Utah trip notes

Am sitting here in a residence in in Provo, Utah, trying to get some work done.  Am frustrated by the seriously poor quality I was getting from the “high-speed internet” they advertise… once I realized that their high-speed box doesn’t seem to be working at all, and I’m actually working from the echoes of the wireless in the lobby, I’m a little more forgiving of the speed of connection.  In a while I’ll go to the front desk and ask them to look into the wired connection so I can get some programming done this afternoon.  And I’ll go out and explore and take pictures of mountains or something while waiting. They can come in and make the bed and give me fresh shampoo while I’m gone.

We flew into Salt Lake City on Sunday and decided to explore downtown for a while.  Not only was it Palm Sunday (I think?) but it was also the day when the Mormons have their big inter-something conference day.  So there were swarms of people around Temple Square including people who’d obviously flown into SLC just for this.  And there were …protesters, I guess?… around the outside of the Temple shouting really amusing stuff, trying to convert the Mormons to whatever their own brand of religion is.  One particularly entertaining guy was shouting about how the religious books used by the LDS church are not the true word of G*d; instead they should be reading the King James version. I was smirking as I thought about all the stories of the politics and social engineering that went into the King James translation (it’s hard to think of a case of more biased translation).  Meanwhile K was muttering things like “you’re not a REAL believer unless you read the Bible in the original Greek and Aramaic!” 

‘Cause, you know, after being a social outcast throughout junior high school because I was not Mormon, I have my issues with the church.  At the same time, though, I think it’s just goofy when people who are strong believers in one form of Xianity go out and try to convert other people whose religion also professes Xianity.  Or even others whose belief system is monotheistic at all.  I mean, wouldn’t it seem more fruitful to bring those non-religious sinners into the fold, rather than messing with those who are already believers, just of a different flavor?  Isn’t Jesus quoted in the New Testament as saying that all gods are really the one G*d, so all believers are really worshipping the same entity?

Anyway, the whole thing had a sort of festival atmosphere with visitors spread out having picnics on the Temple lawns, the Tabernacle choir was being broadcast outdoors for those who weren’t lucky enough to get inside seating, there were ticket scalpers and the aforementioned stump-post preachers and so on.  I rather enjoyed the whole spectacle.  We had a nice conversation with an older gentleman who is finishing up a year-long service mission at the Temple; he is missing his home in northern Idaho and seemed to enjoy telling us all about it.  Then we headed over to the Olympic park on the west side of downtown (which didn’t exist two decades ago, which would be the last time I was in SLC), had some pizza, and headed up to Logan. 

In Logan we caught up with old friends from school (who were our overnight hosts) and Monday we explored the Utah State campus a bit before K’s talk.  Then headed back through the pass in the late afternoon.  We were headed straight through to Provo on the south side of SLC, but hit rush hour traffic going through the city.  So branched off the highway to explore the neighborhood I lived in when I was a kid.

It was a little weird because I had no trouble finding big landmarks (like the schools and parks) but when we got to my actual neighborhood, nothing looked familiar and we drove in circles for a while trying to figure out where we were going.  Two problems – first, they’ve done a ton of development and so what I remember as barren ridges, covered in scrub oak and honeysuckle, are now manicured neighborhoods.  There are a ton of new streets that just weren’t there before, so when I tried to retrace the way to the house from the starting point of the school, I got lost.  “Take the second street after the school”, for example, no longer worked because there’s new streets in the way.  The other problem was that I never really knew the neighborhood from the POV of a driver.  Eventually found the house by just parking the car and walking around and suddenly, it was easy to find my way.

Once I actually found the house I had an unexpected treat… the people who live there now are about to put the place on the market and so when the owner saw us standing on the curb looking at the place, she assumed we were home shoppers (psychic ones, apparently, since the house isn’t currently on the market) and invited us in.  I explained our real goals and she was very excited, taking us through the house and asking us about how it used to be.  So in exchange for sharing what I knew of the house’s history, I got to look around and see what it looks like now.  Dad will be pleased to know that several of his big improvements have been preserved and expanded on… We were running low on time after the tour so didn’t go try to meet any of the neighbors although the across-the-street neighbors are still there.  Their oldest daughter, who I remember as a toddler, is now an adult with a toddler of her own.  No doubt pictures would’ve been fun but by that time I’d presumed enough on K’s patience.

Provo feels surprisingly big and commercial.  I guess it may be the second-largest city in Utah?  Hard to estimate because they don’t do that annexation thing so there’s clusters of separate “cities” that are actually all part of the same metro area.  So Provo is actually the Provo-Orem metro area and you’d have to add their populations to figure out the true mass of humans nearby.  Anyway, I will get more chance to explore later today.

So that’s the current status of the Utah adventure… I’ll be home tomorrow afternoon and then it’s back to the regular grind…

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