatters Pub and Beers (located in the Salt River Brewing Company Building), had a good menu and tasty beer as well. Casual, low key crowd, the perfect atmosphere for a leisurely lunch to rest those weary feet and plan out the rest of the afternoon.
Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah, which meant that a visit and tour of the State Capital was in order. In this picture, you can appreciate the marble work. The load bearing columns are 100% marble. Caesar was pretty impressed. Another interesting factoid is that all the doors within the building are made of metal, but treated to look like wood. Until you knock on them, you are convinced they are wood. Murals and exhibit halls and period paintings round out the tour. Views of the city are incredible and well worth the climb up the hill.
Also worth a look is the Old Union Pacific Station. It has been transformed from the hub of 1900’s train travel to the entrance of the outdoor city mall. There are murals and also restored ticket booths in the hall. The mall itself is noted on the UTA Trax system as City Creek. This is from the row of fountains that run through the center, perpendicular to the old train station entry. There is a lot of action there from all walks of life. The day ended with a trip to the University of Utah campus.
Now how can anyone travel to Salt Lake City without seeing the Great Salt Lake? One option was to take a drive around the lake perimeter. Based on the advice of the waitress at Squatters, we opted for the drive to Antelope Island State Park, which is located on the lake and reached by bridge. Great advice! There is camping on the island, as well as hiking trails and Fielding Garr Ranch. The Island still has the namesake antelope – or Pronghorn. There is a plethora of bird life as well. The one thing that a lot of tourists look for, though, is the buffalo herd that was introduced in the 1900’s to help the buffalo recover their numbers. It’s been a successful operation, by all accounts.
Fielding Garr is not a working ranch, but a preservation of the actual ranch that was settled over 100 years ago. Many of the original buildings still stand. One claim is having developed the first automated sheep shearing operation. Caesar got a kick out of the fact that there was a spinning wheel, as well as spinning gear, on display. More validation that this was really a necessary part of life in the day when you couldn’t just shop for clothes or yarn as we do today.
Back in town, the Pioneer Memorial Museum, run by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, is beyond description. We were told that people just donate family articles, and there are cases and cases of personal effects – glasses, hats, purses, jewelry, dolls, books, dresses, gloves, jewelry made from hair, handwoven blankets and quilts, to name a few of the item categories. Caesar was thrilled once again to see actual weaving looms! And for the pleasure of my friends Laura and Jocelyn, there was even a sock machine on display, from the era. Incredible.
You can imagine that Caesar and Emmett were pretty hungry by now. As serendipity would have it, another brewery was discovered in town – RedRock Brewery. Caesar’s favorite selection was the Black Bier – a cross of amber and Guinness, which she had with the warm goat cheese salad – pure heaven. Emmett had the spicy sausage pizza which was wood-fired perfection.
Cruising downtown SLC, one fun thing to do is riding the UTA Trax system – a great metro rail system. There is a designated “free zone” area, which we took advantage of. Clean, dependable, a real asset in the city proper. This was the last day in the area, the night was still young with a lot going on in the city, so the evening wrapped up with a lost tour of Temple Square, visiting the log cabin and the Mormon Museum of History.