We entered Utah from Idaho; farms & ranches dot the landscape which is otherwise flat and uninteresting. Potatoes, onions & corn seem to be the crops and cattle are abundant. It was windy, rainy and generally overcast which casted a pall over the area. The people living here have a tough but honest life.
Our first stop was Brigham City, the place where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads came together in 1869. A National Reserve, there is a visitor center with historical information and an opportunity to see the “Golden Spike”. Ah, one small problem. The Golden Spike is actually at the Stanford University museum. Leland Stanford, former governor of California and President of the Central Pacific at the time, as well as name sake for Stanford University, was able to snag the golden spike for perpetuity. But it was fun to see where history was made and see the names of the “Big Four” (Stanford, Hopkins, Huntington & Crocker) on the placard.
Just south of Brigham City lies Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah. We made a visit to Temple Square, the home of the Mormon Church in the United States. We certainly learned a lot about the Mormon religion, something that I thought I was a bit more informed about.
Our other goal in visiting Salt Lake City was a stop at Antelope Island, one of the many islands in the Great Salt Lake. Antelope Island State Park is home to a herd of bison, Pronghorn antelope, mule deer & bighorn sheep. Fresh water springs dot the island. Antelope Island, as well as the whole general area, provides a much needed stop for migratory birds passing through the Pacific Flyway. Bison are large and fast animals. I made it a point to have the car between me and them when I was taking pictures.
During our visit, it rained. If fact, it has been rather rainy since we left OR. So we took the opportunity to visit the Natural History Museum at the University of Utah. It was a fascinating look at the geology of the area, as well as an impressive collection of dinosaur bones. Utah boasts the highest collection of dinosaur fossils on earth.
I would like to say that we had the opportunity to check out the local food scene. However, I would like to think that the time of year dictated the lack of local food in the markets. I did, however, score some local peaches, which I thought would have been long gone from markets. Instead, we dedicated our time to one of our favorite beverages….beer.
I have three favorite beers: Boneyard’s RPM IPA and Deschutes Brewery’s Bachelor Bitter and Black Butte Porter. I am also a confirmed hop head. We decided to keep track of the beers that we drink and rank them on a scale of 1-10. So far:
Squatters Chasing Tail Golden Ale (bottle) – 6
Wasatch Brewery: Clothing hOptional Pale Ale (draft) – 5 and Hop Rising Double IPA (bottle) – 8
Polygamy Porter (draft) – 7 and Cutthroat Pale Ale (draft) 6
Utah has some strange liquor laws, although they have certainly improved over the years. Draft beer (the only way to drink beer, in my humble opinion) is 4% ABV (alcohol by volume). Higher proof beers are only available in bottles. However, I think there is something to say about low alcohol beers, especially when you enjoy them with lunch. I didn’t feel like a couch potato after a couple of brews.
Speaking of alcohol, we also made a stop at Park City’s (and the country’s) only ski-in distillery. My kind of place. High West Distillery, just off Main Street, specializes in rye, but also makes bourbon & vodka. I had the sampler, a selection of four of their products. Of course, Utah liquor laws prevented me from having ALL four samples at the same time. Just two. Once finished, I was able to sample the other two. What I discovered is this. I am not a rye drinker. They also make a spirit called Campfire, a mix of bourbon, rye and scotch. Jeff (the scotch drinker), enjoyed it, but I found it undrinkable.
Another fun adventure was a visit to Sundance Mountain Resort, Robert Redford’s place outside of Provo. A beautiful, secluded canyon hides this resort, which Redford opened to honor nature and the native peoples. We enjoyed lunch at the Owl Bar, the old hang out of Butch Cassidy and gang. Redford had it brought down from Wyoming and reconstructed at Sundance. And did I mention that Robert Redford is probably my favorite actor of all time? I would return here in a minute.
But the highlight of the week was a visit with our friend Beth from Santa Barbara. Beth was meeting a friend in Park City, so we coordinated our stay with her visit. Beth, Jeff and I have been to dude ranches together, as well as horse pack trips. And did I mention she brought Tonka, her 13 month old black lab. The girls (dogs) were in heaven.