Big City and big plans. We arrived in Salt Lake City late in the afternoon to find that our campground, Salt Lake City KOA, exceeded our expectations. We landed a very nice paved site with an east facing patio, what more can you ask for. The campground itself is an older KOA but very well kept with mature trees which made for a very shaded and pleasant experience. For those of you that don’t see why I’m so excited about all this shade, I’ll just remind you that we had been baking in the desert sun for weeks now, and yes, shade is a good thing 👍
Our big plans and first order of business here was restock and resupply and lucky for us Salt Lake City has everything we needed, including our beloved Trader Joe’s. I restocked on my cheese bites and a few other favorites. The only difference here is that Trader Joe’s or any grocery store does not sell wine or beer, for that you have to go to a state liquor store, that’s a bit of a change for us as we’re used to wine and beer shops separate from the liquor stores. But we’re nothing if not adaptable so no problem for us we hit the local state run liquor store and found a great selection of wines and local beers and a few “spirits” that we were running low on.
Having taken care of the important things first, we headed early the next day to downtown Salt Lake City to visit the temple square and the capital building. The day was just picture perfect with the city framed by a snow covered (yes even in summer) mountain backdrop. We did a lot of walking and picture taking through the beautifully landscaped capital and temple square grounds.
Temple square is a ten acre area right in the middle of downtown which is the nerve center of the Mormon faith or as they rather be called, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. All the buildings in the square, assembly hall, the tabernacle and the conference center (which has a beautiful and very large rooftop garden) are open to the public and free of charge. The only building that is not accessible is the temple itself. As explained to us by our guides, when a temple is first built it is open to the public but once it’s consecrated it closes to the general public and used for private reflection by the Mormon faithful, as well as weddings and baptisms, they hold the temple as a very sacred place. There are eager guides at all of the buildings willing to speak to you and explain the buildings, their faith, their customs and if you are inquisitive enough (as I am ) you’ll walk away with a Book of Mormon as a young missionary lady eagerly handed to us as she walked with us throughout the assembly hall talking about her religion. The entire temple square is absolutely beautiful and peaceful with immaculate gardens and fountains to truly give you a spiritual experience.
After temple square, we drove out to see the Great Salt Lake and we hoped to eat some lunch around there, but no such luck there are no restaurants in the lake area. Nevertheless we had a look at the lake and we were surprised by the size (vast), the color (green), and most surprising, the salty sea air aroma that we associate with oceans. The green water color was due to the wind which was blowing at more than 30 knots, so we were a bit disappointed as we were excepting a more tranquil setting. There were lots of sail boats out there but when we got closer to the water we noticed a denseness about the water due to the high salt content. This is because this lake is fed by three different rivers but there’s no outlet. The water evaporates at the same rate it is fed from the rivers, so the level of the water is constant and the saltiness comes from the minerals at the bottom of the lake that keep seeping into the water. It’s a fascinating phenomenon similar to the Dead Sea, I would imagine you can lay there and float forever but I didn’t want to try it.
So much for sun and heat, the weather took a nasty turn for the worse on our last two days of our visit but no problem, we took some time to relax in our motorhome and do some catching up on mail, get my hair done (I found a nice salon near by) and Leo is never bored tinkering with the electronics and minor adjustments to our motorhome. Nevertheless, we still had time to visit some sites around town. We returned to Temple square to visit the tabernacle which was closed for rehearsal the day before. What a beautiful place this is and we were lucky that the organist was rehearsing at the time we went in which really made the place come alive.
We also took a walk up the street to see the McCune Mansion. This beautiful house was built in 1901 by railroad tycoon Alfred W. MCune for the whopping price of $1 million which in today’s dollars would be around $27 million. The house was built of Utah sandstone and the roof tiles were made in the Netherlands. The interiors include rare materials such as onyx and marble from around the world and works of art, German mirrors, South American mahogany, Russian leather, you name it! Luxury that must have been unparalleled at the time. When the family moved to L.A. in 1920 they donated the mansion to the Mormon church which turned it into a music school. Today the house is used for special events, weddings and such.
What better way to complete our visit than to sample some of the local beers. The state of Utah has some tricky liquor laws so some of the breweries only sell you beer but no sampling allowed. Other breweries get around the law by including a small restaurant which require you to sit down and eat, as you sample. Another option, I call it the Rube-Goldberg option is to build three rooms within a building, all rooms can only be entered from the outside, i.e. not from each other, one has a full bar liscence were you can sample beer, one has food and bar snacks which can go outside to order go back to the bar room, and they bring you the food, and the last room is a bottle shop. We visited Epic Brewery which is very famous here specially for their seasonal “Big Bad Baptist” beer which comes out in September so we will not be bringing any home. This brewery uses the restaurant “must eat model” so we did not sample any beer but bought some bottles for our oldest son, who had made a “special request”. We then went on to Proper Brewing Co. (they employ the Rube-Goldberg model) where we sampled some of the beers they had on tap and had some delicious onion rings to enjoy with the beers. I settled on their Beckerman Brew which is an American Craft Lager and Leo had the Lake Effect Gose which is a Leipziger Gose with Coriander and salt. If you’ve never had a Gose it’s a bit of a shock at first (at least for me) it’s sour and salty and the bartender explained that this is an old German beer recipe before purification laws when into effect in Germany hundreds of years ago. Leo really liked it and bought some to take back. I will pass on this beer as it was too much for me 😜
Tomorrow we’re off to Boise, Idaho, in search of Leo’s ancestral Basque roots (a portion of these people migrated to Boise centuries ago from northern Spain). This region is totally uncharted territory for us. Our major goal is to hit some of the local Basque restaurants. I’ll let you know what we find…. be good 😊