Monday, February 10, 2020

The Saltiest Places in Utah

We had finished skiing in Park City yesterday and booked an Uber to take us to the airport in Salt Lake City.

The views of the mountains on the trip to the airport were amazing.

I was excited about the Budweiser billboard advertising that full strength beer was now available. You know, since Prohibition ended in 1933. Once Utah reads the rest of the laws FDR signed they are really going to enjoy Truman's stuff.

I was wistfully looking out the window at the places I didn't get to check out in the city. We were so busy skiing that I didn't get to check out any of the touristy stuff that I would normally do. Missing the state capitol building and the Mormon temple was especially annoying. Oh well, maybe next time.

So we went through the airport rigamarole and were in line at the gate to change our seats. I think that we weren't seated together because we bought Basic Economy where you don't even get to choose seats ahead of time. When suddenly, my scammy sense started tingling. My arm hairs were all standing straight up and my ears were kind of perked up and changing direction like a startled deer. There must be a potential scam somewhere nearby! I heard someone in line ahead of us speaking with the gate agent about the flight being overbooked. So when we got to the front of the line I inquired about this problem Delta was having and asked if there was anything I could do to help a friendly corporation in need. It turned out that they were asking for volunteers to take a later flight and offering SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS PER PERSON IN GIFT CARDS as a small symbol of gratitude. I've played Texas Hold'em for years so I went into poker face mode. "Yes madam I may be able to inconvenience myself for Delta Air Lines Inc but could you also throw in some sort of transportation voucher to get us back to the city?" "No, just the giftcards." "Well after careful deliberation with my associate we have decided to accept this offer in the form of $1200 worth of Target giftcards." "Thank you sir. I'll make sure you are sitting together on your flight later this afternoon and we'll put you in the exit row as well. Also you were originally on a flight with a stop in Minnesota but we're going to make that a direct flight for you." BAHAHA! I probably would have done it for $12 as I wanted some time to check out the city anyway.

Back in the day you usually could only gift airline vouchers which had an expiration date and were a pain to use. No more!

Sure enough we got an email from Delta where we got to choose which brand gift cards we wanted. I think I checked my email roughly one hundred times before it arrived.

Decisions decisions. I think we chose Target because then we could buy groceries with the money and be super responsible adults. It didn't quite end up that way but there was an attempt.

Six hundred in the bank, shorty whatchu drank? The entire round trip ticket only cost $258 in the first place.

We rented a car and immediately drove back the way we came.

You might notice that the symbol on the state highway signs here is a big beehive. More on that later.

Our first stop was the Utah state capitol building. I love a good capitol building.

More beehives.

Bee. Hive.

Luckily there was a beehive display case to explain what the heck was going on.

"The Beehive in Utah

Early Mormon pioneer settlers wanted to name their new state Deseret, the word meaning "honeybee" in the church's Book of Mormon. Instead, Congress created a territory in 1850 and named it Utah after one of the region's Native American tribes. Beehives remained important to the citizens of the state. Utahns relate the beehive symbol to industry and the pioneer values of perseverance and thrift. The beehive was chosen as the emblem for a State of Deseret three times; each proposed constitution was rejected in Washington. The beehive was retained as part of the official seal of the new state when Utah entered the Union in 1896 as the 45th state. The beehive became the official state emblem on March 4, 1959."

During this tour I also learned that Utah likes mining. I guess something needed to be done about the mountain infestation around here.

Brigham Young doing a pimp walk. Brigham was the second Mormon leader, founded Salt Lake, and then served as the first governor of Utah Territory. He took over after the first Mormon leader, Joseph Smith, was shot, fell out a window, and then was shot some more in Carthage, Illinois. Just really thoroughly shot it sounds like. Ol Joey had proposed marriage to a couple of his followers' wives, so they left the church, founded a competing church, started a newspaper talking trash about Joey, Joey got mad and sent his goons to destroy their press and then declare martial law, was arrested and charged with treason, an armed mob stormed his prison and shot his brother in the face and then killed him and threw his ass out the window. You know, religious stuff.

This other time ol Joey made some friends in Kirtland, Ohio. While he was sleeping they broke into his house at night, dragged him from his bedroom, choked him until he passed out, tore off his clothes, beat him, forced poison into his mouth, and then tarred and feathered him.

"You look cold bud. Here's some tar and feathers."

There were some good mining paintings.

Next we headed to the church. Our unclean souls weren't allowed inside but we got a good look at the outside of the building.

Nearby is the Tabernacle where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs.

"The Pioneer
Robert Barrett, b. 1949
Oil on canvas, 1996

An aspect of life along the Mormon Trail is presented in this painting of the emigration experience. The artist is a noted illustrator, teacher, and art department administrator at Brigham Young University. This was one example of his many illustrations of scriptural stories and events from the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This painting and its caption are a good example of how this is a very American religion. Western expansion being used as a religious motif is a new one for me. Also I feel like this church is much more brand savvy. It's very on-brand to mention the church and their school in the same breath. I also liked the just obnoxious capital The in The middle of a sentence.

We had to walk through a Macy's to get to the garage where our car was parked. Macy's has this Backstage area where they discount all the leftover stuff. It's kind of like an in-house outlet store. Anyway I suggested we check it out, Lydia gave me the "we have Macy's at home crab crab crab." Then she loved Backstage and bought a bunch of stuff. John Milito, latter day genius.

Salt Lake City was not nearly salty enough for us so we drove out to see the lake itself. I was expecting some sort of lake-related tourist infrastructure out here but I don't think it existed. I think I read that the water level is too unreliable to build anything on it? I would have thought there'd be some kind of spa or something but I guess not.

The closer we got to the Nevada border the more... colorful the billboards became.

We drove all the way out to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Out here it's so flat. How flat is it? It's so flat that this is where people bring their rocket cars to try to break land speed records.

Hit me with some tacos, salty boy.

The Salt Flats Cafe was filled with fun rocket car memorabilia. These things look like submarines with wheels.

We went ahead and checked out the casinos on the other side of the state line in West Wendover. I don't like to brag but I've been to the real Montego Bay in Jamaica. Let's just say I noticed a few key differences.

We tried some of the local fare like this candy Idaho Spud.

A fun salt flats fact is that the Donner party tried to use this area as a shortcut to get to California. It did not go well. Wikipedia:

"The party pressed onward on August 30, having no alternative. In the heat of the day, the moisture underneath the salt crust rose to the surface and turned it into a gummy mass. The wagon wheels sank into it, in some cases up to the hubs. The days were blisteringly hot and the nights frigid. Several of the group saw visions of lakes and wagon trains and believed they had finally overtaken Hastings. After three days, the water was gone, and some of the party removed their oxen from the wagons to press ahead to find more. Some of the animals were so weakened they were left yoked to the wagons and abandoned. Nine of Reed's ten oxen broke free, crazed with thirst, and bolted off into the desert. Many other families' cattle and horses had also gone missing. The rigors of the journey resulted in irreparable damage to some of the wagons, but no human lives had been lost. Instead of the promised two-day journey over 40 miles (64 km), the journey across the 80 miles (130 km) of Great Salt Lake Desert had taken six."

Well getting paid $1200 to sightsee around Utah was an enjoyable arrangement that I'll be sure to tell Delta I'll do for them anytime.

That XFL is really catching on. Maybe I should check it out.

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