Last week we got the opportunity to go to Salt Lake City, Utah for a family vacation.
We haven’t been on a “real vacation” in years.
I should say that we have been lucky to visit my parents when they lived in Tennessee for four years and those were indeed vacations but this was the first time we had been somewhere together that none of us had been before.
The last time we did that was six years ago in Branson Missouri.
It went so well that I started a blog to get me over the trauma of that trip.
My husband had actually spent two weeks here last summer as his company is based in Salt Lake City.
He would send me pictures here and there but let’s face it, he is a guy.
I got maybe three pictures and two of them were from the local Target parking lot because he ran out of shaving cream.
Nerdy me who is in awe of places different than here would ask him questions like, “what is the temperature? Can you see the mountains all around?? NO HUMIDITY?? WHAT KIND OF VOODOO MAGIC IS THAT???”
To which he would give me basic replies like, “yeah, it’s pretty here. From the bar. At the BBQ restaurant across from my hotel.”
So when I found out we would get to see Utah for ourselves, I got excited and decided to bring my big girl camera with us because I wanted to document every moment.
More for proof that we actually do get out of the Midwest occasionally.
That and I don’t have time to create a second blog.
Everyone we talked to who lives locally said not to visit the Great Salt Lake.
So, of course, I was all in because you had me at “don’t visit……”.
Look, I live a three-hour plane ride from here and I don’t know when I will be back.
I needed to see it for myself.
I got Ella all motivated before the trip by reading Salt Lake books that we got at the library.
You’d think she was going to Disney, she was so excited to jump in this lake, all because of the research we did before the trip.
There is a reason they call it the Great Salt Lake.
So there’s a lot of salt in this lake.
A HELLA LOT.
This, in turn, gives the water a smell.
Like rotten eggs.
Yet still, she waded further out, completely undeterred.
With every splash, rotten egg smell would run up my nose.
My feet on what used to be covered by the Great Rotten Egg Stench Salt Lake.
My point is this: if you have never been to an area before and there are places that you want to see but locals tell you to skip it?
Do what you need to do to smell the rotten eggs.
I regret NOTHING.
Oh and one other side effect of the salt?
You won’t need to starch your clothes once they dry.
Yes, those are her shorts standing at attention.
The girls will be talking about this for years.
Again, I regret nothing.
That same morning, we left the Great Salt Lake and drove up to a ski resort that teenage me always wanted to ski.
How cool is it that you can be in a smelly lake and 25 minutes later be up on the top of a mountain?
Oh Utah, you saucy minx you.
The kids thought it was beautiful and loved the drive up but this part of the trip was mostly for me.
My teenage avid skier self would pore over my SKI magazine each month and see places like this and say, I AM GONNA SKI THERE SOMEDAY.
I never got to.
But when I got up here and saw the size of the hills, my 46-year-old self-said, ARE YOU FRIGGIN’ KIDDING ME? YOU COULD BREAK A HIP!
The biggest hit for the girls were these little animals we saw in the mountains that my mom later informed me were marmots.
They are very friendly and like people who have food.
Anna and Ella followed them around the entire lodge area.
This was how I found Ella before we left.
She was saying goodbye to one of the marmots.
We did make a few pit stops on the side of the road to take pictures.
This stop was because of the mountain stream running alongside the road.
Ella loved this so much and in hindsight, I wish we had stayed longer so she could enjoy it.
Okay so everyone has an opinion and this place is either a love or not love kind of establishment.
I was so excited to go because I had never been to one and there was another reason as well: it plays a key role in my screenplay.
So really, going here was for research purposes as well.
By the way, it was a hit with the girls.
I thought it was great, a little salty, but really good.
It was just fun to go to a place that we didn’t have at home, which was the theme of this trip.
Do stuff we can’t do in Illinois.
A cartwheel because of vacation.
This picture was taken inside the walkway of the mall.
Downtown Salt Lake City is beautiful, clean and easy to get around.
Nothing like Chicago.
Because it is a smaller city, it is so easy to drive in and actually enjoy the city.
Chicago is wonderful but we are used to SUCH a large city.
This one was much more “user-friendly’ as I like to say.
Oh you know, just a stream with fish inside the mall.
Ella was in Heaven the entire visit.
We had ducks staying at our hotel.
Say hello to Clarence and Patricia.
They stayed in room 430.
On day three after the company picnic, Mike got to join us for our Utahpalooza.
For the first two we were in town, it was just us girls since it was mostly business for him.
After his company picnic on day three, we decided to head up to Park City to see the town and would return the following day to do activities like zip lining etc..
And this is where the title of this post comes into play.
Utah was kicking my husband and me in the ass by the time we got to Park City.
I had heard the advice before we left, telling us to be careful of the change in elevation and not to do anything strenuous etc..
I had noticed I had little headaches each day, especially after coming out of the mountains, so I thought that must be what everyone was talking about.
When we got out of our car in Park City, I felt like I was walking sideways.
Literally walking sideways.
My head was all floaty.
Yes, that’s a word because I was indeed feeling floaty.
It was after we got something to eat and drink two glasses of water that I started feeling a little better.
People in Park City keep their dogs on top of cars.
This doggie was on top of a truck….as it was driving down the street.
Man, that dog is the shit.
I can’t walk in a straight line and he can stand on top of a truck like a big old boss.
Well, this explains a lot.
I can guarantee I would have felt less floaty being weed HIGH rather than being elevation HIGH.
Next time I go, I shall smoke weed ahead of time to help with the floaty feeling.
Oh wait, that’s Colorado.
Looking up airfare to Colorado…
Mike really struggled with the elevation.
I mean, STRUGGLED.
It turns out he was a tad dehydrated, so the next day we decided to take it easier.
By taking the curviest road known to man up to the top of the mountain on our way back to Park City.
Some would call that perseverance, some would call that stupidity, we called it we have to go because we fly home the next day, so suck it up buttercup.
Many people told us to take the back way to Park City, not the highway.
I reasoned to my husband was that maybe this would be a better transition into the elevation.
I plied all of us with bottled water and off we went.
See where those cars are parked?
See how it looks like there is nothing beyond the cars?
Yeah, that’s because there is nothing beyond the cars.
Remember the choo-choo of death I talked about in Chattanooga?
Because there wasn’t a carefully controlled choo-choo train between you and your demise.
There was just the car you were driving, the edge of the road and your demise.
You had to depend on other people and their driving skills to keep you from your demise.
People who in all actuality were also tourists, snapping pictures, stopping for wildlife, dealing with their wives fetal position crying whilst leaning into them as she is imagining out loud very bad scenarios.
Is our car making funny noises?
What if our brakes just all of a sudden stopped working?
What if an antelope were to just POP out of the woods into our path??
What if that driver has a vendetta against red cars and decides that he wants to run ours off the road???
But enjoy the view kids, because we are making memories here.
We hit up Utah’s Olympic Park in Park City, home to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The 13-year-old skier in me was so excited to come here since this would be the closest I would ever get to anything Olympic.
Disclosure- when I was a teen skier, I secretly had dreams of going to the Olympics. Only I didn’t have a trainer. Or a training camp. Or sponsors who will pay for my trainer and training camp. Or raw talent.
So this was cool for me.
We even got to see skiers ski down the slopes into the pool.
The Olympic Park is still used as a training center.
We got to see the show for about 10 minutes for free until the paid show started, then we were out of there because as WAY cool as it was, we are WAY cheap.
We stayed for a little while then head to the Park City resort to do the rest of the activities.
Like scaling down a mountain on little sleds (hell to the no), or riding up a ski lift to the top of the mountain (are you freaking kidding me?) or riding the mountain coaster (what the fresh hell..).
A mountain coaster is a roller coaster type car that takes you from the bottom of the mountain, straight up to the top.
Oh, and did I mention that you are at the mercy of the cars in front and back of you because YOU are in control of the speed and brakes (no YOU stop it).
We dropped 80 of our precious vacation dollars on the mountain coaster because that seemed like it was the least intense activity for grampa and I as well as the kids (as far as we could see. from the ticket booth, a good half mile from the line we waited in).
It wasn’t until we got closer that we saw the actual hill that we got to ride up in our self-controlled cars.
I didn’t take a picture of the hill because I had the nervous sweats so enjoy this picture of a similar hill.
I finally told my husband that I just couldn’t do it.
He unselfishly decided to pass on the ride as well (I am being nice, He was scared shit less too) and told the girls that they could do this together and we would meet them at the Mexican restaurant we saw on the way in.
We sat here and ate chips, salsa, and a margarita until they returned from the ride.
It’s a hard life but someone had to do it.
By the way, my 16-year-old, not afraid to do anything because she is 16 daughter said, “holy crap that was scary” after getting back.
I have no regrets.
After a day of activities (mountain coaster for the girls; chips and margaritas for the adults), we decided to head to our hotel to rest then venture out and see Salt Lake City one more time before we left the next morning.
This didn’t go over well with the children at first because OMG MOM, WE ARE SO TIRED AND DIDN’T WE SEE ENOUGH ALL WEEKEND, OMG.
I told them that we were making memories, dammit and you can lay in bed at home and snapchat friends/ watch Spongebob there.
We found this place because it looked cool, wasn’t busy and had a good Yelp rating.
It wasn’t until we sat down that we found out it was also featured on Diners, Drive In’s and Dives.
I wish we had seen it before we got there because then we would have known what to order.
We ordered pizza and it was just eh.
But I watched the video when we got home and want to go back because I guarantee the other food would be better.
Taking pictures with the iPad on the drive around the city.
WITH THE WINDOWS OPEN because of no humidity.
Never gets old.
Look at that view.
Everywhere you looked, VIEW.
We get to see the local water tower and the Home Depot from our house.
And we have higher property taxes than Utah.
Illinois- you are doin’ something wrong.
Sadly, it was time to go home, say goodbye to the mountains and hello to the Home Depot.
In the airport on our way home, we were in line when they kindly informed us that we needed to move to another one.
Because we were behind the Mormon Tabernacle Choir heading out for the world tour starting in Berlin.
As you do.
So you could say we got the entire Salt Lake City experience in our short four-day vacation.
I really miss looking at the mountains.
From afar because LIKE HELL am I getting on one of those billy goat coasters.
Maybe I can convince my local Home Depot to build mountains of mulch in their parking lot to recreate our Utah visit.