Utah--Salt Lake City-- Wal-Mart Escalators to Salt

Trip Start Apr 16, 2009
Trip End Jul 12, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Monday, June 8, 2009

DAY 50, Thursday, June 4--Caught the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) shuttle from the KOA Campground to Temple Square and got a quick tour by the driver. Stood in line 45 minutes at the Tabernacle to get into the Mormon Tabernacle to hear the Choir. It was Air Force Week, so they were doing a special performance that didn't start till 8:30. After the introductory speeches, we only got to hear 4 songs before we had to catch the 9:00 shuttle back to the campground. The building was beautiful, and the 360-member choir was all decked out: women in blue dresses, men in dark suits with red ties. No one in the choir can be over 60, and no one can be in the choir more than 25 years, thus freeing up some slots for new members.

DAY 51, Friday, June 5--Had to get the 18,000 mile check-up done on the car. That went well here in Salt Lake City. We found our way to SLC's Liberty Park, a 27-acre oasis. On the way, we noticed that almost every house had blooming rose bushes. We didn't expect this in Salt Lake City. Seriously, gorgeous roses are everywhere. It adds so much to the beauty of the city. At Liberty Park, there is the famous Tracy Aviary. We spent several hours dodging rain showers there, but it was a pleasant place with over 400 birds and shows with powerful parrots, raptors, and vultures. Some birds were local, but many were from South America and Africa. Some of the birds they housed were American White Pelicans, King Vulture, Golden Eagles, Sun Conures, Scarlet Ibises, Chilean Flamingos, and Grey Crowned Cranes (who had a egg they were guarding). Colorful and exotic! One of the staff members asked us to help her with the training of some birds called Guira Cookoos. The birds had colored bands on their legs. We had the food, chopped mice, and could only give it to the birds whose band matched the color of our limb "station". The goal was to teach the birds who had yellow bands, for example, to fly immediately and only to the yellow station because that's the only place they would get food. It was really fun, the highlight of the visit, never mind the rain shower that started just as we began. Afterwards, we had a late lunch at Red Iguana, on the local restaurant scene since 1985 and the winner of numerous awards for its killer authentic Mexican food. It was so good, we plan to go back again before we leave SLC. The highlight of our evening was going to a SLC Wal-Mart, where we saw our first escalator for groceries...this is true, see the photo.

DAY 52, Saturday, June 6--Today we drove about 30 miles northwest of SLC to Antelope Island State Park, an island of over 28,000 acres in the Great Salt Lake..Barn swallows were flying over our heads as we entered the Visitor's Center.   It was a beautiful day and some of the most gorgeous scenery we have seen. The island provides spectacular views of Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains We saw free-roaming bison, pronghorn antelope, coyotes (one crossing a saltmarsh), shorebirds, and other birds we identified at the Western Meadowlark, Loggerhead Shrike, and Chukar. We had lunch at a high trailhead, and hiked a bit. Mostly we scoured the land for animals and took photos of all the beautiful views . At the end of the road, there was the Fielding Garr Ranch (1848), an old restored ranch open for visitors. The old gas-powered wringer washer there was an amazing early invention. Towards the end of the day, we made our way to the extremely wide beach of Great Salt Lake. The water was shallow and warm, and more than six times saltier than the ocean. Yes, we tasted it. Today was too cool for swimming (in the high 60's), but we did wade in up to our knees. After we came out of the water and air-dried, our legs were covered in a very white haze of salt and minerals. As we were leaving the park, we noticed countless swirls of brine flies on the causeway, like little tornadoes. The shorebirds eat them, accounting for  the large number of birds near the causeway. We had innumerable nasty little spatters on our windshield

It's hard to believe we have been in Utah over two weeks, far more time than any other state. Before planning this trip, we didn't know there was so much to see here. Utah is amazing and quirky, as well, but there's a lot more here than Mormons.

DAY 53, Sunday, June 7-- Today we drove to Temple Square, heard the full 30-minute radio broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word" from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We enjoyed it much more than Thursday night. Our seating downstairs instead of the balcony may have provided a better blend of sound. Afterwards in the driving rain, we toured Temple Square, the Assembly Building, and the North Visitor's Center with two female "missionaries" and sat the Visitor's Center saw a movie about Jesus coming to Americas. After lunch at BJ's near Temple Square, the rain cleared so we headed over to Washington Square for the Utah Pride Festival, a big two-day event here in SLC. This area has a very large, active GLBT population, which surprised us because of the Mormon majority. Quite a contrast for one day, but very educational on both fronts. After a few hours there, we rode back to Temple Square to get the photos we couldn't get in the morning. See Moroni at the top of the Temple. Moroni is the angel who gave the golden plates to Joseph Smith.

More about the Mormons to follow next entry...
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