Utah – Days 4-5: Salt Lake City and Arches National Park

Brittany Swanson   March 24, 2016   Comments Off on Utah – Days 4-5: Salt Lake City and Arches National Park

My fourth day in Utah I went exploring in Salt Lake City. I found a place to park and as I made my way to the crosswalk I saw this sign:

Sign says: Look left and right when crossing - for added visibility carry orange flag across with you...

Sign says: Look left and right when crossing – for added visibility carry orange flag across with you…

I nearly died laughing, but I used the flag nonetheless. Needless to say, I did not die crossing the street, as the added visibility of the orange flag clearly alerted drivers to my presence on the road, in case the bright teal skirt I was wearing did not…

After safely crossing the street I started my adventures at Temple Square. The headquarters of the Mormon Church is in Slat Lake City and Temple Square is home to one of the most renowned Mormon Temples. It was a beautiful day and the grounds were really pretty, but honestly I felt a bit uncomfortable. I’m not entirely sure why I felt uncomfortable either. Maybe I just really felt like an outsider. Fortunately, that day I was wearing a skirt which, for some reason, made me feel a little better.

Mormon Temple in Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT.

Mormon Temple in Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT.

I don’t know much about Mormonism. I’ve known a few Mormons in my life, but for some reason I haven’t ever asked them about their beliefs. In Temple Square there is a museum/visitor’s center where people can learn more about Mormonism. I went inside and it smelled like and had the vibe of a funeral home. It freaked me out. I wandered to the end of the museum, briefly pausing to look at a few things and then quickly turned around and beelined for the door. I stopped and took a minute to appreciate the model that showed the inside of the Temple but then I promptly left. Once outside I still felt uncomfortable so I left the whole Temple Square area.

I then inadvertently stumbled upon a mall. It was an outdoor type of mall. Well, the walkways were mainly outdoors. I hadn’t been shopping in a while and two of the four skirts that I wear on a regular basis now have holes in the butt, so I decided to swing through H&M and see if I could find some new pants.

Find pants I did! Buy two get one free at $10 a pair?! Yes, please! Three new pairs of pants later and only $20ish later and I was feeling pretty good. I also swung into Forever21 in hopes of adding a new shirt to my wardrobe but, as per usual, shirts eluded me…

While in the mall I saw signs welcoming USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology) for the same days I was in Salt Lake. I immediately got really excited and wondered if I’d be able to sneak in to see some cool stuff, and then just as quickly I dropped back to reality and realized I no longer work in the industry, so it didn’t really matter. Of course, I could still go and totally nerd out, but networking and whatnot was no longer a thing I needed to do. Strange how quickly things can change. After shopping I saw some kids with some USITT swag and thought of how funny it was that I knew who they were and what they did, but they had no idea who I was or what I’ve done. The world really is an incredible place.

I wandered around downtown Salt Lake for a bit longer and then drove my car to check out the Gilgal Sculpture Garden. It was kinda weird. There were Bible verse carved into rocks and lots of sculptures that seemed to have a religious tilt to them. At the time, having just come from Temple Square, I thought it was Mormon inspired. I hadn’t realized prior to my arrival that the garden would be mostly religion based. It made me sort of uncomfortable again, so I didn’t stay long.

Gilgal Sculpture Garden, Salt Lake City, UT.

Gilgal Sculpture Garden, Salt Lake City, UT.

The plan for the evening was to go with my host to the Sportsman Expo in town because we heard there were baby bears you could play with there. Obviously, we had to go play with baby bears. Unfortunately, my host got delayed in traffic because of the Bernie Sanders rally in town, which, had I known about in advance, I totally would have gone to, but oh well.

There were two girls from the UK surfing with my host the night we went to see the baby bears who came with us. The bears were two and a half months old and adorable! It cost $20 to get a picture taken with them and hold them, but it was totally worth it. Though we split the cost between the four of us, so that meant only one person got to hold the bear in the picture. 🙁

Posing with a baby bear at the Sportsman Expo in Salt Lake City, UT.

Posing with a baby bear at the Sportsman Expo in Salt Lake City, UT.

The four of us wandered around the rest of the Expo, picking up any free stuff. I think one of the other Couchsurfers left with shirts from Ford and Ram and a hat from Dodge. I thought this was really funny and wanted her to wear all of it at the same time. In our wanderings we came across a guy who pulled a sugar glider out of his pocket. I’d never seen or heard of a sugar glider before. In fact, the guy had a sugar glider in each of his four pockets. We stayed for his entire presentation and got to hold one of the sugar gliders. They’re so cute!

We also perused the taxidermy exhibit outside the main hall. Where I was appalled to see the head and neck of a giraffe. Really?! Why would someone kill a giraffe?! After leaving the exhibit our host asked us what we wanted to to next. I suggested we go get ice cream… Everyone agreed that was a lovely idea so we went to Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. I had a mint Oreo custard and some french fries. The fries were weird; they were the tiny shoe-string fries. I wasn’t much of a fan.  The custard was good though, very thick. I’d never had frozen custard before. I liked it.

My last day in Utah I drove to Arches National Park. I’d been probably as excited to see the arches as I had been to see the Grand Canyon – they are such an iconic American sight. I did that thing I do when I go to National Parks where I stop at most of the viewpoints. I was at this one, walking back to my car when I had a crazy pain in my right thigh. It felt like I’d pulled a muscle. Crap.

One of the Arches...I don't remember which one...Arches National Park, UT.

One of the Arches…I don’t remember which one…Arches National Park, UT.

I decided to start with the viewpoints of Delicate Arch, the famous one and then do the two hour hike to see it up close after that. The lower viewpoint was super lame. It was so far away I could barely see it. The upper viewpoint was a little better, but I just really wanted to go see it up close. Unfortunately, as I finished hiking from the upper viewpoint back to my car the pain in my leg got worse. Every step hurt.

I thought it’d be wise to take a break from walking on my leg, elevate it, and take some Advil and see if that helped. While I laid in the backseat of my car resting my leg I was annoyed that I’d chosen the viewpoint where a large group of college Spring Break-ers was treating the parking area like a tailgate party. They were so loud! Eventually, they headed out on their hike. But before they left I heard, “Are you a whale? ‘Cause I’d invite you into my pod…” and a girl was freaking out that someone named Josh didn’t have his hat. I had to laugh and get up off the seat to see what the hats looked like. Once I saw the hats the terrible whale pickup line totally made sense because this group of like twenty students all had on pink foam whale hats. They were already halfway down the trail when I saw them, so I couldn’t ask… but it sure was funny.

Resting my leg did help, but it still hurt at times and I didn’t want to risk getting stuck or hurting it worse on the hike to the Delicate Arch, so I chose to skip it. Instead, I went to check out the Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch. I forgot to look and see if the hike was a loop or not and how long it was, so I accidentally ended up on an hour long hike which also included the Tapestry Arch. Thankfully the trail was a loop because the sun was setting…and if I’d had to go back the way I came it definitely would’ve been dark by the time I got back. I laughed when I passed the same couple the second time on a different part of the trail. I guess they knew it was a loop…

Overall, I was a little disappointed with Arches, but I think that was mainly because I didn’t get to hike to see the Delicate Arch up close. The rest of the park was ok, but I liked Bryce Canyon and Zion better.