top 5

Salt Lake - Impressions & Top 5

I loved this sculpture largely because it's called a "fountain." This is the correct way to have a decorative fountain in the desert.

I loved this sculpture largely because it's called a "fountain." This is the correct way to have a decorative fountain in the desert.

First Impressions of Salt Lake…


…the final frontier. Or, the sense you get when walking several blocks in Salt Lake City. Everything is just so wide here, and the blocks are 1/8 of a mile, rather than about 1/20 of a mile as the street blocks are in Manhattan. Wide enough to turn an ox-driven wagon, I overheard someone say. I would verify this information on the internet, but the hotel wifi is not working at the moment and I’m hoping to limit my phone bill to just one data overage charge this month — tour life, amIrite? — and anyway Trump is still president so who cares about pesky little things like facts. Suffice to say, space is at the opposite of a premium in this part of the country. 

As a born & bred Southwesterner, this kind of space hits me on a mitochondrial level. I’ve been to Salt Lake twice before, once stopping for lunch on a road trip right after highs school and once for an academic conference in college, and didn’t realize, having never lived outside the Southwest at that point, how much like home it would feel. But as the flight from Portland began its descent and I watched the expanse of arid, mountainous, low-population-density land come into sharper focus, I was filled with a deep sense of familiarity. This was like home, but a little less Mexican and a little more Mormon.

Lots more thoughts on all of the above, but will save for another time. 

My top 5 favorite Salt Lake places/experiences:

  1. The King’s English independent bookshop! Can’t say enough great things about this place. In Seattle I knew about Elliot Bay Book Co and in Portland of course was Powell’s, but I had to do some research. (Backstory: I have a goal of visiting an indie bookstore in every city and buying at least one book by a local author.) I liked the name of the shop, then saw on the website they had a local author event on our first Tuesday in town, and we didn’t have a Tuesday night show because of the travel distance from Portland. Perfect!

I preordered Cheat Code, a YA sci-fi/gaming novel, intending it for my nephew, and ended up getting Lost & Found and Choosing the Right after hearing their authors speak. Waiting for my uber, I chatted with the cashier, Paula, about my indie bookstore/local author quest. Paula stepped away for a moment and came back with the gift of The King’s English memoir, written by Betsy Burton who founded the bookshop in 1977. Paula also invited me to her own book release; of course I’d be working that night as I am most nights, so I regretted that I wouldn’t make it and bought her previous book instead. (A Case of Espionage, which I read cover to cover on our travel day from Salt Lake to Costa Mesa!)

The visit and reading the memoir was definitely a highlight of our time in Salt Lake. I love books, and I love small local businesses that provide nourishment to the community that in turn sustains them. Win win!

2. Organ concert at the Tabernacle. My Dad would love this. I love imagining what it would be like to hear a pipe organ before electronic amplification.

3. Red Butte Gardens — nice for varying levels of physical exertion: stay on the level paths thru the botanical gardens, or hike one of the trails that shoot off from the main gardens. Beautiful. I hiked for about an hour and a half, restored my rugged New Mexican soul, then ubered back to the hotel, ordered room service, and restored my privileged urbanite body. Gemini much?

4. Red Iguana, family-run Mexican restaurant; for quick & easy, Taste of Red Iguana at the City Creek Mall. Comfort food for Kat! I told myself I wasn’t allowed to eat there every day, so I only ended up going there like 5 or 6 times. 2 meals worth of food for about $8. 

5. Cupla Coffee — just opened recently. Great coffee, friendly owners, yummy breakfast burritos! If Romy & Michele were twin sisters, and were into coffee instead of design, this would be their shop. It was my favorite treat breakfast.  

Til next time, Salt Lake…