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Days Traveled, Unraveled: Utah

Things hadn’t changed for me since the age of 8, since apparently all I wanted to do was be like Mary-kate and Ashley Olsen and visit Salt Lake City. Mimicking their movie, “Getting There,” I was desperate to see what would be cool in Salt Lake City, despite the absence of the 2002 Winter Olympics (AKA the plot of the movie). Although Mely and I don’t have their looks, boyfriends, a convertible car, or really anything that they had, we were in fact, “Getting There,” in multiple ways; Whether it meant SLC, or near the end of the trip, or just exhausted, or what have you, ‘there’ could mean a lot of things.


We actually didn’t know where ‘there’ was since we didn’t know where we were staying. And with only a couple of states left, our money was extremely TIGHT. We were starting to go into panic mode. We posted statuses, tweets, I asked some random quidditch team, etc. Then Mely remembered about this app that my friend Rachel’s mom had told us about when we were in Florida–Couchsurfers. It allows users to search for homes to stay at for free. The homeowners get to look at your profile and decide whether or not they’re willing to let you stay with them. There were a lot of weird, untrustworthy options, and the wait for the good homeowners to accept us back was nerve-racking.

But during our travels toward SLC, we were accepted by this hippie lady! She had told us she attended Woodstock and used to do things like this all the time, so she was more than happy to share her place with new Couchsurfers such as ourselves, and many before us. The short and tiny, frail lady had long silver hair and very tanned skin. Her apartment had only natural products (soaps, shampoos, cleaning products), including her own grown food. She picked off some plant and offered some to us, but we politely declined. When asking for a microwave for our individual Mac & Cheese cups, she explained she was anti-microwave and didn’t have one. When I considered making instant oatmeal, I realized we needed a microwave for that, too. It was kind of weird, being in a 21st century home without a microwave. You don’t realize how often you use it. Again, it was weird. But she was nice! But it was weird.

IMG_5492It was late, so we headed for bed–er, couch. The next morning we figured we’d see the actual Salt Lake itself, but man, it was hard just getting there. It was highway, upon dead-end, upon ending up somewhere else. Felt impossible, but we knew we’d see the lake while entering the Antelope Island State Park, so we bit the bullet and paid the 20 or something dollars for entry. It was mostly a beach. Which wasn’t exciting for me since I LIVE at the beach. A salt lake is impressive, but it all looked and felt the same to me, so I was underwhelmed. Their bison on the ‘shore’ or ‘beach’ was a neat sight, though. So there were ups and downs for me, personally, since I was a little ticked at the price of entrance, and all of the effort it took us to find it. Not to mention, I lived in constant edginess. And I don’t mean that in the ‘cool-hipster’ way. I mean that in the ‘so easily ticked off’ and ‘aggressive’ way. I couldn’t control it. I was ready for this trip to be over. I was enjoying what I was experiencing, but I was always tired. I was annoyed by the slightest thing Mely would do, and I wished for another friend to accompany me to break up the constant contact with Mely. I feared what it would be like for me to be in a serious relationship, living with someone in the future, but I had to keep reminding myself that Mely was literally always with me 24/7. I just needed a break from her and her Disney/LA obsessed self. There were more than a few times by now where I wished she could have driven. And seeing her on her phone while I had to drive was such a tease. I felt stupid that I wanted passenger seat time so that way I could read twitter, or text someone, or do ANYTHING ELSE than drive, but the road was my only sight. Again, I was tired.

And I hate complaining about an amazing roadtrip that so many friends contributed to, but I needed those friends in these places. I had a new sight nearly every day, and this trip was supposed to break the static ‘stuck’ feeling back home. And it did. But the road and Mely’s presence became the new ‘stuck’ feeling. So I would try to tame myself the best I could, but there was nothing either of us could do about it except move on.

IMG_5504So we went to the famous Temple Square–land of the Mormons. You can’t see the inside of the temple unless you’re getting married, but you can tour outside of it. With beautiful gardens and friendly people, I wondered to myself what the Mormons actually believed in? Heads up: It’s God. They also believe in a prophet, either outside of or in addition to Jesus, I can’t remember. Inside the other buildings in the square, some recruiting Mormons told us that this prophet had traveled to Salt Lake City and rallied up some followers and that’s why SLC is so Mormon heavy.

IMG_5499No kidding. Mormonism exists EVERYWHERE in Salt Lake City–and in Utah itself. I can’t describe how it’s everywhere, but just trust me when I say that it is. I just had no idea. After the Mormon lesson, we walked across the street to this mall. A simple mall that had the same stores as anywhere, but it was something to do. They had a free trolley running through, but we weren’t sure we wanted to take it. As we waited at a crosswalk, we noticed teams running about all over the town on the lovely day. Some people wearing costumes, others wearing matching shirts. Some wearing tutus or tiaras. There were A LOT of people.

IMG_5500A lady came up to us and asked us if we could do anything to help them. We were very confused until they explained the city-wide scavenger hunt. Going down their list, we were able to help them out as we were out-of-staters! Too close to CA, they already had a California license on their list, but NJ was one they were not running into at all. We posed with the team of excited ladies for a picture, and continued on. In my typical hangry fashion, we ate next, knowing that Mely would get ripped a new one any second if I didn’t eat soon. Thankfully the food court was right there.

We browsed a little bit more, but went back to the apartment. The lady (whose name I cannot remember) was surprised by our early arrival, but we headed back out on my insistence to see the ice skating rink where the Olympians practiced. I made Mely ice skate uncomfortably. She told me she wouldn’t enjoy it and I basically barked at her to just have fun.

But I learned that you can’t make someone have fun. I told her to just open herself up and be able to laugh at yourself, because no one cares that you cant skate (except maybe those people who were spinning and doing tricks like it was nothing). But that didn’t work. Half of my aggression about this was due to my friends back home who hated ice skating just because they weren’t good at it. I hated that theory. Especially since I am no good at ice skating either!

So I did a few more rounds while Mely did, like, 2, and finally headed out. Since our time at the rink was brief, we tried finding cool, downtown things to do, but it was mostly bars. And some areas got dark fast. So we went back to the apartment again and relaxed.

SLC was pretty, but I don’t know if I feel a desire to go back. Maybe it was my mood and I’d have to try again.  Either way, we were one step closer to home.

Next morning, we ate Cracker Barrel–something I had promised Mely since the beginning of the roadtrip. We enjoyed our breakfast and Mely enjoyed her additional maple syrup bottles.Her pride in the small maple syrup bottles was soon crushed–literally–since she left it atop the car as we moved forward to Bryce Canyon.

Bryce was and wasn’t a lot like the Grand Canyon. Both extensive in size, seemingly endless, and same color pallet, but Bryce had tall pointy mounds, rather than one giant hole. It was definitely interesting. Similar to the Grand Canyon, it is hard to describe or capture, and you just need to see for yourself. Plus, I’ve gone on long enough.

We considered hitting up both Bryce and Zion, but there wasn’t enough time, for we had a fun night in Las Vegas, Nevada ahead of us.





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