From Vegas, I headed back onto the I-15, driving north towards Utah. I was in Arizona for all of 30 minutes and had to drive through the Virgin River Canyon. Well, desert canyons are now my impression of Arizona.
Pretty soon I was in Utah, driving through the red bluffs near St. George before heading into the mountains. Utah is absolutely gorgeous. I left a piece of my heart there. I could not get my fill of the snow-capped mountains and lush valleys. Thankfully, I arrived after the blizzard that dumped a few inches of snow early last week. It’s almost summer, for goodness’ sake! The air was nippy, and I reveled in the experience of true spring.
Salt Lake City is surrounded on all sides by mountains, in an area known as “the bowl.” The city reminds me of Austin and Portland, probably also because I got to hang out with creative people during my stay there. I’m told that although Utah is known for being largely Mormon, Salt Lake City is actually quite liberal and vastly different from the rest of the state. The arts thrive here, and all sorts of live performances make downtown a vibrant place. I could live here!
The public library is an architectural work of art, both within and without. A magnificent, portaled wall surrounds the library, drawing visitors in. The exterior walls are mostly of glass, and the library houses a café as well as several stores on the ground floor. Three floors above, the library roof has a garden and benches, on which one can sit and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city and the majestic mountains in the background.
My friends also took me to the Cathedral of the Madeleine in downtown Salt Lake City. We admired the cathedral’s richly decorated interior and discussed the kind of devotion to God that compelled artists to erect such magnificent buildings. The stained glass windows, ceiling mural, hand-carved wooden accents and painted tiles inspired us greatly.
The year-old City Creek Mall in the city center is so unlike any other mall I’ve been to. Man-made rivers run through the mall and sculptures dot the landscape. Glass-walled walkways, whose tops open up in the summer, afford one strategic views of the mountains. If you ever find yourself in Salt Lake City, be sure to visit this mall. I couldn’t get over just how much creativity has been invested in the buildings downtown.
I also liked the many, quiet neighborhoods in the vicinity of downtown. The city’s small size makes it possible for one to cycle from place to place, instead of driving. The more-than-a-century-old Liberty Park is also close to the city center and boasts lots of recreation options for fun-lovers: trails, a man-made lake, playgrounds for kids of different ages, tennis courts and an aviary. The trees are tall, leafy and ancient. Salt Lake City pleasantly surprised me. I suspect I will be back.